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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"Born Again"–Practical Applications

Of the 38,000 versions of Christianity emphasizing being “born again”, the very idea has been reduced to a concept about as useless as “teats on a boar hog”, as farmers in my neck of the woods used to say.

For those “experts” in the ex-WCG fold, it has no meaning at all, nor should it.

But that is actually what makes it of such value to every person.

Let’s look at the phrase as used by Jesus in John 3. “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”.

In that context, what is a kingdom? It’s a government, basically. But Jesus, in this passage, gave it a special context by calling it a kingdom of God. This was rather shocking to Nicodemus, since, as a Jew, a rabbi, he assumed that he was actually born to inherit the “kingdom of God”.
It was so disturbing that he asked Jesus if it was somehow necessary that a man re-enter his mother’s womb.

But Jesus didn’t give much of a definition of the term. We can look at the Greek translation and see that he was actually talking about a birth “from above”, but so what? Big deal.

As we see from verse 8, there was nothing significant about the idea, no process of organization, nothing that would separate a “born again” person from another.

What would be the value, if any, of such a term?

Actually, it has a great deal of value, in purely physical, pragmatic terms. Look at another reference to this concept in John 1:12-13:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”.

If we place this alongside of what Jesus said to Nicodemus, it totally discredits any birthright inheritance of Jews. It’s saying, in effect, that there can be no physical, earthly government that can represent God by virtue of any physical birth or any control imposed by humans.

The implications of these two scriptures is that they not only challenge the physical authority of Israel, but the physical authority of any government that would claim citizenship by birth.

If you are “born of God”, you are not born of the will of men. That doesn’t signify any metaphysical, special, otherworldy concept. It simply means that you can choose to be “born” outside any government that would be imposed by the will of men.

That would mean, as Thomas Jefferson put it, that it is a self evident truth that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. It means that person’s physical birth within any territory does not automatically make him or her subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

For a better understanding of the pragmatic applications, let’s take a look at the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”.

In this we see a link between “birth”, “citizenship”, and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”.

What does that last phrase mean? Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio pointed out that “Indians” born in the U.S. maintained tribal relations that did not make them subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” meant “not owing allegiance to anybody else…subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.”

The Fourteenth Amendment, therefore, implied two requirements: born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to its jurisdiction.

Now, it is possible to be “born or naturalized” in the U.S. and still not be subject to its jurisdiction. Well, John 1:12-13 would suggest a good reason. But there is also another connective issue related to this: the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

So, being “born again” in the context that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, is one of liberation from human governments and control by human governments. “Congress shall make no law….”

But the Supreme Court has declared that the “Due Process” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment “incorporates” the First Amendment. How can any law incorporate no law? The argument is that freedom of religion is to be protected by “due process” of Constitutional law.

But here’s the problem: If the federal government incorporates the due process clause in protection of the First Amendment, then suddenly the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment no longer provides protection against the federal government. What results is a kind of protection racket; “we’ll protect you from us if you pay”.

But Jesus himself advocated settlement of issues out of court(Matthew 5:25, 18:15-18). Paul also advocated settlement outside of state authorities (1 Corinthians 6), so that “due process” is imp;lied as belonging to religions equally to the state. In fact, congress can make no law saying otherwise.

The only limitation on this power provided by both Paul and Jesus is that religion cannot advocate vengeance. That, and that alone, is reserved to the state.

So, since due process of law has been defined as ancient law coming from as far back as Magna Carta, and since it transcends the power of Constitutional law, it is a power reserved to any person who declares freedom of conscience from the law. It cannot be a power defined by the federal government, nor the state government. It is a power reserved to the individual, a power to be “born of God” “born again” not born “of the will of men”.

It is the full summation of your right to face all accusers, with the vindication of God, the right to ask, “who is wronged by my actions?”

Or, as Paul states in Romans 8:33 “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?”

Ah, but who are God’s elect? Paul says only God knows the answer to that question, which means that you are free of the governments of men unless you harm another.

2 Peter 2:19 : “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage”.

The bible is about freedom from men.

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Logical Flaws of Ex-WCG Members

So far, those negative responses I’ve received have shown very little substance. Mostly they’re a type of sly ad hominem. Remember when you were just a peon in the old WCG? Do you remember that smirk on the ministers’ faces if you asked them a question?

Ex-WCG members have learned from it, and they have developed quite an effective immunity against any exploration of ideas. That immunity is reflected, not in any remarks of intellectual substance, but implied belittling of the “messenger” rather than exploring the “message”.

The ultimate logical flaw in their reasoning is that, in showing how independent they are in their capacity to attack, there is no opportunity whatever for integrative learning. The sly remarks, so well administered by WCG ministers, has been learned, but very little more.

Basically, the argument says “Look at me! I can attack him! He’s really stupid!”

Of course you wouldn’t come right out and say that. The ad hominem content of your argument is masked, as in the “Retired Prof’s” statement that he was just too nice to say “I’m full of it”.

It’s quite possible that I am, except for one glaring, obvious, undeniable fact: Of all the masked ad hominem, of all the hints at my obvious stupidity, not one person has shown the first scrap of evidence in any respect at all to demonstrate that I’m wrong.

Does it matter? I suppose not. Most of the ex-WCGites are so full of hatred and scorn for HWA that they will spend their lives grinding their teeth and “proving” that everyone else is an idiot.

Of course you can contrast that with those who spend their lives trying to prove that HWA really was a prophet, and they really didn’t waste their lives trying to follow him.

Between those two extremes, there are those who are genuinely interested in learning, who actually did care deeply for the time spent with friends, however deceived they might have been.

The problem is, the two extremes I describe above are very maladaptive in their reactions. They will attack those who don’t share their point of view. They might not insult, since they’re too “nice”, but they will imply, they will insinuate, they will work to every little sneaky extreme to discredit the messenger while avoiding ever examining the truth or falsehood of the message.

This, unfortunately, doesn’t require a great deal of intelligence. Most any illiterate gang member can be a master of it. I learned it quite well in the marines, and nobody can accuse them of being highly intellectual.

Basically, the ad hominem attack is an excuse for not being able to think. If “I” can belittle “you”, and discredit “you” before others, then “I” am more important than “you”.

But in all of that, you have proven absolutely nothing. You have shown no capacity for critical thought, no ability to demonstrate any worthwhile level of intelligence, and you have only shown that you can attack, belittle, and discredit. I could do that when I was twelve years old.

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Romans 13– be Subject To Higher Powers?

As I was doing my essays on the nature of freedom from religious organizations, I was informed that the idea of “judge not, that ye be not judged” would lead to anarchy in today’s society.

If, within the context of truth, we cannot judge or condemn others, how would we go about enforcing obedience for those who simply refuse to try and live by a moral standard?

Ad we know from Matthew 5, Jesus said he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill “every jot and tittle” of the law.

However, if we try to keep that law, in accordance with Paul’s statement in Romans 8:7, the result would be infinite splintering of religious beliefs. Jesus apparently agreed with that, since he said in Matthew 10:34-38 that he came to bring about exactly those results!

In other words, the attempt to obey “God’s law” will force us to become more and more individualistic in spite of ourselves.. yet out of that individualism, Jesus also told us we are not to seek “an eye for an eye” or vengeance in our dealings with others.

What we see in that is a “separation of church and state”. To pursue the ideals taught by Jesus, to love those that hate you, to pray for those that use and persecute you, to bless those that curse you, these would make a person an open invitation to every crook who ignored those principles.

But by that same token, we cannot simply take vengeance into our own hands. The very act of doing so is to claim that we can speak with authority in God’s name over the life of others.

So, it becomes necessary to have a system that “executes wrath”, and Paul covers that subject in Romans 13. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

But let’s also look at Matthew 4: 8-10, and Luke 4: 5-7. We recognize from that statement that Satan has power over all world governments. So if all powers are ordained of God, then we are forced to conclude that Satan’s power is ordained of God(assuming that they exist, of course).

The power of vengeance, of wrath, of even death, is given to Satan, recognized and ordained by God. In Hebrews 2: 14 we see this. “For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

One favorite statement of Libertarians is that of Thomas Paine: Government at its best is but a necessary evil….

While Paine himself “converted” to atheism at a later time, he actually made a statement consistent with the bible. Government, from the scriptures above, is a necessary evil.

So, while the “higher powers” are ordained of God, and we are to be subject to them, they are nothing more than a necessary evil, and the direct administrator of them is not God.

Romans 13:3 “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil”.

If government itself is a necessary evil, it is empowered to punish only evil. Therefore, we see from Jesus’ teachings that his followers are not to condemn others, nor to practice vengeance.

But before he tells us to be subject to the higher powers, Paul reminds us of the same obligation in Romans 12:19-20: “Dearly beloved, revenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Notice that first part, “revenge not yourselves”. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in his treatise on the Common Law, tells us that law has developed out of a need for vengeance. It was necessary to have a higher power to enforce vengeance, but both Jesus and Paul tells us that vengeance is not our job.
Verse 20: “Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: For in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head”.

Within the teachings above, we see the presumption of innocence for all accused persons. Can the “higher power” accuse? Can Satan act as accuser to people? The whole point of Jesus’ life, as we saw in Hebrews 2, above, is to overcome Satan’s control over death.

This means that government must follow certain guidelines before there can be punishment, and since God ordains all government, then all government would be subject to the protections ordained by God:
1.presumption of innocence(Isaiah 54:17)
2.Right to face your accuser(Isaiah 50:8)
3.No entrapment(Isaiah 29:21, Jeremiah 5: 26-31)
4.Two unbiased witnesses for all accusations(Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15)
5.Protection from perjury(Deut. 19:19)
6.Trial by jury(1 Corinthians 6)

Notice that these are recognized in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, along with the First Amendment, giving freedom of religion. A government of “God”, therefore, would of necessity be a government in which innocence is to be preserved.

In regard to that right against self incrimination, former Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas says:

“The principle that a man is not obliged to furnish the state with ammunition to use against him is basic to this conception.” The state must “within the limits of accepted procedure”, punish lawbreakers. “But it has no right to compel the sovereign individual to surrender or impair his right to self defense….A man may be punished, even put to death by the state; but…he should not be made to prostrate himself before its majesty. Mea culpa belongs to a man and his God. It is a plea that cannot be exacted from free men by human authority. To require it is to insist that the state is the superior of the individuals who compose it, instead of their instrument”.

As Constitutional historian Leonard Levy wrote “The framers understood that without fair and regularized procedures to protect the criminally accused, there could be no liberty. They knew that from time immemorial, the tyrant’s first step was to use the criminal law to crush his opposition”.

As Lord Acton said, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Government, said Paine, at its very best is but a necessary evil.

The principle of rule by the people is bound within the concept of “due process of law”. We read it in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, first as protection from the federal government, and then as protection against the states.

No person shall be deprive of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

Due process, said Chief Justice Edward Coke of England, came from Magna Carta. It was defined as “lawful judgement of peers and law of the land”. This, said U.S. Justice Joseph Story, meant the common law.

To be “subject to higher powers” is a necessity, but it is a necessity that comes secondary to the right of individuals to live freely. That is the

essence of Paul’s teachings about Jesus.

I can expand on this later.

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What Is A "Holy Spirit"?

This article ties directly to my essay below, and it was sparked by a response in the “comments” section.

The really big deal in Christianity is this thing called the “Holy Spirit”. The assumption is that you must be “born again”, and in order to be “born again”, you must also join a legitimate, approved religion, and then follow their teachings. Yeah, right.

It is a natural tendency of people, when seeking truth, to try and find a truth that is collective. We seek “birds of a feather”. Christianity has evolved this collective sense to make us believe that we cannot have any “legitimacy” before God unless we accept the officially authorized versions.

Actually, we can blow the “christian” definitions of “Holy Spirit” right out of the water simply by looking at the New testament itself.

The big verse that Christians point us to is in John chapter three. In verse 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”.

If we look at that term “born again’ we see a difference from other passages, where the Greek “annagennao” is used, which literally means again born. Here we see reference to the greek word “anothen“, which means “from above”.

So, unless one is born “from above” one cannot see the kingdom of God.

Apparently Nicodemus had real trouble with that idea, and yet Jesus never went to great lengths to explain what he meant. He insinuated that Nicodemus should be familiar with the idea already if he were a rabbi of Israel.

Whatever “born again” did mean, it apparently had nothing to do with “fleshy” birth, as Jesus pointed out in verse six.

But this creates a very big problem. If the fleshy mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, as Romans 8:7 tells us, and if, as Godel’s theorem tells us, there simply is no way we can capture all truth into one neural net, one system of thought, how exactly do we go about determining what the “Holy Spirit” is?

Well, you can’t “see” unless you are born of the spirit. And that tells us absolutely nothing at all.
There simply is no manual, no algorithm, no process by which we can logically deduct by our natural mind, what the “Holy Spirit” actually is, and the only way we can understand it is to be “born from above”.

We would be forced to conclude, therefore, that if the christian religions are right, and if they actually do represent “Christ”, then there would never be a logical, rational method of knowing if they ARE right or wrong. Such a choice to follow them would have to be a process of blind faith.

Yet Jesus himself, in Matthew 24, warned us to “take heed that no man deceive you….”

There must be some logical process to know what is right and what is not, but even by Jesus’ admission, that process is simply not subject to our natural processes of thought. If we can rationally, logically decide on that process, there would be no need for many religions, yet Jesus warned his followers that “many will come in my name, and will deceive many”.

That very statement by Jesus, in itself, indicates that there simply is no logical process by which we can reduce truth to one package. If we could, we already would have, which leaves us with one, and only one, logical choice to make: Follow no one, which is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 24:23.

Okay, let’s say there was no Jesus. Well, that would mean it is not necessary to follow any man who comes in the name of Christ. Therefore, Jesus or no Jesus, the passage in Matthew 24;23 tells us the truth, any way you look at it!

To say that the “Holy Spirit” is simply a form of “crowd control”, therefore, is to assume that the “christian” religions are correct, even thought they directly contradict not only simple logic, but the direct statement attributed to Jesus himself.

In fact, that is what Jesus indicated in John 3: 8: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound therof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit.”

There is no organizational capacity, no decision procedure to define the “Holy Spirit” and that in itself puts all so-called christian religions out of business.

Yet that is exactly what Paul told us in Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22, not to mention such scripture as Ephesians 2:8-10.

You can’t get “there” from “here”.

But again, let’s assume you can do so. If there is such a decision procedure that represents the Holy Spirit, then that procedure can be translated to algorithms, which can then be programmed, so that there will be no difference between a computer ‘son of God’ who is programmed with an identical process known as the Holy Spirit.

This reduces it to a “Turing Test” of truth. Alan Turing proposed such a test when he devised his “Universal Turing Machine’, which was his mental creation of the first computer. Turing proposed that if you placed a computer of sufficient programming behind a wall, and had another person sitting beside the computer, a questioner on the other side of the wall, feeding both computer and person handwritten questions, should not be able to tell the difference between “man” and “machine”.

But that is exactly what religions attempt to do when they insist that their religion, which is based on mechanical ideas about God, subject to the same laws of physics and limits of Godel’s theorem, can somehow collectively represent God, when one person simply has no way of knowing! The simple realization is this: if collective religions can accurately represent God, then so can a computer, since computers are based on the same principles of mechanical rules of thought as religions!

If there is a “Holy Spirit”, it cannot be subject to the limitations of rational, finite, logical processes of human thought, and that is exactly what both Jesus and Paul told us! It cannot be achieved by any “fleshy” process. No religion can possibly truthfully represent God, nor can any human individual do so!

So what is this “Holy Spirit” from a biblical perspective? Actually, Paul does describe it very well, but in doing so, he cancels the possible authority of ALL human organizations.

Jesus said there were two births, one of flesh, and one of spirit. The birth of spirit was ‘from above’. But we have no evidence of anything ‘from above’, so we have no process of choice as to how we can achieve whatever it is.

Paul
begins to define these two births in Romans 9:6, last part, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.
“Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called’.
“That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the PROMISE are counted for the seed.
“For this is the word of promise, ‘At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son’. “

Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, were “created” as a covenant nation at Sinai, yet the promise made to Abraham, said Paul, came four hundred thirty years before that covenant with Israel.

The conclusion is simple enough: anyone who was a “child of God” was to be born in just the same fashion, under just the same circumstances, as Isaac. They were born of that very promise, foreknown(as Isaac was) predestined(as Isaac was), called(as Isaac was) glorified(as Isaac was).

Paul further states in Galatians 4:28 that “Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise”.

Just as Isaac was, in the very same conditions stated in Romans 8:29-30. Either you’re born of it, or you are not, and there is no way to tell otherwise.

It is both brilliant and simple. It is not dependent on human thought or human organization, or human decision procedures. The best that people can do is try to organize in the name of God, but they will always tend toward speciation and splintering. The “purpose” of all this is quite evidently NOT one of organizing people, but forcing them to confront the impotence of all such efforts. HWA did you all a favor, because he scammed you and allowed you to be free of all this crap.

But in fact, there never was any authority of men to establish God’s kingdom by their own effort. It simply cannot be done.
Galatians 3:29 : “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

So what if there’s no God? Then you can’t ever truthfully organize in God’s name. What if there is a God and Paul was correct? You STILL can’t organize in God’s name!

In either case, there is only one correct conclusion: you are free to make your own moral decisions, and you are to be left alone by others unless you harm another, after which you must be accused truthfully by others. That is the basis of the law and of grace.

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Paul Got A Bum Wrap

Two responses to my essay are a common variation of what is generally argued as refutation against the bible, and they are good arguments.

The first argument is to look at all the garbage offered as punishment to those who “curse their parents” or the severity of death for the smallest infraction. Who in the world, in this enlightened age, would want to follow those prescriptions?

Nobody of any intelligence, and I agree with that.

Second argument is that you can make the bible say anything, and that is precisely the strength of my own argument, as is the first argument, above.

What does the Old Testament law say in the words of Isaiah, called the “universalist” prophet?
How about the presumption of innocence? (Isaiah 54:17)
Right to face your accuser, with God’s vindication(Isaiah 50:8)
Right against self incrimination is also implied in both these scriptures.
Also, you will notice in Deuteronomy 19:15 that two witnesses are required for all acusations and those witnesses are not to be provided by the government. The two main biblical examples I can think of where the state provided witnesses was in the story of Ahab and Naboth (not too good), and Judas betraying Jesus (also not so good).

The Supreme Court, in fact, recognized that our right against self incrimination has its analogue in the bible (Miranda vs Arizona, footnote 27).

Of all the stupid, ridiculous laws in the OT, the main teaching in every case is that the accused is to be protected, not only in personal cases, but also against usury laws, and even slaves were to be freed if they escaped to another free man(Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

The laws were given with the constant reminder that “you were once strangers in a strange land”. The implication from this was that recognition of justice always took precedence over the “majority rule”.

In the New testament, you will see that Jesus, in is great “thesis on the law”(Matthew chapters 5-7), recommended that any two individuals could settle all matters out of court. So, while he said that not one jot or tittle of the law would be done away until all was fulfilled, he actually placed the settlement of arguments within a framework of “two or three”.

You will see that Jesus expanded on this principle in Matthew 18:15-18, where he pointed out that any two people could settle trespasses between themselves, using the “two witness” rule of Deuteronomy 17 and 19.

As Jesus pointed out, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose will be loosed in heaven”.

This doesn’t imply that some human can become a recognized power of God, but that any two people could simply decide among themselves to settle a matter, and it would have God’s recognition.

Further, said Jesus, if it couldn’t be settled between two or three, take it before the community or the church. He didn’t recognize government as official arbiter. In fact, Jesus said if your adversary didn’t want to accept the conclusion of the community, treat him as a “gentile or tax collector”.

That doesn’t indicate that Jesus would want matters settled by tax collecting powers of state.

Also, Jesus did not approve of the legal system within Jewish culture. While he admitted that scribes and Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat”, he then went on to condemn their actions, calling them hypocrites.

Scribes and Pharisees represented the popular legal “lay” authorities of the day, yet Jesus said they “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in”.

If you compare that to Matthew 18:15-18, you will see that Jesus allowed any two people to settle matters outside of “Moses’ seat”.

This same message is copied in Luke 11:52: “Woe unto you lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves,, and them that were entering in, ye hindered”.

This is merely the repetition of a teaching in Isaiah 29:11:

“And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a closed book that is sealed…”

Verse 16: “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that frameth it, he had no understanding?”

Jesus’ teachings merely returned the idea of government as it was intended to be, taught to children, and children’s children, remembering the idea of mercy, presumption of innocence, and not condemning. “Judge not that ye be not judged”.

Second argument: You can make the bible say anything. Exactly! And this is where Paul’s teaching is quite valuable. Can we have any legitimate, “approved” understanding of God? Not according to Romans 8:7:
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the laws of God and neither indeed can be”.

This leads us to a very logical result corresponding to the argument above:
Any attempt to organize people according to God’s law would inevitably lead to a confusion of disagreeing concepts as to what God’s law is. If you don’t believe that, simply look at the continually splintering groups of ex-WCG members who can’t find the proper “handle” on truth.

But that’s exactly what Jesus said would happen for such people in Matthew 10:34-38.

So, if the carnal, natural mind cannot be subject to God, and if all attempts to follow Jesus result in splintering and speciation, even to family members, we cannot assume, under any process, that if there is a God, “He” doesn’t desire us to unite, but rather to begin thinking as individuals.

Jesus said “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees”. And what does leaven do? It grows, expands, includes more and more until it exhausts all possible growth, and then it collapses.

This compares generally to a process called entropy. In any organized system, the attempt to expand that organization will result in chaos of related systems, simply because energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The resulting breakdown of order in relate systems, chaos, is the process generally recognized as entropy.

So, “you can make the bible say anything”. based on the teaching of Jesus and Paul, what does that tell us?

It tells us exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-18, that there are no legitimate authorities. The presumption of innocence is to override the power
of an “eye for an eye”, which Jesus specifically prohibited to his followers.

So, the natural mind cannot be subject to God, there must be the presumption of innocence, and we cannot directly exercise an “eye for an eye”, which means we have no power whatever to control or organize or rule over others.

But then, Jesus told us that he who would be greatest of all should be servant of all.

But let’s take Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:7 and see where he went with it. If there is no power of the mind to organize according to God’s law “legitimately”, can there be some decision procedure, some algorithm, some ‘freewill” act by which we can declare ourselves God’s elect?

Paul said it can;t be done, as we see from Romans 8:29-30. The logic is simple enough: if God foreknows, predestined. called, and glorified his own children, there simply is no decision procedure whatever by which we may recognize ourselves as “elect”. Can’t be done.

And in case you think Paul might have meant something else, he repeats the idea more directly in Romans 9:16-22. There simply is no decision procedure by which we may organize ourselves as God’s representatives.

This is fully consistent with Jesus’ teachings, who said we could settle matters among ourselves by ourselves, that we could exercise the rule of law that recognized presumption of innocence, right to face the accuser, trial by jury(1 Cor 6) and right against self incrimination, also provided in Isaiah 54:17.

These are all principles incorporated into the US Constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights.
Further, Jesus‘ teaching that we are free to settle matters within the church and outside of courts is recognized in the First Amendment.

So yes, you can “make the bible say anything”, but that is the very reason why both Jesus and Paul pointed out that we are free to develop our own social process, always remembering that we are no better or no more exalted than any other person in our standing before truth. All men and women are created equal.

If any religious leader says otherwise, he’s simply a liar.

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Intelligent Design? Prove It!

In the past few years, new discoveries in science and genetics are creating revolutionary understandings of how we got here, what our “meaning” is, and how life seems to operate.

One great summary of this new knowledge is a book called Survival Of The Sickest, by Dr Sharon Moalem. In it, Dr Moalem points out that diseases we have today may have been necessary adaptive responses to the past. In a new field called Epigenetics, Dr. Moalem writes that Lamarckian transmission, a notion that was discredited in the past, has now become an accepted idea within the field of Epigenetics.

What is Lamarckian Transmission? It is the idea that we evolved through “acquired traits” developed by different species. A giraffe, according to old Lamarckian ideas, got its long neck by constantly reaching fore the higher leaves that became increasingly hard to reach on trees.

What Epigenetics now shows us that it is possible for gene expression to occur as a result of influences from our environment. A recent cover story in Time magazine points this out.

Without getting involved in details, the human body is composed of “germ cells”, those cells which are contributed by our parents as the basic building blocks that make “you” and “me’ unique. But there is now evidence that the body carries a large majority of genes that used to be called “junk DNA”, which Dr. Moalem points out is actually related to viruses.

This is called “non-coding DNA”, not used in the normal process of cell building in our bodies, but seems to be a kind of database or library to which our bodies refer whenever we need to adapt to some new disease or infection. These very genes are also known as “jumping genes”, which were discovered by Dr Barbara McClintock several years ago. These jumping genes actually follow certain patterns that cause them to “jump” to certain areas that activate gene expression in our own bodies.

In fact, writes Dr, Moalem, “Jumping genes are very active in the early stages of brain development, inserting genetic material all over the developing brain, almost helter-skelter, as a normal part of brain development. Every time one of those jumpers inserts or changes genetic material in brain cells, it’s technically a mutation. And all of this genetic jumping around may have a very important purpose–it may help to create the variety and individuality that make every brain unique. This developmental frenzy of genetic copy and paste only happens in the brain, because that’s where we benefit from individuality”.

Imagine that. Our parents provide the core, the germ cells that create the basic blueprint of us, and then our bodies access a “library” of former viral DNA from our collective history that begins to jump around and shape us as individuals. What appears here is a combination of heredity and environment shaping our individual destinies. Dr. Moaelm points out that a chimpanzee, simply by stroking the head of its offspring, can affect the genetic expression of that offspring!

How far does this process of genetic engineering go? Howard Bloom, in a book called Global Brain, writes:

In a crisis, bacteria did not rely on deliverance via a random process like mutation, but instead unleashed their genius as genetic engineers”.

Bacteria? “Bacteria were the first to use the tools which now empower biotechnology’s genetic tinkerers: plasmids, vectors, phages, and transposons–nature’s gene snippers, duplicators, long distance movers, wlders, and re-shufflers….the millions–and often trillions–of bacteria in a colony used their individual genomes…as individual computers, meshing them together, combining their data, and forming a group intelligence capable of literally re-programming their species’ shared genetic legacy in ways previously untried and unknown”.

For bacteria, from ancient times, there was “memory” stored in the reactions of genetic shuffle, absorbing viruses, which Bloom describes as “the bacteria’s collaborator and its foe. Viral assaults devastated bacterial colonies–yet they tested bacterial intelligence, tweaking bacterial ingenuity, and amplified bacterial skills. Viruses also pried loose genetic pages from the creatures they attacked and inserted them in the DNA library of those they visited next while on their predatory rounds. Thus they became couriers through which bacteria swapped molecular pamphlets of new tricks and old collective memories”.

The virus as a “courier” of collective genetic history, has been stored in the creative “library” of the human body, and inserted as “jumping genes” in the developing brain, allowing us to respond to the necessary cues and genetic repsonse of individual stress.

This would mean that the way we think about life actually affects gene expression!

In a very real sense, “As a man thinketh, so is he”.

The germ cells that brought us into existence is not affected in the process of building our bodies, but the expression of genes stored in the “history” of our bodies, genes that once were the couriers, the viral invaders seeking to replicate themselves by hijacking our own replicative system, now compose the library of defenses our body uses when attacked by yet other viral or bacterial invaders.

But this does suggest a “design of intelligence”, if not “intelligent design”. It suggests that early life forms developed strategies that were quickly(by evolutionary standards) used to build ever larger systems, but always keyed to the core building blocks, the germ cells of each and every species.

But in each species, there is always the exchange of genes via viruses, from one species to another, as in Avian flu, swine flu, various flus and plagues that have infested civilization for centuries.

What does this mean in regards to the development of religion? perhaps a later essay.
Ralph

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