When we were children we were asked, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If we based our answer on the creation story in the Bible, we would answer, Chicken. But if we based our answer on our experience in raising chickens, our answer would be, Egg.
The same can be said of the answer to the question, Which came first, Religion or Spirituality?
In terms of our experience with religious books and discussions, religion came first. It is only now that more and more people are talking about spirituality and writing about it. In terms of the origin of the reality behind those words or in terms of the object of our understanding, spirituality came first. The spirit was there before there was any religion. God was there before there was anybody to worship him.
We can even say that spirituality is an offshoot of religion. For many centuries people professed religion. Some of them fiercely opposed religions other their own. Christians for many centuries opposed paganism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other religion. This has happened also with paganism, Islam, and the rest with respect to the other religions. They too opposed other religions.
But more and more people discover that mere religion cannot answer their deeper yearning for a better experience of life. So, they turned to something deeper and better than religion. They found this in spirituality.
Because spirituality in a sense is an offshoot of religion, there is bound to be some similarity between them, just like the similarity between the egg and the chicken.
First, both believe in a higher power of some kind. Religion believes in God the Father or Jesus, or Allah, or Brahman, or Tao. Spirituality believes also in this God or it may conceive of God as a universal or primal energy. Both believe that such being possesses power higher and greater than what we have.
Secondly, both religion and spirituality desire to have a relationship with this higher power. Although the nature of the relationship is different in religion than in spirituality, the desire for this relationship is there. Religion connects with this higher power with fear and trembling. Spirituality connects with this higher power with love and affection.
Thirdly, both religion and spirituality have rituals and practices which deepen one’s religiosity or spirituality. Religion usually has sacred rites or sacraments. Spirituality has meditation or yoga sessions.
Fourthly, both have respect for the sacred, the other worldly. This is not just respect for God. This is respect for the reality that is beyond our senses and reason. When religion pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes superstition. When spirituality pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes religious spirituality.
Fifthly, both have fear of failure. In religion this failure is punished by hell fire or repetition of existence or some other worse fate. In spirituality this failure is the inability to realize one’s true worth or value and the destiny of a life of meaninglessness. Hell, repetition of existence, non-existence, meaninglessness are forms of punishment for failure, either in religion or in spirituality.
Troubles may cause us to doubt in God. When everything goes well with you, you will keep on testing God as you have nothing to worry about. However, we get challenged to believe in God at one time when we face difficult situations which we do not know how to solve. There are a number of characters in the bible that doubt in God. The accounts of these Biblical characters who used to doubt in God were compiled in the bible as in the will of God for us to read because God wants us to know trust and not doubt in him (2 Timothy 3:16).
Job doubted in God's goodness when God possessed Satan permission to destroy his livestock, servants, children and finally his health. Job did not know that it was Satan who caused all these troubles to him. Satan challenged God when he asked him what he thought about his servant Job. Satan's excuse is that God had put a protection shield around him. In the second time Satan come before God, God asked him what he thinks about his servant Job again and Satan replied Job remains upright because he still has his health. Therefore, God let Satan destroy Job's health but he is not allowed to kill him.
Job felt as if God purposely stuck him with these calamities so that he will be a failure. Job did not agree with his friends' statement that God punished him with these calamities because he sin. Job wanted a fair trial in the court with God. He wanted God to tell him where he did wrong. In the end, God spoke to Job and rebuked him for questioning him. Job repented for questioning about God's goodness. God restored back to Job two times of the livestock he used to have and blessed him with another 10 children (The Book of Job).
Gideon doubted in God's ability to help him win the war against the Midianites so he prayed for God to give him proof. He prayed that God made the wool on the threshold floor wet but the ground dry. The next morning, Gideon found the wool wet but the ground dry. He wrung a bowlful of water from the wool. He prayed to God again. This time, he asked God to make the wool on the threshold floor dry but the ground wet. The next morning, Gideon found the wool dry but the ground wet.
God had the majority of Gideon's men sent home. Only 300 out of 22,000 of Gideon's men stayed to go into war against the Midianites. The 300 were the men who lapped the water while the rest knelt down to have a drink from the streams. God did this so that Gideon would not think that he gain victory over the Midianites with his own effort.
When God called Gideon to fight the Midianites, Gideon was afraid and God told him to go down to the Midianite camp with his servant Purah to hear what the soldier said. When Gideon and Purah arrived, it is just the time the Midianite soldier changed shift. One Midianite soldier said to another soldier that he dreamed of a loaf of barley bread that tumbles into the Midianite camp and hit the tent with such a force that it collapsed. The other soldier responded to his dream must mean that God has delivered the Midianites into the hands of Gideon. This gives Gideon more courage and he led his men to attack the Midianites. In the end, God gave Gideon a victory against the Midianites (Judges 6-8).
Barak doubted in God and would not go into war without Deborah accompanied him. Deborah warned him that the honor of killing Sisera will fall into a hand of a woman if she accompanies him but he did not care. Barak didought and defeated Sisera and his army. However, it was Jael, the wife of Heber who killed Sisera. It happened that Sisera came to Jael's tent while escaping from Barak. Sisera laid down in the tent and asked for something to drink. Jael cave has a skin of milk. Sisera drunk and fall sleep. Then, Barak hammered a tent peg into Sisera's skull (Judges 4-5).
Thomas was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. He doubted that Jesus had resurrected. He would not believe unless he saw the nail marks on Jesus' hands and put his finger where his nails were and thrust his hand into his side. After 8 days, Jesus appeared again with his disciples. This time, Thomas was with the disciples. Jesus let Thomas to put his finger on him, see his hands and put his hands on his side. Then, Thomas believed that Jesus Christ had really resurrected from the dead. However, Jesus said blessed are those who believe even when they have never seen him before (John 20: 24-29).
Everyone will face problems in life (John 16:33). You should pray and seek God's help when you have problems (Philippians 4: 6-7; 1 Peter 5: 7; Ephesians 6:18). You must not doubt in God's ability to help you solve your problem (Romans 14:23; James 1: 6-8; Genesis 3). After praying, You must not declare with a negative attitude that your problem will not be resolved. You must keep on thanking God in all circumstances until your problem is solved (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20).
The religion now known as ‘Modern Spiritualism’ officially and literally burst through to the world in the small village of Hydesville, New York, late in March of 1848. The phenomena that began when young sisters Maggie and Kate Fox reported ‘rappings’ on the walls of their home, has grown into a religion that currently, according to the International Spiritualist Federation, has both individual and group members in over 35 countries worldwide. The National Spiritualist Association of Churches, (NSAC) describes the religion on their website as follows, “Spiritualism is the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World. Spiritualism is founded upon a Declaration of Principles, nine in number, received from the Spirit World by means of mediumship. They provide a firm and tangible foundation on which to base the knowledge of Spiritualism.” Although not listed as one of the top ten religions of the world, there are many who have a belief in spirit communication, even though they are not a registered member of the Spiritualist religion. The number of believers, understandably because of the fraud found in this particular discipline, is difficult to ascertain.
Now back in 1848, and not twenty five miles away from the initial rappings heard in Hydesville, the feminist movement had their First Women’s Rights Convention at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York on July 19 and 20 – just a few short months after spirit began communicating with women in that same geographic area. From the handful of women who began to stand up for themselves, grew a cohesive network of individuals who were committed to changing society in the United States by demanding rights that were equal to those of their male counterparts in all areas. A group of strong and outspoken women who this paper will show, were regular attendees at séances given by the many mediums in the area, and were pivotal to the beginnings of a movement that ultimately led to a woman’s right to vote in this country.
Is it coincidental that these two major events in the history of the United States occurred at the very same time? Did women finally find their voices and the strength to use them only after counsel with spirit? Did the readings from the Fox sisters, and readings from other women who found that they also had mediumship qualities give the women of that era the strength to finally stand up for equality in that Victorian male dominated world? Although the women’s uprising in most circles is attributed to ‘Renegade Quakers’, a deeper look reveals that it was indeed spirit communication that played a key role in the unprecedented social change events taking place in the mid to late 1800’s in Upstate New York, and throughout the world.
The United States in the mid to late 1800’s was in cultural and spiritual upheaval after the Second Great Awakening in the early part of the century, which consisted of renewed personal salvation, and participation in revival meetings. The revivals were instituted by the various religious sects as the people had been questioning their interpretation of God for many years. Understandably, this was a time of abolitionists, suffragettes and radical religious groups. SkepticWiki which defines itself as “the encyclopedia of skepticism, science and reason” describes the era like this, “It was an environment in which many people felt that direct communication with God or angels was possible, and in which many people felt uncomfortable with notions that God would behave harshly – for example, that God would condemn un-baptized infants to an eternity in Hell.” Judith Wellman, when talking about the women’s movement in The Road to Seneca Falls (2004), portrays the time as follows, “In July 1848, revolution was in the air. As Americans confronted dramatic economic and social change, they had to redefine old values to meet the demands of a new world.” Society, especially in the United States, was definitely changing and changing rapidly. It was like the prelude to a big storm – you know something’s coming, but you’re not aware of how powerful it can be. Ann Braude says in Radical Spirits – Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth Century America (1989), “Spiritualism was a religious response to the crisis of faith experienced by many Americans at mid-century.” It seems clear to one looking back at those tumultuous times, the stage was certainly set for spirit to break through the veil between planes and be heard.
The events in Hydesville in 1848 are marked as the beginning of what is now known as Modern Spiritualism, however spirit communication has been present in various forms since before biblical times. Eastern religions that are thousands of years old have beliefs based in the fact that the soul exists long after the body has fulfilled its mission, and communicates back to the physical world. Even the Christian Bible makes reference to mediumship and spirit communication in many places. Todd Jay Leonard in Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship (2005) states, “The Bible, according to Spiritualists, has numerous examples of mediumship which they believe lend credibility to their movement.” He continues, “At the very least, however, enough references to mediumship-like occurrences are found in the Bible which certainly does, in part, offer the serious researcher and scholar points of reference to explore further.”
When speaking of Spiritualism in more modern times, Arthur Conan Doyle thoroughly describes in The History of Spiritualism (Echo Library 2006), how the Swedish seer Emanuel Swedenborg, the Scottish born Edwin Irving, and New York’s Andrew Jackson Davis communicated with spirit and had paranormal experiences before the rappings were heard by Kate and Maggie Fox in 1848. It was the Fox event however, and the brashness and shrewdness of Leah Fox Fish, Kate and Maggie’s older sister and manager that forced humankind to finally listen to what spirit had to say.
Margaret and Katherine Fox were fourteen and eleven respectively when they woke their humble Methodist parents because they were hearing noises in the walls of the small wooden shack they called home. The noises really shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise, since the rural house they had lived in for only a short twelve months was reportedly haunted and had been evacuated by the previous tenants. The noises and pounding went on for weeks, terrorizing the children and the family before young Kate challenged the rappings by asking the entity they called ‘Mr. Splitfoot’, since they believed the spirit to be that of the devil, to repeat the snap of her fingers. To everyone’s amazement each time eleven year old Kate would snap her finger, a single rap was immediately heard. If she snapped twice, two raps came back. Communication with the beyond was established at that moment! The ‘beyond’ happened to be the spirit of a peddler, Charles B. Rosna. Mr. Rosna, who was murdered on the premises and buried beneath the house, was the first of many spirit entities to quickly come through as it turned out. (As a side note, many years later human bones were found when the foundation of the house was being torn up, collaborating the girls’ story). Neighbors began to rush from all around the area to the small wooden house, and after days of communication, someone suggested a code in order to get questions answered. Now they had language with which to really communicate and ask questions. Maggie and Katie Fox became the initial spokespersons for the spirit world, and with their sister Leah leading the way, brought their first messages to the world at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York.
There is little information regarding the content of the messages received by those attending the numerous séances that where held in Upstate New York in the months following the first communication from spirit. While the young girls broadened the scope of their travels to far away places, and news of this uncanny communication ability spread, increasing numbers of women were finding that they too could receive messages from the spirit realm. Arthur Conan Doyle states, “In one of the early communications the Fox sisters were assured that ‘these manifestations would note be confined to them, but would go all over the world.’ This prophecy was soon in a fair way to be fulfilled, for these new powers and further developments of them, which included the discerning and hearing of spirits and the movement of objects without contact, appeared in many circles which were independent of the Fox family.” He continues, “In an incredibly short space of time the movement, with many eccentricities and phases of fanaticism, had swept over the Northern and Eastern States of the Union.” The phenomena indeed was becoming quite widespread.
At that time, abolitionists who were Quakers were having a difficult time with their faith, as it supported slavery. Many left the Quakers and formed a group that they called the ‘Congregational Friends’. Wikipedia corroborates the connection between Spiritualism and the women’s movement with the following entry, “Amy and Isaac Post, Hicksite Quakers from Rochester, New York, had long been acquainted with the Fox family, and took the two girls into their home in the late spring of 1848. Immediately convinced of the genuineness of the sisters’ communications, they became early converts and introduced them to their circle of radical Quaker friends.”
Trish Wilson writes on the website, Feminista: The Journal of Feminist Construction, “Women and children of the Victorian era were considered the legal chattel of fathers and husbands. Spiritualism provided them with a means of obtaining their own power and financial security.” In a similar vein, Ann Braude tells us in Radical Spirits – Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (2001), “What distinguished spirit mediums from other religious women who rose to public roles at certain moments of enthusiasm within their religious communions was their commitment to women’s rights.” Braude also states, “At a time when no churches ordained women and many forbade them to speak aloud in church, Spiritualist women had equal authority, equal opportunities, and equal numbers in religious leadership. While most religious groups viewed the existing order of gender, race and class relations as ordained by God, ardent Spiritualists appeared not only in the women’s rights movement, but throughout the most radical reform movements in the nineteenth century.”
In Other Powers-The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (1998), Barbara Goldsmith writes, “By the 1850s, a group of female trance speakers were among the first women permitted to speak in ‘promiscuous assemblies,’ which meant gatherings of both sexes. Speaking with the authority of the spirits but without personal responsibility for what they said, these women could not be censored for their statements. Since the spirits were guiding them, they had courage, for they spoke the truths of a greater power. Women, no matter how ill-educated, could now transmit the wisdom of spirits as diverse as Socrates and Benjamin Franklin: Not surprisingly, the rights of women were very much on the minds of these great thinkers.” Robert Egby, in an article found on his online Parapsychic Journal entitled, ‘The Footsteps of the Foxes’, states the following, “The events at the Corinthian Hall promoted the cause of Spiritualism and clairvoyants and mediums who had been quietly working in private came out into the open adding to the growing power of this fledgling religion — Modern Spiritualism.” And as spirit continued to speak, women began to speak as well. They learned to trust their own feelings, and stand up for the equality that they felt was their right.
When talking about the Women’s Movement, Todd Jay Leonard in Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship (2005) says, “From the very beginning of the movement, Spiritualism has served to empower women to be independent and has given them a platform in which to pursue a professional life as clergy, mediums, and businesswomen. The movement has always treated women equally, and many Spiritualism women were instrumental in demonstrating to get the right to vote for women during the Suffrage Movements in the United States.” Nancy Rubin Stuart tells us in The Reluctant Spiritualist – The Life of Maggie Fox (2005), “Several Quaker abolitionists had gathered first at the home of Jane and Richard Hunt and than at the M’Clintock’s fine brick house in Waterloo. The organizers, who included Mary Ann McClintock, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Matilda Wright, formalized their ideas for women’s suffrage around the mahogany parlor table where the raps would later reportedly be heard.” She continues, “The subsequent meeting at the Seneca Falls Universalist Wesleyan Church on July 19-20 would ignite the women’s suffrage movement, setting the stage for a seventy-two year battle that resulted in the 1920 passage of the Twenty-First Amendment. Among the hundred men and women who ultimately supported its resolutions, some were already sympathetic to Spiritualism – Amy Post, Sarah Post Hallowell, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock, and Sarah Burtis.” The name that is most associated with regards to the women’s movement in later years is of course Susan B. Anthony. Although not a Spiritualist herself, she was a close friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton for years, and was a frequent speaker at women’s conventions in LilyDale, New York, a Spiritualist community founded in 1879.
Additional confirmation of how spirituality and spirit communication played a large part in the women’s movement is found in Judith Wellman’s The Road from Seneca Falls (2004). She writes, “In their search for wholeness, the M’Clintocks and several other Congregational Friends went beyond worldly concerns. In the new spiritualist movement, they explored the permeability of boundaries between life and death. As early as 1841, they had experimented with ‘animal magnetism,’ a kind of clairvoyance which transported them to other places within this world. Now impressed by the rappings heard by the Fox sisters outside Rochester, New York, they began to hold regular séances in their home. Other women’s rights supporters, especially among the Quakers, also joined this movement. Isaac Post, Amy Post’s husband, collected testimonials from people who had attended the Fox sisters’ séances and concluded that, indeed, the rappings they heard came form the spirit world. By 1851, Isaac Post himself had become a medium.”
Interestingly enough, information on the Women’s Rights National Park website makes no reference to Spiritualism or spirit communication, although many of the names listed on the site as leaders and visionaries in both the women’s movement and the anti-slavery movement in that time were regular attendees at séances, if not mediums themselves.
Unfortunately, the dark shadows that were cast upon Spiritualism at that time, and even in current times, are more than likely the reason. We do know that Kate and Maggie Fox were interrogated and tested over and over again to prove the legitimacy of their supposed communications with spirit. From their first public demonstration in Corinthian Hall in Rochester, the two young girls – led by their older sister Leah, were continually sought after for readings and at the same time harassed and tested relentlessly by those who believed they were frauds. And the public had good reason to worry! The greedy and less than honorable of the people of the time saw an easy way to prey on those who had recently lost a loved one and wanted to believe in proof of the afterlife.
In later years, Maggie, after living an adult life plagued with alcoholism and harassment, told the world that the rappings heard in Hydesville when she was just a child were all a charade cooked up by her sisters and herself. She later recanted her admission of fraudulent behavior, but the damage had already been done. It all started out with disagreement among the sisters after alcohol abuse had become a part of their lives some thirty years after the initial spirit communications from Mr. ‘Splitfoot’. The atmosphere during those years of turmoil where blame-casting and revenge, and a break in the family finally ensued. Much like any family quarrel, each of the women wanted only peace for herself. Arthur Conan Doyle states when referring to how the women behaved throughout the more difficult times, “Let it then be clearly stated that there is no more connection between physical mediumship and morality than there is between a refined ear for music and morality. Both are purely physical gifts.” What Doyle meant I believe was that the women’s public embarrassments had nothing to do with their ability to transmit spirit communication.
Regardless, even though Spiritualism claimed to have two million followers by the late 1800’s, it was condemned by leaders of organized religions, and there were attempts to get laws passed to prevent mediums from practicing. Todd Jay Leonard in Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship (2005) writes about the troubles encountered, “Many mediums were ostracized by family and friends, mainly because of the religious ban. Starting in the late 1850’s in Great Britain, and in the 1880’s in America, investigators began looking into and exposing the many fraudulent mediumship schemes that were operating in both countries, further sullying Spiritualism’s image.”
It’s understandable that historians wanted to keep any connection to spirit communication limited or completely out of our history books and classrooms. Most always the strange happenings occurring during that time in our history were attributed to the craziness and religious frenzy of the era, or just plain fraudulent behaviors and fame seekers. It is truly unfortunate however, that spirit isn’t given more credit for having had such an integral role when making these great strides in equality for humanity. Strides not only based on gender, but on race and creed as well.
We’ll never really know what went on inside those dark séance rooms in Upstate New York in the mid 1800’s. Were the attendees only asking to communicate with loved ones who had passed to the other side, or were they asking for advice from powers that they realized were greater than themselves? Were they made aware of ‘who they really are’ and given the confidence to move forward? Were those Victorian women led by the spirits of women who had gone before them and wanted to share their own voice as well? We really don’t know.
But, we do know that Amy and Isaac Post, strong in the anti-slavery movement with a busy house on the Underground Railroad, and signers of the Declaration of Sentiments in Seneca Falls, were close friends of the Fox family, and brought the girls to their home regularly. We also know that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a strong voice in the movement, a regular at séances, and a good friend of Susan B. Anthony, one of the most prominent leaders of the women’s movement. And we know that the M’Clintocks, also very active in both the women’s as well as the anti-slavery movement were many times found around a table in a darkened room waiting for spirit to speak. Putting all of the pieces together certainly suggests that spirit and Spiritualism, although not totally responsible, can be touted as a considerable catalyst in the movement that gave women the right to vote in this country.
And where are Spiritualism and Feminism now? Some religious scholars believe that a Fifth Great Awakening, (the Third and Fourth happening in the 1880’s – 1900 and 1960’s – 1970 respectively) is imminent in the foreseeable future, as these periods of heightened spiritual activity are typically seen during times of social unrest and confusion. There is a growing list of events occurring simultaneously at this time in our history, all of which unfortunately are too extensive to be covered fully here. However, they include, but certainly are not limited to, the ongoing translations and interpretations of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the middle of the 1900’s; the uncertain role of Mary Magdalene in Christian history – and Christian history itself – based on recently uncovered gospels; the massive changes to our planetary environment through global warming and the depletion of its resources; the discovery by Quantum Physicists that there is indeed an unseen controlling force at the very core of our being; and the predictions of the changes to come in 2012 by the ancient Mayans. Without a doubt, the time is definitely ripe for an Awakening. And, interestingly enough, as we move into 2009 we’ve already had a female candidate for the office of Commander in Chief of these United States. The women who fought hard and long for their equal rights in 1848 must be so very proud. Who do you think will hear their rappings this time?
Radio host and Christian Apologist Bob Dutko has given ten proofs for God’s existence, which is five more than professional philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig gave!
But to illustrate where Dutko resides, and it can’t be on Planet Earth, Dutko not only believes that Christianity is the “Only True Religion” and therefore religions like Islam, Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are false religions; but is anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality; believes life just cannot spring from a state of non-life; that biological evolution is impossible and that – wait for it – dinosaurs co-existed with humans and were present and accounted for on Noah’s Ark! What’s disturbing is that lots of people take him seriously.
So here are Dutko’s ten arguments for God and my rebuttal to them.
One: The First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy Can Neither Be Created or Destroyed
Since energy, hence also matter, can neither be created nor destroyed, how did the Universe come into existence? Since the Universe had a beginning, matter / energy had to have been created out of nothing, in violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics. The only possible agency that could do that would have to be God since either God created the Universe out of nothing or else the Universe created itself and of course something cannot create its own existence* so therefore God did it. Alas for that scenario, there is a third option. If matter / energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then matter / energy has always existed and thus there was a before the (our) Universe which we can call the wider Cosmos. If the Cosmos has always existed – of which our Universe is now currently a part of – then quite obviously there is no need for a creator God.
There’s also another line of reasoning why Dutko’s scenario is totally absurd. Dutko insists that since God created the laws, relationships and principles of physics – like the First Law of Thermodynamics – God can break His created laws, relationships and principles of physics and thus God can break the First Law of Thermodynamics and create something (i.e. – the Universe) out of absolute nothing. Take that sort of logic to its ultimate conclusion. If God can break the very physical laws that he created (i.e. – God can create something from nothing) then God can break the very framework of logic that He must have also created. Thus, it is logical that God can create a square circle!
*Since God Himself could not create Himself therefore God has had an infinite existence. But if that’s the case, why not just postulate that the Cosmos** has had an infinite existence and avoid the unnecessary causal step.
**The Cosmos has always existed even though our Universe had a finite beginning within that larger context, in the same way that you had a beginning albeit in the larger context of an overall human population that preceded you. The Universe was born of the Cosmos just like you were born from that wider reality which preceded you.
Two: The Second Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy: Order Into Chaos
If, in order to circumnavigate the First Law of Thermodynamics, one postulates a Universe which has always existed, well Dutko has an answer for that – the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Given the concept of entropy* – order into chaos as time goes by – an infinitely old Universe should be in a state of maximum chaos or maximum entropy and clearly this is not the case. Why? You guessed it – God!
As time proceeds from past to present to future, the overall order within the Universe should decrease and chaos should increase. The Universe should get messier as time goes by, much like a teenager’s bedroom. However, the Universe appears to be well ordered. Why? God done it and continues to do it.
Alas for Mr. Dutko, there are lots and lots of loopholes here which eliminate God from the Big Picture. Although pure probability demands that entropy or disorder increases over time, there is no requirement that pockets of order couldn’t arise just by pure statistical chance. Shuffle a deck of cards enough times and now and again you’ll randomly get a pocket of order, like all four Aces cheek-by-jowl. Further, there are three principles which acts against entropy. The first is gravity which pulls things together and this results in increasing order. The second is temperature. Heat tends to make matter more disorderly; cold operates in the reverse. So, steam is more disordered than water and water is in a state of greater disorder than that of ice. The Universe keeps getting colder as it expands. The Universe started off really hot, but then things cooled down and gravity did its thing. Finally, chemistry can operate against increasing disorder since various chemicals have greater affinity for some chemicals than for other chemicals. A uniform mixture of hydrogen and oxygen atoms is at maximum entropy, but that mixture can defy entropy and chemically combine. A uniform state of water molecules is more ordered than the uniform state of the mix of individual hydrogen and oxygen atoms, and when that uniform state of water molecules cools, order increases and entropy doesn’t increase. We don’t need God to explain the state of relative order and disorder in the Universe.
What Dutko is getting confused here is that he is assuming for the sake of his argument that the (our) Universe is finite and infinitely old and is the be-all-and-end-all of stuff. If that were the case then entropy would be at a maximum (although probability would still dictate random pockets of lower entropy here and there) which again is clearly not the case as Dutko points out. So our Universe can’t be infinitely old despite the First Law of Thermodynamics and therefore it had a beginning and therefore God did it.
However, IMHO, our Universe is just a part of the infinitely larger Cosmos in which occur lots of Big Crunches and lots of Big Bangs, the transition of one into the other restores that part of the Cosmos back to factory settings, like low entropy. But can Big Crunches and resulting Big Bangs go on forever? Yes. You see Dutko is forgetting about the power of gravity to influence and disrupt any uniformly even distribution of stuff (the state of maximum entropy). Even in an infinite Cosmos at maximum entropy, gravity would still operate drawing together clumps of matter eventually resulting in a localised Big Crunch with an immediate phase transition into a Big Bang and a resurrection back to a state of low entropy in that particular region of the infinite Cosmos. No need for God.
*A state of maximum entropy basically is a uniform distribution of matter in random motion and thus at an overall average temperature consistent with that overall random motion. If you put a hot water bottle into a cold closed box, heat will leak from the bottle and transfer its energy to the air molecules in the box thus speeding up the average motion of those molecules. The water molecules in the hot water bottle cool down and thus slow down. At maximum entropy the motion (temperature) inside the water bottle equals the motion (temperature) inside the rest of the entire box. Now some things are not subject to entropy. These are gravity, magnetism, electric charge, spin and related. These characteristics do not disperse equally throughout the box but remain concentrated in whatever source has been placed in the box – like a magnet. Further, they will remain concentrated within their source for all eternity. They are the gifts that keep on giving, and giving and giving.
Three: The Origin of Life: Life Cannot Come from Non-Life
As to the origin of life, that’s a transition – life from non-life – that is still unexplained. But something currently unexplained doesn’t of necessity translate into forever and ever unexplained. The history of science is full of multi-thousands of events once unexplained that are now taught as fully explained to even elementary children.
Once upon a time it was established ‘fact’ that you couldn’t generate organic compounds from inorganic compounds. Then urea was synthesised. Highly complex organic chemistry, chemistry part and parcel of the life processes, has now been routinely synthesised under what we believe were natural conditions. There is no biochemical or organic chemical contained within living systems whose chemical pathway cannot be traced back to the foundations and fundamentals of inorganic chemistry. Against all expectations, highly complex organic molecules have been discovered in interstellar space.
If you take the vast amount of real estate that the cosmos presents itself has having, coupled with those most abundant of elements in the cosmos, elements that just happen to form the backbone of life (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen), coupled with billions upon billions of years for reactions to happen in, coupled with the concept of panspermia, well I believe a natural explanation for the origin of life is way more a realistic explanation than a theological one. Just saying “God did it” is just too easy an answer, and an answer that in and of itself hasn’t been demonstrated as established fact. That God created life is as much a theory or a hypothesis as is abiogenesis, only the latter is subject to scientific investigation / experimentation. The God hypothesis is not falsifiable.
We may not have THE answer to the origin of life in our lifetime, but perhaps in a 100 years, 1000 years, any school kid might be able to create life in a test-tube as part of their biology class. Once the answer is actually known, it will probably seem obvious.
Four: Alternatives to God and the Burden of Proof: Explaining Life, the Universe and Everything
Two points here. Firstly, there are thousands of other religions, theologies and deities that all manner of societies and cultures have envisioned as explaining life, the Universe and everything. Collectively, that’s one heck of a lot of alternatives. God is actually quite a late-comer and so you’ll find God towards the back of the explanatory line.
Further, science itself has done a marvellous job of coming to terms with explaining life, the Universe and everything especially considering how young the field of what we would term ‘modern’ science actually is. Now that’s not to say there are not unknowns yet to be explained and competing ideas in some areas yet to be resolved, but then too Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As to the burden of proof, the proof of any pudding lies with the person or agency or institution that claims something is so, as in God exists. There is no burden of proof on anyone claiming that something is not so. In fact it is impossible to prove the negative. So the burden of proof that God exists lies with Bob Dutko, and from his ten examples of ‘proof’ given here, he fails miserably.
Five: Logic, Commonsense & Reasoning: Intelligent Design vs. Natural Selection
How do you explain the Egyptian Sphinx; art works like paintings; and mechanical things like alarm clocks? It’s obvious according to Dutko that these are works of an Intelligent Designer, and this is entirely true. The trouble for Dutko is that these examples of his are not living things and therefore not subject to the laws, principles and relationships that have influence over living things. It’s a fallacy to compare chalk with cheese.
Biological evolution by natural selection / survival of the fittest has been amply demonstrated. Laboratory work, especially with fruit flies has amply demonstrated the concept of biological evolution via genetic mutations – in this case usually induced. As another obvious example, consider the natural selection for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and DDT resistant bugs. Evolution by unnatural selection can be speeded up drastically. The unnatural element is the human species who have drastically altered your basic species and created multi-dozens of unnatural varieties of same. Consider all the breeds of cats, dogs, horses, cattle, goldfish, roses, corn, and wheat – and on and on it goes. Mother Nature could have done the exact same albeit taking a lot longer to accomplish it. If you can change the basic nature of a species, like creating breeds within that species, that’s evolution.
Natural evolution is amply demonstrated in the fossil record. Consider the evolution of the horse (before human domestication and artificial selection). The gradual changes in size and other features (like toes) is extremely clear from the fossil record.
To make a very, very, very long story shorter, natural biological evolution is supported by the fossil record, by direct observation by the membership of the human species, and by known genetic mechanisms, all of which are in place to account for biological evolution by natural selection. As for Intelligent Design, you can go no further than the human being and human physiology itself to disprove Intelligent Design. For example (one of many), our red blood cells have a far greater affinity for carbon monoxide than for oxygen – a super, ultra, major screw-up if God did it. And if God doesn’t like foreskins, why create foreskins in the first place?
As for dinosaurs co-existing with humans (excluding their descendants, the birds) then young earth creationists need to document or provide or find a T-Rex skeleton that contains the eaten and well chomped-up remains of a human corpse inside. We’re not talking “The Flintstones” here.
There is by the way an excellent series of YouTube videos by Aron Ra explaining biological evolution by natural selection, or, of course, you could read relevant books by Richard Dawkins.
Six: The Origin of Life: A Mathematical Impossibility
As long as something is a mathematical possibility, however remote, there can be no such thing as that something being a mathematical impossibility, only a mathematical improbability. So, for example, if you shuffle and deal from a standard deck of cards, sooner or later you WILL deal out in one go a Royal Flush. If you live long enough, sooner or later you can toss a fair coin 1000 times and get 1000 heads up. Consider the quantum mantra – whatever can happen, will happen, given enough time.
When it comes to the origin of life, given the vast amount of cosmic real estate; the natural abundance of elements that life (as we know it) is made up of which mirrors the relative cosmic abundances (i.e. – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen); the chemical reactions inherent in those elements; and billions upon billions of years of time for chemistry to do it’s chemistry thing – well whatever can happen (and life obviously can happen) will happen, given those four essentials – real estate; abundant elements; chemistry; time.
Seven: Science Confirms the Bible
Is the Bible compatible with science? Is science compatible with Biblical events? Nearly all professional scientists would take issue with the following Biblical tall tales.
What would a mathematician make of the data given in 1 Kings 7: 23? She’d calculate Pi as being equal to exactly three – no more and no less. Clearly the writers of 1 Kings failed Mathematics 101 (and God did a very poor job of proof-reading His own holy book).
Any astronomer worthy of the name would just have to barf at the notion that Planet Earth was created before the stars, or that stars could fall to Earth, or especially that the Sun and Moon actually stood still in the heavens.
And a physicist would have to throw up their hands in horror at the notion that any person could actually walk on water or that there could be a burning bush that wasn’t consumed or that you can create something from nothing (i.e. – that multiplication of those loaves / fishes).
Chemists will dispute that water could be turned into wine or that the human body can be turned into a pillar of salt.
Any meteorologist worth their salt would tell you that it couldn’t rain for 40 days and nights over the entirety of Planet Earth nor could just pure wind actually part the Red (or Reed) Sea.
A geologist would baulk at the idea that there actually was a global flood since there’s no evidence of any such an event.
Here’s one for the geographer. According to 1 Samuel 2: 8, the Earth is standing on pillars (not ‘floating’ in space), pillars created by God. I’m surprised that these pillars aren’t standing in turn on the backs of turtles; and that from there on down it’s literally turtles all the way down.
Any biochemist would dispute that a human male (Adam) could be created from just dust (and there is no such thing as the breath-of-life, something quite different in meaning as related in the Bible from what we’d call standard mouth-to-mouth resuscitation).
Any geneticist would take issue that a human female (Eve) could be created from a male rib. Eve’s genetic inheritance, solely via Adam’s rib, would have ensured she was a male. Jesus in turn would of have to have been a female getting ‘his’ sole genetics from his ‘virgin’ mother.
Zoologists would have a field day debating with True Believers the actual existence of a talking snake and a talking donkey as well as the existence of unicorns.
And what would a botanist make of talking trees and fig trees and bushes and brambles and vines (Judges 9: 8-15)!
Biologists are ROTFLTAO over any notion that a human (Jonah) could survive inside a ‘whale’ for three days or that spears / shafts turned into serpents / snakes. And what does the length of human hair really have to do with human strength?
Any medical doctor can tell you that you can technically perform a resurrection on someone technically dead for some rather short period after their technical death but the resurrection of Jesus falls way, way outside of those parameters, not to mention the lack of advanced medical technology that was available 2000 years ago.
Medical doctors will also take issue with the ‘fact’ that Biblical characters could live for over 900 years and that there was a virgin birth and that Sarah got in a family way at the age of 90 and that disease is caused by demonic or otherwise evil spirits.
Lastly, most historians / archaeologists would take issue with the historical / archaeological accuracy of nearly all of the major Biblical events related in the Old and New Testaments, like the Battle of Jericho or The Flood or the Exodus or the alleged events at Sodom and Gomorrah since no one can actually find Sodom and Gomorrah.
Eight: Non-Physical Human Characteristics
How can one explain those immaterial aspects of the human being without resorting to God? Dutko notes things like our immaterial emotions: love, hate, jealousy, premeditation, pride and on and on it goes. Collectively we can call all of this just the “mind”. Is the mind really immaterial? So where do all of the apparently immaterial parts of you – your mind – come from? It’s back to the something (your material body, brain and biochemistry) from nothing (your immaterial mind, spirit, soul, essence, psyche, personality, whatever) or rather more correctly in this case nothing originating from something on the grounds that you were a something before you had any immaterial mind, essence, personality, etc.
So again the paradox of the material something generating and influencing the immaterial nothing (and vice versa) can only be resolved by invoking the supernaturalism’s Top Dog – God done it and does it and continues to do it. But is there really a paradox that requires a “God done it”? The easiest and probably most correct answer or solution is that the material (body, brain and biochemistry) holds sway over the material (essence, personality, psyche, etc.) and vice versa (as in the Placebo Effect, etc.). So all of those supposed / alleged immaterial bits and pieces of you are actually rooted in your own body chemistry, your brain chemistry and your overall biochemistry, up through and including your cells, tissues, organs, physiological systems, etc. but especially centred in that brain thingy of yours – contrary to often popular opinion, the heart has nothing to do with romantic love.
The evidence that the mind / body – brain interface is just a material interface on both sides of the equation (often noted as the mind-body problem or dualism) is that material things like drugs and disease and injury can and do have a profound effect on your essence or collectively your mind and vice versa (having already noted the Placebo Effect). Or perhaps thinking ‘immaterial’ erotic thoughts that can produce notable material physiological reactions.
Sorry Mr. Dutko, there’s no requirement for God here.
Nine: The Existence of the Supernatural: Defying the Laws, Principles and Relationships of Physics
Regarding supernatural phenomena, assuming such manifestations are really real and not just all hoaxes, illusions and delusions, then all of those various supernatural are just bits and pieces of the natural world, Mother Nature’s world, not yet adequately explained by science. When science does come to terms with those supernatural bits and pieces, those bits and pieces jut become the natural; they join Mother Nature’s realm. There is a very, very long history illustrating this – comets, ball lightning and even normal lightning, the aurora, shooting ‘stars’, earthquake lights and how some animals can see in the dark (like bats and snakes) are all cases in point of the ‘supernatural’ morphing into the natural realm.
Further, if there really is a supernatural separate and apart from the natural, that does not automatically translate into proof of the Christian God. The Bible may be full of supernatural miracles but they can hardly be put under the microscope at this late date. What’s God done for an encore in more recent times? In any event, the ancient Greek world of the Olympian gods and goddesses was a supernatural world; ditto that of the ancient Egyptian pantheon; ditto the worlds of the ancient Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, and the North American Indians. Even E.T. qualifies on the grounds of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law – any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic to those not in possession of or in the understanding of such technologies.
So the supernatural has no be-all-and-end-all bearing on the existence of God or even qualifies as evidence for the existence of God.
Ten: The Life, Miracles and Resurrection of Jesus
Not all Biblical and ancient Near / Mid East historical scholars agree that Jesus even existed far less was divine. That alone given the thumbs’ down to Jesus as proof of God’s existence. There just isn’t any independent historical or archaeological evidence for the actual existence of Jesus outside of the New Testament. Outside of the New Testament, everything about Jesus is “alleged” as in this location is “alleged” to be his birthplace and this location is “alleged” to be his tomb. Should Jesus be just a fictional character, well humans have invented literally millions of fictionalised literary characters. Lacking independent evidence, why shouldn’t Jesus be treated as such? But if you believe in the actual existence of Jesus, why not also believe in the actual existence of Hercules? Hercules was also a man born of divine stock (i.e. – fathered by Zeus). Hercules performed numerous heroic and often seemingly impossible deeds, so much so that his success might even be termed miraculous. Finally, Hercules was murdered, but who then was resurrected from the dead to be at home with the gods. You say there is no independent evidence for Hercules. Well that equally applies to Jesus too.
In the final analysis, why postulate and assume here the Christian God? Why not one of the multi-dozens of other supernatural and creator deities that humans have worshipped over the aeons. Postulating the Christian God is just leaping to a conclusion without any reason to do so vis-a-vis all of those other options, one of which is of course, no deity at all.
Many people say that Jesus Christ was both God and man when he lived on this earth. In this way they hope to avoid controversy. Entire denominations feel safe embracing this doctrine and in taking this stand. The question is- can it be both ways? The scriptures say no, and anyone taking such a stand must either avoid, or eliminate all the scriptures in the Bible that say otherwise. Additionally, such a doctrine robs mankind from understanding the love and richness of God’s grace to mankind.
It is absolutely true, and without any scriptural contradiction, that before Jesus was born and after he was resurrected he was and is now, wholly God. He was identified by the Hebrews, as Jehovah, Lord God. The first chapter in the book of John flatly states that he was with God in the beginning, and was God, and everything that has been made was made by him. He left his home and the glory he had in heaven to humble himself and become a man. He tells us, in the first chapter of the book of Revelation that he is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the Lord which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. In verse 18 he tells us, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.”
From the foundation of the world it was written that Jesus would come into the world at a predetermined time to do the will of his Father. In Hebrews 10:5-7 Amp, we are told that when the time came for Jesus to enter the world he declared to the Father, “Behold, here I am, coming to do your will, O God–(to fulfill) what is written of Me in the volume of the Book.” Jesus was born into this world by his mother Mary, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
The question then is this: If God was his Father, and Mary was his mother, was it God’s plan for him to live as both God and man, or was it the plan of God from the foundation of the world for him to live as man only? Jesus Christ lived on this earth only a short thirty plus years, a very short period of time. Yet the Bible tells us a lot about his birth, life, death, and resurrection from the dead, all according to the plan of God.
In the second chapter of the book of Hebrews, we are told that when Jesus was born, he did not take on the nature of angels but instead took the human seed of Abraham, that he might be made like his brethren, and that he might be tempted as all men so that he would understand the temptations of mankind.
Let us examine how he could be born from the seed of man and yet from a virgin who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God, and not by a man. It might help us to understand that the first man, Adam, was made by God without a human father, and the first woman, Eve, was also made by God without a human father. Beyond this, it was prophesied three times that Jesus would be born of the seed of mankind. Genesis 3:15 says the promised Messiah would come from the seed of the woman. In Genesis 12 we are told that the Messiah would come through the seed of Abraham, (confirmed also in Galatians 3:16). Then we are told in Acts 2:30-31, Psalm 132:11, and Romans 1:3, that he would come from the fruit of the loins of King David. These are confirmed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ given Matthew 1:1 and are also found in Luke, chapter three. Most Bible scholars believe that the genealogy given in the book of Luke refers of Mary’s genealogy.
The Temptations of Jesus Christ
Was Jesus tempted as wholly God, wholly man, or both? The Bible gives us clear and direct answers to this question. We are told in Hebrews 2: 17-18 that he had to be made like his brethren in every respect so that he could be sympathetic to mankind’s temptations in order to intercede as a High Priest before God. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. If Jesus lived as wholly God or even as both God and man, could he have been tempted like this? The Bible says no! James 1:13 tells us that God cannot be tempted by evil.
If Jesus then, existed as wholly man, how could he not sin? This answer can be found in the name given to him as a man–Jesus Christ. Christ means “anointed”. The name, then, is Jesus the anointed, because he was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and lived his life filled with the Holy Spirit, connected with God through his continuous prayers. Romans 8:3-4 tells us that the power to overcome sin is in the Holy Spirit. All through his life God was in the man Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus was in God through the same Holy Spirit.
Jesus, as man, overcame sin and told us that we also could overcome sin in the same way. In chapter seventeen of the book of John, before he departed this earth, Jesus lifted up his eyes in prayer to his Father, and prayed for those that might believe, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.”
God’s plan, from the foundation of the world, as found in Romans 8:29, is that through the short life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, we might have the hope of being molded into his image and likeness, and that Jesus might be the first-born of many brethren. I believe it would it be proper to paraphrase John 3:6, and say this about Jesus: He, who was born of the Spirit, was born of the flesh so that we, who were born of the flesh, might be born of the Spirit
The Resurrection of Jesus
Jesus died a human death just like every other human who died. Speaking about the resurrection in the last days, Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life”. However, it was not by his own power that he, himself, was resurrected. There are many scriptures that say that it was the power of God that resurrected him. Romans 6:4 tells us that it was by the power of God, the Father, that he was resurrected.
The question of who Jesus is separates so many people on this earth, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all come together to work out our understanding of who Jesus is, based on God’s word alone?
Jesus is asking today. Who do you say that I am?[ad_2]