Everything is a Miracle — reblogged — Part 1

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio. (from here)

We achieve faith in God only with difficulty. Some of us have parents who work energetically to instill such faith in us. Nevertheless, all of us have to learn God is real. All must learn He cares about us. All must decide to return God’s love or reject it. In Everything is a Miracleinsanitybytes22 replies to violetwisp .  calls herself an atheist.

Violet has a post up called “coincidence, tragedy, and other acts of God.” It is one of my favorite subjects because I am all about the synchronicity, the harmony, the sweet music that plays connecting random events together.

Science and math are especially good at showing us the true story of synchronicity, about the interconnectedness of the world around us. Often we will speak of eco- systems, the way each part plays a role and to remove even one piece changes the entire design. I remember a ridge of trees in Hawaii that were cut down on the rainy side of an island and it changed the clouds, altered the rain patterns, created a drought in that area which killed the native plants, which lead to a mudslide, just an astounding series of events that transformed a little piece of paradise into a pile of muck, all because a tree line was removed without a good understanding of the significance, the purpose it served. (continued here)

Interested in this subject, I commented, and  and rautakyy responded. Our discussion involved five issues.

 and I debated these issues.

  • Does the Bible promote slavery?
  • Does the Bible promote sexism?
  • Does the Bible promote animal abuse?
  • Does the Bible teach us to hate homosexuals?

 and I focused more on the subject of ‘s post. Is “it” coincidence or does God involve Himself in His creation?

 has a post which is peculiarly related to ‘s complaints.  In Values argues that our values are the result of processes.

Values are results of processes, not some fixed ideals, that could stand on their own just because a god said so, or because we chose them through equally arbitrary method and then mutually simply agreed upon them. But processes represent change and that alone seems overwhelmingly threatening to some people. As if some of us were so inherently fearfull of even a thought of a change. The question is for us to evaluate the processes and choose them according to best results. How then do we decide what is best, or even good? To put it as simply as I can, the method to choose what is good and valuable is, to choose the values, that under most objective scrutany give us the results for general human wellbeing only for the simple reason, that we making the choise are indeed humans. As chosen by the largest group of people with the best awailable information who would prefer the values and conditions resulting in them to themselves and equally to others. That is the value of democracy.

There is an element of truth in ‘s assertion, but, fundamentally, he misunderstands. Because God is eternal and unchanging, God has fixed ideals, but we change. Therefore, how we obey God’s command to love and obey Him change.

In His mercy, God adapted the Mosaic Code to the needs of the Jews, and He says as much.

Matthew 19:7-9 Good News Translation (GNT)

The Pharisees asked him, “Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away?”

Jesus answered, “Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation. I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman.”

Let’s use ‘s complaints as examples.

Does the Bible promote slavery?

In America we now find it relatively easy to survive. Hence, we can have a naive notion of the past. Thus, in the midst of an anti-technology rant, an otherwise serious blogger, culturemonk can say something like this.

The world used to be agrarian; prior to the Industrial Revolution, 97% of Americans were farmers. If the weather was bad one year, instead of being “unemployed”  you merely migrated to a different part of the country to hunt for food, fish, or gather berries. You see, prior to the Industrial Revolution, people lived off the land and provided for themselves…….there was no dependence on “the man” for a job. (from here)

Was that the nature of famine? Imagine life a couple thousand years ago.  No machines. You plowed your tiny plot with a stick. What if this year the rain either failed or drenched the land and rotted your harvest. What if some of your neighbors have better farmland? What if they are more skilled as farmers?

You see barns. You see your neighbors have managed to fill them, and you and your family are starving. What would you do? Would you simply take your family and venture into the wilderness. With an empty belly, would you just hope for the best?

In those days when the world was mostly agrarian, what kind of welfare program did most societies have? Was it slavery? Yes. When people could not find the resources they needed to survive, they offered themselves up to those more capable as slaves. Undoubtedly, some slaves were more trouble than their economic worth, and many slave masters abused their slaves. Nevertheless, those more capable were still expected to do what they could to help their neighbors, and that peculiar institution, slavery, provided them an incentive.

What does the Bible say about slavery? The Bible does not recommend slavery; it simply says that masters should treat their slaves as well as they can. God is more concerned by the fact that we enslave ourselves to sin than He is by the fact we enslave each other.

John 8:34 Good News Translation (GNT)

34 Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: everyone who sins is a slave of sin.

If we did not sin, would we enslave another person?

Does the Bible promote sexism?

God is not partial, but we are different, and He has fitted us to different tasks. That’s why the Bible teaches is that men and women are different. Therefore, while in this life men and women are better fitted to different roles. That makes it possible to take verses out of context and pretend the Bible supports sexism. Thus, when  neglected to quote the last passage in the verse in the passage below, that makes it sound like women do not have a critical role.

1 Timothy 2:12-15 Good News Translation (GNT)

12 I do not allow them to teach or to have authority over men; they must keep quiet. 13 For Adam was created first, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and broke God’s law. 15 But a woman will be saved through having children, if she perseveres in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

When the Bible tells about the kings of the northern and southern kingdoms of ancient Israel, in each instance the Bible tells us the name of his mother. Thus, the Bible credits his mother, the hand that rocked the cradle, with the good or the evil done by that king.

For now, we can only see each other from the perspective of this life. God has an eternal perspective. Thus, when the Sadducees asked about the next life, Jesus explained.

Luke 20:34-38 Good News Translation (GNT)

34 Jesus answered them, “The men and women of this age marry, 35 but the men and women who are worthy to rise from death and live in the age to come will not then marry. 36 They will be like angels and cannot die. They are the children of God, because they have risen from death. 37 And Moses clearly proves that the dead are raised to life. In the passage about the burning bush he speaks of the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is the God of the living, not of the dead, for to him all are alive.”

What is important to God? Is it the fact you are a man? Is it the fact you are a woman? Or is it the fact that you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?

To Be Continued (Next Saturday, hopefully)

The subjects will include:

6 thoughts on “Everything is a Miracle — reblogged — Part 1

  1. Thanks for the mention, Tom. Something that I think is pertinent to this discussion is the way people either romance our past or despise it. There is often a great deal of emotional bias in our perceptions of history.

    So CultureMonk is perceiving our agrarian roots rather romantically, we were free from “the man,” our destiny was in our own hands, everyone had access to the plentiful resources. He forgets the part where resources where not always plentiful and we often died of dysentery at the age of 40.

    Violet has an exceeding dislike for our past, she tends to perceive humankind as having progressed and evolved. So an idea like the kindness and mercy behind instructing people on a civilized and more humane approach to owning slaves, horrifies her. She forgets that in today’s world there are actually more slaves then at any other time in history and today’s slaves would probably give anything to be protected by those same biblical values that Violet sneers at. Have we actually “evolved and progressed” to become a more advanced and civilized people? I don’t know, I question that.

    Rautakyy seems to be fond our our utopian future, the day we toss aside all these problematic moral and religious over tones and simply design a world where morality is a subjective thing based on the desires of the majority and the common good. It never occurs to him that perhaps much of the values and morality of the past, indeed even the morality of God Himself, may have been designed with our best interests at heart, with the common good in mind. He is going to completely scrap tradition, seeing no value in the wisdom of human tradition, or in the wisdom of God’s design.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for an insightful comment.

      Admittedly, I have read only samples of his writing, but the Culture Monk seems a bit depressed here of late. I expect he needs our prayers. Nevertheless, he does romanticize the past.

      I am even less familiar with Violet’s and Rautakyy’s blogs. Therefore, I proceeded from a general observation. What do we Americans make of the past these days? I think too many Americans have been taught to be ashamed of our nation’s past. Our schools and the corporate mass media have taught us that the behavior of America’s European forebears dishonored us. With their Christianity they justified their bigotries, and they engaged in genocidal religious feuds. With an overbearing pride, America, that Frankenstein monster of free trade and technological innovation, exploited all the other people in the world, stealing the wealth of others so we could live in comfort. Even now we supposedly abuse our power and bully nations like Iraq and Iran and empower dictators all around the world.

      What is the result of such appalling ignorance (The vast majority study only secondary sources.)? Too many damn the past and the traditions that stem from our forebears. Like the French following their revolution, the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, we risk a reign of terror. Reason, especially when it is founded upon lies, is not enough. We must fear and love God and go to Him for guidance.

      Consider this example. Many of our people are pleased to see that America is assuming a darker complexion. Why do they feel that way? I think there is a lot of misplaced guilt there. What does how we look say about our values? We are tolerant? How well do Liberal Democrats tolerate disagreement with their values?

      As a practical matter, given how we are doing it, turning our nation brown is the height of irresponsibility and selfishness. To turn our nation brown, we have imported millions of poor and ignorant people so we can use them as unskilled laborers. For the sake of cheap labor, we are pricing our own children and low skilled workers out the the labor market, and we are Balkanizing our people into different language and cultural groups. The greater sin, however, is all the millions of abortions. What kind of sickness induces our leaders to fund abortion clinics and import, cheap, unskilled laborers?

      It seems that too many Americans hate their children. Look at what we are preparing to leave them.

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      1. I also follow Culture Monk, I decided to forgo any comment on his page, but I agree that his notion of a pre-Industrial Revolution nation or world for that matter is facile at best. Especially when debating the agrarian republic that Jefferson wished to create to allow land owners to be ‘disinterested’. However, what is the vital cog in this agrarian republic that allowed ‘disinterestedness’? The founding father’s adopted “republicanism …merely as a counterculture to monarchy.” (Wood, Gordon S. The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States, (New York: Penguin Group, 2012,) 62.)

        “The Ancient Romans, after all, had seen no inconsistency between their love of liberty and their practice of slavery;indeed, the labor of their slaves was what made their possible liberty.” (Wood, 68.)

        Of course, this is the same argument George Fitzhugh would make to support his vision of an agrarian republic in the south in 1854 asserting against ‘wage slavery,’ a product of the industrial revolution in the north, in his Sociology for the South, ” But this high civilization and domestic slavery did not merely co-exist, they were cause and effect. Every scholar whose mind is at all imbued with ancient history and literature, sees that Greece and Rome were indebted to this institution (slavery) alone for the taste, the leisure and the means to cultivate their heads and their hearts.” : Isaac Kramnick and Theodore J. Lowi, American Political Thought (New York: Norton, W.W. & Company, 2009) 631.)

        writes in his book Notes on the State of Virginia, “Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God…corruption of morals in the mass cultivators is phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example.” Jefferson misses any examples of immoral injustices because of his bias and financial necessity to the institution of slavery that is an ingrained cog to his agrarian republic. When he writes his opinion on those ‘who labour in the earth’ in the Notes of the State of Virginia its important to note that he’s speaking of the slave owners who, in fact, do no laboring at all. (Kramnick and Lowi, 347.)

        It certainly surprises me how much Culture Monk is romanticizing community in these past eras,saying, “The late 1800’s and early 1900’s in America was a time in which people spent massive doses of their life in community with each other; playing music, talking philosophy, and merely hanging out living life together was how people spent their free time when not working on the farm or the newly invented assembly lines and factories.” I would surmise it stems from something in his own life, because he can find that argument in George Fitzhugh’s work and I would imagine from his other writings he would be appalled at the similarities.

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        1. Thank you for an interesting comment.

          The Ancient Romans, after all, had seen no inconsistency between their love of liberty and their practice of slavery;indeed, the labor of their slaves was what made their possible liberty.

          I am certain they believed that. Of course, sin is a form of enslavement, the worst form.

          Much of what I suspect motivated Jefferson was his experiences in Europe. The large cities of the 18th century were dirty, ugly things. Consider just the technical problems. No municipal water or sewage systems. Air pollution from cooking and heating stoves fueled by coal and wood. Horses and people using the streets as their potty.

          Then add rampant social problems. Corrupt governments, masses of poorly educated people, crime, sexual immorality, alcoholism……. Coming from a sparsely populated and largely well-educated America, how long would it take for Thomas Jefferson to conclude that masses of people equals massive problems?

          What drives the Culture Monk to reach the conclusion he has reached? As I did with Jefferson, I can only guess. I just think cities exist for various reasons, and I believe we have the technology we have because earlier generations saw the need for it. Whereas the Romans achieved their liberty on the backs of slaves, we can use machines.

          We cannot simply wish either cities or technology away, and we cannot make either our cities or our technology work perfectly without any problems. All we can do is strive for optimal conditions. I think that involves limited government. If we give our government too much power, the power to create some kind of Utopia, our government will just become corrupt and create Hell on earth. Happens every time, and it is happening it now. However, if use our government just to stop those who abuse the rights of others, we have some chance of making things work. Perfectly? No, but that’s because we are not angels. We are just men and women trying to make a society work that none of us understand very well.

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