Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Announcing the “Lucy" Summer Tour

And you thought the Stones were old…

3.2 Million Year Old Lucy to make 11-city Tour

Now what could possibly be the motive behind this, since it has already been established that Lucy is not a human ancestor? The article even refers to Lucy as "the world's most famous human ancestor" and “the hominoid skeleton”. I guess some feel that, if you repeat a lie often enough, it’ll eventually become true.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bin Laden's Decree of Martyrdom

Bin Laden's Decree: Martyrdom or Assisted Suicide?

It's being reported that Bin Laden has decreed that he would never be captured. "If there's a 99 percent risk of the Sheik's being captured, he told his men that they should all die and martyr him as well,"

Question: If this occurred, should it be considered martyrdom or assisted suicide?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a martyr as one who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles.

There's a significant difference in "choosing to suffer death" for particular beliefs or principles and "decreeing others to bring about one's own death" (even if it is dependent upon future circumstances). In the first case, one submits to death brought on by others; while in the latter Bin Laden would be the cause and responsible agent (on one level) of his own death.


Compare the difference between Laden's statement and that of the Apostle Paul, who said "I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." I trust the difference is clear as is the distinction regarding which is the more honorable.
Should not thinking Muslims question the example of their leaders - one who just a few years ago called for his people to sacrifice for the faith while he lived in a mansion with gold fixtures in his bathrooms; and now a leader who calls for others to sacrifice their own lives through jihad, while he would choose to "take" rather than "give" his own?
I'm sure if one tried hard enough, arguments could be made for why such an option might be better for either the individual or a particular religious community, but not without violating the law concerning life and death which governs not only our relations concerning the lives of others, but concerning our own.
It will be interesting to discover if Laden's choice is an esteemed one in the eastern and Muslim communities, for in the West it comes across more cowardly than courageous.

Mother Theresa's Letters (Part II)

Questions for Catholics concerning the beatification and canonisation of Mother Teresa:

1. Why is it that the Catholic church goes through such a laborious process to try to make one a saint, when the term saint (hagios = holy, set apart, sanctified, consecrated, etc.) is regularly bestowed upon all believers?

Does not Paul write "to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi" (Philippians 1:1); "to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints" (Rom 1:7); calling God's people to "be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Eph 6:18); 1 Cor 14:33; Col 1:12; 2 Cor 13:13; Rom 15:25; Rom 8:27; Eph 3:18; etc.? Does not David in Psalm 30:4 say "Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name."? Do you think it might be that Catholic tradition by redefining sainthood as something other than Scripture defines it is leading to the problems it now is dealing with?

2. Where in the Bible do you find that it's necessary for one to perform a miracle (or two), or to be martyred, to become a saint?

3. Why is it that in all the years of the biblical record including the time of the prophets and the apostles you don't find the practice of beatification and canonisation? Why not... even among those who possess heavenly affirmation of their miracles, of their spiritual gifts, of their fruitful lives, of their exemplary service, of their martyrdom? Men and women such as Moses, Abraham, Elisha, Daniel, Stephen, Peter, Paul, John, etc.? While it's admitted that there's ecclesiastical growth and advancement that takes place in the church, if this issue was meant to be all that it's come to be today in the Catholic church, isn't it somewhat surprising that on such a "significant" issue, it did come about until its practice in the Catholic church?

4. While there's a place for remembering the Lord's servants and their service, where do you find in Scripture authority given to church leaders to determine what perfection, degree, or amount of virtue is needed to deem one worthy of public veneration (and to deny others of recognition)? The greater question is does not the current Catholic practice draw more attention to the individual than to the Lord, in whom, and through whom we have all things?

5. When it comes to mediators and intercession, would even intercession offered by the redeemed be acceptable apart from their acceptance in Christ?

While tradition can be a good thing, tradition itself needs to be examined in light of God's Word.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Theresa's Letters

WOW! What an illustration? Mother Theresa, after all the works she did on earth, was left asking the question: “WHAT DID I LABOR FOR?”

Not many stories are more powerful or telling than this one! Sure, you have those who have believed “money” was the answer but when they obtained great riches recognized the answer was not found in fortune; you have those who have believed “power” was the answer but when they reached the top realized the answer was not in position, power, influence, or control; the list could go on – “fame”, “possessions”, “honor”, even “love” itself; ... But here is one who not only participated in abundant works but was recognized by the entire world for those works but yet with all her "works" (/accomplishments) was left asking the question: “WHAT DID I LABOR FOR?”

This question is one that all those who look to works (be they Catholic, Mormon, or on one level agnostic, atheist, etc.) should consider.
If all the works Mother Theresa participated in ultimately left her feeling “repulsed” and “empty” and feeling a “darkness and coldness and emptiness” that was so great it was as if nothing touched her soul, … if in the privacy of her own heart she was still left not only feeling distant from God but feeling as if God didn’t want her, then what will works do for a person, regardless of who that person is? What will works do for you? If in relying on works, will you too either along the path or in the end be left asking the question: “WHAT DID I LABOR FOR?”

The truth is that works, even the works of Mother Theresa, cannot save a person or enable one to draw close to God. Scripture states “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5) Again, Scripture states “For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through FAITH -- and this not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God, NOT by WORKS, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8) Works, not even the works of Mother Theresa can save a person or draw one close to God. In fact, all the works in the world cannot save a person or provide fellowship with God; for God, who is the offended being in the relationship between God and man, has determined the only appeasement he can or will accept (the only appeasement by which man may be accepted, reconciled and received by God). This appeasement is expressed by the words of Jesus in Hebrews 9 when He stated in regard to God that “…Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.” First he said “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them…” Then he said, “‘Here I am, I have come to do your will”… and by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Scripture testifies to this same truth elsewhere when in Gal 3 it states “You are all sons of God through FAITH in Christ Jesus”; in Rom 3 where it states “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been make known…This righteousness from God comes through FAITH in Jesus Christ to all who believe”; and in John 6 where Jesus answers the question “What must we do to do the works God requires by saying “The work of God is this, to BELIEVE in the one he has sent.” Concerning the salvation that came to the Gentiles, Paul writes “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.”

That is not to say that even true believers may not at times have some doubts or experience some degree of separation from God – such as that experienced by David, John the Baptist, etc., - but there is a difference between those who are possessed by God on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice and the means of grace who at times in the face of crisis may temporally doubt or desire greater affirmation/consolation… and those who have never been reconciled to God and doubt or despair because they have never come to know him to begin with.
Mother Theresa’s own struggles and words are both enlightening and ominous. While I do not intend to judge Mother Theresa or pretend to know her heart, her beliefs, or her position before God, I find deeply troubling if not telling the close relationship between her own words and the words Scripture itself uses to describe those who are apart from Christ. Mother Theresa has written “As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves but does not speak.” She also wrote “I want God with all the power of my soul — and yet between us there is terrible separation.” This combined with the particular manner and choice of words concerning both the being and existence of God certainly raises significant questions.

Those who look to any form of works righteousness, unless blinded or deceived to a greater extent by this error, will be left empty, distant, and distraught in heart, and after participating in their works not only left to despair but left asking the question: “WHAT DID I LABOR FOR?” While some may ask the question: “Did I labor enough?”, the greater question is “WHAT DID I LABOR FOR?” The Only Solution to this quandary is to look outside of one’s own works and depend upon the merit, righteousness, accomplishments, and end of Christ’s own sacrifice! Only then, will reconciliation, fellowship and peace truly be found. For then and only then, can one rest not in their own works, but in the effectual, satisfying, sufficient provision offered and promised by God, afterwhich one may look to their own works, not as something meritorious (or something that keeps one from meeting the requirements of God), but when performed in and through Christ as the means in which one who is already accepted by God in gratitude and worship serves the Lord and brings glory to His name. As Scripture says "there is a way that SEEMS right to a man, but in the end leads to death." This way is works righteousness. The way to life, and peace, & fellowship comes only through grace and faith.

Do your struggle with the question: WHAT DO I LABOR FOR? Or, Will you be left asking the question in the end “WHAT DID I LABOR FOR?” Perhaps, you need to examine whether you understand the difference and whether you are looking to God on the basis of works or grace.

There’s no doubt this is one the Catholic church is going to struggle with in defending the steps they have taken. It’s also one that myriads of unbelievers will point to try to point fingers at believers. The greatest opportunity however lies in the lessons learned from one whose works have been recognized throughout the world, but was left privately asking herself “WHAT HAVE I LABORED FOR?"

Skeptical of "Teeth" Speculation

Isn't it amazing what a handful of ape teeth can be used to prove?

Fossil find pushes human-ape split back millions of years

First, we are told...

"The handful of teeth from the earliest direct ancestors of modern gorillas ever found -- one canine and eight molars -- also leave virtually no doubt, the study's authors and experts said, that both humans and modern apes did indeed originate from Africa".

Then we are told...

"We know nothing about how the human line actually emerged from apes".

Well, which is it???

Ben Stein as ID Apologist

I am cautiously optimistic...

Ben Stein as ID apologist

I am cautiously optimistic...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Southern Baptists and Theology

A thought close to my heart:

Don’t misunderstand there have always been good theologians and biblical scholars in Southern Baptist life. The problem is that theology was pushed to the periphery of Southern Baptist discourse. Politicians and king makers from both the right and the left seemed to be the most prominent and influential men in the denomination. Now, however, that may be changing. There is a generation of Southern Baptist pastors that are more influenced by theologians and expositors than power-brokers.

more here

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Chief end of Higher Education: III (Returning to Classes)

With a nod to Scriptorum Daily, here is the following, from Robert Leighton, (1611-1684), one of our excellent fathers in the faith, which he delivered to the students upon return to the University of Edinburgh. It is an excellent summary of purpose and aims of those involved in higher education. You can read a little bit about Leighton here. His commentary on 1 Peter (for purchase here) is absolutely first rate exposition.



WE are at last returned, and some for the first time, brought hither by that Supreme Hand which holds the reins of this universe, which rules the stormy winds and swelling sea, and distributes peace and war to nations, according to its pleasure. The great Lord of the universe, and Father of mankind, while he rules the world with absolute sway, does not despise this little flock, provided we look up unto him, and humbly pray, that we may feel the favourable effects of his presence and bounty; nay, he will not disdain to dwell within us, and in our hearts, unless we, through folly, and ignorance of our true happiness, shut the door against him when he offers to come in. He is the Most High, yet has chosen the humble heart for the most agreeable place of his residence on this earth : but the proud and haughty, who look with disdain on their inferiors, he, on his part, despises, and beholds, as it were, afar off. He is most holy, and dwells in no hearts but such as are purged from the dross of earthly affections ; and that these may be holy, and really capable of receiving his sacred Majesty, they must of necessity be purified. ” Know ye not,” says the divine apostle, “that you, even your bodies, are the temples of the Holy Ghost,” (I Cor 6:19) and therefore are to be preserved pure and holy? But the m ind that dwells within them, must be still more holy, as being the priest that, with constant and unwearied piety, offers up the sacrifices and sweet incense of pious affections, cheerful obedience, ardent prayers, and divine praises, to the Deity of that temple.

Of your studies and exotic learning, I intend not to say much. The knowledge, I own, that men of letters, who are the most indefatigable in study, and have the advantage of the greatest abilities, can possiby attain to, is at best but very small. But since the knowledge of languages and seiences, however inconsiderable it may be, is the business of this society of ours, and of that period of years you are to pass here, let us do, I pray, as the Hebrews express it, “the work of the day while the day lasts;” (Opus diei in die suo) “for time slips silently away, and every succeeding hour is attended with greater disadvantages than that which went before it.” (Tempus nam tacitum subruit, horaque / Semper praeterita deterior subit)

Study to acquire such a philosophy as is not barren and babbling, but solid and true; not such an one as floats upon the surface of endless verbal controversies, but one that enters into the nature of things; for he spoke good sense, that said, “The philosophy of the Greeks was a mere jargon and noise of words.” (philosophia hellenon logon psophos)

You, who are engaged in philosophical inquiries, ought to remember in the mean time, that you are not so strictly confined to that study, but you may, at the same time, become proficients in elocution; and, indeed, it is proper you should. I would, therefore, have you to apply to both these studies with equal attention, that you mry not only attain some knowledge of nature, but also be in a condition to communicate your sentiments with ease upon those subjects you understand, and clothe your thoughts with words and expressions; without which, all your knowledge will differ but very little from buried ignorance. In joining these two studies together, you have not only reason for your guide, but also Aristotle himself for your example; for we are told, that it was his custom to walk up and down in the school in the morning, teaching philosophy, particularly those speculative and more obscure points which in that age were called rationes acroamaticae, and thus he was employed, till the hour appointed for anointing and going to exercise; (mechri tou aleimatos) but after dinner, he applied to the more entertaining arts of persuasion, and made his scholars declaim upon such subjects as he appointed them.

But to return to my own province; for, to say the truth, I reckon all other things foreign to my purpose; whatever you do, with regard to other studies, give always the preference to sacred Christian philosophy, which is, indeed, the chief philosophy, and has the pre-eminence over every other science, because it holds Christ to be the head, (hos kephalen kratei) “in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid.” This the apostle tells us, was not the case of those false Christians in his time, whose philosophy regarded only some idle superstitions and vain observations. Cultivate, therefore, I say, this Sacred Wisdom sent down from heaven. Let this be your main study; for its mysteries are the most profound, its precepts the most pure, and at the same time, the most pleasant. In this study, a weak understanding will be no disadvantage, if you have but a willing mind, and ardent desires. Here, if any where, the observation holds, “That if you love learning, you cannot fail to make great progress therein.” (Ean es philomathes, ese polumathes. Isoc. ad Dem.) For some, that have applied with great industry to human philosophy, have found it to be like a disdainful mistress, and lost their labour; but divine philosophy invites and encourages even those of the meanest parts.

And, indeed, it may be no small comfort and relief to young men of slow capacities, who make but little progress in human sciences, even when they apply to them with the most excessive labour and diligence, that this heavenly doctrine, though it be the most exalted in its own nature, is not only accessible to those of the lowest and meanest parts, but they are cheerfully admitted to it, graciously received, preferred to those that are proud of their learning, and very often advanced to higher degrees of knowledge therein; according to that of the Psalmist, “The law of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes ; the entrance of his word giveth light, it giveth also understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130) You therefore, whom some very forward youths leave far behind in other studies, take courage; and to wipe off this stain, if it be one, and compensate this discouragement, make this your refuge; you cannot possibly arrive at an equal pitch of eloquence or philosophy with some others; but what hinders you, pray, from being as pious, as modest, as meek and humble, as holy and pure in heart, as any other person whatever? And by this means, in a very short time, you will be completely happy in the enjoyment of God, and live for ever in the blessed society of angels, and spirits of just men made perfect.

But if you want to make a happy progress in this wisdom, you must, to be sure, declare war against all the lusts of the world and the flesh, which enervate your minds, weaken your strength, and deprive you of all disposition and fitness for imbibing this pure and immaculate doctrine. How stupid is it to catch so greedily at advantages so vanishing and fleeting in their nature, if, indeed, they can be called advantages at all: “Advantages that are carried hither and thither, hurried from place to place by the uncertainty of their nature, and often fly away before they can be possessed!” (Ta ano kai kato pheromena, kai peritrepomena, kai prin lephthenai, apionta.) An author remarkable for his attainments in religion, justly cries out, “Oh! what peace and tranquility might he possess, who could be prevailed upon to cut off all vain anxiety, and only think of htose things that are of a Divine and saving nature!” (O qui omnem vanam solicitudinem amputuret, et salutaria duntaxat ac divina cogitaret, quantam quietem et pacem possideret!) Peace and tranquility is, without doubt, what we all seek after, yet there are very few that know the way to it, though it be quite plain and open. It is, indeed, no wonder that the blind who wander about without a guide, should mistake the plainest and most open path; but we have an infallible Guide, and a most valiant Leader. Let us follow him alone; for he that treadeth in his steps, can never walk in darkness.

Let us pray.

O! Invisible God, who seest all things!; Eternal light, before whom all darkness is light, and in comparison with whom every other light is but darkness. The weak eyes of our understanding cannot bear the open and full rays of thy inaccessible light: and yet, without some glimpses of that light from heaven, we can never direct our steps, nor proceed towards that country which is the habitation of light. May it therefore please thee, O Father of lights, to send forth thy light and thy truth, that they may lead us directly to thy holy mountain. Thou art good, and the Fountain of goodness; give us understanding, that we may keep thy precepts. That part of our past lives, which we have lost in pursuing shadows, is enough, and indeed too much; bring back our souls into the paths of life, and let the wonderful sweetness thereof, which far exceeds all the pleasures of this earth, powerfully, yet pleasantly, preserve us from being drawn aside therefrom by any temptation from sin or the world. Purify, we pray thee, our souls from all impure imaginations, that thy most beautiful and holy image may be again renewed within us, and by contemplating thy glorious perfections, we may feel daily improved with that divine similitude, the perfection whereof, we hope, will at last make us for ever happy in that full and beatific vision we aspire after. Till this most blessed day break, and the shadows fly away, let thy Spirit be continually with us, and may we feel the powerful effects of his Divine grace constantly directing and supporting our steps; that all our endeavours, not only in this society, but throughout the whole remaining part of our lives, may serve to promote the honour of thy blessed name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

from The Whole Works of the Most Reverend Father in God, Robert Leighton, DD, Archbishop of Glasgow Available at Google books here.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Atheism and Mass Murder or Killing in the Name of Atheism

As I have meandered around the web, I have seen this topic broached many times - sometimes in the form of - "No one has ever killed anyone in the name of Atheism" or "All mass killings have been initiated for religious reasons" or "Religion has been responsible for all significant historical mass murders" - I'd like to express my skepticism of these and similar statements by posting some research statistics I found a couple of years ago.

Take a look - besides the obvious fact that humans are REALLY good at killing each other - Anybody else see the elephant in the room?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lesson from Islam Convert

In the CNN article "Rejecting radical Islam -- one man's journey", a man named Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is quoted as saying about Islam "he saw the religion which he had embraced for its tolerance become obsessed with rules and ideology."

Point: Works based salvation always tends toward licentiousness, legalism, or both (inconsistently).

Solution: Grace salvation rather than works salvation. Grace based righteousness rather than works based righteousness.

Perhaps others can learn a lesson from Daveed before becoming entwined in Islam's net.

Moral Standard: Society, Individual, or Absolute

For all those who suggest there are no absolutes (including moral) and that the standard of morality is set by society (i.e., the "majority", etc.), .......HOW MANY of them do you think ever recognize and give much credence to the societal standard when their personal beliefs and practices are in conflict with the majority's?

My experience in dialogue and debate with folks like this indicates that when there is a difference between the individual's position and society's position, it's always the society that must be "uneducated' or "biased" or 'behind the times", etc., ... or there's a choice to select what "segment" of society to side with (which interestingly enough always happens to resemble their own personal beliefs and desires).

When examined, often the accepted "societal standard" is not much different than the "self standard", in fact its never different. In this case, the only standards are dependent upon the individual at the present time. Ever thought about the fact that if the standard is with the individual, how much sense does it make for these individuals to speak against the beliefs or practices of other individuals, and yet infidels do it all the time, even if to justify their own beliefs and practices.

Here... is another example of the superiority of the Biblical world and life view (in which absolutes exist) over those worldviews which base standards (morality, etc.) on something other than that that which is absolute.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Frank Page's The Trouble with the Tulip

I saw this booklet on offer in Lifeway today and I thought, "I hope someone has given this thing the review it deserves":

Tom Ascol's review :)

...and a related article.

Monday, August 13, 2007

John Piper on God's Sovereignty over Suffering...

...Christ’s healings are a sign of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God and its final victory over all disease and all the works of Satan. It is right and good to pray for healing. Christ has purchased it in the death of his Son, with all the other blessings of grace, for all his children (Isaiah 53:5). But he has not promised that we get the whole inheritance in this life. And he decides how much. We pray and we trust his answer. If you ask your Father for bread, he will not give you him a stone? If you ask him for a fish, he will not give you a serpent (see Matthew 7:9-10). It may not be bread. And it may not be a fish. But it will be good for you. That is what he promises (Romans 8:28).

more here

The Kantian Paradox

Most atheists I know are caught in a Kantian paradox. They want to say they "know" what naturalistic science reports to be objectively true (that only the material world is real), but they want to live AS IF they believe in the objective reality of the immaterial world which contains laws of morality and thought, meaning, the mind, human will, human consciousness, human dignity, justice, beauty, rights, etc. Yet, as a consistent thinker, they must admit that these abstract entities are only illusions. So, they live in tension. But it is worse than that. Kant admitted that these two realms appear to contradict each other. If the unguided machine of scientific materialism governs and perfectly determines every event in the universe, then it governs every event in the human body. There is no meaning behind the term "self" or "I" because humans are only cogs in an impersonal deterministic machine. We are, as one Darwinian thinker has put it, "complex computers made of meat." Every thing that we do and everything that happens in the world is determined by the laws of physics, including all of those immaterial concepts which give life meaning, joy, and ethical significance. In the Middle Ages, the immaterial conceptual world (call it the upper story) was given priority. But Enlightenment thinkers, especially David Hume, argued that the material world was all that exists and that the immaterial world was simply a part or product of the material world. So, he became a skeptic. We can't know anything beyond our sense experience truly (he even started to question whether we could know the material world as we experience it truly).

Basically, the early Enlightenment thinkers like Hume argued that all knowledge is reducible to scientific materialism (the lower story). Religion, morality, art, beauty, and so on, since they can't be investigated scientifically, were considered irrelevant spin-offs of a naturalistic deterministic machine. The Romantics responded by trying to reassert the value of these things with their philosophy of idealism (ultimate reality is not material but spiritual or mental). The Romantics were willing to concede that mechanistic science deals in material world but that the arts and humanities are important as they deal in the equally important immaterial world. Kant comes along and tries to bring philosophical harmony. Kant wanted to affirm the existence of what he found to be two contradictory realities. He said that humans are free and autonomous in life as they consider immaterial concepts of morality, beauty, justice, etc. But he said, of course, that we really know that all these ideas are ultimately meticulously determined by the laws of the materialistic machine. That is, in the upper story he put freedom (the autonomous self of free man with the ideas of justice, morality, the good, etc.). In the lower story he put nature (or the Newtonian World Machine). Like the Romantic Rousseau, he wanted to say that man as a free creature or "self" capable of assigning meaning and morality to his behavior and identity, actually exists and is not part of the Newtonian deterministic machine (if he was, life really would be as meaningless and morality as illusory as Hume suggested). But Kant fails to avoid self-contradiction, as even he acknowledged. As Nancy Pearcy put it (taken from her book Total Truth), "in the lower story he was talking about things that actually exist, the constituents of the real world -- while in the upper story he was talking about a realm of concepts or principles that we assume only because they are necessary for morality [and meaning and happiness]. Since morality requires freedom of the will [an uncoerced will], we must suppose ourselves to be free, no matter what science says to the contrary. Since, the correspondence of happiness with virtue cannot be left to mere coincidence, we must suppose there is a God who guarantees it. And since moral perfection cannot be attained in this life, we must suppose ourselves to live forever...In short, the lower story is what we know; the upper story is what we can't help believing" in order to make sense of our every day experience. Kant actually said that regardless of what naturalistic science says, we must act "AS IF" we were free, moral, valuable, significant, meaningful, etc. We must act AS IF there are transcendental laws of morality, thought, and so on because they are the necessary preconditions of intelligibility. We must trick ourselve. Basically, Kant was saying that in order to function in this life, we must live in paradox or irrationalism (hence Francis Scaeffer’s book titled Escape From Reason). That is, as Pearcy explains Kant, "we operate within a physical world completely determined by natural laws (lower story); and at the same time, we participate in a conceptual world where we conceive of ourselves as free moral agents (upper story)." The material world is all that that the atheist confirms, but he won’t (can’t) live that way. He must presuppose the immaterial world in order to function.

Of course, then Darwin comes along and offers the first plausible naturalistic mechanism for the origin of life, and so there goes God (the concession of deism that enlightenment thinkers typically made). As Dawkins has said, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." The lower story, to more and more naturalistic thinkers, was not real but an illusion or convenience. We invent those abstract entities and treat them as absolute so that we do not go crazy or drive ourselves to despair or whatever. Steven Pinker, an MIT scientist, has said that "Ethical theory requires idealizations like free, sentient, rational, equivalent agents whose behavior is uncaused [by the determinism of scientific materialism]," and yet "the world, as seen by scien[tific naturalism], does not really have uncaused events." That is, ethics depends on the reality of something that materialistic science has declared to be unreal. This is the so-called Kantian and secular "leap of faith" which describes western thought from Kant until today. Pinker admits that irrationalism is the only option. "A human being is simultaneously a machine and a sentient free agent, depending on the purposes of the discussions." Pinker must conduct his life AS IF scientific materialism is untrue. In his personal life, he is forced to affirm the reality of things the existence of which his worldview denies. He must take a "leap of faith" in order to make life intelligible and meaningful. He even calls this mysticism (ironically given the common use of that word by atheists to describe the thought of theists). Pearcy says of his dilemma and so many others who are finally made aware of this paradox (including you the reader now), "Either you can try to be consistent with evolutionary naturalism in the lower story -- in which case you have to deny the existence of consciousness and free will [and meaning, transcendental laws of thought and morality, etc.]. Or else you can affirm their existence though they have no basis within your intellectual system -- which is sheer mysticism. An irrational leap." An Escape from Reason. That is, they are practicing theists but creedal atheists. Pearcy: "Adherents of scientific naturalism freely acknowledge that in ordinary life they have to switch to a different paradigm. That ought to tell them something. After all, the purpose of a worldview is to explain the world -- and if it fails to explain some part of the world, then there's something wrong with that worldview." One may say that they are no more than a machine, but as Schaeffer says, "his whole life denies it." That is, the atheist must walk by faith. In reality, however, he is only borrowing from Christianity in order to function. Of course, though there is no ground for one's conviction of their own freedom, a compelling personal and social moral conscious, and so on in scientific materialism, there is in Christianity. God made man in His likeness and transmits knowledge to His mind so that he is really capable of knowing truly and objectively both the material and immaterial world. The non-Christian, unable to make sense of the world and unable to make life intelligible apart from Christianity, uses Christian categories, concepts, and principles in order function in life and even to make their case against Christianity. To put it a bit more bluntly, they slap the hand that feeds them.

Finally, as Francis Schaeffer predicted, the lower story tends to "eat up" the upper story. Earlier in this post I pointed out that people tend to behave AS IF the immaterial world exists. But as they become more and more consistent with the worldview of philosophical naturalism and scientific materialism, they tend to acknowledge or recognize or admit that the upper story is unreal. That is, it too is a product of the materialistic determinism in the lower story and so there really is no authentic upper story. It's all an illusion. For many, this realization leads to despair, self-indulgence, acceptance of immorality, injustice, violence, etc. I once watched someone go through this process. When he fully understood what consistency in his worldview required, he became accepting of and even favored the infanticide, involuntary euthanasia, involuntary sterlization of those deemed “unfit.” Another person I knew came to believe that man is no more valuable than ants or birds. Peter Singer, the famous Darwinian Bioethicist at Princeton, has said the same thing. He has also, incidentally, argued that some animals are more valuable ("ethically significant") than some humans. Some simply admit that, though they would not do it, they can't hold moral objections to those things because nature is only running its course. When others come to this realization, like Marquis De Sade did, they loose all self-control and indulge themselves in that which pleases their senses (torture of women in his case). Others, after having realized that they are merely cogs in a materialist machine, lose any sense of meaning and purpose and turn to suicide (this was Francis Schaeffer's target ministry group). Others deal with this reality in other ways (alcohol and drugs). Fortunately, by God’s grace, countless others do not choose to escape from reason, but choose to escape to reason by finding the only worldview that provides them with a system of thought that is coherent and consistent, that makes sense of the world as it is experienced, and contains the possibility of knowing the seen and unseen truly and objectively.

I recently had a conversation with an atheist about this. After reviewing several of our discussions, I showed him that he was caught in the Kantian paradox using his own words. How?

1. Laws of Morality. He said: "the idea of ‘absolute morals’ is a meaningless idea that exists only in our minds." I said: “First, if absolute morals are meaningless because it is an abstract entity (immaterial) then you will agree that our minds are meaningless too (same thing). Second, you have denied the existence of absolute laws of morality. But to use the term moral and immoral, right or wrong, should or ought, is to imply the existence of an absolute standard of morality by which to judge the choices of men. Your worldview denies that standard. In your worldview, a moral choice is one that is nothing more than one that is socially popular or personally preferred. Yet, you do not behave that way. As you have said, you refuse to cheat on your wife, you refuse to ignore the misfortune of others, you refuse to be abuse your wife, you accuse the Christian God of immorality, you accuse me of being "arrogant" and "smug," and you accuse Christians in politics of infringing upon individual rights and doing injustice to others. You are appalled (I hope) by infanticide, slavery, and human torture. You consider these choices all to be wrong and in violation of some principle to which you are obligated and you believe others should obligate themselves to these standards as well. You don't treat these principles as simply popular opinions or personal preferences, but as moral laws. That is, you behave AS IF an absolute standard of right and wrong exists. But your worldview contains no such standard. So, rather than sell out to rampant immoral decadence, unchecked self-indulgence, and total moral relativism, at this point at least, you borrow from the Christian worldview in order to function and make sense your hatred of child rape and the like.

2. Laws of logic. You said: "We should be logical in our discussion, not so much because we are obliged to do so, but because it is the only productive method of doing so. If not, the discussion serves neither of us any purpose ." This statement demonstrates that your worldview can't account for that which you must presuppose in order to function. To quote Pearcy again, "that should tell you something." You have denied the existence of absolute laws of logic, though you originally asserted that you and other "freethinkers" are rational (and Christians are irrational). That is a meaningless charge if laws of logic do not exist. A few messages into our discussion, you referred to our arguments as greatly "lacking." Clearly, you mean that we are wrong in our analysis because we are using illogical or irrational argumentation. But to accuse others of being irrational is to assume that an absolute standard of thought (logic) exists. (It is also to assume an absolute standard of morality exists sense you believe we “ought” to bind ourselves to a certain ethic of thought and limit our arguments to those which are reasonable and logical). You have said that you deny the existence of that standard. So, laws of logic do not exist in your worldview. But you need them every single day for basic cognition. You must presuppose them in order to attach a predicate to a subject and make the world, language, thought, math, etc. intelligible. So, you borrow from our worldview, which contains a personal-absolute God who can not contradict Himself (the foundation of logic) in order to function in and make sense of the world as you experience it. You have now explicitly confessed to being in the Kantian paradox when you say that you must use the laws of logic if you want to be understood and if you want to reason with other people, but that you can’t account for their transcendental necessity.

3. Laws of Science. You said: "Why does there have to be an absolute law of anything, be it science, morality, or ethics? I don't see why the cosmos owes us any absolutes." Of course nothing impersonal can owe or provide an absolute anything. But a personal-absolute can and did. You are, I'm afraid, seeing the consequences of your own worldview and it has apparently placed you farther away from objective truth than even Hume was willing to go (though Hume's empiricism could not explain it, even he refused to relinquish his belief in the laws of nature). Now you are thinking consistently, look out. You have denied the existence of absolute laws of science, though you originally asserted that science is your only method for knowledge attainment. But science can't operate unless these laws are presupposed. So, you apparently profess that they do not exist (laws like natural order), but you behave otherwise. You operate AS IF the world were orderly and predictable and had been created that way by an orderly God. Your worldview can't account for an orderly universe, so to function, you borrow from ours.

Basically, you are not despairing at this point in life (unlike Nietzsche for example) like so many consistent atheistic thinkers in the past because you are not living life consistent with your worldview. You are living your life consistent, at some level, with the Christian worldview. You know the truth of God's existence because you can't function apart from it, but you are actively suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1). I did this too at one time. You asked for evidence. I think this is strong evidence that God must be presupposed even in building a case against Him. Christian theism allows one to harmonize their behavior with their worldview. It makes sense of transcendental abstract entities and their utter necessity and it makes sense of how everyone actually lives in and experiences the world.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Speaking of preaching...

...with thanks to Building Old School Churches blog


By Charles Haddon Spurgeon

OUR subject is one which I find scarcely ever noticed in any books upon homiletics - a very curious fact, for it is a most important matter, and worthy of more than one chapter. I suppose the homiletical savans consider that their entire volumes are seasoned with this subject, and that they need not give it to us in lumps, because, like sugar in tea, it flavors the whole. That overlooked topic is, How TO OBTAIN AND RETAIN THE ATTENTION OF OUR HEARERS. Their attention must be gained, or nothing can be done with them: and it must be retained, or we may go on wordspinning, but no good will come of it.

more here

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Chief End of Higher Education: II

My wife and I were listening to NPR yesterday morning and heard a report concerning the practice of some colleges and universities charging increased tuition for certain majors. The idea is, apparently, that college education is worth more for engineering students, let's say, than for history or classics majors. How, do you suppose, such a "worth" is calculated? The answer shows us just how our higher educational institutions evaluate the "product" they provide.

Sadly, the answer is not surprising. The idea is that engineering students are deemed to gain more from their having a BS in their field... but that gain is calculated in dollars and cents - and this is the problem. If the worth of a college degree is determined by the average salary of outgoing graduates, there's a major problem (no pun intended).

As noted in my last post, the aims of education ought to be to equip students to pursue and attain intellectual maturity, and to begin (one doesn't ever *end*) down the path to wisdom (and from a Christian perspective, the aim of a student ought to be such wisdom as gives glory and honor to God our Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ). Today's education doesn't aim there - typically one might hear the aim to be "to get a better job", "to qualify for X, Y or Z", or even "to get my MRS", though this last one is relatively infrequently spoken in polite company. Education, whether one speaks of higher ed, or elementary & secondary, is rarely put in terms of gaining wisdom and training the intellect in a way consistent with sound moral principles. Kirk, in his essay "The Revitalized College", writes:

My thesis is this: a principal achievement of liberal education in America has been the imparting of a sense of moral worth among those who lead intellectually. This apprehension of moral worth, as taught by the liberal disciplines, has been losing ground, throughout the present century, to what Newman called the "Knowledge School" - that is, to utilitarian and pragmatic theories and practices, which tend to regard moral worth (so far as they regard it at all) as merely the product of private rationality and social utility. Success, increasingly, has been substituted for virtue in our curricula; facts, for wisdom; social adjustment, for strength of soul. What, in certain books of mine, I have called "defecated rationality" (that is, the petty bank and captial of private rationality, as distinguished from the wisdom of our ancestors, religion, custom, convention, reverence and honor) nowadays is generally considered the brightest gem in a scholar's crown. And if this latter-day view of the ends of education is carried to its logical conclusion, we must efface the principle which for three centuries has breathed life into the unwieldy bulk of our system of higher education. (Russell Kirk, "The Revitalized College: A Model", in "Education in a Free Society", Liberty Fund, Inc., 1973, pp. 138-139)
Now Kirk likely puts more faith and trust in what I'd call "purely human wisdom" and convention than I would - but his objection to 'modern' or 'postmodern' ends of higher education still stands. We have lost any touch with historical purposes of education and pursuit of wisdom in this (and the last) century... education is a means to "higher productivity" and "better personal financial outcomes". It is no longer, in general, it seems, interested in teaching students to learn and giving them tools for the pursuit of true wisdom and maturity. The "extended adolescence" that college has become for many is accepted, and even celebrated, by some in our circles.

This isn't to say that all hope is lost... but I wonder how much of what characterizes our society today might stem from the fact that so many of our educational instiutions have moved from an aim of helping students pursue a virtuous wisdom and mature intellectual exercise and training to a "more practical" job-oriented focus? College is "for everybody" and is well nigh a "requirement" for job placement. Couple this with an overwhelming sense of moral relativism that our society trumpets as "virtue", and we have what we have today.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

More Dawkins

From this article, The Gullible Age, we read this:

"For Dawkins, of course, science is a religion, at least in the sense that it is something he fiercely believes in, a belief system that insists its dogma stand up to rigorous “double blind” experimental testing and rejects anything that fails. Those who refuse to put their beliefs to any test, he suggests, do so because they instinctively know they will fail."

Apart from the rather obvious fact that we already knew, that Dawkins regards science as his religion, one has to wonder whether his own position stands up to internal scrutiny.

To start with, can Dawkins show us the setup of the double blind experiment that will test the truth of his position. Of course he may point to many successful experiments across scientific fields, but that is just question begging. The methodology, which is what he apparently is arguing for, is assumed before those experiments can begin. What he needs to show is the double-blind experiment which proves that double-blind experiments are a true and valid reflection of all reality. In the process, he will also need to prove, by the same method, the validity of methodological naturalism, the reliability of the senses, the consistency of nature throughout history and the other assumptions that go along with experimentation.

But that does not not even begin at the beginning...experiments are rarely a true reflection of reality. The whole premise of experimentation is to remove variables to test a specific hypothesis under controlled conditions, and in doing so, removes the multi-dimensional interaction of natural reality. The results are then extrapolated back into nature, but remain limited in its true explanatory power.

The method described is also exclusively inductive. That means, simply put, that universal conclusions are drawn from the specific experimental conditions, set-up and results. Of course that leads to a further problem, because one can never perform experiments for all possible conditions and circumstances, because not all conditions or instances, can be accurately determined or duplicated.

So while Dawkins purports to be rational and logical, his scientism worldview is very limited and problematic. He cannot account for the worldview by its own internal standards. But so far, I have not seen that he has admitted his philosophical and metaphysical biases. Maybe he knows that to do so will mean the death knell of his materialistic gospel, and force him to enter into the world where his own ideas and concepts will be discussed, debated, tested and disproved, and brute assertion holds no sway.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sermon Length - How long should a preacher preach?

Since I just preached last week - I found this article very illuminating...I am MUCH more the 25 minute kind of preacher...


We have heard of both extremes—ten minute homilies that are barely sufficient to whet the spiritual appetite, and then the two-hour jobs preached by some earnest Puritan to Cromwell's Parliament. The former is easily dismissed by conservative Christians as "sermonettes for Christianettes," and the latter are obviously . . . well, a little swollen.

Challies on the Dawkins Delusion

Book Review - The Dawkins Delusion?

Alister McGrath - The Dawkins Delusion?Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion is a mega-seller, having been a long-time fixture on the New York Times list of bestsellers. Easily the world’s most prominent atheist at this time, Dawkins is becoming still more popular and gaining a wider and wider voice. Just recently he has introduced his “OUT” campaign which seeks to convince atheists to come out with their beliefs and to stop hiding in shame. He is leading the charge for society to regard atheism as a valid and respectable worldview.

Monday, August 6, 2007

John Piper against the Rabbi on the sovereignty of God

Gary Eichten of Minnesota Public Radio interviewed Rabbi Harold Kushner about the collapse of the 35W bridge. Kushner is best known for his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. There were several astonishing things about this interview—not unusual for religious talk shows on public radio, but astonishing still.

1. The most astonishing thing is that God’s grace is so great neither the Rabbi nor I was struck dead by God during the interview—he, because of his blasphemous belittlings of God, and I, because of my contaminated anger at what he said.

more here

The Chief End of Higher Education: I

I've spent a little time recently thinking about the vocation of a liberal arts college - what exactly are we aiming for in higher education, and particularly, as a professor at a college of liberal arts and sciences, what is it that we should be about? I'll muse over this question for a few posts with the common title, "The Chief End of Higher Education".

It's not as though this is a new question. The question has been discussed (from a Roman Catholic perspective) in Newman's "Idea of a University", extended and fleshed out more by James Sire in "Discipleship of the Mind", Richard T. Hughes in "How Christian Faith can Sustain the Life of the mind" and "Models for Christian Higher Education", etc., and in the work I would like to quote from here, an essay by Russel Kirk entitled "The Revitalized College: A Model", which is found in the book "Education in a Free Society," edited by Anne Husted Burleigh.

Kirk writes,
What, then, is the chief end of a college of arts and sciences? Why, to enable a body of senior scholars (the professors) and a body of junior scholars (the undergraduates) to seek after Wisdom - and through Wisdom, for Truth.

The end is not success, pleasure, or sociability, but wisdom. This wisdom is not the same as facts, utility, training or even knowledge. No college can confer wisdom, but a good college can help its members to acquire the means to pursue wisdom. Wisdom means apprehension of the human condition, recognition of reality, and the experience and possession of high knowledge - together with the power to apply experience and knowledge critically and practically. Although it is still relatively easy to find learned fools, true wisdom is rare; and so must wisdom always be. Still, in the hope that wisdom may not be extinguished altogether in our generation [TKP - Kirk wrote this in the 1950's], I endeavor to present to you model college that might help to make the acquisition of wisdom less difficult than it is at present; a college some of whose graduates might be philosophers (lovers of wisdom), and many of whose graduates might be, at least, men of right reason, humane inclinations and sound taste. (pp 133-4, Education in a Free Society, ed. A. H. Burleigh, Liberty Fund, 1973)

With apologies to the great American philosopher-poet, Pete Seeger, "Where have all the philosophers gone?" It seems to me this particular end of an institution of higher learning has gone by the wayside long, long ago - perhaps when it ceased to be the consensus that "the beginning of Wisdom is the fear of the Lord".... our colleges and universities, today, for the most part seem to be completely divorced from the seeking of wisdom and intellectual soundness, and married to a new conception... the ability to get a nice job where one can be personally (individually) fulfilled while making lots of money.

I'll admit to being a cynic about our institutions of higher education (including my own), but I honestly want to think out loud a little about where colleges went awry (and invite your thoughts by way of comment). Kirk in his essay is probably a little more optimistic in his assessment of the ability of institutions that aren't fully Christian through and through to help students truly pursue wisdom - but his insights do point to cracks in the foundation of American higher education that were already gaping chasms in 1971 when he wrote the quoted essay.


Saturday, August 4, 2007

A bridge too far

The bridge fell. Within hours, I saw many calls to prayer for the survivors, rescuers and families of victims. And just as swiftly, the normal atheist barrage of "Where was God?"

The debates ensued, with atheist accusations of a cruel God who didn't hold up the bridge, and Christian answers about the larger purpose of God, unknowable to man. And so it rages back and forth, Scripture counters to anti-theist moral indignation, amidst a backdrop of anti-theist claims of purpose and sadness.

Are we granting too much moral authority to man?

It is the easy way, let's argue as God's jury. All of us...including Christians. Because not claiming to know God's purpose is an implicit judgment on God too, yes, we agree it is sad and bad, and God let it happen for an unknown reason. But if God let it happen, then as Christians, how are we to condemn it? On what moral basis do we then operate?

It's even worse for the atheist. His argument for God being evil has to assume a lot, in fact it is an insurmountable problem. And in the debates I saw, the Christians, in my opinion, grants the atheist way too much in terms of a moral basis. The old canard of societal morals does not hold up, because it merely shifts the problem. (Because for societies to decide on the morality of a certain act, it still has to hold to a higher standard to begin with.)

But I don't want to get ahead of myself. For the atheist to call God evil, these assumptions must be made:
1. Finding evil. Because for the atheist to claim evil, he must materialize it. How does he know when something is evil? Does he sense it? Where is the "evil" neuron in his brain? Can he point it out? Can we buy a bottle of "evil" at Walmart? If evil is not a material thing, then what is it? It cannot be a transcendent entity, because universal transcendent entities are inductively unprovable. Or, if the atheist then inconsistently insists that it is such an entity, where did it come from?
2. The intelligibility of the word "evil". How does an atheist make sense of the word "evil". How does he understand what evil means? It can only be defined in terms of its opposite, "good". But how is anything understood as good or evil in a purely material universe, where everything is presumed to be the deterministic outcome of the laws of nature. Is the law of gravity good or evil? How can the words good or evil make any sense whatsoever in the "blind, pitiless" existence of Dawkins?
3. What is the standard? There can be no assumptions of what God ought to do unless the standard is set higher than what God sets. This creates another dilemma for the atheist. He has to invent something that is more authoritative than God in order to establish that standard. But how do you invent something that, even in theory, has more authority than God? Of course, the atheist skirts by this issue claiming human moral authority, but we all know how well that works. Genocide, murder, rape, torture etc are all examples of human moral authority at work. So unless the atheist wants to claim that as morally sufficient behavior, the human paradigm fails. It fails on other grounds too. For example, how does an atheist condemn something as morally evil without proof? If the standard for the existence of God is scientific proof, how does he prove that something is good or evil by the scientific method?

So before the Christian even starts to engage the atheist on the topic of whether it was right or wrong for God to let the bridge fall, he should not even grant the existence of evil from the atheistic perspective. It simply cannot exist. Moral indignation is ignorance of the highest order from the non-believer perspective, since he cannot logically account for its base assumptions. It is unintelligible garbage produced by the universal laws of nature, like the random interference of sunspots. Atheists, quite curiously, in general do not deny the existence of evil. Even their high priest Dawkins, while calling the universe a cold and pitiless place, wants to claim that raising Christian children is evil. But they have no foot to stand on.

But let this also serve as a sober warning to Christians. Be careful not to agree with the atheist on the evilness of an event based on their condemnation of God. It is a tacit admission that God is not omnipotent and transcendent based on the illusionary anti-theist standards. Remember this, you cannot judge God. We stand in awe and wonder of His creation, and sheepishly and humbly accept His grace and love. Let's not also judge Him by human standards, let's believe His revelation where He tells us that all things are for His glory.

The atheist's blind condemnation of God is not because God is evil. It is born out of the atheist's own lack of ability to see evil for what it really is, that which is contrary to God's expressed will.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Christian Liberty

Today I found a cool tool call Slideshare that allows the sharing of presentations - this is a sermon I did a while back on Christian Liberty:

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lifehacker on the Elevator Pitch...

How To

Craft a killer elevator pitch

The Dumb Little Man weblog highlights the importance of a good elevator pitch, the under-than-a-minute pitch to convince your co-elevator passenger (presuming he/she has some sway in your success) that you've got a good thing going. Your pitch can apply to just about anything, from your business/startup to your skills as a potential employee. The post then suggests methods for putting together your own elevator pitch to sell yourself (in a non-prostitute way) in 30-60 seconds. The tips boil down to packing as much concise info into as little time as possible while peppering your pitch with a story and a good hook. If you've already got a killer elevator pitch, share your insight and methods in the comments. Photo by baratunde.

How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business [Dumb Little Man]

And from YouTube:


A survivor in an interview following the bridge collapse in Minnesota made a statement (that has been voiced by others in the past who also survived a tragedy in which others died), saying: "I felt guilty because I lived through it and they didn't."

My question: Is this a legitimate thought?


Guilt has been defined as "the state of having done a wrong or committed an offense; culpability, legal or ethical (2) a painful feeling of self-reproach resulting from a belief that one has done something wrong or immoral (3) conduct that involves guilt; crime; sin (Websters New World Dictionary-Third College Edition)

Consider the following:

1. If there is no God and FATE rules the day, then there's no reason to feel guilty since the outcome of events was determined(or predetermined) by an impersonal power either before or as the event(s) occurred. In this case, there is no reason for guilt or drawing any relationship between oneself and another person. Each simply would receive what fate (an impersonal power) determined.

2. If there is no God and CHANCE rules the day, then there's no reason to feel guilty, since the outcome of events is determined randomly or accidentally (w/out apparent cause). In this case, there is no reason for guilt. Again, each is the benefactor of a blind power.

3. If there is a GOD(which is true), then there's no reason to feel guilty in relation to those who died, but rather reason for gratitude to God according to the mercy and grace extended to the individual through his providence. Here, one has not been the recipient of blind power, but the recipient of one who personally deals with all, not only according to justice, but also according to mercy and unmerited grace, to the praise of his gracious and holy name.

Note - it's interesting that individuals express they feel "GUILTY" when one lives while others do not. The truth is that humans recognize that none of us in and of ourselves "merit life" or "deserve" to live (... more than another). The truth also is recognized that we all are just as subject and liable to death as another.

What's noteworthy is that if survivors, rather than falsely presuming some sort of random power (or blind power) and feeling "guilty" because they came out on the better end of the deal than others, were to deal with the issue that they continue in life even though they have done nothing to deserve it (even while others may not have) and that they are personally subject to and liable to death, they might come to experience not only the temporal grace already received in this life (which they did not merit), but the grace that God extends to those who will acknowledge we are not deserving of life, and who will believe on his name and repent.

Consider the testimony of those who not only acknowledge that none of us deserves to live, that we all are subject and liable to death, as well as the fact that they feel some sort of "guilt" when they live though they can give no reason for it (and perhaps their conscience can give many reasons why they do not). The truth is, when one comes to understand the presence and presents(gifts) of God, there's no place for misplaced feelings of guilt, but only for right feelings and expressions of gratitude and the need to look continually to God for more of the same and for the life that only he can give!

Because he is a God both of the past and of promise, we can not only look back at grace received, but ahead at grace to come.

May God's grace and mercy be with those who, not only in this catastrophe but in others also, seek not only solutions to those places where they struggle with guilt and pain, but also answers to these important issues related to life and death.