A Personal Response

I don’t think I’m violating anyone’s trust here, since the individual who sent me this email was complaining that he couldn’t respond to the blog for some reason.

Fist statement of the response:

“The PT site doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being on the side of the gods. And yet the readers are to be subjected to preaching for the first month of the new format with your submissions–so far about two a day”.

Preaching? I merely stated a belief. I don;t claim authority for my statements. I don’t even say that any authority can be claimed. If someone wrote something with which I disagreed, would it be “preaching”? If the next editor says something with which i disagree, I will directly challenge him in regards to his statements explicitly.

Notice in the above remarks a decided tendency toward ad hominem. Not actually pointing to the flaw in the logic of mu statements, but obviously disparaging it for my benefit by calling it “preaching”. Does that prove it right or wrong? No, it proves absolutely nothing except that he doesn’t personally like it. So? I don’t personally like a lot of things, but i usually try to discipline myself to specific responses.

Next statement: “Your preaching is about like most sermons, confusing and contradictory”.

Notice again that this is a statement “about” what I’m saying, which falls into the category of ad hominem, but tells me nothing at all except that he doesn’t like it and he finds it confusing and contradictory. Is it confusing and contradictory? How can I possibly know if he doesn’t explain it?

But we are getting into some more specific comments:

“Now let’s see, you cannot prove there is a God so it is likely you don’t know what a god is, and yet man is destined to become a thing you cannot identify. It is rationally confusing.”

First part is true. No one can prove the existence of God. Have I stated a falsehood? Can any of you prove there is a God? Therefore, I do not know what a God is. However, I have never said it is a fact that man is destined to become God. I merely stated that it is my BELIEF that man is to become God. Is this somehow logically contradictory?

Let’s see. Is it permissible to believe in truth? You might say “one doesn’t believe in truth. One PROVES truth. Yes, that must be true. But can anyone prove all truth? No, one cannot. BUT one can conclude that truth must be consistent with all truth. I can’t prove this, but it would seem to be a logical assumption, since if any any statement is not consistent with truth, or contradicts truth, how can it be true? Yet there is no way I can prove this to be consistent with what I happen to believe is true within my own knowledge. The reason being that I cannot prove that all my knowledge is complete and consistent within truth. I may actually believe something that is wrong.

However, with no ability to prove the consistency or completeness of my own thoughts in regard to ‘absolute” truth, I can logically BELIEVE in truth, though I CANNOT prove it. Therefore, I can believe that if there is a God, and that God is consistent with truth, in fact is the embodiment of truth, then it is perfectly logical to accept the idea that I can BELIEVE in a God who is consistent with truth, whether I can prove it or not.

Let’s look at it from another viewpoint. Suppose I could actually define truth in all its completeness. If I could, then there is nothing to prevent me from programming it into a computer. At the point I program all truth into a computer, from every possible definition known to the human mind, that computer would BE truth. It would exist separately from truth, but since it would contain the perfect embodiment of truth, it would be truth in every conceivable fashion. Would there be a difference between the computer that “contained” the truth, and truth itself?

It seems logical there would be a difference. But to actually DEFINE the truth, you would have to “contain” it within some boundaries of human thought. That is, truth would be finite, rational, complete, and consistent. Does truth exist in that fashion? We simply don’t know. We accept that truth is infinite. That was Godel’s conclusion. If it is finite, then we should be able to define the boundaries of truth.

The problem is, we can’t. We cannot list all the true statements of mathematics, but if we could list them, we would discover that there existed some false statements that got “smuggled in” during the process of listing.

If “God” therefore, is synonymous with truth, then “God” would have to be infinite, non-definable, just as truth is.

Next statement, from Ayn Rand:

“No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum total of his knowledge. To arrive at a contradiction s to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality”.

Is God within Ayn Rand’s concepts? Well, if you read The Fountainhead, you will see her making the statement o the effect that “The first frown was the touch of God on man’s forehead”.

Is that a part of her integrated concepts? She was an atheist, and she did not believe God lay within the realm of integrated concepts, yet she stated an obvious contradiction. If there is no place for God within integrated concepts, how could God ‘touch a man’s forehead’ from outside those integrated conceptions?

But let’s just look at her statement above. Lots of people do to Ayn rand what I have accused you folks of doing to me, so I will look at the statement rather than talking “about” it.

“No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the sum total of his knowledge”.

Notice, she didn’t write “all knowledge” or “absolute knowledge”. She merely said “his knowledge”. There is nothing within that statement declaring that every man must possess a complete, consistent understanding of all knowledge. In fact, we know mathematically that he cannot. But it is necessary for him to correctly integrate all HIS knowledge.

Let’s look at another Ayn Rand quote:

“Men have a weapon against you(collectivism). Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them. Cut the props out from under it. But be careful. Don’t deny outright. Never deny anything outright, you give your hand away. Don’t say reason is evil–though some have gone that far with astonishing success. Just say that reason is limited. That there’s something above it. What? You don;t have to
be too clear about it either. The field’s inexhaustible. ‘Instinct’–‘Feeling’–‘Revelation’–‘Divine Intuition’–Dialectical materialism’…”

In other words, Ayn Rand is saying that there is no collective power by which men can be controlled in the name of truth. Every man has a weapon against all collective power. Why?
Because truth cannot ever be contained in a complete, consistent sense in one common package. Godel’s theorem merely supports Ayn Rand!

Men are forever free precisely BECAUSE truth cannot be contained in one single package!

How does that differ from what Paul said in Romans 9:16-22? Is there a decision procedure b which we can organize under God? If there is, both Paul and Ayn Rand would be wrong!

If you can define any algorithm or decision process by which truth can be collectivized, then you would prove both the atheist Ayn Rand and the theist Paul wrong!

By the way, Here’s Ayn Rand’s full quote about God, from the above statement:

“Have you noticed that the imbecile always smiles? Man’s first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought.”

Whoops!

Another quote from the email:

“So you cannot prove a god exists, but you are quite willing to proceed to preach/teach from a ‘holy book’ allegedly inspired by that unproven god.”

I don’t remember calling it a “holy book”. The only thing I did was to question what the term “holy” means, as in “Holy Spirit”. Did I say there was anything higher than the mind of any individual mind? Have i said you must believe what I say? No, I merely challenge you to prove me wrong, and nobody’s even come close.

“Well, you cannot prove that allegation, either”. What allegation? The only “allegation” I have chosen to demonstrate is that Paul‘s statements in Romans 8 and 9, and Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24:23, are consistent with the facts as we see them, and consistent with what we are learning about the “real” world.
Quit talking “about” my statements and prove me wrong.

I love this one: “Your preaching from it(the bible) treats it as if the god you admittedly cannot prove does indeed exist. There is the blatant contradiction”.

No, I have merely pointed out that the statements I quote from the bible are consistent with the facts of reality. Whether a god exists to support those facts cannot be proven one way or another.

But if the statements ARE consistent with reality, there is no reason to assume that such a god does not exist, any more than we would assume that a complete, consistent truth does not exist, even though we cannot mathematically prove it.

These are tired old arguments the gentleman presents. I’ve heard them many times.

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Did Paul Contradict Himself?

The well presented argument confronted nowadays is that Paul is the culprit who destroyed the simple truth of Jesus. Paul was the dastardly villain that led to Constantine and the Inquisitions.

In fact, neither Paul nor Jesus could have done so, as I’ve already shown, simply because of the simple logic of their statements regarding truth.

But Paul did seek to organize churches in various areas. He went to great lengths explaining how people should think about things, what should be tolerated, and how it should be dealt with.

That, in fact, is where Paul DID produce the systems of power and confusion we have today.

But was that Paul’s fault? Was it wrong for him to try and establish principles by which people could freely live in service to God?

Of course not. The problem, of course, lay in human nature itself. Given the opportunity to organize, the opportunity to exercise some authority, it becomes so easy to begin representing ourselves as the symbol, the icon of “God’s man”.

Paul himself dealt with this issue. “Some like to say they are of Paul” he wrote, “and some say they are of Apollos”. But notice what Paul actually said. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase”.

In other words, no matter what men tried to do, it was God who controlled the growth of the church. Many are called but few are chosen.

Did Paul say the church had authority? Within the church, yes. And there was no reason why any community of people established toward certain ideals should not have authority over those who freely choose to join.

Did that mean all who wished to join were somehow “elect”? No, since Paul’s teachings in Romans 8, 9 Ephesians 2:8-10, and other scriptures had clearly cancelled any possibility of anyone ruling in God’s name. The “High Priest” of Christianity, said Paul, was Jesus, and Jesus wasn’t on earth.

If the church had the right to declare authority, what was the limitation of its power?

Jesus had established the broad guidelines of that power when he said that his followers are not to seek “an eye for an eye”, but to love those that hate them, pray for those that use and persecute them, bless those that curse them, etc.

The limits of the church’s authority was quite simple: it had no authority to execute vengeance.

Paul himself confirmed that fact in Romans 12:19, and quoted the Old Testament to demonstrate it. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay”.

Who DID have the power of vengeance? Look at the very next chapter, Romans 13. The “Higher Powers”, the state, had the power of vengeance. They were “God’s instruments of wrath”.

That was a clear limitation of boundaries between church and state, and it demanded that there be a separation of church and state.

But both Paul and Jesus advocated settlement “out of court”. Jesus had stated that where “two or three are gathered”, whatever was “bound on earth would be bound in heaven”.

That is not some special ethereal power given to the church. It is merely a statement that any two people can agree among themselves, and it will be fully recognized by God. That was fully consistent with the “Two Witness” rule of Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15.

Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 6 that there was no need for people to sue one another at the law, since that itself, seeking vengeance against another, was actually a violation of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 5. Paul said that the “least” of the church members could gather together and decide what should be done, but their decision was NOT to permit vengeance as a goal. That was left to the state.

We see in 1 Corinthians 5:5 that Paul wrote of delivering “such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord”.

If we look at Matthew 4 and Luke 4, we see that Satan was in charge of all world governments. To “deliver unto Satan”, therefore, was to deliver to the government for decisions regarding vengeance. The state’ power was NOT primary. It was a secondary power, to be used only as a last resort.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9 we see “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effiminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind(etc)… shall inherit the kingdom of God”.

Verse 11: “And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified…by the spirit of our God”.

The church was permitted a kind of “self policing”, but NOT with the power of punishment or vengeance. It was the church’s job, as much as possible to nurture and show principles of love and tolerance.

Jesus had said in Matthew 18:15-18 that if your adversary didn’t want to accept the verdict of the church, given in love and tolerance, to simply treat him as a “Gentile or tax collector”.

Jesus obviously didn’t care for tax collectors. Paul had simply said to “deliver him to Satan” if it was necessary, to “destroy the flesh”.

So the state DID have the power over “flesh”, over death (Hebrews 2:14), but the “spirit” was the domain of the church.

And what was that “spirit’ that guided the church? How about “love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, goodness, faith…”. Remember that?

Could this “spirit” be reduced to mechanical, rational, finite definitions by which any man could rule in the name of God? No. There was no one who could claim any such special relationship, and Paul had already established that fact in Romans chapters 8 and 9.

Any group, anywhere, any time, any place, is free to organize by those principles. But NO group can legitimately claim to have any special relationship with God.

And, because no state can demonstrate any finite, rational, logical relationship to truth in any special sense, the state can claim no more power over the people than the church. In fact, the state can ONLY exercise authority by the permission of the people. That is also reflected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

So, while we can freely organize and profess to serve God, biblically, we CANNOT organize for the purpose of vengeance in any form, we cannot organize for the purpose of controlling others in any form. And the guarantee of Jury trial in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that the state (Satan) can only have access to the “flesh” once the people have decided there is no other way. That is proper government “by the people”, and it is fully recognized, in principle, in the New Testament.

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What Is Truth?

What is truth? That’s what Pilate supposedly asked Jesus. Yet Jesus apparently gave no answer.

I once wrote in another discussion group that Jesus had said “The truth will set you free”.

A response came: “Define truth”.

The problem with truth is that in order to define it, it becomes necessary to develop a series of steps that show truth. The truth is——, each little mark representing a step leading in well formed sentences that demonstrate that “if we start from this point, we will end at this point”.

But it can’t be done. Kurt Godel demonstrated it. No way. Impossible. So, if Jesus said “The truth will set you free”, and if we cannot define truth, then it stands to reason that you must be free of any organizational system, church or state, that says it represents either truth or God.

If you can’t define truth, neither can anyone else. Therefore, you are free. But if you can define it, then you would actually be bound to live by it, wouldn’t you? Assuming that you wanted to, of course. Even if we could know the truth in any absolute sense, we are not bound to live by it, as far as we know.

I noticed that some comments have brought in such things as Chaos Theory, in which such things as laws might not even exist. I like Chaos Theory. I like studying such things as information theory.

Claude Shannon, when he developed information theory, pointed out that the more probable a message is, the less information it contains. Another way of saying it is, the more a message is repeated, the less information it contains. Many people don’t realize that when Shannon developed his formula describing information, that it was virtually identical to the formula defined many years earlier, describing entropy.

Entropy basically descries the breakdown of systems. Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, if we organize one system, we tend to create chaos in related systems, because we must borrow related energy from one system in order to organize in a related system. The greater our power for organization, the greater our tendency to create chaos in all related systems.

If we compare Shannon’s definition of information with earlier definitions of entropy, it seems that we derive information from the very entropy we create. If we create order, we create equal disorder, but it is that very disorder that “informs” our efforts to create more order!

Weird, huh?

The problem with humans is not that they can’t organize, but that they organize all too well! We can take a good idea and run with it. We can build empires. Look at Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Islam, and even the Christian empire started by Constantine. All we need is an idea and we’re good to go!

Look at the story of the Tower of Babel. People started figuring things out, they began to see that they were different, smarter, bigger, better, and the first thing they started to do was organize!

“Let’s get us a tower started here! If we build it high enough, we might figure out all about God, and making it on our own!”

The response from God is interesting. It really does tell us a lot in terms of entropy. Notice his concern in Genesis 11:6:

“And the Lord said, behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”.

When you think about it, that’s pretty dangerous. people get together, they have one language, one way of processing information, and they decide to focus on one common goal. And it was that which made them a threat to themselves.

Think about it. In order to build their tower, they would have to take more and more materials from their environment. More wood to build fires to make bricks, people organized to build scaffolds to erect the tower, requiring more and more people to build both the scaffolds and the tower, more and more of everything needed from their environment, which would force them to forage farther and farther, destroying the habitat of the animals on which they depend for food, etc.

They were accelerating the process of entropy, destroying the very environment on which they depended.

Fortunately YHVH had a simple solution for that time: simply confuse their language, so they would have to look at their environment from a more individualized perspective.

But that was a band-aid. Obviously the people were smart. They would be able to get around that obstacle shortly.

Something else was needed. How about a law that ran against their nature? If they tried to obey the law, the very attempt would continually splinter and speciate their cultures to the degree they couldn’t agree on anything.

Enter the nation of Israel, born of slavery, freed from slavery only to be trained and educated in a virtual Petri dish which they called the wilderness, waiting for a Promised land if they learned to obey the law. B.F. Skinner, eat your heart out!

They were constantly reinforced by their environment to obey a law which simply ran against their nature, producing rebellion, division, constant splintering of religions, until by the time that Jesus allegedly walked the earth, Israel was an incredibly diverse culture, with numerous religions, all fighting to see which one best obeyed God’s law.

Yet everywhere Israel went, in every empire that enslaved them, Israel emerged, and the empire crumbled. Yet Israel absorbed certain cultural traits from each empire, were then absorbed by another, and then in return absorbed the beneficial traits of the next empire, usually with Jewish individuals rising to the top of government and shaping the evolution of the next round of Israelite culture.

So, along comes Jesus, and the first thing he says is, “I didn’t come to destroy the law. Not one jot or tittle will be done away until all is fulfilled”.

But the law had produced misery in Israel. They had tried to obey it, only to discover suffering, division, confusion, splintering of more religions, until no one was sure exactly how to rig

htly obey it. Now Jesus said he came to fulfill every jot and tittle.

But that would only create greater diversity, splintering, bickering, disagreement, family breakups, and hatred even of Israelite against Israelite.

Yet in Matthew 10:34-38, that’s exactly what Jesus said he came to do!

And if that wasn’t enough, along came Paul, telling us that the natural mind simply cannot be subject to God’s laws, and the only thing that our attempted obedience can produce is even more confusion and splintering of religious ideas.

Why do you suppose that’s so? Maybe because humans always did have that destructive ability to organize? Because they could create god-kings who could make millions subject to their every whim? Because after any empire grew to a certain point, it would simply collapse of its own weight?

Mention the word “God” in the world today, and you not only have 38,000 versions of Christianity and growing, but untold thousands of other religions of non-christian Gods, all vying with each other for a little respect, as Rodney Dangerfield might say.

If there is a God, we must presume that division and splintering of ideas about God must be intended. Why? Because diversity produces options, and options produce freedom, and freedom produces liberty to examine new avenues of knowledge and thought.

Why can’t we discover some organized evidence of God? We’re not supposed to!

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Armstrongism

I have been reminded that to put someone down because they don’t agree with my point of view is pure Armstrongism.

If you wish to call my presentation “my point of view”, there might be some truth to it. But in fact, when I left the WCG, the first thing that plagued me in any search for truth, is how to recognize truth that is somehow NOT dependent on my point of view, or Paul’s point of view or Jesus’ point of view, but actually was truth from any perspective I wished to view it?

Can it be done? Paul himself is credited with writing that the carnal mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, which presents a kind of syllogism from which to begin.

All human minds are enmity against God
I am human
My mind is enmity against God

So how would I proceed to find truth about God? Can I escape my humanness? Is there something, anything, that would allow me to somehow proceed toward one complete, consistent truth?

That was exactly the dilemma, in regard to mathematical truth, faced by mathematicians such as David Hilbert.

If the mind is subject to truth, then there should be some formal system by which we can proceed from axiomatic foundations in order to get to truth in one complete, consistent package.

Surely, the mathematicians reasoned, if we are careful and develop our line of theorems extending from axiomatic foundations with great care, we can proceed to develop a system that will simply lead us to truth and avoid human error altogether!

And then a man named Kurt Godel, in the 1930s, came along and dropped a bomb on all their hopes and dreams. he demonstrated by means of a most ingenious theorem that there simply is no way we will ever predictably develop any formal system that will lead us to truth in one complete, consistent, package.

Regarding truth, we can’t get “there” from “here”. There simply is no way!

In a historical parallel to this same development, at about the time of Jesus, there came a man known as rabbi Hillel. The Jews, in their attempts to adapt Torah to the various influences of the world of trade and commerce, had developed the Mishna, Gemarra, and finally the Talmud.

But the problem face by the Jews was in some ways similar to that faced by Hilbert and other mathematicians in the 1930s. The pressing issue faced by Talmudist and rabbis was, how can we know if we have properly developed the commentary of law, such that it is fully consistent with the Torah?

Hillel devised a brilliant structure of reasoning called the “seven laws”. From these laws of reasoning, Hillel concluded that if the mind was disciplined, if it trained in the proper methods, the human mind could devise a system of thought that was consistent to the Torah.

But Hillel had a contemporary, who most people recognize as one called Jesus. The rabbis of the day were Pharisees. They were the “layman” representatives of the people, and they weren’t exactly unpopular. Jesus even admitted that they sat in “Moses’ seat”. And then he proceed to blast them and call them hypocrites. He even said “But be not ye called rabbi”. Now there was a real slap in the face. The rabbis had claimed themselves to be the representatives of God’s law, the ones who, by patience and study, could lead the people to righteousness. Jesus said don’t be called rabbi, or father, or master(Mister. Remember that?)

Now think about this. Hillel had said that by proper discipline and logic, rabbis could in fact proceeded to rightly interpret the law. Assuming that God is the sum and source of truth, that there is no contradictions to be found in God’s wisdom, God would be the same as truth in mathematical formal systems, since truth is consistent with all truth.

So IF the rabbis could actually keep the law by proper reasoning, then Jesus would have to be wrong. The rabbis had every right to prosecute in the name of the law.

And if that wasn’t enough, Paul came along with a real slap in the face and said that the natural, carnal mind cannot be subject to God’s laws! Assuming Paul was a Pharisee, he had just disavowed the very foundations of his own beliefs!

Was Jesus and Paul right, or were the rabbis of the Pharisees right? We can now look to Godel’s theorem in mathematics as the final arbiter. Jesus and Paul were right! If God is absolute truth, we can no more get to God by any formal process of thought than we can get to truth in any complete sense by any finite, rational process of thought.

In fact, the Pharisees did NOT speak the truth! They could not speak the truth in any complete, consistent sense. Yet they tried to apply the truth as they reasoned it according to law. But in John 8:33, Jesus said they were of their father, the devil.

Let’s look at that. If the Pharisees were trying to establish their righteousness through law, and if all earthly law existed under the authority of Satan(Matthew 4, Luke 4), then all mechanical, finite, rational, legal attempts to arrive at truth must be of Satan.

If any person, including me, tried to establish a “special relationship” with truth or God in any absolute sense, then that person would be wrong. It cannot be done by any process of logic, reason, or legalism. It is mathematically proven to be impossible!

So how do I know that the teachings of Jesus and Paul were right? Because that is exactly what they said!

Paul pointed it out plainly in Romans 8 and 9, and repeated the idea so there would be no doubt as to what he was saying. There exists no decision procedure, no “work” that any person can perform, that will earn him “salvation”(Ephesians 2:8-10).

So how do I know I’m right? because I just told you the truth. All you have to do to prove me wrong is to simply show me a logical, rational, finite mechanical process of thought by which you can prove any special relationship at all to God.

The fact is, you simply can’t do it. Therefore. I am right. And so was Jesus and Paul, even if Jesus and Paul never actually made those statements. They are true simply because they are true.

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