Octavo Dia

Sunday, July 20, 2008

God is Imaginary: #15 Examine Jesus' Resurrection

Examine Jesus Resurrection.

They didn't really examine Jesus' resurrection in this post. They're continuing to rant on the "prayer doesn't work" theme which has been part and parcel of every one of the fifty reasons studied so far (or if current trends continue, "The Fifty Variations of One Reason").

They did, however, include one interesting point in the "Understanding the Rationalizations" box. I'll ignore the cheap shots and go to the heart of the issue. Why did an omniscient, omnipotent, loving God create this misery?

There are three standard answers: the lonely loser hypothesis, the glory hypothesis, and the pleasure hypothesis. The lonely loser hypothesis, which states, in essence, that God created us for our company, has scant support in Scripture, and denies what we know about God--that He is sufficient unto Himself.

The Glory hypothesis, that God created us "to his glory," has little support in Scripture, one verse in Isaiah, I believe, and seems awfully narcissistic. God, in this view, is using us as a mirror in which to admire Himself. There is not enough evidence for this view, and enough against, that I can withhold judgment on this one.

The Pleasure hypothesis, that God created us "for his pleasure," has little support in Scripture, one verse in Revelation, I believe. This one is insufficient as an explanation, in my mind, as humans cause God much more than pleasure. The pain we inflict on Him is severe.

I think a better explanation comes through the analogy God weaves throughout Scripture. He is our Father, and we are His children. Even though the love in a marriage is full and complete (or as much as it can be in a cursed world), people still become parents. All but the most optimistic know that parenthood will be filled with blood, toil, tears, and sweat, but they have children anyway.

Why did God create us? He created us for many of the same reasons that parents have children. To love and be loved. For His Glory, yes, but for ours as well. For His pleasure, but for ours also. In short, He created us that He could be our Father, and we could be His children.

Back to the Fifty Reasons.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Recall elections - UPDATED

Two problems intersected in my mind today: first, that it is very hard to hold judges accountable, and yet maintain political influence at a low level; second, that the possibility of recall elections tend to create cautious politics, even though they're very hard to implement. Those two things seem perfect for each other. Make appointed judges accountable to the people through recall elections. This would provide some measure of accountability for denying the will of the people, even when judicial "behavior" was not sufficient to merit impeachment (which is extremely rare--no justices, and only 0.4% of all Federal judges). The hushing effect, it seems to me, would in this case be the most beneficial aspect. The possibility of a recall would in itself inhibit legislation from the benches.

Here's how it would work: Every time you had a presidential election, all the Supreme Court justices would be on the ballot for recall. If recall of a justice was approved by a majority vote, comprising a majority of the states, the justice would be recalled. This would place the recall mechanism above political machinations, as few voters would vote to recall for political reasons when they had no guarantee which candidate would win the election and appoint the replacement justice. This would also prevent the recall from being a rash decision, as the possibility of recall would happen only every four years.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stock it to the government.

Currency seems analogous to the stock certificates of the government. It's value is the perceived value of the government, just as the value of a stock is the perceived value of a company. Seen from this perspective, that major stockholders (the rich), have more influence in government than minor stockholders doesn't seem so scandalous. It also creates some interesting parallels. Can the government perform stock buybacks by removing money from circulation, and thus returning value to its shareholders? Is inflation the equivalent of a minuscule stock split? Was the stimulus payment my dividend?


The concept of a representative government is that there should be people to represent our interests when we are otherwise unable to. However, that doesn't mean that the representative should be able to represent us when are are able to represent ourselves.

I propose a direct, fractional voting scheme. Basically, the representative represents all those who do not vote directly on an issue. Thus every time a bill comes before Congress, registered voters would have a period of time, a month, perhaps, in which they could vote on the bill. The number of representative would cast his ballot in place of all those who did not vote. Thus if a typical representative represents 150,000 registered voters, and 12,000 voted directly (via the mail, perhaps), those 12,000 votes would be counted, and the representative would vote the remaining 138,000 votes.

I don't know what kind of impact this would have on the electorate as a whole, but it's an interesting thought experiment. What consequence would direct voting like this have?

Corporal Comprehension

I was reading an article about spanking, and it made a very silly argument, it said that once comprehension has been established, corporal punishment is never necessary. Now, one can assume that adults have established comprehension. However, even though they know that it endangers themselves and others, that they can have their privileges taken away, that they can be given a time out, and that their allowance can be reduced, adults still drive drunk. Comprehension has been established, and it does not eliminate a profoundly harmful behavior. I bet if you flogged people for driving drunk you'd go a good ways towards eliminating it, but their argument doesn't hold water regardless.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

God is Imaginary: #14 Examine Jesus' Miracles

Examine Jesus Miracles.

I must say I have a higher standard for people who claim to be God than they do. My standard is that you have to be crucified, died, and buried, and rise again. If they can do that, I'll listen to what they have to say.

When scientists dig into the mountain, they will find that the bottom of the mountain is also completely smooth and polished, and that the bottom of the mountain in New Jersey perfectly matches the polished plain nearby. Scientists will be able to align the mountain and the plain, looking at it rock crystal by rock crystal at a microscopic level

Remember the argument they used in an earlier reason: science doesn't have an explanation, yet. In 2000 years, the bottom of the mountain would not be perfectly polished--gravitational pressure would have melded it on a molecular level with the rock beneath it. Erosion would have mixed the soils together. Leeching water would have melded the composition of the rocks. The plain in Sinai, similarly, would have been weathered by wind, water, heat, and sun. Exposure to air and sunlight would modify its chemical composition. Besides, if he wrote that, there would be no end to towns in the shadow of a mountain called Newark, NJ, just as there are numerous towns named after places in the Bible. Plausible deniability would remain, though there would be an uncanny similarity between this mountain and the plain in the Sinai. Geologic anomaly, nothing more. Science doesn't have an explanation... yet.

If you calculate Pi out to the millionth trillionth digit, here is what you will find:


More proof that aliens visited the earth and gave ancient peoples advanced technology with which to build the pyramids... and calculate pi to the millionth trillionth place! Or there is some shortcut to calculation that we haven't rediscovered. Or he got lucky. Or simply, science doesn't have an explanation... yet.

If there is something you do not want to acknowledge, you can find a legitimate reason not to acknowledge it. If we found Noah's Ark on top of the mountain in Turkey, carbon dated 2344 B.C., and deciphered a graffito on the side to mean, "Noah has severe hydrophobia," what atheist would not call it a creationist plot? As the Good Book says, "They would not believe even if someone were to come back from the dead."

In Understanding the Rationalizations: They quoted the following writing: "Scripture describes God as a hidden God. You have to make the effort of faith to find him."

Truly, this is not written by a Lutheran. As C.F.W. Walther describes it in The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, faith is the means by which we grasp hold of salvation. You have no more done something than the sheer biological accident of your having a hand has to do with my putting something into it.

The verse he's referring to is Isaiah 45:15. "Truly you are a God who hides Himself." If they had been reading their Scripture, they would have noticed an obvious contradiction between this verse and 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." God hides himself AND He is clearly seen! Either He doesn't know much about hide and seek or God contradicted himself. Right?

I must admit, the first dozen times I read that verse, I misinterpreted it. I took the obvious meaning of the verse, and ignored its context. All around that verse it speaks of the glory of God. If you look for another occasion in which God hides Himself, in which He also speaks of His Glory, you find Exodus 33:22, in which God hides His Glory because "No man may look on Me and live."

Why does God hide Himself? Because we are sinners. If God revealed Himself in an undeniable way, if He revealed himself in His Glory, we would be damned. God hides Himself so he can save us.

Back to the Fifty Reasons.