Friday, September 4, 2015

COMPUTERS


Computers

 Computers remain mysterious entities to me. They do sometimes seem to have a mind of their own and sometimes the ‘ghost in the machine’ even conspires against me! To be sure, computer ‘viruses’ can cause these machines to behave strangely but will computers take over the world? Will they be able to continually and improvingly rebuild themselves to the point of technological singularity? I hope not! However, I don’t think these labour-saving-devices ever will have world domination because, regardless of the size or shape of the robot, the ‘ghost in the machine’ is not real but artificial! Whereas computers have AI (Artificial Intelligence), humans have real intelligence. What’s difference? Well, it’s all in the mind! A computer may resemble a brain but that is as far as the resemblance goes. Whereas a human has a mind of his/her own, a computer only reflects the mind of whoever programmed it. It has no mind of its own. Therefore it doesn’t have the will or desire to dominate the world or the office! Computers need humans to press their buttons!

Is our brain an organic computer and if so is there ‘a ghost in the machine’? If by ‘ghost in the machine' we mean mind then we do, sort of… The mind does not inhabit the human body. Unlike a computer which is mindless to start with the human mind is simply an aspect of what we are by design. It is the mind not the brain that does the thinking. However, as part of what we are the mind uses the brain to think just as we use our legs to walk or our lips and tongues to talk. Brain activity may mean that the mind is thinking, however it does not mean that a human cannot think unless he/she has a brain! Pull the plug on a computer and it is out of action. Pull the plug on a human and he/she continues to think even when departed from the body!

Of course this is where Christianity parts ways with the philosophies of Materialism which believe that when a person is ‘brain-dead’ that person has ceased to exist! However, God has no body or brain yet He thinks. And in His revelatory Word we see lots of evidence of people who have died bodily but are still living and thinking in the Intermediate State (Matthew 22:32; Revelation 6:9-11). Angels have no bodies yet they think! However, just as there is no ghost or spirit inhabiting a computer, neither does our spirit inhabit our body. Humans have been designed by God each one as a soul-spirit with a body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Just as computers are subject to computer viruses causing them to malfunction so the human race has been affected by sin causing a darkening to our thinking and an estate of misery and death (Romans 5:12; 6:23; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Upon conversion the Christian begins to undergo a process of mind-renewal as the Holy Spirit continues to work with His Word and applying it to the Christian’s heart (Romans 12:2).

Computers merely reflect their programmers. Thus they do not possess self-awareness. Neither do animals which are more sophisticated that any computer will ever be! Some computers, like some animals, may seem to some to be self-aware. However, this is only in the eye of the beholder. Like a bird attacking its own reflection so fallen mankind attacks the God in whose image we are made! Computers won't take over the world. God will!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ever Since Adam was a Boy...


Adam is the father of humanity. Like father, like son/daughter. When God created Adam He created him with a good nature. Thus Adam’s human-nature was totally good-natured. Therefore the nature of all humans as originally created was good.
Eve, whom God has formed in a clone-like manner from one of Adam’s ribs, shared the same good nature as original humanity. However, Eve was deceived somehow by the suggestions of the evil one and thus encouraged Adam to rebel against God. Adam consciously complied with Satan’s way of thinking and united with him against God. Thus humanity sought to be our own independent interpreter of realty autonomous from God. Thus Adam’s nature changed. He (and all his posterity including you and me) switched from being good-natured to being evil or bad-natured. However, the residue of Adam’s pre-Fall nature remains with every human being.
When God by His grace converts a human He grants that human being a new nature. In other words God restores that human being’s nature to what it was before Adam rebelled. Thus the bad-natured human being becomes a good-natured human being again. However, the residue of his/her bad-nature remains with him/her.
Whereas non-Christians are bad-natured there still remain remnants of the pre-Fall good-nature or Adamic-nature, Christians are good-natured but there are still remains remnants of their fallen nature. Thus whether non-Christian or Christian every human being has two natures: Adamic and fallen.
Because of the Adamic-nature’s connection to God the non-Christian, ever striving to remain autonomous from Him, works hard to keep on suppressing their pre-Fall-nature. Satan gleefully assists them in this endeavour by helping to dress-up darkness as light. And because of its connection to sin, evil and Satan the Christian strives to suppress his/her fallen or old nature.
Christian Apologetics is about the Christian giving the non-Christian the reason for their hope in God. When a Christian talks about God to the non-Christian in this manner he/she is appealing to the Adamic-nature of the non-Christian. However, meanwhile the non-Christian in order to remain autonomous tries hard to keep a lid on his/her innate and inherent knowledge of God by attacking and or rebutting the Christian’s verbal advances.
The Christian always has the upper hand in any (verbal) duel with a non-Christian because, though he/she tries hard to deny it, and because of his/her Adamic or old-nature, the non-Christian “knows” the Christian is telling the truth. The non-Christian, rather than give up his or her autonomy, would rather lie to himself or herself. Satan “the father of lies” gleefully assists the non-Christian with this line of defence.

But God knows His own! Therefore, resistance is useless if you belong to God and not Satan! Therefore the non-Christian will lay down his/her arms and beat his/her war-sword into a farming-implement when in time God renews His adopted child’s nature. In a reversal of what happened when Adam rebelled against God in the Garden the old will become the new and the new will become the old.
Dear reader, of which nature are you? Why kick against the goads?   

Friday, August 14, 2015

Heroes, Courage & Bravery


Heroes, Courage & Bravery

 The Bible is full of heroic people displaying courage and bravery. There is a whole list of their names in the Epistle to the Hebrews in chapter eleven. These were people of faith, men like Noah, Abraham, Moses and David to name a few, and women like Sarah and Rahab. Rahab’s claim to fame was that she saved herself and her family from certain death by hiding the Israelite spies from the officials of Jericho who were searching for them. The reward for Rahab risking her own life was that she and her family were spared when the walls of Jericho ‘came a tumbling down.’ And far from being a skeleton in Jesus’s closet His descendancy from ‘the harlot Rahab’ is listed in Matthew 1:5.

Courage and bravery is not always about men charging into battle waving swords! At the risk of her own life Esther courageously approached Ahasuerus to intercede on behalf of her people who were to face certain annihilation on account of a decree. ‘And so I will go to the king, which is against the law, and if I perish, I perish!’ Esther 4:16b.

Then there was David who, as a slip of a lad, faced the sword-wielding giant Goliath with only a sling and a few stones for a weapon. Rather than reject the Triune God Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den. Likewise Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were cast into the fiery furnace. ‘Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.’ Daniel 3:17b.  Such bravery!

And what about the Apostle Paul who kept on keeping on? ‘Been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea’ etc. 2 Corinthians 11:23b-25

What about Mary? When the angel Gabriel gave her the news that she was the virgin referred to in Isaiah 7:14 she said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.’ Luke 1:38. How would she explain her pregnancy to Joseph never mind to a society full of intolerant Pharisees? Courage and bravery!

What about the human being that spent nine months developing in Mary’s womb? The greatest hero and exemplar of courage and bravery is, of course, Jesus! Christians sometimes forget that He is fully man as well as being fully God. It was as a man He saved His elect from their sins. Jesus knew full well what He was getting Himself into when He began His ministry. He was well-versed in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53! He was well-versed in all the Scriptures as was proven when as a man He was tested in the wilderness by the very devil himself. From there at every step of His ministry He was attacked by those whom the devil has blinded, e.g., the Sadducees, the elders and the scribes, not forgetting the Pharisees. In the face of all this diversity as a man Jesus perfectly kept every jot and tittle of God’s Law as representative of those who can’t, i.e., His elect, which is all who truly believe! And who can forget the words He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ Matthew 26:39b. Thus He went to the cross and God poured out His wrath on Him (not us!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Angels (& Endoscopes!)

Went for an endoscope (gastroscopy) today. As I sat in the hospital waiting room I read Daniel chapters 9-10. I pondered the two angels mentioned there, viz., Gabriel and Michael, the arch-angel. Wow! Strange critters are angels! Sent to help us apparently.

I then "changed the channel" on my Kindle device, switching to Abraham Kuyper's book "God's Angels." In the chapter I was reading Kuyper deals with the nonsensical view put forth by some that Genesis 6:4 teaches that angels are able to marry women and father children! Kuper systematically dismantles this erroneous but very popular understanding.

Then I was wheeled in for my wee operation and subsequently was knocked out. Zzzzzz. I saw a beautiful face as I opened my eyes again. "Are you okay?" she asked. "Yes!" I replied. "I was dreaming, I was dreaming of angels!" Can't say I saw a ladder from Heaven to Earth with angels descending and ascending on it! Can't say I saw Gabriel or the arch-angel Michael. I only know that my dream was a sweet one!

The bottom line is that angels are sent to serve God's people. It's good to know they were present as I was anesthetised and had a camera shoved down my throat! If something had gone wrong and I had died they would have with no detours taken me straight to Heaven! Thank You Lord for angels (and for the wonders of modern medical technology)!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Take Christ With You (Wherever You Go)


Are those Facetime and Skype apps not just brilliant? I just had a face to face chat with my eldest brother for three hours this morning on my Ipad! He was in Scotland and it was Friday night and I was in Brisbane and it was Saturday morning.

Among other things we got talking about the finer things of Christianity. Abraham Kuyper’s “Sphere Sovereignty” came up. The following version of a Kuyper quote may help you to understand where I’m going with this blog, says Kuyper, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” The idea is that the Christian is to enter into every sphere of human existence and endeavour and to conquer it for Christ.

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) spoke of three main spheres, viz., Family, Church, and State. In any nation each of these spheres operates sovereignly in accordance with God’s Law as it applies to each of these areas. Building on Kuyper's work, Herman Dooyweerd (1894-1977) identified fifteen sovereign spheres, viz., numeric, spatial, kinematic, physical, biotic, sensitive, analytical, formative, lingual, social, economic, aesthetic, judicial, ethical, and creedal. All of Dooyweered's  law-spheres, including Kuyper's three law-spheres, are revelation of God.

Anyway, the idea is that we are to bring Christ into each sovereign sphere, because, no matter what the sphere is, it belongs to Him. However, the conundrum is that when we enter into each of these spheres we discover that Christ is already there! So, the question becomes: Why take Christ with you to a place He already is? Answer: We wouldn’t see or recognize God in any sphere of human existence if we didn’t know Him beforehand!

Calvinism is grounded in the Triune God, the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, the One and the Many, Unity in Diversity, the Particular and the General, the Details and the Big Picture, etc. This is who God is. This is what and who we see as we begin to understand how each sphere operates. All of creation is revelation of God (Psalm 19; Romans 1 etc.).

My big brother and I spoke about Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) and his “equal ultimacy” for all things Trinitarian, i.e., all creation and everything therein. The One does not lord it over the Many nor does the Many lord it over the One – equal ultimacy.

Therefore, when you (as a Christian) explore God’s creation in any realm or sovereign sphere make sure you take the Christ of Biblical revelation with you. Otherwise you will fail to see the revelation of God in the things He has created!  

The following is a link to an interview with Herman Dooyeweerd -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV2NseGmi6o&feature=youtu.be

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mondays & Sexual Molestations


Mondays are notorious for not being the best day of the week! I lost the vision in my left eye for a couple of minutes today. About twenty years ago I had become blind in my left eye due to a cataract. About eighteen years ago my sight was restored in that eye when I had the cataract removed. Brill! Today I rubbed my eyes and lost the sight in my left eye again. It was like trying to see through thick cellophane, just like a cataract. My vision returned after about two or three minutes. Phew! It’s still good.

Then I was asked to fill out an online questionnaire. It was about health and wellbeing. I was doing quite well until I got to the bit about traumatic events experienced in my life and how they have affected me.

I went through the agony of vividly replaying in my mind, watching as a five or six year old, another child of the same age being slowly crushed to death against a brick wall by a the wheel rim of a slow moving lorry (truck). Blood! The child had tried to squeeze through the gap as the truck tried to manoeuvre around a corner where we were. Painful memories. Tears! Aaargh!!!

The survey also went on to ask: Other than rape, were you sexually assaulted or molested? What? I’ve only just started talking about this upon hearing about someone else’s demise. The survey asked at what age did the sexual molestation begin and at what age did it end? And how many times was I sexually molested? Tearing up once more I wracked my brains to recall events from almost fifty years ago! I suppose it was between the ages of ten and twelve. Maybe thirty times? But it was probably more, much more!

I’ve been walking around with this smelly sludge sloshing around in the dark bilges of my mind from pre to post pubescence! Yes, I had told my wife about it years ago and maybe one of my sisters a couple of years ago. But that was about it until recently. Recently I have told about five or six others about this. Man, speaking about it has made me feel better! None of what happened to me was my fault!

But back to the survey… The questionnaire asked how these painful memories were affecting me. Through the tears I ticked the appropriate boxes as I sobbed and blew my runny nose into tissues. Then running both (seeing!) eyes over the page again in order to make sure I had answered all the questions I was ready to move on to the next page. I pressed the button on the screen hoping the questions on the next page would be somewhat less painful than what I had just gone through. No-o-o! It wanted me to “sign in” again. Somehow all the previous data had been irretrievably lost!

I may try again tomorrow but I’m not looking forward to going through all of those painful questions again. But then again, upon reflection, talking about it is helping me to face up to my demons… Begone! Tomorrow's a new day!

Lord Jesus, I trust You. You alone are my hope. You are my Rock. You are my solace. You are my Light in the dark place. Help me to dwell always in the light, Your light. And I thank You that all wrongs will be righted upon Your return!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

RACISM?


Growing up on the west coast of Scotland in the ‘60s with its attendant sectarianism did have an effect on me. However, it was probably when I was about eighteen and in attendance at an “Old Firm” match (a football game between two rival Glasgow teams) that I became conscious of some of the words of some of the team songs we were singing. Historical victories by Proddie (ie, Protestant) over the Irish, “papes,” “Fenians” and “Caflicks” (ie, Catholics) were belted out with united and tuneful melody.  The collective songful voice usually ended with the Roman Catholic pope being cursed! The greens responded to the blues in kind! It suddenly dawned on me that this was not healthy team rivalry but sectarianism!

I decided to start supporting my (more) local team, Dumbarton, “The Sons of the Rock.” No doubt the Son’s supporters were “proddies” and “caflicks” together! No cursing popes or queens, no waving Union Jacks or Irish Tricolours at these games. Just football.

I don’t recall any racism at the proddie schools I attended. The one or two folk with black skin were not treated in any racist manner that I could see, ie, they were neither fawned over nor put down. They were just one of “us.”

What is racism anyway? I’ve never understood it. I listened intently at church this morning as the preacher described what was presently happening to an AFL (Australian Rules Football) player. He was being booed by opposing fans (and even some of his own teams' fans) every time he approached the ball. I can’t say I’m too impressed with this Aussie Rules guy. He became irate towards a thirteen year old girl for calling him some name or other. Apparently if a thirteen year old girl calls you an “ape” she is being racist! When will this madness end?  The preacher used the actions of the girl towards the big football player to illustrate that as human beings there is something wrong with us. I agree!

I guess if you have dark skin and someone calls you a monkey or an ape being racist makes sense to you if you are an Evolutionist. I’m not an Evolutionist. Therefore racist remarks are wasted on me. The Bible says, “[God] has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Acts 17:26a. What do apes have to do with humans seeing as we are all descended from the first humans Adam and Eve?

Brian Ferry popularised a song in the early 70s with the words, “I’m in with the ‘In’ crowd, I go where the ‘In’ crowd goes. I’m in with the ‘In’ crowd, and I know what the ‘In’ crowd knows.” Since becoming a Christian (in my early thirties) I’m no longer in with the “In” crowd. I no longer follow the herd mentality. Instead I follow Christ. By calling all of us “sinners” He breaks down all sectarian walls of partition, be they racist walls, rich/poor walls, Left/Right walls, Socialist/Capitalist, Evolutionist/Creationist walls et al. All manmade walls are pulled down by Christ and a new one is erected by our Creator. We “are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28b.

Bottom line? As human beings we will never escape sectarianism in its variety of manifestations (including racism). However, it will not be cured by Political Correctness or any other forms of Progressive Social Engineering. Racism is sectarian in nature. Believing in the Triune God and singing the praises to Him in gratitude for forgiving all our sins on account of Jesus Christ is the only cure for our sectarianism. It works for me!

Repenting of your sins and believing in the Gospel may not get you in with the “In” crowd but I will enable you to love God and your neighbour as yourself!