Saturday, October 30, 2004

How to believe in God

An atheist once visited a well known rabbi and demanded that the rabbi prove to him the existence of God. In silence, the rabbi refused…and the atheist got up to leave, in anger. But as he left the rabbi called out, ‘But can you be sure there is no God?’ The atheist wrote, years later, ‘I am still an atheist, but that question has haunted me every day of my life.’

Such is the soul hunger of the intellectuals who would believe in God, if only someone could overwhelmingly convince them; if only someone could demonstrate the undeniable truth of God...

The great thinker Gotthold Ephraim Lessing saw a large gap between miracles and the claim of Jesus as the Son of God. In his mind, even if he granted the existence of miracles, he still could not grant the higher class [claim] of Jesus as God and Savior. The past drew a curtain over the historical reality of Jesus, beyond which he could not go. He wrote:
That, then, is the ugly, broad ditch which I cannot get across, however often and however earnestly I have tried to make the leap. If anyone can help me over it, let him do it, I beg him, I adjure him. He will deserve a divine reward from me.

What pain in his voice! What honesty of heart!

Basically Lessing is asking the same thing that the atheist asked the rabbi: ‘Can you prove God to me?’ ‘Can you prove to me the Son of God?’

It is a heartrending question. Can any answer be found?

I believe there is a simple answer. Not an easy answer, mind you, but one at once clear and profound: so simple a child could follow it, yet so hard that few adults will take the path.

Two great thinkers, and two great believers, Pascal and Dosteovsky, both wrestled with this question. And, though separated by vast years and contexts, both came up with the same answer. There is much logic behind this answer [in the case of Pascal] and much life behind it [in the case of Dosteovsky], but the answer can be given in one sentence. Here is the answer:

If you would like to know if God exists, then begin living your life exactly as you would live it if you knew God existed.

That is what I would have told the atheist, had I been the rabbi.

That is what I would have told Lessing, had I been alive to hear him.

There is only one way across the ‘ugly ditch’ that Lessing saw. And that is the undeniable relational encounter with the God of the universe. In other words, the answer to the atheist, and the answer to Lessing, is not first an intellectual answer, but a relational one.

Do you want to believe in God?

Then begin living toward God. At some point, the lived prayer will bring such overpowering light that the universe will be seen for what it is, morally, spiritually, and yes, intellectually!

There is great logic behind this simple answer. There is compelling reason.

If you are one of the searchers, or know someone searching, who would like to explore the reasoning behind this solution, then email me, and I will gladly dialogue.

But this is the answer, without any of the math behind it.

I sensed that I should write it tonight. May God bless it to someone’s life.

In Grace,


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Extra-dimensionality and answers to prayer

Often we find it hard to pray simply because we find it hard to believe.

Prayer usually involves something impossible in human terms. And if it is impossible in human terms, it takes an utter act of faith to believe it is possible for God. This is a huge step that many of us can live without -- rather than try to count on.

Perhaps it will help our faith grow if we can see God in His proper place, instead of viewing Him from limited, human dimensions.

We live our lives 'trapped' in four dimensions: length, width, height, and time. And, really, it is only 3.5 dimensions, since we only move one way in the time dimension. We are creatures of 3.5 dimensions, and all this means for time and possibility.But what about God?

Hugh Ross says this:

Recent advances in science now point to the existence of the extra dimensions that are demonstrated in the Bible. To solve the equations related to [the origin of the universe], using the current "best" models, requires the existence of 10 dimensions. There are also indications of extra dimensions in the theory of relativity, cosmic string theory, and other areas of theoretical physics.

Given that God exists in at least seven more dimensions than we do [the 10 of current theoretical physics plus at least one more since He must be outside of those] He can interact with the four dimensions of our universe in ways that we cannot visualize.

Think of it this way: God birthed all creative dimensions, and as such a Creator, owns and inheres the whole -- at will. God is not trapped in time any more than we are trapped in a piece of paper [from a two dimensional, paper-point-of-view]. What would be utterly impossible for two-dimensional paper-people is completely possible for us, without a single law of physics being broken. And that is just adding one dimension!

Now, add the seven additional creative dimensions to God...and you are still barely scratching the surface of God's possibility. Because God owns the whole universe, and created all dimensions, known and unknown, theorized and un-theorized.

There is a line in Scripture that refers to creation as 'but the outer fringe of God's works.' Imagine that! This grand cosmos, which commands our awe and wonder, is just the 'outer fringe' of the works of God -- a God unlimited and unhindered by our few dimensions.

It is no wonder that another Scripture says, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into human thoughts, the wonders God has prepared for those who love Him!'

Consider this, friend, when you seek your next answer to prayer! Consider this, in your next place of need and silence: This God, our God, is not limited like we are. What is a miracle to us is just God being himself.

As Job saw in the midst of great personal darkness:
And these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power?

Note: Original article published on my Parkview page, here.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fighting poverty yet hurting the poor

A must read by Sebastian Mallaby.

He examines real-time stories of how NGO's can be manipulative.

This story is a tragedy for Uganda. Clinics and factories are being deprived of electricity by Californians whose idea of an electricity crisis is a handful of summer blackouts. But it is also a tragedy for the fight against poverty worldwide, because projects in dozens of countries are similarly held up for fear of activist resistance. Time after time, feisty Internet-enabled groups make scary claims about the iniquities of development projects. Time after time, Western publics raised on stories of World Bank white elephants believe them. Lawmakers in European parliaments and the U.S. Congress accept NGO arguments at face value, and the government officials who sit on the World Bank’s board respond by blocking funding for deserving projects.

The consequences can be preposterously ironic. NGOs claim to campaign on behalf of poor people, yet many of their campaigns harm the poor. They claim to protect the environment, but by forcing the World Bank to pull out of sensitive projects, they cause these schemes to go ahead without the environmental safeguards that the bank would have imposed on them. Likewise, NGOs purport to hold the World Bank accountable, yet the bank is answerable to the governments who are its shareholders; it is the NGOs’ accountability that is murky. Furthermore, the offensives mounted by activist groups sometimes have no basis in fact whatsoever.

Read it here.

Hat tip to Glen at Instapundit.

Must read!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Postmodern football

This football rumination from a postmodern point of view was just too rich to pass up. Greg Easterbrook goes gonzo , stirred by Derrida's recent death.

[Ed. note: By all accounts, fair Derrida is now deconstructing. ;-) :-) lol! Sad, I know, but give me a charity laugh, lol.]

Football from a postmodern view [hat tip to Andrew Sullivan], or another title, 'Aren't you glad Derrida didn't play football?'

Coach: How could you throw that crazy pass? Didn't you see the safety?

Quarterback: I did see the safety, but then I thought, how do I know the safety really exists? My eyes perceive a safety and he seems to be covering the receiver, but this might only be from my frame of reference. Someone in the stands might perceive the safety to be covering another receiver, or no one at all. Who am I to say that my perception is correct and theirs is wrong? Then I thought, maybe the safety does exist! But the taboo against throwing into double coverage is just an oppressive ideology used by the dominant hegemony to maintain the imperialist power structure. So you see, I had to make the throw in order to liberate myself.


Good stuff!


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Doing right for our neighbors

Do yourself and favor and buy Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski's book, 'Growing Each Day."

In an excerpt in today's Jewish World Review column, he comments on Exodus 23:4 --

To purchase the book this column is excerpted from, please click HERE.

“If you encounter your enemy's ox or donkey wandering astray, you must return it to him.”

In this mitzvah, the Torah (Bible) makes two demands: (1) to go out of our way to return a lost animal to its rightful owner, and (2) to overcome our hostile feelings towards our enemy if the lost animal is his.

If this is what is demanded toward a mere belonging of an enemy, how much more are we responsible when we see friends going astray and acting improperly? Yet, how often do we avoid telling them that we feel what they are doing is wrong? We rationalize by saying: "We do not wish to interfere in their private affairs. How they run their life is their own business," or "We don't want to offend them."

A popular billboard declares: "A true friend does not allow a friend to drive drunk." If you truly care for others, you will take the necessary steps to protect them from themselves, even if they may be angry at you for doing so. Honesty is more potent than sympathy. A person who has suffered from grievous mistakes often says: "If only someone had stopped me!" Drunk driving is not the only destructive behavior which a true friend would try to stop.

Whenever we see that a friend is doing something which we sincerely believe to be wrong, we have a responsibility to convey our opinion to him or her. Failure to do so comes from either of two rationalizations: (1) I am not really his or her friend, or (2) I really do not believe the behavior is wrong. In either case, we are guilty of insincerity.

Commitment: Today I shall examine my own convictions and the sincerity of my friendship and let this determine if I will share my opinions with my friends.

The Proverbs say that there are certain kinds of fools we should NOT try to convince. Jesus referenced this concept when He said, 'Do not cast your pearls before swine.'

But, when our friends are doing something we sincerely believe to be wrong, at that exact point we are obligated to a.) pray for them sincerely, and b.) speak a word of truth and counsel.

Good words by Rabbi Twerski. Visit his column here, and buy the 'Growing' book here.

These words are appropriate in election season. Politics is something we don't 'talk about' normally. And sometimes people cannot hear whenever we talk about such things. But, underlying issues perhaps can be addressed. Baseline principles can be highlighted.

Perhaps some good can be done.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fears of Beslan revenge

Fears of Revenge at End of 40 Days

By Yana Voitova and Nabi Abdullaev
Special to The Moscow Times

Ivan Sekretarev / AP

Alona Pliyeva, 16, right, and her classmates weeping as they look at a child's shoes on the windowsill of School No. 1 in Beslan on Tuesday, the last of 40 days of mourning.

BESLAN, North Ossetia -- As 40 days of mourning end Wednesday, relatives of the hundreds of people killed in the Beslan school massacre are debating whether to seek revenge -- and reopen a festering dispute between the Ossetians and the Ingush.

"There is a lot of aggression and anger in people now. War has come to us, and we need to defend ourselves," Taimuraz Gassiyev, a Beslan resident who carried wounded and maimed children away from the school, said Monday.

After a pause, he added, "But we need to get around this without war."

Read the article here.

It's hard to blame the sentiment of the parents and families of the murdered children. But it is a situation that needs prayer and forgiveness and healing. And resolve.

Note the inherent contradiction of this grieving, angry resident: "War has come to us, and we need to defend ourselves..." And, in the next breath: "But we need to get around this without war."

Therein is the essential contradiction of the 'war on terror.' War has been brought to us, and we try to solve it 'without war.'

It is impossible to win the war against jihadism with that contradiction. It brings to mind the victim of gangland crime: 'But I didn't do anything against you!' And that is just the point: When it is our existence alone that stands in the way of the goals of Islamic jihadists [terrorists], either we will exist by force, cease to exist, or choose to live under Shari'a [Islamic law].

Beslan is a place where jihadist terror has reared its ugly face. Please lift up a prayer for Beslan and the families and the region...

And...a prayer for us all. 'War has been brought to us.' How can we 'get around it' without war?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A call to psalms

Michael Freund has a simple, yet powerful call to prayer in his article, Call to Psalms. Excerpt here:

It seems as though we have nowhere left to turn, as there is no one in whom we can place our trust.

No one, that is, except for G-d.

It might sound silly, or even naïve. But all of our high-tech know-how and military prowess, our scientific advances and wireless technologies, have not succeeded in extricating Israel from its current mess. Our modern solutions have failed us, so why not turn to the wisdom of yesteryear?
Indeed, throughout history, the Jewish people have always looked to their Father in Heaven as a source of strength and support. During the darkest days of the Exile, the power of prayer was our most potent of weapons. It is time we deploy it once more.

Friends and supporters of Israel should launch an international campaign, a Call to Psalms, which would unite Jews, Christians and others to pray on the country's behalf. Synagogues, churches and other houses of worship should recite selections from King David's Book of Psalms, whose power and beauty remain unequaled despite the passage of thousands of years.

Rabbis and cantors, pastors and priests, should call upon their flock each week to pray for Israel. Collectively, we must storm the Heavens, and raise our voices, in this, the Jewish people's hour of need.

As more congregations join in, the Call to Psalms would culminate with an International Day of Prayer in Jerusalem, one devoted solely to pleading for mercy from Above.

Just imagine the impact it would have if millions of people around the world were to unite simultaneously in prayer. The reverberations could not possibly be ignored. They would be felt from Washington to Tokyo, and beyond.

So many people wonder how they can play a role in changing things. Each of us wants to make a difference, to influence the course of events, yet often we feel powerless to do so.

But that is precisely why prayer is so important, especially in this case, because it empowers every individual, rich or poor, saint or sinner...

Read the rest of it here.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

The primacy of spirit in humans

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski is one of my favorite thinkers.
He challenges his readers to the moral dimension of learning and understanding.

Rabbi Twerski references Numbers 27:16, where Moses appeals to God, as to whom should be the next leader of the People, and God responded by choosing Joshua:
"Take Joshua...the son of Nun, a man in whom there is spirit..."

"Take Joshua as leader, a man in whom there is spirit..."

It is an intriguing statement: God looked for qualities of spirit in choosing the proper leader.
The human being is comprised of a body and a spirit. The body produces all the cravings that stimulate pursuit of self-gratification. The spirit is the force that directs the person away from self-gratification, to be devoted to a higher goal in life. These two components are engaged in a struggle for mastery over the person. To the degree that bodily drives prevail, to that degree the person is self-centered. To the degree that the spirit prevails, to that degree a person can look away from his own needs and be dedicated to his mission.
Madregas HaAdam, 1.58: "Joshua had succeeded in achieving self-mastery, of vanquishing the bodily drives for gratification and making the spirit dominant."

Twerski comments:
Every person is engaged in the life-long struggle between the two opposing forces. Perhaps the extreme elimination of all self-gratification required of the leader is not achievable by everyone. However, let us remember that the physical component of the human being is essentially no different than that of lower forms of life.

''The superiority of man over animal is naught, except for the pure soul'' (Morning service, Nusach Sefard). Our dignity as human beings is directly proportional to the degree that we achieve self-mastery and dominance of the spirit.
This is truly remarkable insight, which affects every aspect of life.

If we are comprised of body and spirit, in the Image of God [Imago Dei], then what does this mean for our personal action? For our definition of humans? For our next day's plans? What is primary, what should take control?

Dr. MLK, Jr. answered this succintly and clearly: 'All reality has spiritual control.'

Scripture puts it this way: "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God."

Something to think about!

God, help me!