The “S” Word

In modern society, we don’t want to say the word “sin.” In my generation, at least, the concept of sin has been so maligned that the word itself is uncomfortable to speak, even for those of us who know its reality. It’s one of those trigger words that automatically discredits the speaker, relegating something that should be serious to the level of unicorns and pixies.

Even among believers, the concept of sin is so misused that it has been rendered toxic (and before I could speak to society’s sin dysfunction, I have to look at the confusion in the church.)

Sin Among Christians

For a meaningful proof of this, take a concordance and look up the word sin. Do a quick count of how many times sin is associated with condemnation or destruction and how many times it is associated with forgiveness or repentance.

My point is simple: In God’s vocabulary, sin would be defined something like this: “Sin is man trying to run away from the best possible thing that could happen to him.” God’s vocabulary also has words in it like “condemnation” and “destruction” but their meanings are almost directly opposed to that of sin. Sin is damage done to our relationship with God that must be repaired.

Try this: When you think of sin, instead of associating it with condemnation or destruction, think of it in terms of a sad mistake to be fixed. As I’ve come to understand, that’s quite close to how God sees it.

Society’s malady

Secular society mocks sin in the same way that Atheism mocks God. To society, sin is the ultimate acknowledgment of personal guilt.

There are only two responses to such an acknowledgment. First is to accept and attempt to live with guilt (which leads us to the cross and Christ). Second is to deny the reality of that guilt.

This is the malady of society. They deny their guilt, and in so doing deny reality and substitute their own delusions. Because God’s reality is always there, the bedrock on which everything is built, the only way to deny it is to run from it. This can be done with mockery or simple denial, or by keeping one’s attention entirely away from that reality.

In the end, the reality is that our sin is a terrible separation from the God who loves us. It is not an arbitrary judgment on us or a condemnation. It is a simple acknowledgment that we’re running away from Him.

The Great Conspiracy

Have you ever heard of chem trails?
What about the faked moon landing?
How about Elvis? You know he’s still alive, right?

…Then, of course, there’s global warming.

From Wikipedia: “The Global warming conspiracy theory asserts that the global community of climate scientists has colluded to fabricate a vast body of scientific evidence and literature in order to deceive the world into believing there is a significant anthropogenic component to increases in global temperatures, with the objective of misdirecting research funding, political power, or simply money.”

(This one rubs me the wrong way, because there are a lot of great big lies tied up in it, but it’s also a perfect example, so let’s explore it.)

1. What does it take to make a conspiracy, and how does our culture react to such things?

con·spir·a·cy [kuhn-spir-uh-see] noun
A combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose.

The idea behind this is simple, but let’s just concentrate it and get it down. A conspiracy is a group of people acting together to deceive others about something–usually in this case something far-reaching, evil and societally-meaningful (not just criminal in an ordinary way).

There really isn’t any need to go deeper than that. There are many hundreds of examples of conspiracy theories. The ones I named are just a sampling of the wildest or most-often-considered-ridiculous ones. (You know, the ones that make other people instantly stop listening to you when you say you believe them? That’s actually the whole point of why they exist, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

What does it take to make a conspiracy happen?

First, the people involved in the conspiracy have to agree to their purpose or be forced to obey (secretly, of course) by some central power.

Have you ever tried to get three or four people to agree to do something dangerous or difficult? Have you ever tried to get them to go about it in a uniform (or even effective) way?

Unless we’re talking mind control, human nature makes this dicey–really dicey. Possible, sure, especially if you have the power to coerce it, but what happens when just one person disagrees with the means, or the goal? …What happens when half a dozen disagree?

Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a lid on something like that?

Second, they have to keep it a secret.

OK. We’ve managed to get a few dozen or a few hundred people all moving  in the same direction to accomplish a goal. It CAN be done. It happens all the time. It’s not easy (especially with unusual or dangerous goals) but it does happen.

Now keep it a secret.

This is where the wheels come off of every conspiracy theory, for one simple reason. In an open society like ours, it is SOMETIMES possible for two people to keep a secret when one of them is dead and neither one is a politician. …but not always. With every person you add, the chances of something remaining a secret go down by an order of magnitude.

By the time you reach one dozen people, there is absolutely NO way any evil plot is going to remain a secret. People have consciences and it’s just not possible to control people THAT tightly in this kind of society. (Now if you take a society that is highly-militarized, like germany WWII or the army itself, that changes. We’re talking about the United States culture though.)

Even highly-trained and conditioned spies who have devoted their entire lives to secrecy and espionage can turn (and here we’re talking about semi-sociopathic loners who are programmed to a purpose and ruthlessly trained, which is actually much easier to do than keeping a secret INSIDE a society of people. Simple psychology.)

The bottom line is, inside a society, especially an open, free society, suppression of information known to more than a few people is IMPOSSIBLE. This becomes more true as the value of the information increases.

Third, they have to manipulate large quantities of resources and often large numbers of people (without being detected) to accomplish their goals.

Have you ever tried to move 100,000 dollars? Do you have any idea how close an eye our government (and other watchdog groups) keep on large amounts of money or other dangerous resources?

Taking the chem trail conspiracy theory as one example–do you have any notion how many people would have to handle the huge quanities of chemicals required to manufacture chem trails with even a significant fraction of the military (or worse civillian) aircraft in this country?

Add it all up and what you get is a whole lot of foolishness (at least on the surface).

2. So is there NO such thing as a conspiracy?

Obviously, there are a great many secrets in this world. Some of them are genuinely large-scale and tightly-held. A good example was the Nazi concentration camps. The people of Germany simply didn’t KNOW about them until the allies found them. (Again, different society structure, but it’s an illustration).

Another example is the “Global Warming Conspiracy.” Popular wisdom holds that human atmospheric pollution, usually stated to be carbon dioxide, is driving the temperature of the planet up noticeably.

Now consider an “unrelated” fact. The vikings grew grapes in Greenland 400 years ago. It’s too cold to do that today.

Simply put, the earth’s climate was warmer four hundred years ago than it is today. Talk to any competent paleontologist. (I took a class from one during college. It annoyed him to no end that the scientific community could be so wrong.) The simple fact is, the earth’s climate is not static. It CHANGES. …We have ice ages and warming periods and the carbon dioxide levels FOLLOW that climate change. They don’t lead it.

(As nearly as anyone can tell, sunspot activity and solar radiation output are actually the source of earth’s climate changes. When you consider it, that’s really a no-brainer. Of course the sun, which outputs ALL of the energy that reaches us here on earth, is the source of climate change. There even seems to be a cycle it follows…but I digress.)

The big question here is how so many otherwise competent, intelligent, reliable people can be so fooled by such a ridiculous story. Nor is this the only example. Take ANY example you like. Whether it’s the pro or con side that believes the lie, the point is still that it’s very strange that so many people should believe it. (Take the chem trail or moon landing theories. I’ve known people who believe the stories all my life. They are otherwise pretty rational people.)

However you care to slice it, there IS something seriously wrong with the way the world sees things like this. There are so many of these “conspiracy theories” and so many of them are producing undeniably weird results (take global warming in the science community–or evolution for that matter). Evolution is another story entirely, but follows a similar pattern. There are serious rational problems with the theory of evolution, and there is no evidence to support it that isn’t totally circumstantial, but most of the “rational, reasonable” people in our society believe it to the point of mania.

The point? There has to be something else going on. There is simply too much obvious manipulation of peoples’ opinions going on in too many areas.

3. The truth will set you free. (The KISS principle doesn’t hurt either.)

The first answer is that people choose to be mislead.

If people want to believe something, either because it will put money in their pocket or because it will make them more comfortable with themselves and their world, they’re going to believe it. It’s just human nature.

We rationalize our way into things all the time–not doing the work we should, eating that extra piece of pie. Why should “big” issues be any different?

In the case of global warming, a large segment of the population has a guilt complex. They feel it is their responsibility to fix the world’s problems, especially when they can find one that let’s them scream out “the sky is falling!” …Add human greed into the equation–people who can line their pockets by preying off the weak-minded fools who believe in all the tripe (whatever the flavor of the day is)–and you have about a third of your explanation.

The second, and more complete, answer is that societies choose to be mislead.

Like-minded people tend to congregate. People who end up in a congregation tend to end up being like-minded with the other people in their “sub-society” especially if they started out neutral, but even if they started out disagreeing. Peer pressure is a huge factor in human life. As a rule, humanity lives according to what they think their neighbors value/think/want/respect.

We ALL want to be respected, and the easiest, most obvious way to get respect is to agree.

When you get a group of people who agree on something ideologically, it can be easy for that “sub-society” to accept absolute lies as gospel, simply because it fits with what they WANT to believe.

So a sub-society, as a whole, believes a lie that is absolutely ridiculous to anyone who has a brain.

Then, being human, they start to demonize people who disagree.

That explains about 2/3 of the global warming “conspiracy.”

The third and most important answer is that there IS manipulation going on.

I haven’t gone to great lengths to emphasize this, but really it should be obvious. Even the above factors really aren’t enough to explain why a group of smart, mostly intellectually-honest people would choose to accept something so obviously ridiculous as human-driven global warming (or better yet evolution) when another even better answer was sitting there with its teeth firmly fastened into their collective ass the whole time.

I’m not contradicting myself here, but we have two solid concepts that are both true.

1. Human-driven conspiracies are practically impossible in an open society.
2. Human behavior is not enough to account for mass-belief in blatant foolishness.

So where does that leave us? Aliens?

What do you suppose gave such a large portion of our society a guilt complex?

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Satan is the father of lies. It was a lie that became his weapon against mankind in our first encounter with him. Why should that have changed?

From here, you pretty much agree with me or you don’t. What I’m suggesting is simple. Satan manipulates the nations and societies of this world by means of lies. Where human greed and foolishness isn’t enough to explain societal blindness, choose the simplest alternate explanation.

Final thoughts–Why we don’t believe in dragons

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” -GK Chesterton

As adults, we don’t believe in dragons. We don’t want to believe in dragons, and the dragons don’t really want us to believe in them either, because in a Christian society, we have a bone-deep knowledge that dragons can be killed. …And something that Satan doesn’t want to give his enemies is a cause, like hunting and slaying dragons.

Satan uses the lie that says “he doesn’t exist” (Or the lie that says “Demons don’t have a direct influence on society”) which if we let ourselves see the truth, we know to be absolutely wrong. He uses that lie to make our whole society beg the question as to whether he’s telling us any other big lies.

Demons are real. They manipulate people every day, individually (and through group effort) as entire societies.

The way the world works is simple. What we don’t WANT to know can manipulate us into doing just about anything.

The Second Principle

As I discussed in The First Principle, I do believe that all opinions are based on a basic faith–whether that’s faith in something that we just believe in or faith in something that we sense with our senses.

That leads me to the second principle.

2. There is a creator who designed this universe and particularly our world.

We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.
– Albert Einstein

I believe in God. I believe without reservation or (as far as I can imagine) any possibility of truly recanting. My belief in God is a part of me and it informs and determines everything that I do, say, believe, think and, to a lesser extent, feel. This is the basis for my worldview: “He Is.” (or more properly, “I Am.” as stated by God.) He exists without reference or regard to anything else that exists. Everything does not make Him or influence His being. He exists apart from and independent of it except as He chooses to be influenced.

…But. …Just saying I believe it isn’t enough for me. I have questioned that belief, deeply. In doing so, I have found what I find to be a logically unassailable argument for His existence.

(I would also note that I need to write a post on worldview and how it determines the nature of our thought and how deeply it influences what we believe. Objectivity is a myth. …Also “except as He chooses to be influenced” is a phrase that sets me apart from as much as half of the people who consider themselves to be Christian. That, too, is worth exploring.)

At any rate, moving on to why I think that God cannot possibly not exist.

The concept behind this is actually so simple that it can not rightly be expressed, only grasped, like a rope thrown to a drowning man by the hand of God himself. I use that analogy because without God opening our eyes, I don’t believe we can actually understand concepts like this one. We might nibble around the edges of it, but it takes divine inspiration to grasp it, and even once grasped, it cannot be fully understood, because the flip side of such a thoroughly simple concept is too large for the mind to comprehend.

It is impossible to see that something exists without something that is else to contrast it with.

An easy example is light and darkness (or light and the absence of light, to be exact). If one of those two concepts was not real, then how would you know that the other was real? If everything was totally without light, how would we know that there was such a thing as light? …If everything was totally lit, how could it be possible that there be an absence of light?

Taking the first example: If there was no light in the world, then how could we conceive of such a concept as darkness? Without something that is different to compare the darkness to, it may exist, but it simply can not be compared, and so cannot be understood or expressed.

It seems obvious to us that everything around us is constantly changing. From something as small as a dust mote floating through the air to something as massive as the planets in the solar system, change is everywhere.

A friend of mine once remarked, while we were in the depths of a discussion on just this subject, that he believes the only true constant in reality is change. My response (muddled at the time) was the question: If there is no great constant that is not change, then how could we even understand that change existed? Without anything to compare to, how could one conceptualize change?

He said, after some consideration, that he admitted, there was no place in his conception of reality for such an immutable constant.

And that, in my mind, is the crux of the matter. If such a force exists, it must be something that we would perceive as God–and, logically and reasonably, it seems to me that God must exist. (His nature is another question–one that I suspect I will spend my entire life exploring.)

Incidentally, at that point, I thought that my friend was admitting that his perception of reality did not mesh with what reality must be (I still think so, though I’m not so sure now that he was saying so.) And so, as Ayn Rand wrote, “To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.”

Another, derivative argument is somewhat less cerebral and theoretical and more practical.

We can observe that in this reality in which we live, systems tend toward chaos rather than order. Some call it entropy. It is enshrined in the second law of thermodynamics (Though the law falls short of the “Truth” itself somewhat, it does pull out an essential part of it.) This is so true that any system in which energy is not spent constantly to bring about order, chaos immediately destroys everything that is ordered in the system. You can see it in anything from nature to government.

…And yet, all around us is order. The universe is divided into galaxies, which are composed of stars and planets and, in our case a world and civilization that is incredibly complex and ordered–it has to be in order to survive.

I know this point is often used in the “creation/evolution” debate, and so be it, but the point that is missed (intentionally and willfully in my opinion) is that the SCALE of the order that we see in reality requires a force of unimaginable magnitude to build it. Any action causes an equal and opposite reaction. Corollary: Any ordered system requires a creative force of requisite magnitude to build it.

The bottom line is that, looked at from a high-level perspective, it is not possible to have such a marvelously, intricately ordered reality without some force to create the order.

This goes beyond the simple, obvious manifestations of planets rotating around stars into the very laws that govern the universe. This is a case of having light and no darkness to compare to, but bear with me. What determines the freezing and boiling temperatures of water? (They are a basic part of the nature of reality as we understand it.) …But what if they were different? What if the percentage of heat absorption (albedo) of a certain color were slightly less? What if there was no such state as solid, but only liquid and gas and plasma? What if…

The “Ifs” are innumerable. The question is simple. What could possibly create so much order in a system that demonstrably and inexorably devolves into chaos? …What could create the rules that order such a system? Wouldn’t the rules themselves tend to fall to chaos? Simply stating that the rules exist as an aspect of the nature of reality isn’t enough. WHY?

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1: 17

Make no mistake, this is not strictly deductive logic. In both the former case, of universal constants, and this case, order vs chaos, taken from a rational perspective, the only likely (and arguably the only possible) cause for such order is a Creator, namely God.

Also, don’t lose yourself in the “what if.” Instead ask “what IS?” In the “what if” mindset, of course you can conceive of God not existing and even argue for that, but to do so is to avoid considering fully what IS real and what you can see and hear and taste and understand about what IS. There are complexities and subtleties in the very fabric of reality that would simply be impossible without intelligent, intentional outside influence.

Is the reasoning circular? At base certainly, but so is any reasoning. Nothing can be “proved.” The only proof-positive test is the “I believe” test, and simply believing something leaves us, as human beings capable of reason and rationality, so far short of our potential. …So think, reason and understand. Be honest and refuse to look away from reality. In my opinion, a truly honest look at reality requires us to see its creator.

…Of course the simple fact that we can choose to live in a realm different from reality (and we can, obviously) should tell us something about reality itself, like what defines the nature of what is in the first place.