Arbitrary Miracles and Steve Jobs

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Are miracles arbitrary?

Imagine with me an ordinary guy named Bob.  Nothing too exceptional ever happens to Bob, so far.  Bob considers himself a bit unique as he is the proud owner of a MacBook.  Yes, it was more expensive, but personally, Bob finds Mac more desirable than Windows.  Then one day everything changed for ordinary Bob.  It began on a Monday in August.  Bob met what he assumed to be a Steve Jobs look-a-like.  At his doorstep. First of all, it would be flattering but highly unlikely that Steve Jobs would drop by average Bob’s house.  Secondly, this was shortly after the terribly sad news of Job’s death.  Certainly this could not be the real Steve Jobs.  Surprisingly, the man introduced himself as “Steve Jobs” and “pleased to meet” one of his greatest fans.

“B-b-but you can’t be Steve Jobs. He’s-”

“My death was highly exaggerated. Mind if I see your MacBook?”

“Maybe… but why?”

“Aren’t you just a tad curious?”

“Okay, sure. Just don’t break it.”

The man grew a smile that was ready to erupt into laughter.  He brought up screens Bob had never seen before, and he sped through programming lines like a serious hacker.  Just about the time Bob was able to move his limp jaw to interrupt, the man sat back with his arms folded up behind his head.  He pushed away from the table where the new MacBook sat.  Well, it may as well be brand new, for the improved programming put into it.  The welcome screen had realistic jets flying crisscross until their jet-lines spelled WELCOME BOB in Bob’s favorite color and Bob’s favorite font, jets being Bob’s second favorite thing (His first favorite was Apple products).  And the startup sound, well, that would be Bob’s favorite song, Stayin’ Alive.  The MacBook started up faster than ever, and every one of Bob’s programs ran better than ever.  In fact, his jet-fighter game had more definition and unlocked extras.

After looking through everything on the MacBook, Bob was impressed to say the least.

“How?! How did you even know what I like?”

“Well, that part was easy.  It’s found in your computer’s memory.  Besides, you are one of my biggest fans.  Remember when you signed up to give feedback?  Well, you certainly had a great deal of input, and I took notice.”

So goes the story of average Bob and Steve Jobs.  Were this to actually happen to a real-life Bob, he might just believe that he had truly met Steve Jobs.  Let’s temporarily work with the assumption that Steve Jobs did make this special visit, and let’s agree with Bob that it’s a miracle.  If nothing else, Bob’s visitor has given strong proof of his identity as Steve Jobs.

Now let’s ask ourselves how a God who created the universe might prove His existence.  Could He work through miracles?  Wouldn’t that mean breaking His own laws, the physical laws of nature?  Well, isn’t that what Steve Jobs did in our story?  Bob’s MacBook came pre-programmed with the rules coded by Apple.  But in order for Mr. Jobs to prove himself, he overwrote some original lines of code and set new rules.  How else would he have proven himself?  Even if there were some other way, doesn’t Mr. Jobs have the right to choose a personal touch?

What about the arbitrary factor of miracles?  Doesn’t that fly in the face of a God of laws?  How can we even know His works if He might just suspend all His own laws and do whatever He wants?  Again, let’s ask the same of our Steve Jobs.  Imagine Steve tried to prove himself as the founder of Apple by making a rabbit appear out of a hat.  Although that might impress Bob, it wouldn’t help answer his pressing question.  The apparent miracle of spontaneous appearance has nothing to do with MacBooks.  Breaking Bob’s reality – the reality that rabbits only appear from holes in the ground – is arbitrary.  However, breaking Bob’s preset coding in his MacBook is very meaningful (the opposite of arbitrary.)  So why can’t God suspend His laws of natural law to prove His existence, so long as He does so in a meaningful way?  Perhaps we are the arrogant ones, when we suppose that God should be firmly restricted to the laws with which we humans are comfortably knowledgeable.

So what then would be the non-arbitrary miracle that God would perform?  The answer depends on the expressed nature of God.  Just like our Steve Jobs candidate, where he would have to live up to the reputation of the man behind Apple.  Now the God of the Bible expresses His power in many ways.  Nevertheless, we find His attention focused on a humbling place – human life.  As the Psalmist said, “What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? Psalm 8:4 NKJV

Since the God of the Bible is focused on human life, we would expect to find His miracles focused on human life.  Of course, God doesn’t have to meet our expectations, but this expectation would make the most sense.  When we read the New Testament, we are reading about “Immanuel” meaning  “God with us”.   Jesus, if He were living up to the claim of being God in the flesh, should be performing miracles that reflect the intentions of God.  What we find is no doubt consistent with this assumption.  The majority of Jesus’ miracles involve healing, returning life to human limbs, human sight, human flesh, and so on.  And then we find Him building up to the crescendo of resurrecting the life of His friend Lazarus.  It’s very interesting to note what Jesus says in anticipation of this miracle.  He does not say,” Well, I just feel like doing a resurrection today”, nor does He say, “I happen to do resurrections as a side gig.”  Instead He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”  John‬ ‭11:23, 25‬ ‭NLT‬‬.  So Jesus actually defines Himself to be the source of life, just as Steve Jobs would define himself to be the man behind Apple.

Furthermore, there are a few occasions in the New Testament where Jesus refused the requests of religious leaders and His own disciples.  Apparently these flash-in-the-sky miracles didn’t fit a pattern, a directive that Jesus sought to accomplish.

I encourage you to also study and consider the Anthropic Principle.  If the God of the Bible did create the Universe, we could reasonably conclude that He is the engineer behind the Anthropic Principle.  Since the Anthropic Principle is focused on human life, this would coalesce with the God of the Bible, and thus with the “non-arbitrary” premise.  We could say there is a higher law, and it is non-arbitrary.

God being the Creator of the Universe, has the right to intervene in any way He chooses.  If you read the whole Bible, you’ll see He does take lordship of His broader domain.  Between God, life, and the entire Universe, things can get complicated.  Furthermore, God is interested in our whole being, our spiritual life.  But when we see God intervening by restoring physical life, the message is loud and clear.  When Bob asked who the stranger was, the stranger showed himself as the author of Apple.  When we ask God who He is, He showed Himself as the author of life.  Perhaps the best way to find clarity and meaning is to see the personal interaction going on here.  God has knocked on the door of your heart.  You may not be sure He’s a real God, or even living God (His death has been highly exaggerated), but you’ll never know unless you let Him in.  He knows all the comfortable rules you’ve set for your own life, but He wants to restore your life for the better.  The pressing question is not whether God can break His own rules, but whether you’ll surrender yours.

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Fine-Tuning the Multiverse

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The Anthropic Principle holds that fundamental constants of the universe are finely-tuned for living observers.  It’s as if someone built a television, then built a recliner ten feet away from it with a remote control on the arm of that chair.  Add your favorite snack and drink on a coffee table beside the chair, and the coincidence is uncanny.  Such a setup was apparently designed for a human being to be able to watch television programming.*   This principle presents a problem for atheists, since it supports the teleological argument, the notion of God’s design evident in the universe.

In order to counter this idea of a specially-designed privilege, some have proposed the idea of a multiverse.  At first glance, the multiverse seems to solve the problem.  We are not in a specially-designed universe that is arranged just for us.  Rather, we happen to have evolved in one of the many variant universes, all with varying constants.  Some universes are hostile to life, while others are inhabitable but not necessarily inhabited.  We just got lucky.

The teleological argument goes away, and so does any hope of an intelligent designer.  Or does it?  Can you diminish the Anthropic Principle and faith at the same time?  Consider the results of the multiverse.

Let’s start with an infinite multiverse – a set of infinite universes.  We may have to tone it down.  Why, you ask?  Well, let’s just say that an infinite set of universes gives us unlimited possibilities.  First of all, we don’t know what happens to the universes we can’t see.  What happens to universes where the constants are different from ours?  Some won’t even get started.  Another complication is that probability is also out the window.  If there’s the slightest chance that an event can happen, then it will.  That’s what infinity does to the event with even the infinitesimally small probability.

Consider a universe where rabbits have evolved differently from rabbits in our universe (assuming macroevolution).  These rabbits, much like our universe’s platypus, lay eggs. Unfortunately, these hopping mammals have a predator.  A species of a horned, carnivorous horse could capture the slowest of egg-laying hares.  In time, natural selection gives this unicorn wings, as it did for the bat in our universe.  No rabbit could hear its predator’s approach.  While the unicorn had evolved into an alicorn, new generations of rabbits grew faster.  Alicorns shifted their sights on the delicious orbs, the immobile rabbits’ eggs.  Again, egg-laying rabbits were on the endangered list.  Fortunately, the straw covering the planet could be woven into baskets, becoming the protective mechanism that evolution offered rabbits for their eggs.  There you have it- a planet torn between Easter bunnies and winged unicorns.  As ridiculous as this may sound, remember that there is a slight probability of this happening, given enough universes and enough time.  The more amazing revelation is that infinite universes demand that it will happen, if it has not already.**  The smallest of probabilities are inevitable in an infinite set of universes.

Mathematicians have already considered some of the possibilities of an untamed number of universes.  Another inevitability is that your doppelganger exists somewhere out in a parallel universe, living a life identical to yours, even reading this very article in English.  So let’s consider another improbable event within this multiverse.  Instead of an exact replica of a slice of our history, let’s allow variance to taint the story.  Somewhere on a planet much like Earth, a man named Rertrand Bussell is bothered by his contemporaries’ ideas of theism.  The main argument posed by theists in that universe is the overwhelming presence of teapot-shaped meteorites.  Before the invention of the telescope, teapots were only known by human design.  It wasn’t until after a telescope was able to zoom in on the asteroid belt within their own star system, that observers were able to spot the meteorites.  One after another, after another, large and small, the meteorites were either shaped exactly like teapots or else were shaped like broken teapots.  Observers found more and more teapots in every direction in space.  Scientists and philosophers wondered whether there was some universal law that forced every meteorite into the same uncanny shape, or if God simply loved teapots.  It could be probable if there was just one meteorite that slightly resembled a teapot, but for every meteorite to be in this shape was just too much of a coincidence.  It was during this period of deep thought that Rertrand Bussell seized the moment.  “Imagine there is an unseen universe, parallel to ours, with one exception. In that universe, there is not a single teapot in space.”  His contemporaries scoffed at the idea.  He smugly replied, “Then prove that this teapotless universe doesn’t exist.  That’s the problem with your God. He’s not falsifiable, but that’s because you can’t see Him.  Indeed, the existence of God is as ridiculous as the existence of a universe without teapots floating in space.”

That piece of alternate history makes Bertrand Russell’s argument a moot point.  In an infinite multiverse, there’s an inevitable event of a universe filled with teapot-shaped meteorites.  (So Rertrand Bussell’s argument, inevitable though it may be, is also a moot point.)

If you think these examples of alternate universes are ridiculous, there is still hope.  Perhaps the multiverse is not infinite.  Rather than there being infinite universes, suppose there are instead a large number of alternate universes.  Considering this scenario, our seemingly designed universe is just one of many.  However, we still wonder if there is a possibility of one of our ridiculous universes rearing their ugly heads.  What is the probability of an alicorn-Easter bunny universe, and how small should our count be in order to exclude it?  Just assume the probability is 1 out of 10 to power of 1000, or 1:10^1000, then we need to make sure our universe count is less than that, actually, much less than that.  Even if we have 5 x 10^999 universes (1/2 of 10^1000), there is a 50% chance of the alicorn-Easter bunny universe arising.  And then add to that every other ridiculous scenario, every childish imagination, and you’ve got to lower your count in order to extinguish every preposterous universe.  But wait a minute – I thought we were doing all this in order to escape the idea of a God who fine-tunes our universe.  Instead, we find ourselves fine-tuning a set of universes until it fits perfectly into our acceptable logic.

So, although the multiverse seems to offer an escape from design, it creates philosophical problems that challenge atheism itself.  The atheist who believes in infinite universes cannot mock the theist for believing in something akin to Easter bunnies and alicorns.  Besides the consideration of the inevitable probabilities, there is the glaring problem of unseen universes.  Even with finite universes, there’s a very large amount of stuff we can’t see.  So why is a belief in something invisible and larger than our universe different than a belief in God?  It goes against the standard operating procedures of science.*** If you can’t observe it, how do you prove its existence?  Through a long chain of mathematical logic, or through a long chain of philosophical logic, or through a combination of mental processes, you could come to one or the other conclusion.  Remember how I asked if we could diminish the Anthropic Principle and faith at the same time?  I would have to say the answer is no.  You may exclude the Anthropic Principle by means of a multiverse, but you’re going to believe in something else – ridiculous or unseen.

 

*Actually, the armchair-television scenario is a huge understatement.  There’s just not enough room in this blog to describe the providence portrayed in the Anthropic Principle.

**”If it has not already…”  This phrase becomes meaningless unless the multiverse had atleast one origin.  How do you consider history if there is no beginning?  Perhaps every possibility has already happened!

***Many scientists exclude the proposal of controversial Intelligent Design for the same reasons many scientists also exclude the multiverse.  Although math and thought experiments support these theories, human rules oppose any considerations.

For furher reading on the multiverse, including views for and against, visit http://www.space.com/31465-is-our-universe-just-one-of-many-in-a-multiverse.html

Lifehacker’s Recipe for a Modern-Day Idol

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Ancient peoples and some Eastern cultures practice idol worship.  But why carry around extra weight when you can enjoy the convenience of a modern-day idol? With a few simple tools, you can make your very own, free, weightless idol.

Ingredients & Tools

You will need an untamed imagination, a dull conscience, a bucket of moral relativism, and a heaping measure of fleshly emotions.

Instructions

Start by testing your conscience.  If it matters who God is, or whether there’s right and wrong, your conscience is too sharp.  Flip through TV channels or scroll through sites until your conscience dulls.  Now take a blob of wild ideas and chip away anything that offends you.  Mold the blob until it feels comfortable in your grasp.  Avoid giving it eyes to watch you or a mouth to speak conmands.  Give your idol a full belly to hold your carnal passions.  If your idol looks a lot like you, that’s perfectly fine.  Make as many idols as you please, of every shape, carving a blissful smile on every blank face.

Warning

If, for whatever reason, your idol seems alive, you’ve made a dreadful mistake.  If your idol speaks to you, becoming concerned about your carnality, or promising higher dreams; then you do not have an idol – you may just have a living God.   This can have dangerous results.  A flowing fire will burn away your fleshly desires. Your conscience will destroy your blob of wild imagination and replace it with a higher plan.  Rather than you shaping your god, your living God will shape you.

Remember, you make an idol to conform to your image, but a living God makes you to conform to his image.

Note

This recipe for a modern-day idol will suit many modern-day folks, but some will sense a deeper longing, as this writer has.   Some will submit to the “danger” of a living God.  They will lay down their lives, only to find it returned abundantly.  But everyone must make their choice.  God is dangerous to our comfortable way of life, but even more dangerous is willing ignorance of a living God.

The God You Can See

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A young man named Josh sat on a park bench with his frazzled head in his hands. “If only I could see God right now. Then I’d believe in Him.”

A gentle voice responded. “I can do that for you.” The flustered man sat up. An old lady had taken a seat next to him. “I have good connections. If you want to see God, just let me know how.”

Josh laughed at first, but noticed the woman was serious. “Heck, I’ll give it a try.” He thought for a moment. “Lightning. I want to see a good lightning show, in my backyard, tonight.”

“Very well. Consider it done.”

Josh was still laughing later that evening as he eased in his recliner; still, he couldn’t help but pause and check out the back window. “Yeah, right,” he told himself after an hour. Just as Josh was about to fall asleep right there, he heard a rumble and jerked his head around. His back yard was pitch-black. CRACK! He ran to swing open the back door. CRACK! BANG! BOOM! For a good half hour, lightning danced in earth-shattering power. Josh’s jaws hung open for most the show. For the next half hour, he called everyone he knew, friends, family, neighbors, waking everyone he knew in the middle of the night just to tell them what he’d seen. “I must say, I do believe in a God,” he added. Very tired, Josh went to sleep and dreamed that lightning resumed its show for the rest of the night.

The next morning, Josh turned on the news as usual. There was quite the story. “Dan Smith reporting here from Europe. What started in Ohio has spread across the globe in a matter of hours. Lightning has covered the world. Some people think it’s because they’re asking God to put on a lightning show – This is obviously an unfounded claim. Meteorologist Steve has determined that there is a new weather phenomenon, called global lightning chains, where all lightning storms join into one global network. Steve can see the friction in the clouds, the electricity in the lightning, but he can’t see God. Psychiatrists believe that a coincidence happened in Ohio where one man linked lightning to God. After that, everyone coincidentally linked these lightning storms to God. It’s now been scientifically proven; whether you pray to God or not, there is 99% chance you’ll see lightning within two hours.” Just as Dan said this, lightning struck in Josh’s back yard.

Back at the park, Josh sat on the same bench with his head in his hands. A voice next to him inquired, “So what happened, my friend?”

Josh wouldn’t sit up this time. “I don’t understand. Lightning should have proved God’s existence, but now there’s lightning all the time. Lightning is a natural, normal, common event now. Noone thinks it has anything to do with God.”

“You couldn’t help but tell all your friends, could you? I’ll tell you what happened next. Your friends, thinking it only fair that God should answer their same prayer, demanded He put on a lightning show for each one of them. As God complied, the news spread to their friends, relatives, and neighbors. It didn’t take long for lightning to cover the world.”

“I thought I dreamt it went on all night.”

“Those rocket scientists on the news don’t see our hearts speaking to God. All they can see is the movement of water droplets and the movement of people’s mouths.”

“I bet if they saw God’s face sharp across the sky, they’d have to believe.”

“Tomorrow they will.”

“Really? You can really do that?”

Sure enough, the next day, God’s face was on the news. “I guess we have to believe in God now.” Josh jumped and clapped his hands for joy. “Thank you, God. That should shut them up for a long time.”

Josh went about town, whistling and proudly wearing a new cross necklace. The evening news would change his tune. “Dan reporting…” The somber anchorman could not seem to face the screen in the background. From a war-zone, a reporter spoke in between bombings. “It all started when one ethnic group said … God looked more like… them. The other group claimed… they saw God’s lips say… ‘No, they don’t.’ This is Amber… coming to you from Cuba.” Then another reporter came on. “What you’re seeing in this Japanese sky is another god. Some believe a new kind of hologram has been developed, a 3D hologram that puts a giant face in the sky. If this were true, it would cast doubt on the other famous ‘face of God.’”

The next day found Josh back on the park bench. He looked like the Thinker statue. “Why doesn’t it work? You’d think God showing his face would solve everything. Instead, epic fail, global backfire. Maybe I just need a god that makes me happy. Who cares what anyone else thinks?”

“Here you go. Rub it and make as many wishes as you’d like.” She placed an ancient oil lamp into his hands.

The next day, Josh came back, frustrated as ever. “You told me to rub this lamp and make wishes. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. I’m beginning to really doubt this God thing.”

The old lady seemed to be holding back a burst of laughter. “Are you looking for a God, or are you looking for a genie? Anyone with that much power isn’t going to serve at your beck and call. I knew the lamp wouldn’t work when I gave it to you. God is real, but genies are a myth.” A dog sniffed Josh’s hand, startling him for a moment. The old lady had brought a stray dog with her. “I brought something else today.”

“A dog?”

“And two choices. Two choices for our buddy Rusty here.” She handed Josh a paper bag with two items inside. One was a hunk of steak, the other a paper-back book. Josh held out an item in each hand, and Rusty didn’t take a whole second to decide on steak. The woman smiled. “As far as Rusty is concerned, you’re his God. He can see you, and you give him good things. Rusty has used the highly scientific tool of direct observation.”

“Oh, I get it. I’m just like a dog, because I want to see my Master and get my wishes granted.”

“No. God wouldn’t treat you like that. Yes, Rusty has a good sense of sight, a better sense of hearing, and a fantastic sense of smell. You, on the other hand, have been given other heightened senses. Your senses of conscience and rationality have been designed so that you can perceive God. And somehow I feel that you’re looking to God for more than a steak for satisfaction.” She nodded toward the book.

Josh held up the book. “The Case for Faith. We’ll just have to see how good this is. That steak didn’t look all too bad.” He shared a smile with her.

For a month, Josh didn’t return to the park. Five weeks after receiving the book, Josh came back with a woman and two small children. The old lady sat contentedly with Rusty. Josh got her attention. “Ahem. I never got your name.”

“Just call me Florence.”

“Well, Florence, I’d like you to meet my wife, Kate, and my children Ethan and Emma. Family, this is Florence. This wonderful woman helped me see God. I thought I would find him in the bright flash of lightning, or smiling across the sky, or in magical wishes. Come to find out, God did reveal Himself in human history, but it was the way He wanted to reveal Himself – when and how He wanted. The people who saw Him back then found their own crazy reasons to reject Him. So then I used my heart, mind and soul. I discovered the greatest power ever known to me, my own will-power. It was selfish but strong, inward but unchanging. If my own will could be changed, if God is indeed more powerful than that, it would be proof to me that a higher power exists. When I gave my life to Christ, I saw generosity replace selfishness. Joy replaced depression. Hope replaced fear and doubt. Passions, choices, and old habits changed. I saw God do the impossible.”

As old Florence spoke, you could hear the years of experience in her voice. “God is more concerned you know who He is than you know that He is. You find Him by developing a relationship and understanding His character. You, Josh, saw God in a way that can never be erased by anyone else. Of course, God is infinite. You’ve only seen the tip of the nose on his face, so to speak.”

“And, thanks to God’s changing power, I got back what I really wanted deep inside. The wholeness of getting my family back, and this time I really care about them more than myself. Thank you so much, Florence.”

“Oh, no problem. I’m just passing along the vision of God.”

God-is-more-concerned QUOTE


This story is mostly hypothetical – a thought experiment.  The moral of the story is found by comparing two Gods: a “seen” God who consequently bends to our will, and an “unseen” God who is more powerful than even our will.

Copyright Info

Thank you for your interest in these articles.  As the sole contributing author, T. William Watts, I have exciting news for you.  This year has been the culmination of a quest for truth that has led me to publish my next book.  This book will delve into one of the hottest topics, Hell; on the other hand, we’ll map the route to Heaven’s reality.  Please pray with me as I carefully study God’s Word and church doctrine.  God’s Word is the ultimate authority, the church a pillar of respect, and I but a humble vessel.

While I love to share articles freely, I also ask that you credit me with any portions of the articles on this site.  One day, you might see that portion in my new book.  Simply include quotes and my author name, as shown here:

 

All cheering from the sidelines, no shattered bones, no shattered hopes.  Whatever medals we earn, we’ll lift them up to the One True King, our eternal burning light for unending venues, in our eternal home.”

– T. William Watts

 

I appreciate this simple courtesy, along with your prayers.  If you haven’t gotten a hold of my fictional work yet, I would encourage you to take the opportunity now.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. and What He Really Said

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The famous civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. shook the heart of America with his visionary speeches.  Ironically, the words that propelled a monumental freedom movement are now bound up under legal copyright issues.  The words ringing of freedom are not free for public use; the videos are available at a financial charge, so your poverty level just might keep you from envisioning the key to your shackles.  For those of us who grew up in America during King’s profound influence (lasting years after his death), we carry his words in our soul.  I still remember the concept of not judging a person by their skin; as a child I could easily accept and grant this equality to my fellow classmates.  However, many Americans have seen the abuses of taking a positive flame of this bright candle and throwing its fire onto the carpet.  Of the wonderful revelations Martin Luther King Jr. gave us, some of them stand vulnerable to being discarded by those of ignorant haste.

The first revelation reminds us that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a devout Christian, but a Reverend who looked favorably to Jesus Christ.  An honorable man of values, he preached against moral relativity, a troubling trend in our times.  In fact, his famous dream that his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin” binds with the dream that they would be judged “by the content of their character.”  To say that we should not judge at all is a treacherous slope that even this civil rights leader would not tread.  We can judge character and even use wise judgment to promote hard-working people of any background.  The question of judgment boils down to the consistency of the human being.  Are we, as some scientists propose, entirely chemically driven, pulled by DNA strands like strings of a puppet?  Or is there a human soul, taking the invisible software and making physical impressions upon the hardware in the chemical being?  If we are to take the American civil rights leader seriously, we believe in a higher existence.  There is a part of our physical being that cannot change (e.g. skin) because it has no bearing on our moral character.  Then there is a part of the human that wants to love alcohol or the neighbor’s wife.  Calling this a genetic disposition will not make it as permanent as skin color.  Even the chemical tendencies are subject to a higher part of our being, the soul.  We hear the call of Jesus to be an overcomer, and we strive to find our character judged with “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Another revelation gets stampeded by the skeptic’s ignorance of the Bible.  They see God as some bullying ethnic cleanser, perhaps due to their own prejudices.  What lenses should we even put upon our modern eyes, when reaching back to a time and place so far removed from our own?  If anything, we understand that the Hebrews were the minority with no homeland, escaping slavery to roam in tents across the wilderness.  This being the very reason Martin Luther King Jr. felt no shame in associating his people’s rise from slavery with the Israelite’s rise from slavery.  Furthermore, he could equate the non-violent takeover of American freedom with the warfare-engaged takeover of the infamous Promised Land.  How did he do this?  The same way Christians have been doing it since Christianity started!  Christians swiftly understand Jesus non-earthly kingdom of spiritual battle, of putting down the sword and turning the other cheek.  Church history has temporarily departed from this ideal as cults do, when blinding the masses to the entire truth of the Bible.  But if we dare to study further, we find God to be a defender of the bullied, choosing the weaker people in order to prove His power.  Paul Copan deftly argues against the hasty accusations toward this God.  http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201004/201004_138_Canannites.cfm

There are surely more misuses of “civil rights.”  So how have we taken the powerful ideals of King and turned them around to the point where such misinterpretations of “hate speech” would incriminate the Reverend King in his Biblical stance?  Extremists on both ends of the spectrum have undoubtedly grabbed the microphone in violent ambition.  “You’re going to hell” should never be the first words heard from a Christian tongue; “You’re politically incorrect” is just as stifling.  As an American, I have a dream.  I dream that we can respect each other in word in deed.  Let’s see past the preconceived images.  Let there be open doors to the poor, open hearts within the rich, and solid ground for the rest of America.  The open door of opportunity was Martin Luther King’s check due to be cashed in.  Let’s speak freely from the heart, issuing the truth in love.  Let’s renew the desire of discovering our value in God’s Word.

Though many of King’s words are for sale or copyrighted, here is one of the public sources remaining:  http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

Assessing Thomson’s Defense of Abortion

Good points, Prayson. Ultimately, the source of our morals will determine our value of life.

With All I Am

FoetusDoes the personhood of foetuses give them right to life? Does that right to life overrides women’s rights to control what happens in and to their bodies?

In A Defense of Abortion Judith Jarvis Thomson argued that even if we grant that foetuses are persons and thus have right to life, it does not follow that they have the right to use the pregnant women’s bodies. Thomson’s case from the famous unconscious violinist analogy unfolds as follows:

Imagine you wake up in the morning kidnapped by the Society of Music Lovers, and are plugged into a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. “To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you”(Thomson 1971, 49)

Thomson argued that even if the violinist is a person and…

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Infinite Monkeys and a Gambler’s Chance

monkey gamble

It has been claimed that over 98% of chimpanzee DNA is similar to human DNA.  While this has been shown to be more like 95%, maybe it’s time to revisit the infinite monkey theorem.  According to dictionary.reference.com, the infinite-monkey theorem states:

 “If you put an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters, eventually one will bash out the script for Hamlet.”

Behind this is a deeper implication: that enough chance and time can produce the wealth of information required for the universe, including the DNA of its living organisms.  This should be a gift to atheists everywhere.  Assuming chimps are nearly human, it shouldn’t be long before an actual experiment is demonstrating the ability of monkeys cranking out Hamlet.  Now, chimpanzees are apes rather than monkeys, but we are giving the evolutionist more leverage (assuming the above.)

 Actually, such an experiment was done with macaques.  In summary, “… after a month, the Sulawesi crested macaques had only succeeded in partially destroying the machine, using it as a lavatory, and mostly typing the letter ‘s'”.  Apparently, these monkeys were far from bashing out the script for Hamlet.  Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk

 Before we attempt an experiment with chimpanzees, let’s take a look at our assumptions.

 Assumptions:

  • Chimps go against instinct to do otherwise, e.g. forage or socialize, even when unmonitored and untrained.
  • Supplies are nearby – ink and paper.  Furthermore, chimps will insert ink cartridges and paper into the typewriter.
  • Chimps will hit all letters one at a time to prevent jamming or continuous repetitions.  Yes, with chimp-sized fingers.
  • Errors will get thrown out to prevent overcrowding of space.

 There are surely more assumptions, but perhaps the largest unspoken assumption is that chance arrangements of letters can represent the chance arrangement of DNA.  Eventually, the theory of evolution will have to show that chance rather than a Creator could bring such an arrangement together.  What greater probability than utilizing an animal scoring 95 or above in human-like standards?  An honest look tells us that things are not adding up.  The invented tool of the chimp is the stick, while the human can lay claim to everything from shovels to supercomputers.  And DNA is not merely an arrangement of ‘letters’, it’s a 3-dimensional interactive object.  Unfortunately for the chimps, they will need to not only hash out the letters but act out the drama, if they are to imitate the essential molecule of life.

 Life is a Stage (Further Assumptions):

  • Best work is saved and recognized by others
  • The others begin making error-proof copies (very minor errors)
  • Complete work is translated into activity – drama is enacted
  • This complete cycle is repeated to ensure the continuance of propagation

 Hamlet’s work without Shakespeare is at the mercy of time, chance, and high hopes.  So what is supposed to be keeping this information in place?  Mainly, two things.  Darwinian evolution proposes a preservation mechanism, the idea that the fittest will survive.  This concept works well to preserve one generation of a species, but the succeeding generation solely depends on the accurate copyist skills of DNA.  The other preservation mechanism is a theorized closed system, where energy is transformed into information over time.  This mechanism doesn’t explain where the energy supply originates, nor does it last in the reality of open systems.  Outside of a vacuum, entropy pulls things apart through time.  Let’s call the Darwinian preservation Chimp and the energy-to-information method Champ.  Chimp is banking on Champ to hand him information to preserve, but then what?  Information is nothing, nothing other than gibberish without translation.  Herein lies the greater problem, the prized yet missing element called intelligibility.  The awesomeness of DNA is being able to take terabytes of information and translate that into 3-dimensional, highly advanced, moving machines. 

 Our typewriting monkeys can now better illustrate what is needed.  Writing the Shakespearean play does nothing for our Darwinian mechanism Chimp.  Chimp holds onto the vacant hope unless the written words actually mean something to him.  Out of all the countless papers on the floor, Chimp will first need to pick the winning copy.  Darwinian evolution offers its best hope now, the idea that the fittest will survive.  But we have just begun.  Chimp now needs a way to copy this play and pass it on, if it will continue to survive.  Chimp needs another ape to recognize his work is worth copying, proofread with high accuracy, and hit every letter on the typewriter accordingly.  If there are mistakes, those mistakes need to work to the betterment of the composition.  Suppose Champ can do this for a limited time, affordable from an enormous supply of time, chance, and energy.  We’re still missing a director.  We need another monkey to get Chimp to act out all the parts of the script.  Otherwise, we have blueprints without a building, AutoCAD without a machine, DNA without an organism.  No matter how much theory we supply into the vacuum of monkeys, intelligibility needs to step in and decipher the meaning of information.

 I don’t see chimpanzees writing or enacting Hamlet without human guidance.  Human guidance is our first-hand experience of intelligibility and a proven method of directing chimpanzees. So what  I have is a new theorem for the 21st century chimpanzee.  I’ll call it the Busted-Chimp Theorem.  It states:

 “If you put an infinite number of chimpanzees in a casino, the greatest winner will either face the greatest loss or get caught cheating.”

busted chimp

 Now allow me to explain.  The expression “The House always wins” means the casino is keeping track of winnings and making sure things are in their favor.  Natural forces such as decomposition do likewise.  When life attempts to build up, nature seeks to return the living to the dust.  Information is subject to the scattering of a meaningless universe.  Even if chance were afforded enough time to script complexity, the universe plays the part of the House (casino).  What you’ll see in Vegas is a flow of happy faces going into the casino and a flow of sadder faces going out.  Usually, those who make it big keep putting their money back into the same tables.  Unfortunately for the gambler, the law of averages absorbs the winnings.  The cheater thinks he’s doing better, but he can’t do well continuously.  Just like a cheater won’t rake in winnings day after day without drawing notice, complexity can’t stay at its apex in a House full owned and operated by chance.

 Let’s send Chimp and Champ to the casino.  They play every day, sometimes winning and sometimes losing.  However, they’ll need a big win to stay ahead and sustain their banana-hungry lifestyle.  One day they encounter Slick Rick, a human with a nifty cheater’s tool.  After a week of training, the chimps are ready to go into the casino and behave like any average gambling ape.  No one knows the better, as the cheating tool hides well beneath their fur.  No one, that is, until the winnings begin adding up, and adding up, and adding up,  The reason they draw attention Is because everyone knows chance is full of ups and downs.  Eventually, the same chance that brought their winnings up will be the same chance that brings them to certain loss.  The House sends its burly employees to the chimps’ table and they resume carrying out the apes.  Of course, natural elements do not play the part of watchful casino bosses, but the rules of probability, blind or not, call ridiculous winnings to accountability.

 Let’s challenge human intelligence the way we would cheaters at a casino.  Assume human intelligence, the apex of complexity, came to us thanks to chance.  The winnings are outstanding.  They draw attention due to the stark contrast of rocks and gases, monkeys and flowers.  The great surrounding void of entropy closes in like the burly casino workers.  How do we as humans, as scientists or as reasoning beings, hold up our logic as a winning, infallible prize?  How do we know the surrounding universe is not reclaiming it even as I write?  Are we cheating by pretending to assign ourselves meaning and value, if we are merely a different arrangement of molecules than those around us?  If there is no Creator, there is no dependable source of intelligence , complexity, or meaning.  Whatever statistical chance we may grasp for, the gamble is not in our favor for any guaranteed length of time.  Either God the Creator wins, or the House of Entropy takes the winnings away.

Infinite-Monkey Theorem

 “If you put an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters, eventually one will bash out the script for Hamlet.”

 Busted-Chimp Theorem

“If you put an infinite number of chimpanzees in a casino, the greatest winner will either face the greatest loss or get caught cheating.”

Busted-Chimp Corollary

“If you put an infinite number of chimpanzees in a casino, there is no perpetual winner.”