Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dandelion Wine

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0Ew5YYu_VwI/TVvtsO_9qUI/AAAAAAAADag/wUOCK91I0UE/s1600/thumb_dandelion_puff_xl_1-792875.jpg

by G J Gillespie

Finding destination
Surging through our breast
Hurtling with watchfulness
Past lights of blur
Fleeting signs manifest
In the rushing blackness
Feeble progression

Stop now for a drink
Sleeping off the dreams
Boundless desires
Loom like candy cotton
Ready for a fix
Stations of refuge
Fill us with elixir

The gods know satiation
And angels dance on pins
Dandelions blow parachutes
Into our field of view
Showing ghostly attributes
Until weeds crowd out our breath
And the final sip is due

 

 

 

 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Of Many Worlds: Comments on the Nature of God in Christ

http://www.americamagazine.org/images/articles/hincks275.jpg"Fifty years ago, the universe was generally looked on as a machine … When we pass to extremes of size in either direction --whether to the cosmos as a whole, or to the inner recesses of the atom--the mechanical interpretation of Nature fails. We come to entities and phenomena which are in no sense mechanical. To me they seem less suggestive of mechanical than of mental processes; the universe seems to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine." 

Astronomer James Jeans --
cited in Kowalski, Gary, Science and the Search for God. New York: Lantern Books, 2003. p 19.

Comments on the Divinity of Christ

We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.

The Scriptures declare:
His virgin birth
His sinless life
his miracles
His substitutionary work on the cross
His bodily resurrection from the dead
and
His exhalation at the right hand of God.

For centuries believers have affirmed these propositions concerning the divinity of Christ. We recite this creed at my church.

In this essay I discuss why these ideas are profound. Let's take a look at each proposition.

1. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God: Communication is at the Heart of Reality

To think more carefully about the creeds, we might ask: What is the nature of God?

What can we assume God is like?

First we believe that God must have the powers of a person since only a person loves.

If God were a force or principle that would make him less than a human person -- less than yourself -- and thus unworthy of your attention. It would be strange to praise the force of gravity.  Or to make an electrical field into a god. That would be like the ancient practice of idol worship when people built gods of material objects.  

God must be at least as special as a human person, aware of what is happening and able to experience relationships. 

Only a person can love. Whatever created us must be at least as good as a person.


It is much more likely to say that God is not only personal but more personal that we can understand. Divine personhood is of a different category than we observe in daily life because God is more personal than is imaginable. We could say that God is supra-personal. 

Christian teachers tell us that God is three persons in one being -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three co-equal persons in one nature. When first encountered, the trinity seems strange, but turns out to be essential for consciousnesses to exist. Let me explain.

http://thethirdcup.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/god-is-love-ipad-wallpaper-300x300.jpgThis creed statement that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God affirms that communication and community is at the heart of reality -- or is the source of reality as the Ground of Being. There is communication within the nature of God. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and the Holy Spirit loves the Father and loves the Son and so on forever.

Or as scripture says, "God is love."  The communication going on within the nature of God is self sufficient. His love is with out reference to any created person. Even if God never chose to create a universe, he would still be love.

Everyone knows that love must be the meaning of human existence. In a letter to a woman who wrote asking for a word of inspiration for her son, physicists Richard Feynman near the end of his life replied: Tell your son to stop trying to fill your head with science — for to fill your heart with love is enough.

(Sykes, Christopher Simon, No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman, 1996, by, p 161.)


Christianity gives a rational source for this love in the ultimate love that goes on in the nature of God. The book of James states in 1: 17 that: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

Humans benefit from the outplaying of divine love when we share the gift of conscious awareness, enjoyment of relationships and contemplation of beauty and the experience of joy. 

http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/semiotics/semiotic_triad.jpgThe doctrine of the trinity diverges from polytheism -- or belief in three gods -- since the three persons are of one substance. Rather the triune nature of God reflects the same semiotic processes that make any meaning possible in each mind. Semiotics is the study of how symbols produce meaning. All linguistic processes require a sort of trinity of the mind -- a connection between a person's thought, the objects observed and the symbols or words used to communicate.

Communication scholars Osgood and Richard's Triangle of Meaning uses the terms Reference, Referent and Symbol. Another theorist, Charles Sanders Peirce uses the terms Sign (words or symbols), Object (thing experienced) and Interpretant (person making observations).

A conscious person contemplates a referential object or idea and the meaning that is achieved in this process gives coherence to the subject and object as a unified whole. A person becomes aware of meaning when the referent that is sensed is understood by language. So, we have a person, a referent (idea, object, experience) and the language or imagery that connects them.

These semiotic models resemble the Christian doctrine of trinity explaining the communicative nature of God. Here there are three persons each playing a role in the Being of God. God the Father is like the Object or Referent. The Son of God is like the Sign and the Holy Spirit is the Interpretant. The parallels fit neatly since any kind of consciousness demands a triad of three in oneness.

It turns out that the connection mesh well because, as philosophers of religion have pointed out, these and other triads of the mind were inspired by the trinity as conceptualized by Augustine and then Hegel. Peirce is said to have been greatly influenced by Hegel. 

Anyway, the concept of three in one equal but distinct seems to provide a workable method for understanding how the mind works in creating meaning. There are crucial features which make the trinity the only candidate to explain how the conscious mind produces and shares meaning.

We do not think of the trinity as belief in three gods any more than we think of the triangle of meaning as three separate properties. All three are equal and necessary for meaning to be realized. Yet, each is unique and separate at the same time. There is a "three in oneness" in both the divine trinity and semiotic triangle. Perhaps we could say that God is a cosmic Triangle of Meaning, a fountain head of all meaning and real communication.

Notice also that meaning requires community -- or the coming together of persons in a common bond of shared language and culture. The individual person only gains the resources of language from the community. An isolated individual without a community would never acquire language or the power of semiotic thought. Child abuse cases demonstrate why community -- or at least three persons -- is required for language, love and meaning to exist. As a normal child grows up he or she acquires the third leg in the triangle by "borrowing the minds" of adult, taking on the perspective of parents or role models, mimicking their identities to achieve their own. In this way a child grows up as both an individual and a member of the collective community. This is called inter-subjectivity -- taking on the perspective of others to gain ones own.

Without community -- or the three-in-oneness principle -- there can be no shared meaning, communication or love. Therefore viewing God as a single mind -- what is called monism --denies the possibility that God would have a consciousness required to love and be loved.

When we consider that the trinity is incomprehensible we are reminded of the mysteries of recent discoveries in quantum mechanics.  Paradoxical features of quantum reality have been proven by scientific investigation. Light for example is both a wave and a particle at the same time. This counter-intuitive property is known as the wave--particle duality. Just as strange, subatomic particles are able to exist in two (or more) places at the same time. These are not illusions or metaphors but physical realities on the microscopic scale.

The physicist Niels Bohr once said: "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it."  (Gribbin, John, Mary Gribbin, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality, University Press, 1984.)

Richard Feynman, who understood the physics of quantum mechanics better than anyone, concluded that actually: "Nobody understands quantum mechanics." (Rosenblum, Bruce and Kuttner, Fred, Quantum Enigma, Oxford Press, 2006, p 80)

When Feynman made his famous diagram he said that there are some properties of quantum reality that are so strange that we don't even have a metaphor to contain them. We know by objective experiment that these paradoxes are real (not theory) but we are unable to intuitively conceive of them without great mental effort.

"Our imagination is stretched to the utmost," he said, "not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there. (Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 1965. )

Here is the Feynman diagram which attempts to graphically illustrate quantum mysteries that take place on an unimaginably small microscopic scale.  The stuff that forms our world is made of positive and negative electrons interacting with packets of energy called quanta that travel forward and backward in time (could be what this means).
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1f/Feynmann_Diagram_Gluon_Radiation.svg/287px-Feynmann_Diagram_Gluon_Radiation.svg.png
In the same way that certain realities about the physical universe are nearly impossible to conceptualize, the closest metaphor that a human mind might grasp about the divine nature is to say that God's consciousness is like the love between a father and a son in a family. Christ as the "Son of God" alludes to the inheritance rights of a first born son of ancient Hebrew culture, the one who has equal legal standing with the father and acts in his stead. Two persons with one substance.

In this sense, Christ the Son of God becomes the necessary intermediary between the wholly other God the Father and human beings in the material universe. Like the yellow light between a red and green light of a traffic signal, we now have the possibility to mediate our limited consciousness with divine meaning and know something about God through the person of Jesus Christ. 

In fact, traditional Christian belief attributes the creation of the universe to Jesus Christ -- the one who is wholly God and wholly human at the same time. While this doctrine of the dual nature of Christ  -- who is the simultaneously divine and human Creator --  like the trinity seems strange at first, the divine-human dual natural may provide an explanation for how the information of the universe came into being. 

With the advent of Quantum Mechanics, especially the Copenhagen School which argues that reality requires conscious observation, physicists have introduced us to a strange world that at its core is, in the words of Shakespeare, made of the airy stuff of dreams. Rather than the hard stuff of everyday experience, really most basically exists because information is being perceived by some kind of Interpretant.
 

So we might ask who dreamed up the universe? Who provided the informational scaffolding that holds up time, space, matter and fundamental forces?

Quantum theory argues that there must be a conscious observation of particles before those particles become reality. It takes conscious activity to "collapse the superpositions" of the virtual particles to physically make the universe real.  This observer can't be the all knowing God the Father exactly since he would presumably already be aware of all positions. It would take a mind that is limited, like a human-like mind to make these observations within the physical universe.

Theologians grappling with how an infinite personal Being might interact with the world say that when Christ became incarnate he did not lose any of his all knowing attributes since God is immutable or is incapable of changing. Instead the incarnate Christ took on human nature in addition to his divine nature. Theologians maintain that in order to act in the physical universe -- and interact with humans -- God "condescended' from the first moment of creation taking a "covenantal" or human like perspective in addition to his all-encompassing divine perspective.

Pehraps we can think of God in Christ "condesending" in the way that the author of a story "enters into the story" by imagining the perspective of his or her characters. The author is aware of his or her own world, but for the purposes of creative writing imagines that he or she is a body acting in the story. The author may even communicate with characters, telling them what to do in his mind. Similarity, characters sometimes "take over" a story and choose to act in ways independent of the authors initial will. 

Divine condescension -- God getting into the story -- explains how an omniscient mind would not collapse all positions in the universe at once.

Once a particle is observed its "wave function" become set for ever. For example if a photon is consciously viewed as a particle is becomes a particle forever. And, counter intuitively, the observation effect works backward in time. Once it is observed as a particle, it has always been a particle or always been a wave caused by the observation in our time.


The fact the consciousness forms reality is called the "quantum enigma" and suggests that the acts of a mind is necessary for physical reality to exist. Some physicists discount the enigma by assuring us that the effects only occur on a very small scale that is invisible to the macro world we live in. But, Rosenblum and Kuttner point out ignoring this proven feature of physics isn't enough since the macro world is made up of the microscopic world. "Quantum mechanics applies to everything", they argue. (Rosenblum and Kuttner, p 15)

If God is all knowing, then all of the positions would already be observed. But, if God limits his knowing, in the same way that my wife working on a painting for two hours limits her knowing what is going on with current events on the internet. An artist condescends by focusing attention on the artifact being created. It is a limiting of the mind that permits novel information or patterns to pop up. The nature of the final artifact, such as a story, poem or painting, is never quite what the creator imagined at the start. This is the mystery of creativity. The exciting effects of limiting a mind and letting the artifact take over. 
The creative act requires discipline of a focused mind, wholly committed to seeing the vision for the art fulfilled. 

Perhaps God is acting in the same way that the human artist,
sculptor, poet, composer or painter "gets into" the created work, focuses on it intensely, sometimes so intensely that everything else in the world fades away. The artifact becomes the center of attention above all else, even sleep or eating.

It could be that God chooses not to collapse all superpositions because he is playing along -- as if he were a human-like actor in the universe, limiting his all-knowing mind for a time to see what emerges.

While some have argued that the universe evolved to the stage of the first human who looked back on it to create it retroactively or that this first observer was Adam of biblical narrative, it seems more plausible to accept that the conscious observer is God the Son exactly as set forth by scripture such as the book of Colossians 1:15 -- 17. 

"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Christ as the Word of God spoke the universe into being, providing the information that makes up the structure of reality. In addition, the semiotic-like mind of Christ holds all things together like grammar holds the meaning of a sentence together.  Christ is the universal "Logos" or underlining meaning behind all that we experience.

Or, put negatively, with out God we lack the grammar to understand meaningful patterns in the data of experience. Some non-Christians believe that the realization that there is no linguistic-like binding force behind phenomena is key to enlightenment. They will say that we need to extinguish this desire to see an encompassing oneness or nothingness. 

The Christian creeds offer a life affirming perspective. Ultimate reality isn't nothingness. But, is a Person. And all that we experience is a divine artifact. The creeds permit us to hear the rhythms of a celestial music. Behind reality rings the Music of the Spheres. The composer is an awesome, creative God. 

Unsurprisingly, string theory -- one of the newest candidates to explain cosmic origins -- also refers to  a musical metaphor. This proposal of theoretical physicists suggests that at the smallest scale -- 10 meters to the negative 33 (ten with 33 zeros after it) -- there are tiny "strings" that exist at the border of time of space. The vibration of the strings forms larger scale objects. When the string vibrate at one frequency, a carbon atom emerges. At another frequency, helium atoms or other material properties pop into existence. In this view, the "music of the spheres" literally forms reality.

The string is not really a physical object since it is so small even time and space break down. It appears more like an idea or a mathematical algorithm. Could these strings be the expression of thoughts of the communicative, triune God as laid out in the creed? Such a perspective would be an eloquent explanation. The mystery and beauty of universe is the outplaying of a musical score,

Physicist John Archibald Wheeler argued that the universe can be rendered down most basically to information. That everything -- it -- comes down to bits. This is the It from Bits theory.

"[I]t is not unreasonable to imagine that information sits at the core of physics, just as it sits at the core of a computer. It from bit. Otherwise put, every 'it'—every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself—derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits.

'It from bit' symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom—a very deep bottom, in most instances—an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe.
(John Archibald Wheeler 1990: 5)


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f3/Magnetosphere_rendition.jpg
What good is it to say that information exists without a mind to process and contemplate it? While Wheeler took a monist perspective of eastern religion that each person is really part of a divine consciousness without realizing it, the Christian will say that the observation of information that forms the bits that make up reality come from the mind of the Triune God. This mind is surpra-personal and capable of great love.

Could this mind that produced the cosmic information be a "Universal Consciousness"? Could the universe have a mind and we are simply part of that mind? That is unlikely. 

Think back to the triangle of meaning. For the perception of information to make sense, to produce meaning, there must be three in one. Three aspects are required for information to exist: We need information, perception of the information and an object that the information is about.

But, if "all is one" -- the expression of a single mind only -- then there would be no place for information and no need to communicate about it to anyone.

Usually artists and writers are interested in how their art form will be appreciated by others. Great artists or writers have large audiences of admirers. That is what makes them great.

Love requires communication -- first in the community that makes language possible, then between at least two persons. There must be interaction between persons. 

While the monist universe could not be the source of its own information since information requires the semiotic triad, the Christian perspective is that God is One, but God is also Three at the same time. Three in Oneness. It is from the communication within this Being that the information we see in the universe comes to exist. In fact, we are made up of this information.

All we know, including ourselves, are artifacts of a divine mind that stands far outside of the universe. We are made in God's image, able to participate in the appreciation of the beauty of universe and -- most important -- form loving relationships. To love and be loved. 

Traditional theology posits that humans also take part in the development of the universe since God chooses to use us in his restorative work. God loves each human being and has a plan for each person. We are God's handiwork created to enter into relationship with him and can know his plan for our lives.

When we accept that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God we are saying that our lives and the universe have meaning that is back-lit by an after glow of a love that is so great it forged the explosion of the Big Bang.  As astronomer James Jeans once suggested, the advent of quantum mechanics makes the universe appear more like a thought than a mechanical object.  Its the thought that counts.

http://trumanfalkner.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/creation.jpgThere are beneficial philosophical implications to viewing the universe as a grand thought of a loving Being instead of a blind mechanistic object.

Our reality becomes an artifact of beauty and mystery that can be experienced meaningfully. Our world can be enjoyed like a work of art.

"And God said, 'Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good...'" Genesis 1: 3, 4a.

This passage supports the information theory basis for reality. God chooses to permit information to enter his consciousness. He then speaks this information meaningfully which results in the appearance of a world. Finally, he evaluates or experiences it.  Could this progression mean precisely that God's conscious conception of primordial-information is what led to the collapse the wave function and the birth of reality? 

At its core, matter, space, time and fundamental forces rest on divine algorithms that make up universal complexity. But, since the Creator is more like an artist than an engineer he observes that it is good. This is the inner information states of aesthetic experience. The universal as an artifact of the communicative Triune God is embedded with experiential meaning that can be enjoyed by persons. 

The mind of God is then able to contemplate the information as an artist might appreciate his or her handiwork, producing the phenomenological response of subjective knowledge that forms the basis for values and aesthetic appreciation.

Instead of mechanistic, digital processes we might expect in a dead, static cosmos, we find that the universe is a grand thought that rings with analogical information more like cosmic poetry or music than mathematical equations.  God's experiential observation become a fountain for all beauty.  And we can drink from this fountain.

We do not confuse the universe for God. Nor do we think of ourselves are part of the divine mind unaware. Rather, the universe is like a house that is inhabited by a charismatic owner. The personality of this owner fills the physical house with immaterial joy. Our mind is like his, just as a child's mind is like a parents -- similar but not identical.

So on one hand there is the measurable information of objective science, physics and psychology, while on the other the subjective appreciation (phenomenology) of beauty, love, truth and religious meaning.  By knowing the mind of Christ, human beings now have a trustworthy path to enter into a knowledge of true values and beauty. This experiential appreciation of the cosmic information then forms the basis for arts and ethics and authentic religious experience. Reality exists because the Triune God speaks it into being in accord with information theory. Since it is highly valued by his omnipresent observation we know that it is a thing of beauty and love.

Accepting Christ as the eternal Son of God and Creator of the Universe provides an infinite reference point upon which meaning can be realized. Instead of a "castle in the sky" without any firm foundation, language has a solid ground in the consciousness of the Creator. The Mind of Christ which exists at every point in space and time then experiences his creation, from the most minute micro level to the cosmic macro level, imbuing it with value. Likewise, God as our Creator knows each person fully, providing the possibility of knowing our true selves as well. We can join in the observations of this divine mind, thus experiencing eternal joy, love, acceptance and purpose.
http://www.andybarlowblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Jesus-Christ-art1.jpg
Faith is turning toward God. Away from the absolute cold in the abyss of nothingness, and toward the warmth of God's love. We might turn just a little bit toward God. That may be enough. We can learn to hear the music of the spheres.

Why settle for knowing about God when knowing God is possible? 

An alternative universe is open to us when we say yes to Christ. Everything changes. We find peace, meaning, purpose, freedom from guilt and drink from the headwaters of all beauty. 


Exploring an Alternative Universe


One technique for developing faith is the experiment of "suspension of disbelief". This is a first step toward experiencing reality as a follower of Christ. 

For a set time you may choose to accept that perspective that you are an artifact of a loving, all knowing Being who wants to know and communicate with you. 

Try it out for a while and see if it makes sense. If a communicative God exists behind reality and at every point in time and space, it should be possible to tap into the lines of communication that is flowing in that Being.

Prayer is simply talking to God. Request that he help you believe and reveal himself to you. Then wait for the feedback in some event or inner knowledge to confirm your faith. 

Interaction with Christian friends during this experiment also helps if you know some believers.

An essential part of this experiment in faith is to read up on the Word of God in the bible to get acquainted with the mind of Christ as he interacted with people. Find a bible and read the Book of John and be open to hear the voice of God speak to your inner life.

NOTE: post a comment below and I will pray for you about your new faith journey. 

2. The Scriptures declare: His virgin birth -- When Myth became Fact. 

From the stone age storytellers have shown religious longings. Stories of a god-like hero who comes to save a community appears cross culturally for thousands of years. Instead of rejecting religious longings, we can think of these age old desires for faith as signposts leading us to faith in the historic person of Jesus.

Carl Jung introduced the idea of archetypes that appear cross culturally that tap into unconscious truths that each culture shares. These archetypes seem to be built into the structure of the mind, like a deep structured grammar, like an empty space that seeks to be filled. 

We can think of the virgin birth of Christ as a fulfillment of ancient longings.  Unlike the gods of folklore and myth, Christ was actually an historical person. Yet, the story of his birth follows the structure of any good narrative type.

We all enjoy a good story. But, we usually are even more impressed when a good story is also non-fiction or is "based on actual events".

The narrative of Christ's birth seems like the birth of other divine-like heroes of mythic times.

But, there are curious departures from the expected archetype. Unlike the mythological heroes who are portrayed as a descendant of the gods, Jesus is both fully God and fully human. No other "incarnation" of other religions (such as the Hindu gods who only appear as humans) have this quantum mechanics-like dual nature.

The Greek and Roman folktale figure Hercules was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman -- making him half god or a demi-god. The Hindu Krishna is fully divine and only takes on the appearance of a human.  The ancient emperors of China or ancient Mesopotamian kings were likewise fully divine.

Here the dual nature of Christ makes him stand out uniquely from the other gods of myth and folklore. when the formulation of the trinity adds something new that resembles quantum paradoxes. 

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q36/gailswanson/CosmicChrist.gif
Literary scholar C.S. Lewis argues that myth is a kind of deep structured grammar imbedded in the human imagination that unlocks truths that social progression is unable to realize otherwise. In When Myth became Fact, Lewis holds that literary images such as the divine hero told in prehistoric stories are necessary mental forms to help future generations understand what God was doing in history. He says that stories that formed the basis for pagan religions prepared our minds to accept the coming of Christ as an historical reality. The voice of imagination acts like an antenna for actualities to come.


"The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact," Lewis argued. 

"The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle." 

(C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 66-67.) 



The myths about the demi-gods and heroes our age old longing for an accessible encounter with the divine have been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. The stories of the mythic gods prepared us for accepting Jesus as God in fact. 

What is exciting about Christianity is that it fulfills all the best parts of all of the other religions.  We see Jesus as a fulfillment of the pagan stories of the divine savior. We can think of God as a human person with a body.

God's Spirit fills every point of space, fulfilling the faith of tribal animists who believe that spirits indwell natural objects such as trees or mountains. The Christian shares the believe that nature is filled with a Spirit, but God's Spirit isn't part of nature. God's mind created and observes nature and so when we encounter nature we are close to God.

God is the one transcendent, unknowable Spirit (Hinduism, Buddhism) who is accessible to our imagination and language in the person of Jesus.

We also have a basis for knowing about the nature of God from scripture, which we believe is God communicating through the consciousness of inspired writers. These writers were influenced by their cultures so interpretation is still necessary.

Inspiration is not dictation. We say that the bible is composed of "the Word of God in the words of men." We trust the 27 books New Testament as well as the 39 of the Old Testament and look to these for insights of God's will. Here are recorded the stories and teachings of men and women who had a close relationship with God and revealed his thinking about humanity.

If a personal God exists we would expect that this Being would try to communicate with us. The bible is our most accessible message from the Divine Being. 

A prophecy in the Old Testament foretold the coming of a universal savior who would be born of a virgin.  “Behold the virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son, and he shall be called Immanuel, meaning, with us is God.” (Isaiah 7:14) For God to be with us as a human we would expect a dramatic departure from the ways of biology as we know it.

The idea that Christ was conceived differently than any other person in history is unsurprising when we consider that Christ was the "Second Adam", or the human being who came to reverse the contamination of Adam's sin which lead to the current state of universal brokenness in society and nature. In other words, the DNA of Christ had to be unique from all others to break the inherited proclivity for radical separation from God's mind. Human DNA is in a spiritual state of brokenness along with all features of this universe.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0w_I31n0Bdk/TuLQlWJntNI/AAAAAAAAE9E/tdG_4wDip2g/s1600/blue-binary-code-jigsaw-puzzle.jpgIt takes the mind of the incarnate Christ to repair the universal brokenness by his perfected divine-human dual nature. In other words, Christ needs to observe each feature of the universe, from the subatomic, to the everyday to the cosmic universal. In his observation he judges it and refines it and redeems it. Our spirit or inner being is saved when we respond to the observation of Christ by accepting his judgement and salvation. 

His observation makes us into the people that he wants us to be. An ordinary person would be unable to transform us by this intense quantum level observation. Only Christ, who is the Creator and fellow human, the dual natured God-man, is able to observe our constituent information and reform that information by his evaluation.

Unlike the natural "selfish gene" of biological reproduction which seeks to foster survival of specific traits, Christ's morally perfect DNA introduced the "unselfish gene" in human society which fulfills the purpose to heal universal brokenness and save humanity.

The doctrine of the virgin birth is necessary to create the unique God-man Jesus. He had to differ from ordinary humans to break the fundamental brokenness of time, space matter and society. Christ introduces the true evolutionary leap in human development that permits us now to be reborn into his family line that will signify the future of saved humanity. 

Although we say that Christ is fully human, Christians believe that Jesus is a unique person in the history of the world. We believe that his conception was likewise an unique event.  Just as the Big Bang started from nothing but the will of God, so the virginal conception of the Savior was a divine act without natural antecedent.

In the same way that virtual particles pop into existence from apparently nothing, so the random superpositions of subatomic particles could be re-arranged by the will of God with a different statistical algorithm to produce a unique fertilized egg in the womb of Mary. Since at its core all objects and phenomena are information, this information pattern could be re-arranged by God for a specific purpose of producing the perfect human DNA of the embryonic Christ who would then grow up to possess the redemptive consciousness needed to repair the universal brokenness.
By sending the virgin born Christ, God was injecting a healing quantum serum into the veins of civilization. We all need our flawed genetic condition treated by this "unselfish gene" therapy. We experience this radical salvation of our inner most being when we become a part of the family of God.

3. The Scriptures declare: His sinless life -- Universal Brokenness has its Root in Flawed Human Consciousness.

“We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.”

- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

That we live in a broken universe is a physical fact. After the Big Bang when time, space and matter began to cool, different features we observe cascaded into existence. Once everything existed in a microscopic super hot primordial. As things cooled, each of the fundamental forces were formed -- gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces and the electromagnetism. Each force "broke off" from a more unified state before, putting us in the middle of a physically broken universe.

In the same way, human society and psychology is broken. 

The brokenness may go deeper. It seems that human consciousness may have contaminated the universe with a backward in time effect that limits the potential that the Creator intended.  Flawed human consciousness -- that is there is something quite wrong with how we observe, think about and then act toward the world, ourselves and others which leads to suffering, hurt, conflict war, alienation and death.

Sin is a word that means offense. It is an attack upon God's inner observation of the outward expression of reality. 

A world without sin would have harmony between this inner observation of information and its outward expression. The idea and its expression fit together to form something beautiful. For example, a great work of art inspires awe in the mind of the observer. The inner aesthetic observation is perfectively tied to the artifact.  In a similar way, the act of seeing natural beauty -- an orchid, mountain lake or child's face -- is ennobling.  The experience of seeing the perfect connection between the act of conscious observation and the reality observed produces a feeling of harmony. There is no information that is disconnected. This is what sinlessness is like. 

The reality of the world that we live in differs from the ideal such that we are surprised by brief episodes of beauty that we encounter. To see beauty we need to turn our attention to unspoiled natural landscapes or to great works of art or literature to get glimpses of perfection. 

Ultimately we encounter perfect holiness when we encounter the person of Jesus Christ.  He embodies sinlessness. By getting know know Christ some of his holiness rubs off. By identifying with his life, death and resurrection we over come the effects of sin and begin the process of being changed into his likeness.  

Teologian A.W. Tozer refers to the quality of holiness almost as a luminous presence or fire that we can enter. We can gain knowledge of the holy. 

http://verticallivingministries.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/tkoth-tozer.jpg
"The original root of the word holy was of something beyond, something strange and mysterious and awe-inspiring. When we consider the holiness of God we talk about something heavenly, full of awe, mysterious and fear-inspiring. Now, this is supreme when it relates to God, but it is also marked in men of God and deepens as men become more like God. 

"It is a sense of awareness of the other world, a mysterious quality and difference that has come to rest upon some men - that is a holiness. . . . Theologians long ago referred to it as the numinous, meaning that overplus of something that is more than righteous, but is righteous in a fearful, awe inspiring, wondrous, heavenly sense. It is as though it is marked with a brightness, glowing with a mysterious fire." ( I Call it Hersey, Chapter Five, "Holiness is Not an Option", by AW Tozer, 1974)

The radical brokenness of the universe -- which affects our own ability to think -- cuts us off from experiencing the presence of holiness. We are blind to the light of God's moral perfection and may not even realize that our existential nature is offensive. When we do approach his awesome presence we rightly experience mystery and overwhelming awe.

We sense a disconnection between our own "ought" and "what is". We aspire to live up to certain ideals, but fall short. We experience alienation from our own set of values. That which we know is right and desire to do, we do not do. 

Saint Paul, author of the book of Romans in the bible, put it this way:

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. . . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"


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The holiness of God mends the brokenness and begins to conform the inner information that makes up who we are -- the genetic. linguistic and cultural information pattern -- with the reality of our lives. The Holy Spirit fills the gap and applies the redemptive work of Christ on the cross to abolish the effects of sin. We must bask in the gaze of God. When we permit his consciousness to observe our inner being, our sin is burned away and we are transformed into his image. 

As the "new man" to replace the "old man", the mind of Christ makes up for the universal contamination of Adam's sin that spreads to all known reality both before and after. Christ is the first person born with out sin and he himself never sinned. That is because the inner information of his being is in perfect harmony with God's observation of the outward expression of his life. Christ has led the way into a new kind of human existence marked by holiness. With God's help we are able to take this holy path towards Christ-likeness. We have hope to live without the effects of sin. In part now and fully one day. 


4.  His miracles: Authenticating Proof of the Trustworthiness of Christ


http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/36375/18-310Fall2002/NR/rdonlyres/Global/7/7AFC2497-7619-420F-949F-C70141DF1EA0/0/CHP_MathConstruction.jpgWhen we consider that all reality is ultimately information miracles become plausible. Time, space, matter, living organisms, even our thoughts are information patterns that could be expressed as a mathematical algorithm. Therefor if those algorithms could be re-written, the outward expression of reality would change.

Now if the divine Logos sustains the universe at each moment by his conscious observation then it is possible for him to choose to re-arrange the constituent information to produce new effects in the physical world. Just as changes in computer code produces different graphic effects on a screen. 


Christ performed miracles as recorded in the New Testament to prove that he was the Son of God. Two of his best known miracles was turning water into win and walking on water. Study of the stories show that details of the miracles were meant to convey larger truths. The wine from water signaled the beginning of Christ's mission which would end with wine served at the last supper and in the new Jerusalem of heaven. Walking on water symbolized God's control of physical forces such as entropy and death. 


Christ's greatest miracle was his resurrection from the dead. You have to admit that if this happened, it would prove that Christ was God in human flesh. 


http://newgenesisres.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/kingdom-of-god-is-within-you_01.jpg?w=529The point is that lots of prophets and holy men in history have made fantastic claims about themselves.  Only Jesus Christ lived a life to confirm that his claims were true. 

The Christian does not have a problem believing that on occasion God intervenes to influence the flow of cause and effect in our universe -- and even in our personal lives. God might perform a miraculous healing of a disease or ease a physical hardship. God might reveal to another person a "word of knowledge" about another person to inspire faith in a new believer. 

While miracles are uncommon they do exist. There are many testimonies of God healing people and providing tangible help in times of need, including healing of diseases after prayer. 

Unlike pagan concepts of magic, prayer is asking for the divine mind to act. It is God who has the power to cause an effect, not the supposed power of the person praying. Although there are personal benefits from composing a prayer such as helping the person imagine what he or she really wants, we should not think of prayers for miracles are mechanistic formulae like taking a drug. Such prayers are more like going to the top in an organization to get an immediate answer from the boss. The CEO may answer your request. He or she is not automatically obliged. 

Besides requests for healing or to meet some physical need, it is possible to ask God to reveal himself in your life. He may act in such an uncanny or surprising way to convince you that he is indeed real. 

Consider his words in John 14:1-8 comforting his disciples at the last supper the night before his death on the cross. Here he claims to be the "I AM" or the divine mind that created the universe. He also offers to help seekers find the way to know and experience God through him. 

http://www.markdroberts.com/images/Dali-Jesus-Supper-4.jpg"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father."





5. His Substitutionary Work on the Cross


A question to consider is: how do you deal with guilt? Perhaps you hurt another person or chose to do something that you knew was wrong and the memory troubles you. 

Do you try to put guilt out of your mind and ignore the feelings of self condemnation? That doesn't work well. 

The existence of God adds to the mix. He is the standard of perfection, making our own limitations for goodness apparent. When we approach the holiness of God we may realize the extend of our own faults and tendency to do wrong as never before. 


The reality is that we are alienated from our own best intentions, from others and ultimately from our Creator. Alienation from God is called sin. It is the root of human wrong. We could say that sin has short circuited our hardwiring. 


Guilt is a symptom that the human condition is broken and needs repair. 

Is there a way to resolve personal and spiritual guilt? Christ offers a solution to guilt. 

Everyone in the western world has seen images of the cross and Christ dying on the cross. We might wonder why the paintings and films showing a man tortured to death on a post could be so meaningful to believers. 














Essentially the idea is that Christ took our place on the cross. That is his death stands for our own. The cross of Christ makes possible the destruction of human guilt. 

Paul in his letter to followers of Christ in Rome said: 


Rembrant helps in Crucifixion
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ...

"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" 

When we contemplate the execution of the Son of God -- who was the eternal Word of God -- being nailed to death on a wooded post and cross bar the believer will say: "He took my place. Christ died in my stead."

In his painting of the crucifixion, Rembrandt put himself in the scene, helping to hand Jesus on the cross as a reminder that his sins caused the Lord's death. 



The imagery goes back to ancient times when the Jewish tribes practiced animal sacrificial rites. Moses taught that certain animals should be offered up to God in spiritual ceremonies. The Hebrew priests of Yahweh  would kill goats, bulls, calves or doves, burning the meat and using the blood in purification rituals. 

At the annual Day of Atonement the high priest would lay his hands on the heads to two goats, confessing over they the sins of the people that year. One of the goats would be killed, it's blood used in ritual. The other, known as the "scape goat" would be chased into the wilderness, banished from the people. 

Paul and other New Testament writers argued that the ancient sacrificial system pointed to the reality of the final sacrifice for sin in the crucifixion of Christ. 

Identifying guilt with the sacrificial animal -- then killing the animal -- could be explained as a form of symbolic projection that relieves a person by psychological catharsis. Aristotle believed that tragic plays in which heros died violent deaths had a healing affect on audiences. 

The bible seems to say that the death of Christ on the cross was something more than catharsis. It along with the resurrection opened up an new reality analogous to the big bang creation of the universe. Now all things are new. The old life is gone. Absolute meaning is now accessible. 


Remember the Triangle of Meaning. Words stand for things. Symbols represent referents. Just as the sacrificial animal killed in the days of Moses represented the killing of the offenses of the people, so Christ as the Word of God, the universal Logos (meaning behind the universe) has taken our place, blotting out our sin and killing our guilt. 



We could say that the gospel -- the "good news" about the work of Christ -- is the ultimate message, encompassing all other messages. 

All language is substitutionary. Symbols take the place of objects. Each symbol is "sacrificed" when it gives meaning to a referent in the sense that the word is now limited by the concept of the object (referent). 


The Word of God -- the person of Jesus Christ -- steps into our world to give us meaning, purifying us of sin and resolving our guilt. His death and resurrection gives us a new identity. We are free from the burden of past wrong doing. 



And amazingly, the cross of Christ has a forward in time effect. Not only are past offenses forgiven, but Christ has promised to save us from any future sin which we may commit.  This promise is called grace and reminds believers that our salvation is independent on our own ability to live a perfect life, but on the perfect work of Christ on the cross. 


This semiotic view of human salvation requires the work of Christ just as grammar is required to give meaning to language. He is the missing part that makes sense of our world. 


Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way: 

"I would urge you to give priority to your search for God. Allow his Spirit to permeate your being. Before the ship of your life reaches its last harbor, there will be long, drawn-out storms, howling and jostling winds and tempestuous seas that make the heart stand still.  If you do not have a deep and patient faith in God, you will be powerless to face the delays and vicissitudes that inevitably come. Without God life is like a meaningless drama in which the essential scenes are missing. But, with God we are able to rise from the nocturnal bosom of life's most depressing nights to find radiant stars of hope above. Saint Augustine was right: "You have made us for yourself, oh God, and our hearts are restless until we find our repose in you." 

( Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love, "Three dimensions of a complete life." 1968. )





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