Octavo Dia

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Put her in the COMFY CHAIR

Here's an easy way for governments to determine what constitutes torture: he who authorizes experiences. Is waterboarding torture? The person who okay's it gets dunked. Is having electrodes hooked up to your genitals torture? Zap 'em. Are stress positions torture? Tie them up and leave them there. I don't think most of these would get past the description phase.

Saving green to be green

So all saving is potential consumption, right? So saving money does nothing for the environment, right? However, by saving money now, you're delaying consumption. As technology advances, products become greener. It takes much less energy, for example, to produce a given good or service now than it did a few decades ago. By saving money, you can buy greener products than are available now.

Ten Questions: Number One UPDATED

Noumenon linked me to a website called Why won't God heal amputees? On that site they have another page entitled, "Ten Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer". Since these are likely to get rather involved, I will be answering them one at a time.

QUESTION ONE: Why won't God heal amputees?

It's a simple question, isn't it? We all know that amputated legs do not spontaneously regenerate in response to prayer. Amputees get no miracles from God.

If you are an intelligent person, you have to admit that it's an interesting question On the one hand, you believe that God answers prayers and performs miracles. On the other hand, you know that God completely ignores amputees when they pray for miracles.

How do you deal with this discrepancy? As an intelligent person, you have to deal with it, because it makes no sense. In order to handle it, notice that you have to create some kind of rationalization. You have to invent an excuse on God's behalf to explain this strange fact of life. You might say, "well, God must have some kind of special plan for amputees." So you invent your excuse, whatever it is, and then you stop thinking about it because it is uncomfortable.

In a later section they write:

"In Matthew 17:20 Jesus talks about mountains directly and says quite clearly:

    For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
What could be simpler? There are no reservations in Jesus' statement. There are no conditions. There is no waffling."

In this they are entirely incorrect. There is a very simple, and clearly stated, condition in this verse. "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed". Since we can be quite sure that there are no mountains being moved, we can be quite confident that NO ONE has a faith even so tiny as that. It is similar in this instance to the verse of Mark 10:24-26 "
24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" (By the way, since the disciples reacted to his statement with astonishment, we can reject the hypothesis that "the eye of a needle" refers to a small gate in Jerusalem's wall.)

I have no doubt that amputees are very sincere in their desire to be restored. I have no doubt that they yearn with all their being. However, do they have faith that they would be healed? Would they pray, and then immediately reach out with the missing limb, knowing that it would be restored? We all doubt God. That which we "know" cannot happen--a limb cannot be restored--so we do not pray with the faith that it will happen. Similarly, despite myriad examples in Scripture of the dead being raised, people do not even bother praying for the dead to be raised, because they "know," even more so than they know that a limb cannot be restored, that it will not happen. It is a problem of faith, not of power.

A second interpretation, which I have recently come across, is that the crux of the matter is not the word "if," but the word "you". What is the source of faith? Roman's 10:17 says, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Luke 17:5 says it even more clearly, "The Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" Thus it could be that this verse is speaking more along the lines of the "not of works" passage. Even your faith is not your own, as is evidenced by your inability to move mountains on your own.

A secondary argument is that when they ask for healing, God heals the real problem. In Mark 2:5-11, we read the following example:

"5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic, 11"I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."

Jesus saw the paralytic, and he immediately healed the truly damaged part--the man's soul. By our standards, Jesus lived in a time that makes ours look quite pleasant. So did he spend his time stopping torture, flogging, starvation, and healing the rampant diseases? No. He spent his time healing the problems which would lead to an eternal separation from God--a fate far worse than the worst of this life's troubles.

And finally, this is just a specific example of the theodicy problem, which will be addressed more thoroughly in later posts.

Back to the Ten Questions


God is Imaginary: #1 "Try Praying": Part 2

In the box on the bottom of Try Praying, they discuss the rationalizations commonly attributed to prayer. The one I find most interesting is the first one:

The logic: If you pray and God answers your prayer, then God would have revealed himself to you, and you would know that God exists. That would take away your free will to believe in him.

Soviet Poster a Day has a post which quotes a Soviet Atheist Magazine, "God exists, but we do not recognize him." Knowledge of the existence of God is irrelevant. Satan knows God exists, but he does not recognize him. There is a stark difference between God, and my God. In fact, as Roman's 1:20 states, "
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." Knowledge of God in no manner violates free will. Rather, such knowledge is provided, so that only through machinations of intellect can it be denied.

Back to the Fifty Reasons.


Bzzz bzzz train

So here's a random thought. If batteries are almost powerful enough to power automobiles, why can't we use batteries to power trains, which many times as energy efficient? Instead of having an oil car back of the engine, you'd have a battery car. You could just change them out and have battery cars sitting on the siding recharging.