Living in the middle of a riddle

riddle2

IT’S  hard to let go of our preconceptions. It’s unsettling. But we have to experiment with letting go because life is all about paradox.

Sometimes we look at ourselves and think we are worthless. Yet somehow we are precious in God’s eyes.

We know we are from this planet, but we don’t really belong here.

Poet and storyteller Steven James describes us as “skin covered spirits with hungry souls”.

We are both Hitler and Gandhi, Genghis Khan and Martin Luther King, nurse and terrorist, lover and liar.

Humility is another paradox. The moment you think you’ve finally found it, you’ve lost it.
Anyway, humility seems risky.

It’s not always clear in this world who’s on our side and who isn’t.
We don’t know the plan.

It’s humbling and exhilarating to live in the middle of a riddle.

God can seem illogical, unreasonable and yet somehow unmistakenly true.

The sooner we understand “the uncommon sense” of belief in God, the better.

Defending our faith doesn’t always mean providing people with answers.

Jesus didn’t bring answers. He brought mystery wrapped in love.

When we accept ourselves just as we are, then we can change for the better.

Christianity isn’t about becoming better than anyone else, or about looking good to others, or getting your act together. No one’s act is together. That’s one of the core teachings.

It’s about entering the story of God and realising that even when we fail and fall, God still cares about us. Still loves us.

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57 thoughts on “Living in the middle of a riddle

  1. “When we accept ourselves just as we are, then we can change for the better”

    I spent today helping a Christian mate move his future wife into the unit they will eventually be living in. The removalists were a dad and son Christian team and other helpers. We had great fun laughing, praying and moving. One wild guy is so passionate about jesus, an ex con, druggie, drug dealer and all round nice guy. A range of loving people but we often today discussed being just as we are and God will do the rest. How joyous life is with Jesus that even in our weakness we can celebrate life and know the best is yet to come.

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  2. “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.

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  3. Three things are never satisfied;
    four never say, “Enough”:
    Sheol, the barren womb,
    the land never satisfied with water,
    and the fire that never says, “Enough”.

    – Proverbs 30:15-16

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  4. “Sometimes we look at ourselves and think we are worthless”

    This is common with humans. Even those who seem confident can have a subtle world view where they are not worthy. Yet, God loves us anyway, even after the wrongs we commit.

    It is important to grow in understanding and wisdom on this verse:

    2 Corinthians 5:17
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

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    • We have worth in Jesus. We base our worth on the world’s view. Be more, do more, and look better doing it. From the very beginning, that we were made in His image, as an act of love. We must be strong enough to look past the world, to see ourselves in him. That’s the self that is worth finding.

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  5. Mystery of Christ

    Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

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    • Sigmund Freud said:

      “We tell ourselves that it would be very nice if there was a God who created the world and was a benevolent Providence and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is the very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.”

      If this is true of Christians or anyone of faith then it must be true for atheists. They do not want it to be true that there is a God.

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      • No doubt Bryan and others would be very pleased to see my exact comments posted on other religious blogs and watch the hysteria .
        Admit it Bryan you do take pleasure in distorting my comments.
        As a response purely on the basis you lack the ability to give a intelligent answer my comments .

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    • Expected nothing more from you Bryan .
      It is just the response expected from a Juvenal or the older form a dictator .
      All that counts to me is I know how chicken you are and the considerable size of your ego [“VANITY”]
      And most importantly how fragile your mind is.
      Frantically searching for mystical groupings of letters penned by the long dead those being ignorant of the universe .
      At this point you fragile mind has inserted some bullshit that I make claim I know exactly what the universe is.
      Yes Bryan I am smarter than you.
      I am not carting a delusion of self importance.
      I do have to thank you for entertaining me and highlighting the fragility of believers of their own self importance.

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  6. “Defending our faith doesn’t always mean providing people with answers.”

    Very true Bryan.On the other hand the non believers must come up with their own answers at times, which can be a dead end. Only then might they turn to Jesus for some sort of answer.

    Atheist philosopher John Gray concedes exactly that when he writes, “The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” Indeed this is a staggering claim.

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    • “On the other hand the non believers must come up with their own answers at times, which can be a dead end.”

      Such as?

      ““The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” Indeed this is a staggering claim.”

      Why is it staggering? Evolutionary success and “truth” are not mutually exclusive in any case.

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      • Stu, what evidence do you have that is it mutually exclusive?

        This and other reasoning is why I group yourself and CB as living in a world of illusion.

        John Lennox responds to Gray with a serious rebuttal:

        “But what about Gray’s own mind…one must suppose, according to Gray, that his writing this sentence [“The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth”] serves evolutionary success. Well, it certainly would appear to serve the success of evolutionary theory, if it were true. But then Gray has undermined the very concept of truth, and so has removed all reason for us to take him seriously. Logical incoherence reigns once more.”

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      • Alexie.

        “Stu, what evidence do you have that is it mutually exclusive?”

        I didn’t say “it” was mutually exclusive. I said evolutionary success and “truth” were NOT mutually exclusive.

        “This and other reasoning is why I group yourself and CB as living in a world of illusion.”

        I still don’t know what you are trying to say here, or why you are directing these comments about illusion to me.

        “…the success of evolutionary theory, if it were true.”

        The success of evolutionary theory is based on mountains of evidence, is the accepted scientific consensus and has enormous utility in making predictions about the development of particular species. No other theory about life on Earth even compares with evolution by natural selection.

        “But then Gray has undermined the very concept of truth…”

        Does Lennox say how?

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      • Correct, as you stated earlier, is there evidence that they are NOT exclusive?

        The evidence of evolution to itself is not the issue stated by Gray.

        “The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” Indeed this is a staggering claim.”

        It is that his statement, that the mind serves evolution but not truth. So if this is true then what the mind perceives as true could in fact not be truth, as it may indeed be serving evolution. What then is truth in this framework? There is none.

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      • Alexie.

        “Correct, as you stated earlier, is there evidence that they are NOT exclusive?”

        Yes. The ability to reason has obvious evolutionary advantages. You’ll notice I’ve used inverted commas when using the word “truth” in the context of this discussion.

        “So if this is true then what the mind perceives as true could in fact not be truth, as it may indeed be serving evolution.”

        That’s why in science, evidence is tested objectively and used to make reliable predictions. The ability to conduct these experiments and draw useful conclusions has advantages for survival.

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      • I do not disagree with the scientific process.
        That is not an issue here. But for Gray to say that the mind is not geared towards truth thus makes his own comment less than reliable. If it be true, that the mind is indeed geared to serve evolution then “truth” indeed should be within inverted commas. One then cannot even use the scientific testing or objectivity as it must filter through a mind that is not geared towards truth.

        “You’ll notice I’ve used inverted commas when using the word “truth” in the context of this discussion.”

        So do you agree with Gray?

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      • “I do not disagree with the scientific process. That is not an issue here.”

        Yet you go on to ask if the evolved trait of begin able to reason is sign of design. Why?

        “But for Gray to say that the mind is not geared towards truth thus makes his own comment less than reliable.”

        You have repeatedly asserted this, and I’m saying it’s a non sequitur. The human mind is geared towards many things, including both the ability to reason to determine facts about reality and the ability to believe in things that have no basis in reality.

        I agree with Gray to the extent that I accept that the human mind is not primarily (but, partially) geared towards understanding reality (ie “truth”) and that it is the result of evolutionary processes which gave human beings survival advantages which is the primary factor.

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      • “I agree with Gray to the extent that I accept that the human mind is not primarily (but, partially) geared towards understanding reality (ie “truth”

        Then even if only partially then your own comments cannot be trusted as any sort of truth as your “evolved” mind cannot be trusted with “truth”.

        But once again, what is your evidence for your assertion? That the mind and truth are not mutually exclusive? Gray would say otherwise. If indeed it is partial, as you say, how would this work with the evidence you would provide?

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      • I will finish with the words of a great Theologian who said:

        “Skeptics and relativists who undermine the notion of truth are like the fool who is cutting off the branch on which he is sitting. Without truth, science and all human knowledge collapse into conjecture. Without truth, the vital profession of journalism and how we follow the events of our day and understand the signs of our times dissolve into rumor. Without truth, the worlds of politics and business melt down into rules and power games. Without truth, the precious gift of human reason and freedom becomes license and all human relationships lose the bonding element of trust that is binding at their heart. We then as followers of Christ are unashamed to stand before the world as servants and guardians of a high view of truth, both for our Lord’s sake but also for the highest endeavors of humanity.”

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      • Alexie:

        “…as your “evolved” mind cannot be trusted with “truth”.”

        Yes it can. We can do this by testing our observations in the real world using objective criteria, which have repeatable, practical utility.

        “But once again, what is your evidence for your assertion? That the mind and truth are not mutually exclusive?”

        I already answered this when I said: “The human mind is geared towards many things, including both the ability to reason to determine facts about reality and the ability to believe in things that have no basis in reality”. Both of these traits are evolved, both can confer survival advantages and most human beings have the capacity to do both. One trait is focused in “truth” (reality) and one is not. For example, aeronautical flight can be understood as (a) the result of understanding the laws of aerodynamics and the use of technology or (b) magic.

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      • “Without truth, science and all human knowledge collapse into conjecture.”

        Your view is opposite to Gray in that:

        “human mind is not primarily (but, partially) geared towards understanding reality (ie “truth”)”

        Partial truth is not truth. Truth excludes, it cannot do so partially otherwise it is not truth.

        Your thoughts on aeronautics cannot be truth for your mind as it is only partial.

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    • I’ve lost a little bet I was having with myself. The score stood at 7-nil to Alexie, but now it’s gone to Alexie 9, Stu 2.

      Gray calls himself an atheist, but speaks of many different sorts of atheism, including religious atheism. He seems to be more of an anti-humanist

      He has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

      Laugh if you want to.

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      • Correct Strewth, you have said it well.

        Our own reasoning, through the mind cannot be trusted because we are, controlled by our genes. Evolution does not push us towards truth but towards whatever might aid our survival.

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      • Richie Dawkins wrote, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

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      • I’d love to know how your scoring mechanism works Strewth!

        “In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”

        I’d also like to know your reasoning for thinking the above statement somehow paraphrases Gray (at least Alexie’s quoting of him).

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      • Alexie.

        “Evolution does not push us towards truth but towards whatever might aid our survival.”

        This rules out “truth” aiding survival and suggests reason cannot be an evolved trait.

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      • “This rules out “truth” aiding survival and suggests reason cannot be an evolved trait.”

        A sign of design then?

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      • Stu, I believe in an intelligence behind evolution. I tried to read Gray, but wasn’t impressed.. The whole philosophic approach is a bit beyond me, I don’t have patience with it. So I could easily have misinterpreted Gray.

        I have some sympathy with humanists, and he is an obvious anti-humanist, so I’m probably biased. I would just not put much credulity into what he says.

        Nor have I followed the discussion here very thoroughly. I can’t see anyone actually ‘winning’ it, but certainly I can see a lot of sense in what you’re saying, from the little I’ve read, but I’ve not read enough to comment further!

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      • Hi Strewth – I haven’t read Gray either but based on some reviews of his work and his anti humanist views, he doesn’t seem like my cup of tea.

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  7. “To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge”
    ― Ravi Zacharias

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    • “To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge…”

      The classic strawman. I’m not claiming there are no gods, just that I don’t believe in one, and that there is no evidence to support the existence of any gods. I don’t know for certain that there aren’t any gods. The absence of belief doesn’t require an assertion of non existence.

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      • Ahh! The classic no belief assertion. You like to have the metaphor of a court room you atheists. But like a court room you simply cannot say there is no evidence your honour, so I rest my case. The judge would require to provide additional evidence that there is no God just as a defense attorney would have to provide further evidence to show his client is innocent rather than just not guilty. As you do not have infinite knowledge you still cannot say there is no evidence. If you truly believe you are not certain then you are might be termed a weak agnostic, which is more honest than being an atheist.

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      • Alexie:

        “But like a court room you simply cannot say there is no evidence your honour…”

        You sure could – and a prosecution wouldn’t be able to bring a case to court without prima facie evidence in the first place.

        “The judge would require to provide additional evidence that there is no God…”

        Sort of like demonstrating (in court) that “intelligent design” and “irreducible complexity” are false explanations for the evolution of the bacterial flagellum?

        “If you truly believe you are not certain then you are might be termed a weak agnostic, which is more honest than being an atheist.”

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      • Sorry – cut off some of my own reply:

        “If you truly believe you are not certain then you are might be termed a weak agnostic, which is more honest than being an atheist.”

        Why is saying “I don’t believe there is a god” dishonest? Presumably you don’t believe in a whole swathe of gods – does this make you dishonest because you don’t have any evidence that they don’t exist? Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive terms, as I’ve already demonstrated on this site before.

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      • If we cannot make the case that God exists that doesn’t show God does not exist and therefore that atheism is true. As atheists Austin Dacey and Lewis Vaughn write:

        “What if these arguments purporting to establish that God exists are failures? That is, what if they offer no justification for theistic belief? Must we then conclude that God does not exist? No. Lack of supporting reasons or evidence for a proposition does not show that the proposition is false.”3

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      • Unlike the irreducible complexity debate that presented evidence for their case you produced nothing.

        As I stated:

        “The judge would require to provide additional evidence that there is no God just as a defense attorney would have to provide further evidence to show his client is innocent rather than just not guilty.”

        Whether the judge determines your case in the positive or not you still are required to produce evidence.

        You have not done so, on several occasions now.

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      • Alexie:

        “Partial truth is not truth. Truth excludes, it cannot do so partially otherwise it is not truth.”

        I never said anything about “partial truth”. I said the mind was partially geared to determining things that are real, and provided examples.

        “Your thoughts on aeronautics cannot be truth for your mind as it is only partial.”

        My only thoughts on aerodynamics are established scientific concepts. If you think these are false, how do you think airplanes fly?

        “If we cannot make the case that God exists that doesn’t show God does not exist and therefore that atheism is true.”

        Does that apply to all gods or just your god?

        “Whether the judge determines your case in the positive or not you still are required to produce evidence.”

        In your hypothetical court case, I’m not asserting there are no gods. I’m asserting that I don’t believe in any gods and I therefore have nothing to defend. You are the prosecution in this case, asserting the existence of a particular god . If you have no evidence to support your assertion, the case will not even go to trial.

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    • Partially geared means partial truth.

      If the mind is not totally geared for truth then it cannot fully determine truth by partial means. Anything else you state cannot be seen as truth then as it is only partial.

      Here you are, capable of doing science, capable of analysing the universe mathematically – that really is evidence for the fact that there is a rational mind behind it. Yet, you say that the mind only partially is geared for truth. It must be totally geared for truth. Otherwise any claim cannot be made absolutely. You continue making the same mistake in your thoughts. You simply do not get it. Must be your partial mind of truth.

      Being in court you also require some evidence for your defence. You have none as yet. Just a claim of no belief in God. As I stated, you would require the mind of God to make such a claim.

      You also claimed thatI “evolutionary success and “truth” were NOT mutually exclusive.”

      I have asked for the evidence but none is forth coming.

      Your atheism is a tradition of high tragedy. Atheism begins and ends with nothingness. Atheism is a zero-sum game. Atheism was created from of nothingness, atheists walk aimlessly as cosmic orphans back to the void. This is the partial truth you spew.

      Strewth said it best:

      “He has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.”

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      • Alexie.

        “Yet, you say that the mind only partially is geared for truth. It must be totally geared for truth.”

        The evidence I have presented suggests otherwise, unless you can refute the fundamental concepts of the laws of aerodynamics.

        “Otherwise any claim cannot be made absolutely.”

        Provide an “absolutely made claim” that could not ever possibly be refuted under any circumstances. Remember you can’t just assert something – you need to back it up.

        “Being in court you also require some evidence for your defence.”

        Only if I’m being accused of something and only if you have a prima facie case. What are you accusing me of and what prima facie evidence do you have?

        “You also claimed that “evolutionary success and “truth” were NOT mutually exclusive. I have asked for the evidence but none is forth coming.”

        I provided the evidence and you either ignored it or failed to refute it.

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      • “Remember you can’t just assert something – you need to back it up.’

        That is exactly what you are doing?
        You provided evidence????
        You must be kidding.
        The red herring Aerodynamics does not show what the mind is geared towards. It is partial truth you say. Partial is not truth. Simple logic that even you can understand.
        You would make an awful lawyer.
        Oh, well, if you do not want to answer that is fine.
        Still no evidence.

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      • Alexie.

        “You would make an awful lawyer.”

        I agree. But you’d be worse given you can’t articulate (a) an allegation or (b) a prima facie case for prosecution.

        “You provided evidence????””Oh, well, if you do not want to answer that is fine.Still no evidence.”

        I provided evidence. You ignored it. No amount of question marks will change that.

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  8. “We are both Hitler and Gandhi, Genghis Khan and Martin Luther King, nurse and terrorist, lover and liar.”

    Immanuel Kant famously wrote in Critique of Practical Reason, “Two things fill the mind with ever increasing wonder and awe…the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

    We indeed have the moral law written within and the law requires a lawgiver. This is truth.
    Kant knew it even though a non-believer.

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  9. “mystery wrapped in love”

    “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:14.

    Scripture tells us God is love. He came in the flesh as Love for us.
    The materialist will say the mind is just chemical reactions and synapses. They will say that love is just chemicals. We are simply like robots. But when one holds one child as a baby one is in awe with love that transcends. This is God at work throughout our lives. At the end we can choose to react this love or follow it through Jesus.

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  10. Funny Science

    “Is religious fundamentalism a form of mental illness? That’s what Kathleen Taylor, a researcher at the University of Oxford and author of three books on neuroscience, suggested this week, according to Huffington Post. In the future, Taylor said, brain researchers may learn so much about the neural basis of fundamentalism that they can cure people of it.”

    “But why stop with wacky religious and political convictions? There are lots of other irrational beliefs out there that science should try to cure people of.”

    “Finally, wouldn’t it be nice if neuroscience could cure people of irrational, excessive faith in neuroscience?”

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  11. We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “lief” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes.

    Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.

    http://upliftconnect.com/walt-whitman/

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