2/14/13

Love and Marriage


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Romance does NOT end with marriage or children or old age.  People who truly love one another, MAKE IT WORK, overlook their spouse's faults and grow old happily.  Unfortunately, some people won't listen and when problems occur- want to bail.  This is not a rare occurrence; it just happened this week- in the house a few doors from my own.  It was common in the first century too, and Jesus addressed the issue this way...

Matthew, Chapter 19
  1 When Jesus had finished these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan.  2 Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there.  3 Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” 

  4  He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,   5  and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’   6  So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” 

  7  They asked him, “Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?” 

  8  He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so.   9  I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery.” 

  10  His disciples said to him, “If this is the case of the man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” 
  11  But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but those to whom it is given.  12  For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

A relationship between a man and woman may start out with a simple physical attraction, but over time a bond grows between them.  One that grows and grows and matures.  After a time, you really begin to know what the other person may be thinking and sometimes you even complete each other's sentences.  Marriage can be wonderful and become more precious with each passing year if you will allow yourself to let go of "me" and think of "us".  Really, its all about a no-holds-barred commitment.  As time goes by, remember your spouse as if they were still twenty and love them still.  Divorce is a word that must not even be spoken in your home; no, not under any circumstances.  Why? Love, plain and simple!!!  Happy Valentine's day to all; whether you are 26 or 66, remember to show your honey more love than normal today!!!

Bible Reading, Feb. 14


 
Feb. 14
Genesis 45

Gen 45:1 Then Joseph couldn't control himself before all those who stood before him, and he cried, "Cause every man to go out from me!" No one else stood with him, while Joseph made himself known to his brothers.
Gen 45:2 He wept aloud. The Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard.
Gen 45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Does my father still live?" His brothers couldn't answer him; for they were terrified at his presence.
Gen 45:4 Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." They came near. "He said, I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5 Now don't be grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are yet five years, in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.
Gen 45:7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8 So now it wasn't you who sent me here, but God, and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Gen 45:9 Hurry, and go up to my father, and tell him, 'This is what your son Joseph says, "God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me. Don't wait.
Gen 45:10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you will be near to me, you, your children, your children's children, your flocks, your herds, and all that you have.
Gen 45:11 There I will nourish you; for there are yet five years of famine; lest you come to poverty, you, and your household, and all that you have." '
Gen 45:12 Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaks to you.
Gen 45:13 You shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. You shall hurry and bring my father down here."
Gen 45:14 He fell on his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.
Gen 45:15 He kissed all his brothers, and wept on them. After that his brothers talked with him.
Gen 45:16 The report of it was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, "Joseph's brothers have come." It pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.
Gen 45:17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Tell your brothers, 'Do this. Load your animals, and go, travel to the land of Canaan.
Gen 45:18 Take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land.'
Gen 45:19 Now you are commanded: do this. Take wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
Gen 45:20 Also, don't concern yourselves about your belongings, for the good of all of the land of Egypt is yours."
Gen 45:21 The sons of Israel did so. Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.
Gen 45:22 He gave each one of them changes of clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of clothing.
Gen 45:23 To his father, he sent after this manner: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and provision for his father by the way.
Gen 45:24 So he sent his brothers away, and they departed. He said to them, "See that you don't quarrel on the way."
Gen 45:25 They went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan, to Jacob their father.
Gen 45:26 They told him, saying, "Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." His heart fainted, for he didn't believe them.
Gen 45:27 They told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them. When he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob, their father, revived.
Gen 45:28 Israel said, "It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."


Feb. 14, 15
Matthew 23

Mat 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples,
Mat 23:2 saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses' seat.
Mat 23:3 All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don't do their works; for they say, and don't do.
Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them.
Mat 23:5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments,
Mat 23:6 and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,
Mat 23:7 the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called 'Rabbi, Rabbi' by men.
Mat 23:8 But don't you be called 'Rabbi,' for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers.
Mat 23:9 Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ.
Mat 23:11 But he who is greatest among you will be your servant.
Mat 23:12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Mat 23:13 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and as a pretense you make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
Mat 23:14 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you don't enter in yourselves, neither do you allow those who are entering in to enter.
Mat 23:15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much of a son of Gehenna as yourselves.
Mat 23:16 "Woe to you, you blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.'
Mat 23:17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
Mat 23:18 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obligated?'
Mat 23:19 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
Mat 23:20 He therefore who swears by the altar, swears by it, and by everything on it.
Mat 23:21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him who was living in it.
Mat 23:22 He who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him who sits on it.
Mat 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.
Mat 23:24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!
Mat 23:25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and unrighteousness.
Mat 23:26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the platter, that its outside may become clean also.
Mat 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Mat 23:28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Mat 23:29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous,
Mat 23:30 and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'
Mat 23:31 Therefore you testify to yourselves that you are children of those who killed the prophets.
Mat 23:32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.
Mat 23:33 You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?
Mat 23:34 Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city;
Mat 23:35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar.
Mat 23:36 Most certainly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Mat 23:37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!
Mat 23:38 Behold, your house is left to you desolate.
Mat 23:39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now on, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' "

REUNION by Gary Womack


REUNION

This past week has been a very bittersweet experience. While attending the lecture series at Florida College, I heard many lessons from God's word that pointed our attention to reaching out to a lost world. We considered our responsibility to not only those who are looking for Jesus and yet have been misguided in their pursuit by false teaching, but we also considered those who do not believe in God or His Son and the challenge we face to point them to heavenly realms of which they consider to be a myth. We considered the awesome responsibility in guiding our children to God's throne, as well as the responsibility of preachers and elders and teachers in our mission to be busy about the Father's business. Such a mission is our most noble challenge in this life. That task is indeed an act of love. It is often the process of reaching out to those who are antagonistic to the truth and even to us who believe, with a view toward making them our brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Another highlight of that occasion was the opportunity to visit with many of my brethren whom I had not seen for a while - even a few years. What a joy to rekindle those ties of the heart that are otherwise separated by long distances. It brings to mind that song that was penned 222 years ago: "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above." Truly that gathering of brethren is one of jubilation. Amid the laughter and camaraderie, there is the often interruption by another brother or sister in Christ whom we have not seen in a long time. Such reunions are an overflow of the blessings of the soul. It is a foretaste of what heaven has to offer without the restraints of time or distance or opportunity.
Amid the joys associated with the reunion of many loved ones, there was the sadness of another coming together to honor the passing of one of our own and to comfort her grieving family. Janet Mobley passed from this life in the early morning hours of this past Sunday, Feb. 1, 2004. Many of you probably did not know her, but I did. Looking back almost fifty years, she and her good family are a part of my earliest memories of what God's people are all about. She was a mother not only to her own children, but to all of us kids who assembled on Sunday morning with the church at Mahoney Street in Plant City. It was there that I was baptized into Christ and formed ties with God's people in that place; ties that would last not only a life time, but for eternity. She and her family are some of those ties that are bound up in happy memories, as I recall how much my mother and she loved each other so much.
Jesus spoke of those who choose to leave all in order to be His disciples. Part of their reward is that we "...receive a hundredfold now in this time - houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions - and in the age to come, eternal life." (Mk. 10:30) Janet Mobley was one of those mothers who opened her arms to her brethren and encouraged us to be faithful to the end, just as she has now demonstrated.
Funerals are not just about separation. They are about reunion. And while it is an occasion where families come together to "weep with those who weep," (Rom. 12:15) that's not the kind of reunion that comes to mind. Rather, they are not only a reminder of the brevity of our lives on this earth, but they are a reminder of a reunion of eternal proportions in heaven.
When Abraham died, it is said that he "...was gathered to his people." (Gen. 25:8) This bespeaks of a reunion above with those who precede us in death from here. That reunion is set before us as a beacon of hope in the words of John's vision; "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.'" (Rev. 21:3) Notice that God's people are going to be gathered together in His eternal presence. The separations of death will no longer be an interruption of our fellowship. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4) Heaven is a place of eternal reunion with all of the saved. "And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it." (Rev. 21:24)
We were made for eternity. We were made to live with God and one another forever and without end. It is with that thought in mind that we can rejoice in Paul's words of hope and comfort. "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
Understanding that we enjoy such an endless bond in Christ, and "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart" (1 Pet. 1:22) while we are here on this earth. Let us treasure every moment that we spend together on this side of heaven's gates. Let us look forward to every opportunity to assemble together as God's people, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb. 10:25) And when it comes our time to part from this life, remember the words of that song that closes with these words; "When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again."
- Gary V. Womack - February 2004

Sam Harris Myths (5) by Jim McGuiggan



Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Sam Harris Myths (5)

A friend wrote me not too long ago complaining about the tone of one of my pieces. This is a gentle soul that nevertheless holds strong convictions without apology and in that respect—his gentlemanly way—he has outgrown me. I mention this to make the point that the blunt speech of people like Harris and Dawkins and company doesn't get my back up; in dealing with views that I strongly oppose I'm sometimes very blunt. And, certainly, I know religious writers that embarrass me with their crudeness and harshness; you know the kind I mean, those that simply delight in the thought that atheists and their ilk will "ROAST IN HELL!!!" Compared with some of these people Dawkins is a mild mannered "suggester" of views. It happens (by chance and NS, he tells us) that Dawkins is a thrusting and insulting bag of bio-chemicals hard-wired to think, feel and speak as he does. So be it.
 But I don't get the impression from Dennett, Harris or Dawkins that they love us and only want a better world for us. They have no hell to roast us in but they are obviously eager to thrust us down into some intellectual Alcatraz for the stupid, the obscene, the gutless wonders, the destroyers of rich life, and the immoral wretches that feed on a maggot-ridden piece of literary trash called the Bible.
I say they don't "love" us because there's little attempt to persuade us—it's all raw and cutting. "Hey stupid! You've no idea how ridiculous you are; you illiterate, brainless moron that knows no better than to stand in the way of progress offered to the world by me and people who agree with me!" Sam Schulman's Wall Street Journal piece puts it better as he hits the same nail. Take a look and see if you don't think he's right on target. I know Dennett tells us differently but when he creates a community for atheists to band together and it's called Brights you can't help but wonder if Freud would have nodded knowingly; especially when Dennett goes on describe himself and them with evangelistic pride as atheists who are "the moral backbone" of America, people who have jettisoned belief in "black magic and life after death." Harris complained that atheists are seen as arrogant. Some of them are--I wonder why?
Forgetting the science and the philosophy for the moment; as a matter of simple pedagogy wouldn't you think these people would know better than to "Christian bash" if they wanted to redeem us from darkness? Sam Harris tells us he has completed some psychology courses (he's working toward a real science degree, he says) but his courses don't seem to have done him much good. If a man's mad at you, even kids know, you have to change his mood before you can hope to change his mind. Make him mad and he won't hear you well and Harris and company come savaging not only religious leaders and teachers, you understand, but every Christian in the world. "Hey, yeah you, stupid; you parents who are abusing your children by teaching them to be Christians." They're going to get voted into the White House with this kind of pedagogy? Did I hear somebody mention the word "stupid"?
This leads me to think these people aren't writing to persuade anyone. Well, maybe that's an overstatement. Dennett has classes filled with impressionable youths maybe he's practicing what Dawkins accuses Christian parents of—"child abuse".
I don't know how well paid scientists and philosophy professors are but I have heard that book royalties are magnificent. I suppose you could make a career out of promoting atheism (as you can out of promoting religion). Maybe that's what's happening. Bland books and articles don't sell and maybe this new wrecking-crew of atheists is bearing that in mind.
And it would be a mistake to think that only religious people are charlatans or brutal self-serving bigots. If you want your eyes opened about what scientists can do to other scientists that don't toe their line, read Peter Duesberg's riveting book: INVENTING THE AIDS VIRUS or Alfred DeGrazia's THE VELIKOVSKY AFFAIR. It doesn't matter that you might not agree with Duesberg or Velikovskian views; it's the cruelty with which scientific dissenters are treated at times that shows us that not all scientists are passionate seekers of truth.
At an increasing number of sites the whistle is being blown on the gross mistreatment of the vulnerable by powerful scientific establishment figures. The general public is being shown how vulnerable scientists are refused research grants, are shut out from speaking appointments or influential teaching positions if they aren't part of the "in crowd". You'd think to hear Harris (who one of these days will be able to say he's a scientist when he gets his degree from fellow-atheist scientists) that the scientific fraternity is where integrity and virtue has made its home. What na├»ve drivel! It isn't "austere truth" some of these people are after. I don't say an atheist can't seek truth—far from it. Though in many ways he was a severe critic of religion and of some religious leaders Thomas H Huxley strikes me as a man who was a self-confessed agnostic because he felt he had no intellectual alternative. His blunt response to "Soapy" Sam Wilberforce, a bishop, shocked society, but even there I can't help being pleased because Wilberforce asked for it. But Huxley had no patience with the ignorant, like Harris and Dawkins, who dabble in the Bible and dismiss the entire OT as useless. Huxley thought it was profoundly influential for good.
Sam Schulman is right, of course, you can read these modern atheists from morn till night and you'll not find a new thought. Their arguments are the same tired old mouthings and life has a way of exposing them. You'll probably remember the donkey that wrapped itself up in a lion skin and went around "roaring". But everybody knew braying when they heard it and they saw the ass's rear end sticking out at the back so they smiled and went on their way unafraid.


Sam Harris Myths (4) by Jim McGuiggan



Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Sam Harris Myths (4)

  Atheist Sam Harris, like his cohorts Dawkins, Weinberg, Dennett and Wilson, keeps trying to persuade people to come to believe what he believes. He somehow feels that it really matters that they do. In his ignorance of the content and interpretation of the biblical witness he (and ignorant Dawkins) urges people to be done with the Bible and we'll have a better world.
He thinks an atheistic world would be "better". Weinberg is delighted that people like himself have enabled people to get free from their "crazy old aunt" religion. It wouldn't be so bad if by "better" they meant something like more convenient for us biped primates but imbedded in all their talk is the moral superiority of the atheistic mindset.
Sam Harris said he was going to debunk 10 myths about atheism that helps to keep atheists out of the White House. He seems to think that Christians spend as much time thinking about atheism as he does. Trust me—they don't! When people come around shoving survey papers under your nose and give you three to five seconds to answer each question you tend to shoot from the hip and a day later, if you even remember what you said, you might well disagree with it.
I accept the fact that I am dead set against his atheism and that this colours my hearing and response—of course, but I can't deny that I try to give him a fair hearing. Nevertheless, I still feel compelled to say that this Harris offering is pathetic at best.
With his Myth 10 he says that Christians say atheism offers no basis for morality.
This isn't only the view of Christians who bother to think about atheism at all; it's the view of many atheists! Sartre, Russell, Kaufmann, Teller and Blackham only illustrate this. Of course many atheists live morally upright—that should never be disputed it's manifest fact! But as Blackham confessed to Trevor Huddleston, Western atheists live on Hebrew—Christian moral capital. Elijah ate bread and on the strength of it went for forty days and atheists eat Hebrew—Christian bread and go for years on the strength of it.
And how does Harris deal with the "myth" that atheism offers no basis for morality? He says: "If a person doesn't already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won't discover this by reading the Bible or the Quran, as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine." There's the Harris way to duck and dive—pretend the answer's too obvious for debate and attack the Bible.
He goes on to simply assert, "We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of [hard-wired] thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness."
Here I thought he was going to debunk a myth about the basis of atheistic morals and he's talking about human happiness. Wouldn't you think he should already know that what makes for human "happiness" includes rape and plunder, paedophilia, drug trafficking, war-mongering, genocide and more?
Note that he says "we" decide what's "good" by recourse to "hard-wired" moral intuitions. Who is this "we"? Who gives this "we" the moral right to decide what is morally the case? What's the rational basis for such categories as "good"? The atheist Russell wasn't as shifty as atheists like Harris, Dennett and Dawkins. He said when we speak of what we "should" do we really mean what others want us to do—morals are personal preferences. He went on to lament that he saw things going on in the world that distressed him deeply but, he confessed, he had no rational grounds for condemning them. Jean Paul Sartre said that the only world consistent with atheism is an amoral world (a world without morality). Sartre tore up his Communist Party membership card in protest at Russia's marching into Budapest. Why shouldn't the USSR troops crush Budapest or Hitler pillage and butcher Europe or Stalin create famine to make the world better or Pol Pot crucify his own millions to rid the world of Western decadence?
Harris claims that atheists (and the rest of us) know that some things are immoral by hard-wired "intuition". Intuition means you don't have to think about it; don't have to go through a rational process to get there. So he confesses that his view on morals doesn't rest on a rational basis—he just feels it! It's the way he's programmed!  Yes, but where are the grounds for saying that our programming is "moral"? The truth is, Harris and his kin have no grounds for using the word "moral" the way people in general mean it. He cons himself. Pathetically ignorant of the Bible he's ignorant of logic also.
Harris says we are morally upright because we are hard-wired to be morally upright [he doesn't say that in this piece—he says we're hard-wired to recognise what is moral or immoral but he believes we're hard-wired to do things we call "good" and "evil"].
The hard-wiring includes behaviour so on Harris' terms the tyrants and their lackeys did what they were programmed to do. The death camps and the Gulag were hard-wiring. No moral choices were made—the cruelty was chemical responses. Might as well blame a man with no eyes for being blind as blame Hitler and his villains for what they did. And don't you see, it wouldn't make any difference if one of the camp commandants wept all night and died of guilt feelings—his tears and feelings of guilt would be chemical reactions that were part of the hard-wiring. He would be weeping and feeling guilt feelings for the same reasons a polar bear has thick fur and plenty of fat. He would be weeping and feeling for the same reasons his companions were jeering and raping.
But even if we were to accept in totality Harris' claims, what would we have? Our genetic programming is the result of chance + the laws of physics (which themselves are the result of an explosion without purpose—the Big Bang) so where's the "morality" in morality? It just happens that that's the way things are but how does that lead Harris to say it's the way things "should" be? That's like saying rhinos "shouldn't" have horns or whales "shouldn't" be mammals. Hyper-Calvinists must love his writing because it goes right down their line. They offer theological determinism so that people have no choice but to sin—God programmed it that way. He offers physical determinism—matter in motion programmed it that way so people have no choice but to think this or do that. He utterly obliterates rational choice and still insists on talking about "good" and "evil". He thinks the Bible is moral muck and castigates it when those that wrote and edited it were only doing what they couldn't avoid doing. Christians don't need to make a case against Harris—he makes it for them. [And this guy wants to be a senator?]
He thinks we've come a long way morally speaking. "We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn't make this progress by reading the Bible or the Quran more closely."  Is he looking at the same world the rest of us are looking at?
He speaks of "progress"? What is that? The very notion of "progress" is problematic unless there's a goal or an ideal toward which we're moving. We can use the word progress in limited and contrived ways, of course, but when we believe that the entire universe—every single electron in it—came without purpose or goal and is moving toward utter chaos then to speak of progress is a joke. Harris is hard-wired and his hard-wiring with its hard-wired thinking just "happens" to be what it is. And behold he Dawkins, Dennett and their kin swell with pride that they take the moral high road to deliver humanity from the mother of all tyrannies—Christianity.
Ivan Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate. He made a sound (used a metronome) at the moment of feeding them and then by and by he made the sound but offered no food. The dogs salivated though there was no food—they'd been conditioned. This is how Harris says we got our moral sense.  Following the likes of B.F Skinner and E.O Wilson (until he gets his own degree) Harris thinks we morally salivate because we've been conditioned by evolution. It's all a bit more complex than that, of course, but it's not a whit different. Our hard-wiring is no different in essentials than the hard-wiring in Pavlov's dogs and the "thinking" experience (including alleged "choices" and moral sense and feelings) is more hard-wiring resulting from chance mutations worked on by the chance-produced and sometimes successful Natural Selection.
Harris kids himself into thinking that he really thinks and reasons and chooses independent of his chemical conditioning in an environment that is made of absolutely nothing but purposeless matter in motion. He can't see the stark nonsense in that. His "arguments," however complex and sophisticated and refined are the end result of chemical reactions over which he has no control. To speak more accurately, they aren't "the result" of chemical reactions they are chemical reactions.On his own terms Harris isask him and he'll tell you this—a bag of bio-chemicals. You understand, it isn't just that on atheistic terms Harris "has" chemical reactions; body and soul he is a collection of chemical reactions and that's what thought and feelins are (Harris and Weinberg et al).
Finally, does Harris really think he thinks about "goodness" because he's hard-wired, because it's programmed into his neuro-transmitters and genes and such? Try telling this grown man that his thinking has been shaped in a Hebrew—Christian tradition from childhood and that's why he has a sense of "ought"; try telling him that he thinks cruelty is immoral because he has been morally shaped by teachers of the Hebrew—Christian tradition and he is so incensed against Christianity that we won't allow even that. "If I had been shaped by the Bible I would be a cruel and brutal man"—that's his story.
See, what he ought to do is just admit what many others atheists admit--he gets his moral standard from the Hebrew--Christian tradition; that way at least he'd get his foot in the door. But in the end that wouldn't really help him because he's an atheist and everything is matter in motion--he's a materialist and this means he has to say that the Christian tradition is the outworking of purposeless forces working on matter. He talks about hard-wiring because he is compelled to do it. He has no alternative. Poor thing.
I think I'm done here.

Sam Harris Myths (3) by Jim McGuiggan



Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Sam Harris Myths (3)

No wonder even fellow-atheists find Sam Harris hard to stomach at times. He's so one-sided. If Christians do bad things (and they do) it's because Christianity is a poison and corrupts the human family but if atheists do bad things (and they do) it's because they're fascists and communists and too like Christians. Yes, see for yourself.
 In that LA Times piece Harris sets out to deflate ten myths that he claims keeps atheists out of positions of political power. The myths he sets up to debunk are of his own making (you have to watch how he phrases things) and when you read the piece you soon see he doesn't deal with the real criticisms of atheism. He ridicules the myth he sets up and immediately moves to attack what Christians believe. Even then he attacks straw men that he has built.
His Myth 7 is that Christians think atheists can't experience what we might call "higher" emotions. He says, "There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly." I confess I have never in all my life met a Christian who denied this. [He claims this is the kind of thing Christians think and that's what keeps atheists out of the Oval Office.]
You need to understand this. Harris wants to assure us that atheists are as fully human as Christians—they can love and feel and appreciate as much as anyone. No Christian I ever met doubted that; but having said that, on Harris' own terms—he feels and values and seeks because he's "hard-wired" to do so. His atheistic colleague, physicist Steven Weinberg, said that thought and emotions are biochemical reactions—they're all the result of impersonal forces acting on matter (see). Atheists—on their own terms—when they feel and seek and value these things they are doing absolutely nothing more than a mosquito is doing when it sucks blood or what a fungus does when it grows in the dark. Let me repeat, that's not the Christian view—that's Weinberg, Dawkins, Harris and consistent atheism. When they call such human feelings or thoughts or actions "higher" than that of the experience of an intestinal parasite, when pressed, atheists are forced by their faith to admit that they are only "different" and more "complex". It's true that the "higher" human experiences work toward producing a higher or better ecosystem but that assumes that the word "better" has any objective or rational meaning. I doubt if the mosquito or the parasite would share our opinion. "Better" for whom or what and "better" in what way?
 Harris' Myths 1 & 4 are all confusion. He complains that Christians accuse atheists of believing that life is meaningless and arose by chance. He immediately attacks Christians, saying that they believe life is only made meaningful because 1) they believe in life after death and 2) that it lasts forever. At one level or another, this is sheer ignorance. It isn't the length of life that gives it meaning. (See) Furthermore, on atheistic terms the life of a degenerate and cruel scoundrel has as much "meaning" as the life of a family-loving and socially useful atheist. Harris' shoddy and ambivalent use of important terms muddies the waters.
It was an atheist, H.J Blackham, who said that the most damning argument against atheism was its "pointlessness"! It was an atheist, Jean Paul Sartre, who pronounced human life "absurd". It was an atheist, Wolsley Teller, who insisted that the universe knows nothing of meaning or purpose and that it cares neither for our coming or going.
Were these atheists saying that atheists didn't experience warm relationships? Were they saying that feelings of compassion and generosity were non-existent? Not at all. They felt and experienced such things. So what did they mean? They were taking the cosmic view of things: The entire universe, including the human race, simply happened and we'll simply be swept away again—end of story!
Any fool can tell you that the word "meaningful" can be used sensibly of just about anything. The chance roll of a dice in a game of "Snakes & Ladders" has "meaning"; it fits into the structure of the game we contrived. The pre-mating ritual of sewer rats has meaning. But what does it mean to say we have "meaningful" relationships? Harris doesn't say—he just rolls outs the words. Does he mean emotional responses are exchanged, devotion to one another through life exists or that atheists can feel deep satisfaction with their mates or that they purposed to raise some happy and morally upright children? I've never known a believer who said atheists couldn't experience such things!  (No wonder some fellow-atheists think Harris is over the top.)
Harris keeps forgetting that he is an exceedingly complex organism consisting totally and completely of bio-chemical reactions that came about as the result of blind purposeless evolution. His experiences, individually or in totality as a life, are what they are—to speak of them as having "meaning" is an arbitrary convention. The stink of rotten eggs is what it is—it doesn't have "meaning". The scientist (within limits) can tell us what "stink" is, why that stink is as it is; he can even say in his description of what he sees, "This means…" but in a universe in which everything is nothing more than existing "stuff"—there is no "meaning". Harris knows that so he must also know that he's ducking and diving. [On his terms even the ducking and diving is finally inner "hard wiring" that itself is nothing but existing "stuff". Mind is matter in motion to the atheist!]
He pretends in Myth 4 that he is dealing with something but it's more smoke and mirrors. "Although we don't know precisely how the Earth's early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection."
Harris talks as though "natural selection" was magic! "Natural Selection" exists within and is a part of the world that came into existence by chance so NS is itself a chance product. Bless me, if some matter without personal intervention just happened to develop the capacity to "clump" and atoms were born, what followed must have "just happened". Even the impersonal laws of physics just happened when the "singularity" exploded with a Big Bang. (The single Big Bang theory is coming under pressure and there is now talk about numerous Big Bangs.)
So about 13.5 billion years ago we had a big explosion, debris scattered everywhere, evolving with breakneck speed as it went and all that exists evolved out of it. The resultant structures and conditions of the universe included Natural Selection and they all "just happened".
In light of that atheistic faith I'd say everything in their universe arose from chance. Harris says that's a myth foisted on atheists and serves to keep them from the presidency of the United States.
Even giving Natural Selection (the unfit are killed off) its best face, you'd think to hear Harris that NS emptied "chance" of its meaning. Providing a given creature has a trait that has greater survival potential than its competitors we would guess it is more likely to survive and reproduce (if it can reproduce) but how did it get the greater survival trait to begin with? In Harris' words: "chance mutation". NS might explain how the fit survive but it can't explain how the fit arrive! If it weren't for "chance" NS would have nothing to work with and since NS is itself a product of "chance" and everything evolved from both, what's Harris all upset about? Maybe the atheist is right and no one guided or purposed the "upward" climb but if he's right why doesn't he simply say it's all chance? (I suppose because he's afraid it'll keep him out of the Oval Office.) People like Dawkins and Harris want to eat their cake and have it as well.
What do people mean usually when they use the word "chance" or "random"? Of "random" the Oxford English says things like "without aim or design, without conscious choice, without purpose." That's what the rank and file of us generally mean. So when Christians say that atheists believe in a universe that is the result of "chance" Harris knows fine well what they mean but writes as if he didn't.
Here's this opera singer on stage, belting out a dramatic number, head back, eyes closed and mouth wide open. A feather floats down from the ceiling and straight into his throat. No harm done but everyone laughs or at least suppresses it. We call that a "chance" or "random" event and we're perfectly right to do so. What do we mean? We mean that as far as we can tell no one purposed it (not even the pigeon). But the truth is, given an accurate mathematical description of that event the feather would stick in his throat again. When we call a thing "random" or "chance" we don't mean the laws of nature were obliterated—we mean there was no personal guidance in the matter, no one purposed the result. Given the singer's position, the distance between his throat and the ceiling, the timing of the feather's descent and the singer opening his mouth and tilting his head back (and the other contingencies)—the feather couldn't have missed him! In spite of that, the common sense people among us insist that it was a chance event.
And here is this atheist complaining that atheists have no chance of being President because Christians call such things "chance". And here we have him confessing that the only material NS has to work on comes from "chance mutations" and then pouting when we take him at his word.
Oh well.