Science Is Not The Enemy Of The Church..

Being an engineer I consider myself a scientist and I can tell you first-hand that I felt very much attacked whenever I brought up science in my weekly bible classes. In that church the word “scientist” and “liberal” seemed to have an equally negative bias and I was both! I could never understand why so many were threatened when I asked questions based on scientific knowledge. If I did that it seemed I was immediately labeled a heretic. I found out my feeling were by no means unique. Here are some words about that from a book called Saving Jesus From The Church by Robin Meyers.

2017-10-23_15-37-24.pngIt is not the case that faith is more pure when it is uninformed or when it turns away from critical thinking and sound reasoning as threats to the life of the spirit. Science is not the enemy of faith, but rather its handmaiden. More threatening to the future of faith is the fear of what can be known as well as the search to know more. In fact, the ongoing suspicion that scientific discoveries or rigorous biblical scholarship will undermine faith is a tacit admission that faith is threatened by knowledge, because it is ultimately constructed on weak or faulty assumptions and, like the proverbial house of cards, needs to be “protected” from collapsing.

I am a strong believer that scientific knowledge is a gift from God. He gives it to us as we are ready to receive it. The Gnome project is an example. Many in the church today see science as an enemy of religion. One of the main reasons for that it is a threat to those who want to take the Bible literally and claim that the earth is a mere six thousand years old.  They maintain this position by counting back from Jesus to Adam and Eve. They believe that every generation has been accounted for in the Bible. When they see the overwhelming evidence that the earth is at least millions of years old they counter with “well, that is just God trying to trick us”. Why would God even bother to do that?

One book that I admire in this area is by Francis Collins entitled: The Language of God. It provides the best argument for the integration of faith and logic since C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity . Here are some of the words about this book on Amazon.  I highly recommend it to anyone willing to possibly admit that science is not the enemy of faith.One of the great divides in the church could be overcome if we got one thing straight: the truth of which Jesus speaks is wisdom incarnate, not intellectual assent to cogent arguments made on behalf of God. …

It has long been believed that science and faith cannot mingle. Faith rejects the rational, while science restricts us to a life with no meaning beyond the physical. It is an irreconcilable war between two polar-opposite ways of thinking and living. Written for believers, agnostics, and atheists alike, The Language of God provides a testament to the power of faith in the midst of suffering without faltering from its logical stride. Readers will be inspired by Collin’s personal story of struggling with doubt, as well as the many revelations of the wonder of God’s creation that will forever shape the way they view the world around them.

Pets

For this “arsty” Saturday I thought I would put out some pictures of some of the pets that have been in my life.  My wife of 32 years is the epitome of a animal lover. She would rather run into a tree rather than run over a squirrel.

The kittens in the header were from our “Home for unwed cats”  On two separate occasions pregnant cats showed up at our back door looking pitiful and wanting food. Of course they were instantly adopted along with the kittens they later produced.  Those two unwed mothers are shown just below.

The third picture is of Abigail. She was one of the few pets we actually went to a store to adopt. This was one of her few formal haircuts. She seemed to realize that somehow she was extra special in that mode.

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Writing is Recursive

canstockphoto25159365.jpgOften times in my life I feel like I am going in circles.  The same things seems to always crop up to mess things up.  I didn’t get married until I was forty so I had my share of dates.  But on second thought I really didn’t.  I knew I was not very good at it so I didn’t even attempt that often. Except for a very few occasions I just never could get past the second date.  With those kinds of experiences in life I knew I was different from many around me.

I would also later learn that I was just not very good at first thoughts and casual conversations. What came out of my mouth was often alarmingly blunt to many around me.  There were some that were brave enough to tell me so.  I didn’t have a clue until that happened. I said what I thought and I imagined everyone did that!

It may sound like I have the wrong title for this post but stay with me as I am coming to that point.  Many times after failed dates I would lie in bed going over our conversations in my head. I would often come to the conclusion that if I would have said this or that differently things might have gone better.  I would lie awake and keep trying to find that one sentence that, if I would have said it better, things might have worked out.

It just didn’t dawn on me at that age that I was not much of a extemporaneous speaker or conversationalist but I did know that I was a pretty good writer.  I always got an “A” in all my composition type classes in high school and college. What was the difference? Of course it was that writing is by nature a recursive task. Few writers can ever get it right the first time.  We constantly rewrite. Writing is recursive, at least good writing is recursive. I would finally discover that my sometimes strange characteristics were made for writing.

My Aspie characteristics make me a pretty poor speaker but a good writer and in the end I don’t mind that at all…

Perpetual Motion..

Banner ISOA  I thought for this mid-week post I would again visit the Museum of the Appalachia. This time I want to concentrate on Asa Jackson and his perpetual motion machine.  It looks like Asa spent many hours working on his machine, twiddling this and that until he got it just right.  He was convinced that he accomplished what Leonardo Da Vinci couldn’t do even if he didn’t know that story.

He was so convinced that he had something that would start an industrial revolution in the Appalachians that when the Yankee soldiers were in the area he disassembled his machine and hid it in a cave.  He didn’t want to damn yanks stealing his invention. I don’t know the story of what happened after that. It would certainly be interesting to know. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t really a perpetual motion machine.

This is just one of thousands of stories told at the museum…

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The Soul of America?

Red America sure is a strange place to me. They wave the flag with such vigor and then go about trying to prevent those who might vote differently than them from having their say. In the 60s it was primarily African Americans who had their attention, now they have expanded way beyond that group. Red America makes no sense to me.

Every gun tragedy that happens in our country causes Red America to pass more laws to make it easier to get guns. If you don’t believe that read this quote.

the five years since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School “have seen one of the most intense bursts of gun legislation in U.S. history.” More than two dozen states have passed new gun laws. And in almost all cases these laws have made it easier to buy or carry guns…

In Republican states, they found, a mass killing “increases the number of enacted laws that loosen gun restrictions by 75 percent.” In Democratic states, mass shootings have no significant effect on laws passed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/guns-soul-of-america

Is the soul of America so tainted now with violence, selfishness, aggressiveness, and misguided religious zealots, that it will soon morph into something else? I guess only time will tell. Is our current president now the norm for our society or can we go back to a country that cares for one another and doesn’t see everyone that might disagree with him as an enemy?  Only time will tell I guess…

Privatize Snail Mail…

2017-10-18_20-10-31.pngOur current president seems determined to completely erase any evidence of his predecessor. There are a myriad of opinions why he fixates on this task. But that is not the subject of this post.  If he really wants to do something productive that won’t harm his personal businesses, which is a top priority for him, he needs to privatize Snail Mail.

For anyone who has been living in a cave for the last decade Snail Mail is the USPS or United States Postal Service.  I kind of agree with the Republicans, the real ones I mean, when they say the government should not be in an area where private businesses can do the job as good or better.  This has become particularly true of the USPS.  They have been dying a slow death for the last couple decades. Their main thing was business correspondence and that has dwindled to almost a crawl now.  Today almost everything is handled over the Internet and that is progress as far as I am concerned.

Due to being a government business controlled pretty much by congressional committees the USPS have not had the opportunities to modernize along with the competitors. It’s time to change that scenario.  Let them go out on their own to survive or die. So, Mr. President if you want to leave a legacy in place of your path of destruction privatize the USPS and let them live up to their potential or to die trying.  That is the American way…

Writers Should Make People Uncomfortable..

One of the axioms of  writing is that it should make people uncomfortable. If it doesn’t then you are not stretching the horizons of those reading your words.  Even before I heard this it was in my heart. One of the foundations of RJsCorner is that I try to get people to think outside their boxes to other possibilities.  I am constantly looking for ways to stretch my horizons and I think everyone else should do the same. Being stuck in place is one of the primary causes of where we are today.

Why do I think that maybe I can make a difference? In many ways I am considerably different than most who likely read my words.  I just see the world differently than the average guy. Part of it is because of my Aspie characteristics, another is because of my deafness.  I am in the sub-one percent of the population.  That, and my total life experiences gives me a unique view of the world.

People getting out of the established venue is something that is becoming rarer and rarer.  With the explosion of the Internet it is just too easy to sink down into a given political mindset and almost be totally ignorant to other views of the world. It’s too easy to just turn on FOX or MSNBC and ignore the rest. I have seen that far too often when I visit some of my high school classmates.  It’s hard to believe that I once saw the world as they still do but my experiences since those years long ago have given me a different perspective.

I am not shy about putting forth my spiritual views nor am I hesitant to talk about those who fall in lockstep with a particular religious doctrine that I think drifts away from the foundations of their beliefs.  I am not apprehensive to  talk about how evangelicals have poisoned the church of Jesus by their radical “survival of the fittest” attitude when Jesus spoke almost totally about being your “brother’s keeper”.

I know I write things that make people uncomfortable. The evidence of that is my somewhat limited viewer counts.  I am told that I should stick to one particular niche. Instead I cover such a wide variety of topics.

Writers should make people uncomfortable in order to expand their readers horizons…

 

 

Religiously Powerful…

Jesus had some very stinging words about the religiously powerful of his day. The Gospel of Mark 7 is one of those places.  Let’s study some of those words.

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:” ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’  But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

In these verses Jesus was addressing the Pharisees from Jerusalem. These guys, being from Jerusalem were not some radical sect that was divorced from the mainstream Judaism, they were likely the leader of the leaders of the mainstream church. I’m sure they were totally shocked to have this carpenter’s son rebuke them so harshly. With that in mind it is not to surprising that they then went on to plan for his execution. They had, I am sure, the belief that they were the spokesman for God, not this lowly peasant.

Jesus told them that they were hypocrites, as the humble and poor people who were surrounding him to listen to his messages knew more about God than they did. Jesus told them that their religion was more about human rules than about learning lessons from God.  Can you imagine the hate they must have had for Jesus after these strong words?

The religion of Jesus’ day had devolved into traditions that had little to do with God but instead were implemented to keep the religious hierarchy of the day in power. It was more about their rules than God’s. He told them that they do many things against the true teaching of God.

I’m sure there are many in today’s churches who consider themselves the leader of the leaders as the Pharisees did. I am also sure that Jesus would say many of  the same things against them as he did two thousand years ago. Many religions have devolved into organizations of human traditions and dogma.

The current emergent movement within the church body is attempting to force the original messages of Jesus back to front-and-center in today’s church. If they are successful maybe someday the light of Jesus and his true words will again be a shining beacon for the world to look upon.

Shenandoah Valley

The picture for this Saturday is one taken in 1988 in the Shenandoah Valley.  The eastern mountains are just as impressive as the western, just in a different way.

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Having No Religion or Faith..

Britain is becoming an increasingly faithless society, according to a new survey that has found 53% of Britons now describe themselves as having no religion.

The proportion is the highest ever, up from 48% in 2015 and 31% in 1983 when the British Social Attitudes survey was begun by the independent National Centre for Social Research.

The trend is evident across all age groups but is particularly marked among young people, with 71% of 18-to 24-year-olds surveyed in 2016 saying they had no religion, up from 62% percent the previous year.

The majority of older people still have some faith, with only four in ten of those aged 65 to 74 describing themselves as having no religion, and only 27% of those aged 75 and over.

Source: More than half of Britons have no religion – survey

From what I remember the US has similar  but lower numbers and also trends significantly downward but not yet to the extent of Britons. I wonder how much of this decline here is associated with politics? Evangelicals are now known more as an ultra right political group than a religious one.  That fact alone does serious, and maybe deadly, harm to religion.

On another thought, there are just so many things that educated people today see to enforce their belief that religion does more harm than good in our societies. They look at all the wars in the world today and see that religion is the source for almost all of them.

Too many versions of religions demand a blind faith.  That is, you are supposed to take whatever they say is true no matter was current day facts prove. That alone will eventually cause the demise of most forms of religion in the world. God gave us intellect and a questioning attitude for a reason.

When we as a world community finally come to see that we are all praying to the same God we may be able to eventually salvage what’s left of religion from the dust heaps of time.  These are pretty harsh words but I think they need to be said.

I proudly say I am a follower of Jesus Christ and his messages to us but I am currently not religious. This statement causes confusion in many but once I explain this dichotomy they understand what I am saying.

I See Myself As…

canstockphoto6621324.jpgWe all have a vision of who we are and what we are all about. Many times that vision is strikingly different than the way others see us. I don’t know why that is but it probably has something to do with our egos.  Yes, we all have egos but of course some are much more massive than others. Anyway I want to put forward here a little about how I see myself. Maybe you could benefit from some of the same self evaluation?

I see myself as a perpetual  student and teacher at the same time.  There is always something new to learn and prejudices that need to be unlearned.  I seek adventure, yes, but never conquest.

I loathe the “survival of the fittest” mentality and embrace the “brother’s keeper” alternative.  I am a follower of the messages of Jesus Christ but am for the most part disappointed in what much of his church on earth has become.

I question everything. Truth’s borders are a transient place where walls sometimes need to crumble, for barriers to come down. I try to always be open to new possibilities.

Each personal encounter is the mixture of commonalities and differences, exploring paths of shared experiences while discovering new paths that lead to new territories unbounded.

I loathe boredom or maybe it is just not moving forward. I am always looking to the next frontier.

This is how I see myself today. Tomorrow might be a different story.

What about you? How do you see yourself?

 

Aspie Traits – Assets vs Liabilities..

Banner Aspie  It has been a while since I talked about my Aspie traits. I have decided I won’t call myself an Aspie but will state that I have many of the characteristics of one.  Asperger’s Syndrome is part of the Autism Spectrum and the breadth of the syndrome is wide indeed.  Some, like myself live a pretty normal life while others struggle with day to day activities.

At least to me and I expect many others who are more knowledgeable of the Syndrome recognize that the traits are spread between assets and liabilities.  In this and future posts in this category I want to talk about both sides. So here goes:

Asset – We Are Forthright  Simply stated we speak our mind where others might hold back. That has always seemed a natural state to me, especially in the last decade or so.  I still can’t understand why people don’t speak forthrightly, but I do understand how it can cause you to get into trouble.  When I was a member of an LCMS Lutheran church I used to regularly attend Bible Study classes after the service.  When something didn’t make sense to me I spoke up. The more I did the more the pastor seem to get  upset. Especially when he couldn’t answer the question. It wasn’t long before I was told I couldn’t be a Lutheran anymore as I didn’t believe the “right” things.  Too much forthrightness got me in trouble. When we were asked to leave my wife blurted out “Why couldn’t you keep your mouth shut!!”  She still doesn’t understand that is just the way I am.

Liability – We have difficulty accepting criticism  This liability has given me trouble throughout my married life.  I can’t help it but it seems that my wife is constantly criticizing me for one thing or another.  Everything in the world seems to be my fault to one degree or another.  I sometimes get the feeling that she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up.  I guess other married guys can take this in stride but I have constant trouble in dealing with it.  Sometimes it results in some rather serious verbal spats.   I know I should not be so upset by criticism but that fact doesn’t help when I boil over because of it.

 

Museum of Appalachia

 

Scan 1Banner ISOA  On my most recent trip InSearchOfAmerica I visited the Museum of Appalachia. I was not expecting too much but was blown away by what I found. It is a museum like no other I have visited. The totally unique thing about this place was that all the building and most of the antiques were identified by the person who owned them and included stories about their lives.  It is almost as if you could picture them living in the buildings and using the instruments and such.

 

I took literally a hundred photos of the place. Here are a few to entice you to visit. The museum is located in Clinton TN in the northeast corner of the State.

 

 

 

As usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow view

 

I Don’t Have Many Friends — By Choice..

Maybe I should explain the title some more before I continue with the post.  Yes, because of my Aspie traits and my isolation as a deaf senior citizen I don’t have as many friends as I had when I was in the corporate world. That is a fact that can’t be denied but it is not the point of this post.

The point I am trying to make is that by Facebook standards my friends list is pretty abysmal.  I think at last count I had about 40 “friends”. Some of them I don’t “follow” because they post multiple times daily about the most mundane things in their life and even though I am a 24/7 senior I don’t have, or maybe I won’t take the time to even browse through those posts.  Of those 40 friends I think their average friend count is over 200.

2017-10-12_12-05-50.pngIt is not because I am not able to have more “friends”, Lord knows I get multiple requests weekly from people I have no idea who they are. Maybe they read a post here at RJsCorner and want me to know what they are doing?  But I suspect most of them found me when I made a comment on Facebook one place or another.  Their purpose for asking me is simply to increase their count so as to impress their friends.

I’m probably going to come off as an old fogie here but I think social media is a fad not worth following, at least to the degree that many do. We all say our days are so hectic that we have no time for family things. But then the stats show that people spend multiple hours daily interacting with social media.  Maybe it’s time for many to go cold turkey from social media for a few days to spend time on other things? Maybe its absence would show them that it doesn’t add much value to their lives?