The Life of Faithless

Faithless is a brilliant student and he has just finished his doctorate degree from the notorious University of Pure Reason & Anti-Faith as the best student there. His thesis is supporting evidentialism, which is the view that every belief always needs to be supported by evidence and not faith. He’s always convinced that there is no need of faith in this world… at all. His mission is to awaken the world of its long distorted view on faith. Starting his career to ruin faith in this world, Faithless apply for for a tenure as a junior faculty in the University of Evidentialism. He reasons that because of his long-list of awards and publications, that university will not have any justified reason to reject him at all. Indeed, he got it.

Starting a new life as a lecturer there, Faithless plans to demolish every faith he has before. Coming back home after his first day of work, he meets his parents. He starts to wonder about them whether they really are his parents. He insists them to give him their blood sample for DNA testing. They are so sad about it, yet lovingly go with their beloved son to the nearby clinic. DNA tests were conducted on these family to prove whether Faithless is their biological son. After 3 days, the results come out and it states that Faithless was really the biological son of his current parents. Faithless did not believe it, he has no faith in the doctor and insists the doctor to teach him how to do the DNA tests himself. Certainly the doctor was enraged and rejects his weird request. Faithless had no choice, and even now he had lost his faith on his parents. He’s afraid that his “parents” adopted him and raised him up since childhood to sell him in the black market someday, and after this DNA tests he’s even more afraid that his “parents” will give him anesthetic and sell him that night. With such a panic, he runs away from the man and woman he knew personally for more than 2 decades.

And so he plans to rent a room nearby to his workplace. To save some accommodation fee, he shared the room with someone else in a double room. He’s quite happy with the new environment. However, on that first night of sharing the room with someone else, with the room lit only by a dim light, he could not sleep. His eye is opened, observing his roommate, afraid that his new roommate will kill him that night. He could not stand the feeling and he flees to the nearest hotel. In the following day, he rented a studio room, so he’ll feel safer during sleeping time. However, on that night, he’s still afraid that someone will destroy the door and shoot him. He hardly slept because he has no faith that he’ll be able to open up his eyes tomorrow. Getting up from his sleepless night, he come down the next morning to grab his favourite Egg & Ham Breakfast. Oops! He’s aware now that this breakfast may contain some poison and he’ll die of it. He wraps his breakfast and brings it to a laboratory to check whether it is safe to eat them. The laboratory test is negative on any harmful chemicals, but he still doesn’t have enough faith on the result. He takes a portion of it and give it to a stray dog, and  observe whether it’ll die or has any disorder. After following the dog for 1 hour and nothing happens, he starts to eat his breakfast with relief. Afterwards, he goes home to prepare for lecturing on the evening.

Being ready for conducting a lecture on the topic of The Fall of Faith, he waited for a bus going to the university. After the bus come, he looks at the bus and the bus driver.

Faithless: Hey Mr. Bus Driver, have you checked all the passenger’s bag and ID card, to make sure that they didn’t bring any bombs or weapons to hijack the bus?

Bus Driver: What?! If you want to take the bus, just come in quickly!

Faithless: Yeah, I want to do so, but I don’t have faith to believe that there will be no bombs or hijacking during the journey. Could you check all the passengers please?

Bus Driver: Hey man, I think you should take bus number 51 going to the mental hospital, it’s not too far from here. If you don’t alight now, I’ll leave!

Faithless: Oh man… okay, just this time… I’m almost late for the lecture.

He takes a seat behind 2 gentlemen discussing about reason. He’s interested in the discussion and introduces himself to them, whose name is Anti-Reason and Christian.

Anti-Reason: Yeah, just join in the discussion, we are discussing about the role of reason in belief system.

Faithless: Okay, so what is your position and assertion here?

Christian: Hi Faithless, I believe that true belief system is supported by reason. Else if there are many belief system that claimed exclusive absolute truth for itself, it will be contradictory because there could not be more than 1 absolute truth that exists in this world. I am an advocate of reason, but also of faith. I firmly believe that reason alone is not enough. In some instance in our life, faith is necessary, but faith must be rational, i.e. I believe in rational faith.

Anti-Reason: And I don’t believe in that. I am very skeptical about reason. Reason is not capable of obtaining truth at all, because there are no criterion to obtain epistemic knowledge. I have problem with epistemology here, i.e. I don’t agree that human could know how he know, and therefore human could not know anything even with building up argument through reasoning.

Faithless: I agree with Christian here in the sense that reason is capable to obtain truth, but I don’t agree with him that faith is necessary. And for you Mr. Anti-Reason, I believe that human has a set of basic belief that is obvious to all of us, e.g. I know that to murder people is wrong and I know that the law of logic is true. Without these basic belief that forms criterion for sorting out knowledge, we won’t have anything to equip.

Anti-Reason: Yeah, I think we don’t have anything to equip and we could not know anything.

Christian: Mr. Anti-Reason, I agree with Mr. Faithless that we have obvious set of basic belief. We don’t have to know how we know them. I don’t agree with your skepticism on reason because skepticism could not hold its position and defend it. In fact, it is self-defeating. How could you know that nothing could be known if you don’t have any basic belief to build up arguments? How could you know that we could not know how we know?

Anti-Reason: … Yes, you are indeed right, Mr. Christian. I don’t know how to prove it, but I just know and believe it. I think it is my faith.

Faithless: Faith? No, I don’t agree in faith. If you do not know how to defend your position by reason, it is definitely false.

Christian: I agree in faith, but only reasonable faith. Mr. Anti-reason, would you hold a faith in something that is illogical and irrational?

Faithless: I won’t have faith in both cases, Mr. Christian, rational or irrational faith doesn’t matter.

The bus has arrived at the University of Evidentialism. Faithless said goodbye to his two new friends, and he went in to the lecture theatre. He gives a 2 hour full-passion lecture on The Fall of Faith to the students. The next 1 hour will be a discussion session. One brilliant student, Faithful, arise a question to him.

Faithful: Dr. Faithless, I have one objection to your objection on faith. In all your lecture, you build up your argument against faith using reason, but how do you know that our reasoning is reasonable? How could we know that every faculty of reasoning on human beings is working well and they are all building up the same argument?

Faithless: What do you mean dear Faithful? Could you rephrase your words?

Faithful: What I mean is whether we could believe that human’s faculty of reasoning is trustworthy. Isn’t it a faith to believe that it is trustworthy? If it is, then we are having faith in a faculty of reasoning, and we are using our faculty of reasoning to abolish faith. Isn’t it like cutting off the branch on which we sit on? Isn’t it self-defeating? Even further, you mention that we could gain epistemic knowledge by having a set of basic belief that forms a criterion for knowledge. If we could not prove them by reason, then we accept it by faith, isn’t it?

Faithless: Yes, exactly Mr. Faithful. However, they are just too obvious for us to hold on. Without presupposing and believing in them, we could not build up any argument and we could not gain any knowledge. I would not categorize them as faith, but as presuppositions that is rationally defensible.

Faithful: But it depends on how you define faith. If we are talking about faith in daily life, I define faith as believing something that is more rational as compared to believing something that is more irrational, e.g. I would have faith that when I sleep, I’ll wake up in the next morning. However, if we are talking about faith of the supernatural things, I define faith as something that we know is true, although the proof for it could not be locked by reason. I think this is because those belief that needs faith falls outside the boundary of reason, and not because reason is fallible. Reason in this case is trustworthy and limited. Further, to believe in presuppositions is faith isn’t it?

Faithless: … You have given a weighty argument here, Mr. Faithful, I really appreciate it, and I’ll think about it. We’ll end up the lecture for today and I’ll see you next week.

Faithless feels uncomfortable about his position on faith after the lecture. He thinks that Faithful was right that he actually has faith in basic belief and human’s faculty of reasoning. Pragmatically he’s also uncomfortable in having a life without faith at all, i.e. he hardly slept and ate. He agrees now with Mr. Faithful that every human beings is having faith. He planned to deliver a lecture titled as “Life is Faith” for the following week. Faithless is happy now that he is no longer faithless and he could enjoy a faithful life, a reasonable faith of course.

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Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Footprints of a Duck

One day, an agnostic (a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God – Oxford American Dictionaries) take a rest in a park near his house. Suddenly he spotted something weird, there is a footprints of a duck! He didn’t believe that there exists a duck in that region and  he never saw one before. He suspected that some little kids wanted to make fun of him, because this guy is well known to believe that all duck in that region has come to extinct. He analyzed the footprints carefully, taking a photo of it, measuring the surface area of the footprints, measuring the depth of the footprints and the distance between each footprint. With all these data, he knew that the shape of the footprints fits with most typical duck species and from the footprints depth he calculated the approximate weight of that “something” causing the footprints, and the weight is a typical weight of a duck. Furthermore the distance between each footprint fell well in a typical step distance of a duck.

Well, he still didn’t believe that those footprints is caused by a duck, maybe someone put a duck-like footprints there to make fun of him. He traced the footprints all the way down and it disappeared in the river bank. After carefully documenting the evidences, he came back home and took a rest. In the following day, he came back to the same place and he spot a duck! He’s surprised in unbelief and without patience grab that duck and analyze the feet characteristic of the duck and weigh the duck. His data showed that this duck was most probably the duck making the footprints the day before.

Yeah, you guess rightly, he still didn’t believe that those footprints he spotted was caused by that duck. He still didn’t believe it, he believed that someone making fun of him spotted him yesterday and put that duck to deceive him. He insisted that for him to be convinced that those footprints was caused by that duck, he needed to see it by his own eye. And he waited for the technology to build a time-machine for him, so that he could come back to the past to see how those footprints emerged. He waited and waited but time-machine was not invented during his lifetime and therefore he never knew…

The great atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell was once asked what he would say if he found himself standing before God on the judgement day and God asked him, ‘Why didn’t you believe in Me?’  Russell replied, ‘I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, God!  Not enough evidence!’ Well, I think the argument of God is more than enough. It is indeed enough to be rational but surely not enough to be coercive. It is different from the argument that 1+1 must equal to 2. I firmly believe the argument needs a little leap of faith, as to believe the footprints is made by a duck albeit we did not see it by our own eye. Although evidences of God is not coercive (as it will violate our free will), it is rational just like it is rational to believe the footprints is made by a duck.

God has given clear evidence for those who earnestly sought after him, but also vague enough so that it will not be coercive especially to people who rejected God (as it will be divine rape). Although the evidence is clear, people rebellious to God could always avoid it irrationally, e.g. Stephen Hawking who made the absurd theory using imaginary time to avoid a beginning point in Big Bang, avoiding first creation point and hence avoiding God. Scientists rejected creationism and replace it with evolutionism despite the accumulating evidence pointing the other way. This is just like hypothesizing that someone wants to make fun of you by putting the footprints of the ducks in the illustration above.

I believe that in their knowledge, they know that the belief in God is rational, but the problem lies on their heart, i.e. they reject God.

“There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose: Spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God…. There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others, but that just leaves us with only one other possibility… that life came as an act of supernatural creation by God, but I can’t accept that philosophy because I do not want to believe in God.  Therefore, I choose to believe that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.” Dr. George Wald (Professor Emeritus of Biology, Harvard), Nobel Prize winner in Biology, 1971

The quote above is more commendable as compared to atheists which formulate irrational theory to justify their belief, as it is really an honest statement. There is a stark difference between believing that there is a God and believe in God. You could believe that there is a God, but your heart have to make the choice whether to believe in that God. I believe the evidence is clear enough for truth seekers. For me, when I see the duck footprints in the illustration above, I don’t have enough faith to believe that someone wants to make fun of me by putting the footprints of the ducks, but I just have a little faith to believe that a duck make that footprints although I don’t see it with my own eye.

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Slavery

Human has soul and body. Human soul renders one an ability to think rationally. Slavery starts with the slavery of one’s soul by his/her own body. This means that his/her own action is dictated by his/her own body, and not with his/her own rational thinking, resulting in natural action that is solely based on instinct and feeling, just like animal. Human is in the kingdom of animalia anyway, though human has higher order soul that is capable to think rationally. One example of humans whose soul enslave his/her body is when he/she does fasting. To eat whenever you are hungry is natural by instinct, but those who could overcome this habitual nature proves his/her body to be controlled by his/her soul. With this in mind, human who is suppressing his/her own rational thinking and act “naturally” is enslaved.

Human who uses his/her rational thinking is therefore superior, and they utilize their brothers who is enslaved by their body. They treat their brothers as properties. This is just like human beings who breed cattle to take advantage of it. A cow raised for its milk and meat will not rebel, or try to organize a plan to escape, even though it has seen its brothers slaughtered. Those cows simply does not care and just receive its fate. In the same way, whenever physically enslaved, humans who is enslaved by his/her body will be desperate and do nothing. On the other hand, humans whose soul enslave his/her body will organize a rebellion to attain freedom. For them, death in freedom worths more than life in slavery.

Physical slavery is an inhumane act and was mostly abolished, though some illegal slavery still exists now. However, in this 21st century, are there still any self-slavery of soul? Just look whether humans are thinking or finding reasons for what they are doing. How about those who is enslaved by online game? Isn’t it too obvious that online game will kill their precious time? There are no good reasons for one to be addicted and enslaved by game. This doesn’t mean that playing game is bad. If we play games as a means to an end, with awareness, that’s perfectly fine. The end here is to get relaxed and get pleasure to be more productive afterwards. If we play game as an end in itself, without awareness, that’s foolishness. How about in the college/university? If a student is studying just because he/she wants to get a degree, just because his/her friends is there, just because that course is the easiest, just because getting a degree gives him/her more pride, without a logical reason, it is slavery. Whenever one is doing something without a rational consideration or full awareness of what he/she is doing, isn’t that slavery because he/she is no different from normal animal?

I study science not because it sounds noble, not because I was trapped in it since university, it is simply because I want to contribute to the advancement of science in the world, exploring God’s majestic creation in this natural world. I become a Christian not because I was used to it since primary school, not because my friends are Christian, not because it gives me spiritual bolster, not because I want to find a society to interact with, it is simply because I found it to be true. I go to the church not because I am a Christian, not because others do so, not to avoid feeling of guilty, not because it is a constant habit, not because I don’t have any other thing to do on weekend, it is simply because I would like to have a fellowship with Christ together with others. I work as a researcher not because there are no other job, not because the salary is high, not because I want to save money for retirement, it is simply because I like it and through it I can make a contribution to the world. I write this post about slavery not because I don’t have any other thing to do, not because I like to write, it is simply because I would like to abolish self-slavery of soul. There is reason for everything, isn’t it?

Although physical slavery has been abolished, self-slavery of soul (which is the first and simplest form of slavery) remains intact. To be free from this slavery of soul, we need to dethrone our body from dictating our soul, and starts to be a rational human. Else, we are no different from animal. When we did this, we could find reason for every of the thing we do. We make an action not based on animal instinct, but based on rational consideration of our soul. With this, we are free.

Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Meaning of Art-Game-Love-Fashion

When I see the allure of nature
I stare at the splendor of God’s creation
I realize these are just temporal beauty that will be ruined by humans
But when I stare at the new earth and heaven created by God, these are the eternal beauty

When I play a game
My heart is full of joy and I left aside my sorrow
I realize these are just temporal joy that will diminish after I stop playing
But when I play together with God, for eternity my heart will be overflowed by joy

When I see fashion design
My heart shivered with the combination of grandeur and charm of human’s attire
I realize these are just temporal grandeur and charm
But when I see the grandeur and charm of God’s robe, my heart will shiver for eternity

When I study science
I see the might and wonder of God the creator of universe
I realize science is limited and could not reveal all nature’s phenomenon
But when I’m together with God, he will reveal the secret

When I experience human’s love
My heart was relieved with its cordiality
I realize human’s love is limited and temporal
But when I experience God’s love, my heart will find its rest for eternity

When I see  a magnificent masterpiece
I am stunned for minutes
I realize it is just a temporal magnificence
But when I see God’s magnificent face, I will be stunned for eternity

Yeah, these feelings are a glance of something more grandeur, i.e. the feeling when we are together with God. I am ensured that he gives a glance of his grandeur so we can seek and desire him. This glance of feelings is derivatives of the real relationship with God.

Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Paul mentions that the evidence of creation is enough and each of us is of no excuse. Bertrand Russell was wrong when he make the statement that God did not give him enough evidence for him to believe.

Published in: on August 22, 2009 at 5:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Religion Diversity & Revelation

There is a tendency for religion diversity in this 21st century as compared to the middles ages. There are hundreds of religions and beliefs in the societies. There are 5 major religion, including Christianity. We have to note that majority did not determine which is true and which is false. Historical accounts showed this, that truth may emerge from minorities (e.g. reformed church movement in the middles ages is probably just founded by 2 person, Zwingli from Swiss and Martin Luther from Germany).

Why did I choose Christianity in the midst of these vast beliefs? Is it just affected by culture, family, societies that coerce or raise me in the Christian culture? If this is the case then my faith is groundless. Let us start a journey to find the truth in the midst of so many religion that claims the truth. For sure there will be only 1 that comes out to be true, as if religion A claims itself to be true then automatically it claims all other religions to be false. And if religion B claims itself to be true, automatically it will claim all other religion including A to be false. It is impossible that there are 2 religion/belief that is true, relativism is just a nonsense from those who is philosophically challenged.

God equips us with a weapon to distinct the right and the wrong, and that weapon is the law of logic (the law of identity, the law of secluded middle, the law of non-contradiction, and the law of rational inference). God creates humans to be logical and therefore God himself must be logical. God couldn’t be illogical as logic is his intrinsic nature. Look at the diagram below:

diagram

For an argument regarding natural and supernatural, you may want to read the previous post: Supernatural

First of all, humans are in the circle of natural plane. In the natural plane, humans can only argue with his logical basis that God exists, but he could not have knowledge about God as the knowledge of God lies in the supernatural plane. Creation could not have a perfect knowledge of its creator. Therefore, to have the knowledge about supernatural things or about God, God himself has to reveal that knowledge to human beings. This revealed truth is denoted as the red arrow (fully red).

This revealed truth asserts things human didn’t know such as the concept of sin, good, evil, the nature of God, God’s relation with human, why are there humans like now, etc. This is the authentic truth revealed by god. However there are also another arrows that claim themselves to be true (green arrow) besides the red arrow. These green arrow are the imperfect truth and  fabricated by humans. Maybe there are several arrows that contains truth (blending of red and green), but they are the absolute truth. This may happen as there are imitations from the absolute truth (red arrow) that will lead humans astray, for example: the creation of religion to gain political power, etc.

Red arrow are absolute truth, just like 5+5=10. Mixed arrow of green and red are the belief that contains truth, but still false just like 5+5=11. Truth could not be compensated. 1 false dot in the midst of truth will make the whole thing false.

In this world that claims to get many arrows of revelation from the supernatural plane, how do we distinct the truth from the false? Here is where the law of logic become a filter for every arrow that claims to be the absolute truth. If a religion claims to have the real absolute truth, then every aspect of it must be logical. The concept of predestination, free will, the redemption of sin, love, et c that is claimed by Christianity must be logical for Christianity to stand true. 1 small aspect will undermine the whole thing. Beliefs which contain contradiction on its teaching are not logical and therefore not the absolute truth. As an example, religion that claims that God is impersonal is illogical, as God must be personal for him to create the world along with all the personal human.

John Lennox gives an elegant analogy about the role of revelation. Aunt Matilda made a cake. We could investigate the structure, ingredient, properties, etc of that particular cake. However we will never know why Aunt Matilda made that cake, just like we could not know why the world is created. We could only know if aunt Matilda reveals why she made that cake. Next Aunt Matilda states that she made the cake for her son’s birthday. Definitely we could not receive this statement as true without any tests. We should find out whether aunt Matilda really have a son an whether the date of birthday are true. If these 2 facts are false, we could reject the false revelation from aunt Matilda. But if these 2 facts are true, then we can accept the revelation from aunt Matilda and receive her assertion. This is the role of logic to tests revelations.

With this reflections, we are invited to evaluate every aspects of our belief. With the religion that we embrace, we put all of our hope. Out faith on our embraced religion worths more than gold. Gold was tested with fire for its purity. In the same way, if out faith is really pure after facing through the fire of logic, it will ensure us further about the purity and truth of our faith. However if that faith is totally burned to ashes, and we put our hope on ashes, isn’t that futile?

These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7)

And I found out that Christianity is the real true revealed truth according the logic God has given.

Published in: on August 22, 2009 at 5:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Knowledge of a person

I could see 2 knowledge of a person:

  1. Outer knowledge, i.e. what is known about some facts of that person. For instance: birth date, hobby, his school, body height, weight, etc. Simply: studying the facts/biography of that person.
  2. Inner knowledge, i.e. what is known about feelings, souls, and that person itself. This inner knowledge could only be obtained by meeting of communication with that person himself. This knowledge is transferred from heart to heart, and could be different to each person.

Outer knowledge won’t arouse us to find out about inner knowledge.

On the other hand, inner knowledge will arouse us to find out more about the outer knowledge.

No matter how much we learn about outer knowledge, we could not obtain inner knowledge.

For example:
I would like to know more about Albert Einstein. What I can do is to buy his biography, books he published, testimony about him, his letters, etc. With this I shall obtain outer knowledge regarding Einstein. However, still I won’t know about the heart and feeling of Einstein that is covered in inner knowledge.

Let’s say one day I met einstein face to face (whatever the way is). When I’ve obtained outer knowledge about him, I’ll be very happy to meet him directly. If I haven’t read outer knowledge about him, I’ll start to know him and surprised to know that he is so genious in science. Moreover, I’ll know that he is so loving and caring for others. All of this will encourage me to know mroe about him, both outer and inner knowledge.

Inner knowledge is more superior to outer knowledge, as inner knowledge (a genuine one) will cover both.

This is a result of my observation of so many people who acknowledge that they know about the same person, but apparently only the outer knowledge. In this case that person is Jesus Christ. Many people read books regarding Christ (whether theology of philosophy), Bible, etc but only obtain outer knowledge. The motivation to obtain only outer knowledge is a fraud, i.e. only to enrich knowledge.

If someone have an inner knowledge about Jesus Christ, we can see his life will change. He’ll make Christ his idol as He is the perfect man. He’s going to mimic Christ’s personal life. Moreover, he’ll try to find out the outer knowledge about Christ with the right motivation, i.e. finding information about his idol.

I remember a story about someone who’s truly having an inner knowledge in Christ, more or less as follows:

One day in a church, 3 people is having a chit-chat. The first person asks the other 2 to play bible trivia with him. He asks: “Who is the name of  Jesus’ twelve disciples?” The second person answers instantaneously. He asks again: “In which town was Jesus born?” The second person think a bit, then answer it. Once again the first person asks: “Where was Jesus baptized?” The second person tries to remembers it for some time, then answers it precisely. Then the first person and the second person discuss about others things such as predestination, creation, prophecies as well. After they finish, they’re kind of surprised why the third person does not say a word like he knows nothing about what they discuss. They asks to the third person: “What do you know about Jesus?”. The third person answers them: “I don’t know where Jesus was born, I don’t know where he was baptized, I also don’t know about prophecies and creation accounts in the Bible. Yeah, I haven’t read them. I just repented last month. What I know about Jesus is only that He is such a person that totally changes my life. Previously I like to be drunk, cruel to my wifes and children, dishonor my parents, and many other things. Now my life has changed, even my wife and children has started to believe in Christ because they see a remarkable change in my life. My parents has started to change, and I’m putting great efforts to bring them to Christ. Yeah, I experience Jesus in my life… He is astonishing. This is the only thing I know about Jesus.”

Don’t “read” the Bible, but let the Bible reads you.

When we “read” the Bible, we make the Bible as the object. But when the Bible reads us, we are the object, i.e. we are renewed, convicted, strengthened, blessed, and made perfect by Christ, the author of the Bible.

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

God’s “cruelty” in the Old Testament

When we read the Bible on the old testament, often we find that God is eliminating people. Seems like the God in the old testament and the new testament is just too different. For instance, in the town of Sodom and Gomorrah:

Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. (Genesis 19:24-25)

How about the people of Egypt punished by God with such a devastating calamities as well as sinking their soldiers in the red sea?

And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it. (Exodus 7:5)

How about the Amalekites?

So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:13-14)

How about murdering of Israelites themselves like Moses command?

So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor. ‘ ” (Exodus 32:26-27)

which is caused by the golden calf the Israelites build when Moses isn’t around:

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. (Exodus 32:25)

How about the order of God to slash off completely the people of Sihon?

The LORD said to me, “See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his country over to you. Now begin to conquer and possess his land.” When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, the LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves. (Deuteronomy 2:31-35)

but this is caused by the king of Sihon that disallowed the Israelites to pass through their city, and:

“Let us pass through your country. We will stay on the main road; we will not turn aside to the right or to the left.  Sell us food to eat and water to drink for their price in silver. Only let us pass through on foot (Deuteronomy 27-28)

God’s command to kill?

and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. (Deuteronomy 7:2)

and so on…

For the town of Sodom and Gomorrah, when we see through the previous chapter, we know that these 2 towns are really immoral, sinning heavily, and live unrighteous in the eyes of God. But we know from the conversation between Abraham with God that even if 10 righteous man exists in that town, then God won’t destroy that town:

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? (Genesis 18:23)

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” (Genesis 18:32)

We have to realize that the town destroyed by God is because all (completely) people in that town is guilty and unrighteous. None of them could stand rigteous representing their community. This is really apparent when we see that God forbade the Israelites to destroy the Amorites:

In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. (Genesis 15:!6)

There are still a bunch of righteous people over there, and God didn’t want to destroy that place yet as God love them and they may save some people in that town. It is proved that it could stand up to 4 generations before that town is totally unrighteous. God never kill the righteous. But why did he keep eliminating the unrighteous people? This could be caused by:

  • In order that other nations may know that God is with Israelites, and God of Israelites is the only one true God.

And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it. (Exodus 7:5)

Hence other nations may come and worship the true God. When other nations come to Him, He will receive them with joy just like what Rahab did.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof  and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. (Joshua 2:8-10)

But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day. (Joshua 6:25)

These people eliminated by God are the people who know the true God already but still reject to come to Him.

  • God eliminate the community of unrighteous people because of His love towards humans.
    Love?

Imagine what’s going to happen if this community is not eliminated by God: they will breed to the next and next generations, where their offspring will be raised in such a wicked community and therefore they will grow up as unrighteous people. If this chain is not stopped, many more souls will be lost.

Isn’t it rational that God’s heart is moved when thinking about this? But remember that God eliminate only the community where 100% (not 99.99%) of the people are unrighteous (Genesis 15:16) where there are no hope for them. Even they should have heard about the almighty God that gives victories to Israelites, but still they neglect the true God and worship their own idol.

Children could be saved, as they haven’t been polluted with sin from that unrighteous community. Children is a symbol of pureness of Heaven’s inhabitant. When David’s child passed away, he said:

But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me. (2 Samuel 12:23)

When a child haven’t reached the age of accountability, they’ll go the kingdom of God:

And your little ones, who, you said, would come into strange hands, your children, who now have no knowledge of good or evil, they will go into that land, and to them I will give it and it will be theirs. (Deuteronomy 1:39)

Yeah, God will do the best for His beloved creation.

In the new testament, no more we see this things because God has sent His own son to die, substituting our sins. This gospel have been shouted to almost every corner of the world and almost in every community exists righteous man and hope. Jesus come to bring hope to each man in this world.

With respect to several things discussed here, then we should change this post’s title:

God’s “cruelty” in the Old Testament

God’s mercy in the Old Testament

Published in: on August 5, 2009 at 8:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Faith versus Ratio

Lots of people made these 2 things (faith and ratio) into something that contradicts each other. Whenever we have faith in something then we throw out our ratio. When we use our ratio then our faith fades. Is this true that faith is a blind faith without any rational basis? Is rational faith an oxymoron?

Imagine we have a severe disease and surgery needs to be performed. This surgery is quite difficult to be performed and a lot of specialists have failed in doing it. What are we going to do? As we want to survive and healed, we research about this disease and try to find the best doctor in this field. At last we manage to find an information about a doctor who is very famous on performing the surgery for this disease. He guarantees that the result will be 100% successful even though other doctors could not guarantee anything at all. Some of our friends have gotten this disease and give testimony about this doctor. With all this information, we approach the doctor.

Similarly when we are going to find the true God, we need to find out which God is able to cure our disease (which is sin). Through arguments that supports and testimonies from people who have been recovered, we can use our ratio when we choose the doctor that will recover us. This is the role of ratio, i.e. to choose God who is rational, logical, true, illumine our mind, heals, and changes life.

The next stop, we determine this doctor to be the one who will perform the surgery on us. When we get an initial treatment that may inflict pain on us, we should have faith that this is for our own goodness. When the doctor does an anaesthetic before the surgery, we put faith completely with whatever the doctor is going to do during the surgery.

In the same case, after we have chosen the true God with our ratio, we should put our faith completely on this God to perform the surgery on us (changing our life) and to heal our sins. Maybe sometimes we don’t know the reason about several things that happen to us (let’s say suffering), unanswered prayer, etc. but we put our faith and believe that everything is for our own good and God has his own timing. This is because the knowledge and wisdom of God is far greater than us, so there must be several things we don’t understand. If we understand all things about everything, then “God” is not God. Similarly with the knowledge and experience of the doctor (on the previous analogy) about that disease is much superior than us. This is the role of faith, i.e. to surrender ourselves completely.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrew 11:6, NIV)

This is rational faith, i.e. faith and ratio that is intertwined together.

Faith without ratio is like someone who choose a random choice in a multiple choice question, with the faith that the answer he randomly chooses is correct. There is a possibility for it to be true, but of course there is a possibility for it to be wrong.

Ratio without faith is like someone who choose a random choice in a multiple choice question (with some thinking), but at last he did not choose because he’s lacking of faith that the answer is true (no faith = no deeds).

Faith with ratio is like someone who choose a random choice in a multiple choice question (with some thinking), and choose the answer with certainty (faith with deeds).

Published in: on June 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Why are there suffering (3) ?

When someone is facing a persecution/suffers, people often comforts him/her by saying that there is a good thing behind all of it. Maybe that suffering may change him into someone with a better character, be more mature, and independent. Yeah, suffering is able to bring a lesson for us.

But what about other suffering which is more “severe”? There’s plenty of starving people in Africa, or how about someone who spends his/her entire life in poverty? Where is God in each of these suffering? Is God presents over there and feels the suffering too?

When we look after someone in hospital, listen to our friends who face a problem, isn’t it true that our presence there is much more important than what we say or give? Similarly in the midst of the world’s suffering, people needs God’s presence over there.

He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. (Matthew 10:40, 42, KJV version)

This is also one of our job to be present and gives helps to those in need, that the presence of God may be truly felt there. We often see the suffering in the world and asks why, whereas it is often forgotten that beside these sufferings there are a lot of love too, which is a form of God’s presence there.

Yeah, God is present there, but but he did more than that: he felt it himself. I could not imaging having a God that did not know the sufferings in this world. John R.W. Stott put it like this:

“I could never myself believe in God, it it were not for the cross… In the world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”

What he means here is Jesus who died on the cross, feeling both physical and mental suffering for the purpose of redeeming the humans.

I myself could not imagine whenever I suffer, my god then says: “That’s your fault! This is because you don’t obey my command, so you should suffer!!” Or a god who say: “You suffer? Yeah, that was my will and it was the best for you, even though I have not felt it myself =).” But Jesus is different, because at our time of suffering, He is beside us to strengthen, comfort, support us. We could also share the problem to Him, as He has gone through the toughest form of suffering and gains victory. Remember that He himself was inflicted a great mockery and injuries on the cross. Isn’t this too wonderful? God’s answer in the midst of suffering is not a mere explanation because that was not the main thing people need when they suffer. God answers their shout with himself, i.e. through his presence and emphatic heart that calms the soul.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)

Published in: on June 1, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lessons from Zeno Paradox

Achilles is going to have a race with a turtle. He is very sure of his victory, therefore when the race starts he let the turtle to run first for 5 minutes. Afterwards he’s going to catch up with him. 5 minutes has passed… Achilles starts to run and attempt to go to the turtle’s place now. However when he arrives at that place, the turtle have made another few steps, hence Achilles need to go to that place now. He run to that particular place, but once again the turtle have made another few steps from its place just now. Therefore Achilles have to catch up with it to its new place now. What the turtle need to do is to keep going forward and what Achilles can do is just to get near to its place (very near indeed) but he could not surpass the turtle. At the end the turtle won.

Moral of the story:
Do not limit yourself as you are your own limit.

A sprinter is going to have a 100 m race. He sees the racetrack he is attempting. To finish this race he has to go to the midpoint of that track (50 m), after that he’ll run again to the next midpoint (25 m). He’ll then be nearer to the finish line and reach another midpoint (12.5 m). Further he go to the next midpoint (6.25 m) and he almost finish this race. He keeps going to the next and next midpoint, but he never reaches the finish line because the remaining distance divided by 2 every time will never reach zero (0 m). Yeah, to reach the finish he need infinity time, but in this universe there is no such thing as infinity therefore he’ll never be able to reach the finish line.

Moral of the story:
When you do something half-heartedly, you’ll never reach the goal. But if from the beginning the sprinter is thinking to reach the finish line and not the midpoint, then he’ll surely reach the finish line. 

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 5:29 pm  Leave a Comment