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Showing posts from August, 2017

How to Believe (but not What to Believe)

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On the existence of God, it's likely I use the word God in a different way to how you understand it to mean. If you don't believe in God then I don't believe in the same God that you don't believe in. But I believe a conception of God is useful for describing an aspect of the human psyche, particularly an aspect of our common experience and shared reality.

I think it can be demonstrated that an idealised conception of universal life can be as real as it's possible for us to experience anything as being real. And I think it can be demonstrated that this is functionally utterly identical to it being completely true. We can't know ultimate truth, but the reality of universal goodness can be as real and true as it's possible for a thing to be. And if shared experience is possible then the shared experience of universal love can be real.

Furthermore, I understand how I believe and I believe I can explain it and I promise that it's safe. I don't care tha…

Knowledge, Suffering and an Ancient Apple

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One of the strangest myths of the bible, which also contains one of the most important secrets, is right at the start in the story of Adam and Eve. By the way, using words like myth and legend is not to make any commentary on their literal truth - it is to categorise the sort of story they are and therefore understand the sort of truth they can contain.

The interesting thing about the old testament is that it's presented as history, whilst also being a metaphor intended or understood to point to spiritual truths. We come as readers approximately three thousand years or so distant from the writing down of these stories, which themselves are much older living as an oral tradition before being codified in the Torah. The Torah was probably compiled by Ezra around the time of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem at the end of the Hebrew exile in Babylon and kick-starting the "second temple era" of Judaism into which Jesus was born. The books of the law would have been a…

Righteousness

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Righteousness does not come from following the law, because you can't. Instead love has fulfilled and perfected the law, and love is the law. And by grace, we can love. When we love we fulfil the law, and righteousness is made complete in us for love is perfect and without blemish.

For the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Against such, there is no law.

The spirit is the spirit of love, both the essence and the substance of love.
Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.Genesis 15:6 Abraham had faith and it was credited to him as righteousness. Grace is not given that we might follow the law, for we are no longer slaves to the law. Grace is given that we might love for when we love we fulfil the law. Righteousness, being made right, comes through grace as we are perfected by love.

What then is sin? Sin is the opposite of righteousness and since righte…

Descartes, Imagination and the Death of the Ego

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The essence of Descartes' second meditation and his famous conclusion Cogito Ergo Sum "I think therefore I am" is that you cannot prove to yourself that you are not actually insane in an asylum and hallucinating your whole life experience. The modern equivalent would be that you cannot prove you're not in fact a computer simulation switched on just a second ago, with all your memories pre-programmed.

You cannot conclusively prove that your memories, experiences and senses do not deceive you (and in fact your experience will be that they do at times deceive you). Therefore the only thing you can be truly certain of, to your core, is that something that you experience as self exists. Sometimes expressed as "there is thought, therefore there is a thinker". The only certainty is I Am.

Therefore, certainty cannot be the basis of our knowledge of other, and the ways of other. We just can't have it. If you think you are certain, then you are provably wrong. T…

Faith, Science and the Authority of Scripture

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We had a dear Christian friend for dinner on Monday and we got to talking about the role and authority of scripture.

His reasoning was (at least in part) that he trusts scripture because of who wrote it. He can look at all that Paul achieved and conclude that his words can be trusted for example. Now certainly we now think that Paul wrote less of the New Testament than previously thought. The two letters to Timothy for example, although attributed to Paul, are known to have been written by an "unknown" disciple of Paul's.

Paul was responsible, in large part, for the explosion of the early church and the spread of Christianity across much of the world. This is remarkable not least because he never met Christ, and as a Jewish teacher of the day he would have known the stories and known that Jesus died, but was still convinced enough to  dedicate his life to him. He was also an extremely authoritarian man and espoused views that even the most hardline of modern Charismatic…