Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tech Support Gripe

Maybe you've called tech support in the past. About the same problem. And you've done it several times. And you've spent three or four hours on the phone with us each time. Okay we get it. Don't repeat that over and over and over as I am trying to help you. I am trying to do my best for you right now.
Along the same lines, don't keep running down my company or its products to me while we are talking. Yes, I may agree with you that our company's products are crap, but you don't have to rub it in my face. I just work here, you know?
At the end of the day, I am going to go home, eat dinner, and forget about you, your problems, and everything else.

Spiritually Handicapped

I was raised a Christian—still am. This is not to say that I haven’t seriously considered dumping my religion. It is insanely tempting. Twenty-four years of eternal security does away with any fear of hell. What’s left just seems so…bland.
Allow me a somewhat disgusting analogy. I once went to the emergency room with serious bowel issues. Among other treatments, I was administered milk of magnesia, which is nasty stuff. Upon discharge, they encouraged me to eat more fiber. So that day I grab a salad from McDonalds and as I sat there eating it, everything tasted like milk of magnesia. I could not eat salad for a while after that.
So it is with my Christian life. I don’t need to go into all the gory episodes, but I had a number of Christians and Christian leaders act like a**holes in my twenties. They were primarily of the fighting, and fundamentalist, type. My response centered on their doctrinal aberrations; I moved to a more moderate position doctrinally and became adept at discussing fundamentalist foibles and faults, which is all well and good to a point. I still pour forth minutiae and detail on fundamental(-ism/-ists) like an expert on these matters when such topics arise, amazing and disgusting myself at the same time.
A man who has been through great war no longer wants to fight. That’s me. I have no fight left in my Christianity. No zeal. Christianity hasn’t been particularly good to me so I am not really interested in evangelism either—why would I drag others into this? I do well to keep my own self in the faith most days. I am my own greatest evangelistic effort. In earlier days my mantra would be, “These people are crap, God is not like this. I will search out the truth to find what God wants,” which is fine as far as that goes. But at the end of the day I am left with me. And I hurt. Oh damn look my legs got blown off. PTSD, what’s that?
It makes it really hard to be a Christian. I can’t function like other believers and probably even the pastor would like. This isn’t an excuse, nor am I playing the victim. I care less about me and more about what I can’t do for the church and for God. I care less about how I feel about myself and more about my lack of feeling for Christ. I’ve thrown myself at Bible reading and prayer just to slide off like so much egg thrown at a house. To become a Deist or Atheist is attractive because it puts me out of my misery.
There is no easy answer. But I know this. I may walk into church on Sunday with my two legs but spiritually, I’m rolling in on a wheelchair. This isn’t merely a statement of humility; everybody needs a little spiritual patching-up. I am beginning to latch on to the idea that my spiritual disability is permanent.
The average Christian may not like that idea. Certainly God can heal all wounds? Yes He can, just like He could heal amputees, but He doesn’t. Nor is this a thorn in the flesh—this is purely spiritual in nature.
To this point I have been ascribing my deficiencies to defects in Christianity itself, my theology, my lifestyle, etc. But these things are what they are. It’s time to wheel away from the brick wall and work within my limitations. It’s a tall order in most of today’s American churches, and I am still not certain how I fit in.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Change Windows 7 Account Picture w/o Users CPL

Here is how to change your account picture under Windows Vista/7 when you do not have access to the Users control panel:

1. Go to your profile folder (easiest way: Start>{username})
2. Go into the Contacts folder
3. Open up your contact file
4. Use the arrow button under the picture to change it

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bob Marley - No Woman No Cry (Live)

Wish I could've been there...

My Finances Take Yet Another Hit

Currently, my family qualifies for the Earned Income Credit(EIC), a refundable tax credit from the federal government. This also means that I can get Advance EIC, a little bit of that put in each paycheck in advance. The total amount I get this way is just a fraction of the whole, but it is $44 every two weeks, which means $88 in my monthly budgeting.
Because of new legislation, the Advance EIC program will no longer be available after this year. I don't have the $88/mo to spare. The government ultimately saves no money doing this, and I get to suffer just so they can have more money upfront throughout the year.
I was already planning to cancel my cell phone next week and use the upcoming tax return to pay off a year of cell service for the one remaining phone my wife has. Now instead of that move making our finances easier, it becomes essential to keep us afloat.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tech Support Gripe

OK people. When we tell you that you need to format your hard drive and reload Windows, don't just clean things up and call back and say you did it. We know better, and with a simple command we can get your computer to tell us when the operating system WAS installed last.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Christianity is not Compatible with Evolution

...theistic or otherwise. Several major reasons present themselves:

1. Paul's theology requires a literal Adam and Eve.
-Some will argue God could have endued mankind with souls at some point or specially created Adam and Eve, but...

2. The Scripture uses the argument from design (teleological argument) over and over and over again.
-Scripture attributes all of nature to a designing Creator.

3. Any suggestion of evolutionary origins within the early church would have been immediately condemned as Epicureanism.
-The early church was not unaware of the concept of evolution. Epicureanism, a major philosophical enemy of the early church, promoted such an idea.

In view of my last point we can safely conclude that the early church would have argued fiercely against any evolutionary theory. And in fact the early church fathers did just that, to the point of meshing Christian theology with neo-Platonism. However, the early church would've most commonly used the argument from design. The argument from design is what the Roman philosopher Cicero employed as part of his attacks on Epicureanism.
The importance of the argument from design lies in the fact that the authors of Scripture knew no better way to defend God's creation against the claims of those who would ignore God and His plans. It is an old argument that has supposedly been overthrown by scientific thought. However, the supposed weaknesses of the argument are places where we find that the authors of Scripture are not afraid to presuppose some elemental truths. Today's material empiricism laughs at any form of presuppositional apologetic. But by definition, the response of faith is at it's core, presuppositional. In any case, the argument could be made that there is no such thing as an argument without presupposition. We bring to the table our bias and perception and goals. Arguing without admitting those presuppositions in the name of empiricism is a recipe for error of the most subtle sort.
The foolishness of the cross and a world that hates the Christian message because it doesn't know Christ describes a Christianity that holds certain presuppositional truths.
What presuppositions do we need to make to confidently employ the argument from design in today's world?

A. The problem of non-sequitur logic
We need to suppose that the appearance of design is not merely the result of natural laws operating in an orderly fashion

B. The problem of purpose
We need to suppose that the designer has a purpose for His creation

C. The problem of identity
We need to posit the particular identity of the designer

D. The problem of infinite regress
We need to suppose that the designer exists on a completely different level than us

D. The problem of poor design
We need to allow that apparent defects in design are being specifically allowed by the designer

E. The problem of circularity
We need to suppose that the concept of order is understood outside of the universe in which order is being observed

Jehovah God exists as the triune God (identity) and he exists on a completely different plane of being than us (infinite regress). This God intended to create the world for His glory (non-sequitur, purpose). Mankind fell and brought God's curse upon the earth (poor design) but He has written on our consciences the ability to recognize His nature and demands (circularity).

As we look at Paul's response to the Athenian philosophers we find Paul making most of these presuppositions:

Acts 17 NLT
22b “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.
26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.
28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

Paul makes similar presuppositions when he speaks to the pagans at Lystra:

Acts 14 NLT
15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, 17 but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.”

Rounding out these presuppositions takes us to several passages in Romans:

Rom 1 NLT
18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Rom 2 NLT
14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.

Classical apologetics has always argued the possibility of a God. But the possibility is irrelevant when such a possibility is not necessary to account for reality. This is the pickle that evolution has put the church in. But Scripture firmly posits a creator God with a plan, and doesn't dabble in possibilities. Christians have to go back to believing, not just in God, but in a creator God. We need to take seriously the Biblical condemnation of those who would posit a Godless universe:

Rom 1:19-23 NRSV
"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles."

The NT Christian apologetic was not a call to see God as _possible_ but to get a man to acknowledge the knowledge of God written upon his heart from birth and manifested in creation.

We are but beginning to explore the profundity of a God who is also a CREATOR.

Tech Support Gripe

Once in a blue moon we absolutely cannot make our software work with your computer. If this happens, please just get a refund or use a different computer. Please DON'T badger us and customer service half a dozen times saying "there has got to be something else that can be done..." or "just send me a whole new set of discs." We wouldn't have given up if we thought anything else could be done.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Three Issues Surrounding the Question of Origins

In my previous post I pointed out the striking implications on the Biblical text should the argument from design be proven invalid. The authors of Scripture use it repeatedly, and to deny the argument from design is to remove the backbone of many passages. To an evangelical or fundamentalist this becomes even more startling because it profoundly challenges the concept of the inerrancy of Scripture.
If we are to hold to any form of inerrancy we cannot at the same time dismiss the argument from design. Now, establishing the argument from design does not automatically lead us to a literal reading of Genesis 1. However, it forms a basis for understanding the beginnings of this world in a Biblical way.
Put another way, one major reason we as Christians must defend the argument from design is that the authors of Scripture found it so important. For you must either throw it out as an old, discredited argument that only seemed powerful in Biblical times, or you must acknowledge that the argument from design carries with it a profundity that has been overlooked.

The second issue that must be addressed is the problem of evil. Both creationists and evolutionists use this as a reason for their positions. For the evolutionist, the problem of evil explained by natural selection, for the creationist, the problem of evil is explained by the fall of man.

The last issue that must be explored is love. More specifically speaking, this issue is concerned with bonds between humans and, if we allow for it, a creator. This issue is not necessarily so much foundational as it is explanatory and illuminative. The Christian perspective must show how a creator God's love is diffused throughout His creation and despite the evil caused by the fall of man. The evolutionary perspective must explain the existence and purpose of love in the context of natural selection and a world whose human purpose is whatever humanity gives it.