Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Monday, March 02, 2009

God and Technology

Many times I have been asked how as a technologist/scientist I can believe in God. It is as if these people believe you cannot be a thinking person and also believe in a higher power. Now, this is not to say I am one of the folks who think every word in the Bible (Old and New Testament) is the gospel truth (no pun intended.) Like I said, I am a thinking Christian, as such I question everything and look for confirmation of those things that can be confirmed. Of course with religion, as in all things in science and lay areas, eventually you reach a point where it is either believe or not believe and I chose to believe.

I prefer to think of myself as more a Jeffersonian Christian rather than a Paulian Christian. It amazes me that many Christians swallow hook-line-and-sinker every word penned by the one Apostle that never actually met Jesus face-to-face. Many scholars feel that Paul was sent on so many missions not because he was good at them but because the other Apostles really couldn’t stand him and hoped that he wouldn’t return. Many believers take Paul’s letters out of context and usually completely incorrectly as their meaning is understood by true bible scholars. In fact many articles of faith were added in after the fact to the regular gospels as can be proved by stylistic differences and from going back to the earliest known translations. The fact is that no matter how current your translation you are still starting from flawed beginnings. Many of the books that “didn’t make the cut” when the first bibles were compiled were destroyed as heresy thus removing them from possible future examination.

With any scientific field of study you reach a certain point and you can go no further, from that point on you have to accept things on theories and faith. Even with the less than whole cloth parts of the Bible’s New Testament removed, what is left is still an amazing history of a real man who lived, and died for his faith and his friends. Is Jesus the Son of God? Yes, but then we all are the sons and daughters of God. Did Jesus die for our sins? Yes. Was he raised from the dead? This is where there is some contention over what was added after the fact and what is whole cloth. But let’s examine this.

Two men: One knows he is the physical Son of God, he knows that no matter what evil painful things happen on Earth he has a place at the right hand of God. Second man, a man, with man’s frailties, and doubts. Now, both give up their Earthly lives for what they believe in, which one required greater faith? Would Jesus be less or more of an inspiration if he was a frail human or the anointed Son of God? Would you believe it was a vote by a group of flawed humans (the Nicene Council) that decided Jesus was a deity and it was actually a very close vote.

Unfortunately the only documents that provide “proof” of Jesus’ deity are in the Bible and using the Bible to prove the Bible is circular logic and therefore flawed. It is like using the Dianetics text to prove L. Ron Hubbard’s qualifications as a deity. Since most Islamic accounts of Jesus are actually taken from the Bible then related texts quoting them are not relevant. While Jesus is mentioned in some historical texts none go into great detail as to his birth, (a virgin was a young maiden, not someone who had never had sex) life (he existed and taught and was hated by Rome), death (he was probably crucified) or resurrection. These accounts of the resurrection were actually added after the original text in the gospels, it was felt that the Mithran belief, having a virgin birth, life and resurrection was a big spur to add these passages. (see: http://www.near-death.com/experiences/origen048.html) Among non-Christian historians, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius and Tacitus refer to Jesus, as does Josephus (Joseph ben Matthias).

So, do I believe Jesus is my savior? Yes, his teachings show the way to the father as he himself said “There is no way to the father but through me” meaning through his teachings we find the way. Do I believe in the resurrection? That is more complex to answer. Unfortunately the resurrection is one of the parts added after the original text, that makes it suspect in my eyes. The key question is “Would I believe without the resurrection?” The answer is yes, I would, so whether I believe in the resurrection or not is moot. You are free to believe as you wish and I would never dream of pushing my beliefs onto you, after all, we have free will.

Do I believe in the life everlasting? Yes. There is enough anecdotal evidence to show that something of us exists after death, that the spirit left gets rewarded or punished based on a set of criteria created within its own belief structure is not that far of a reach. After all Jesus also said “In my Father’s house are many mansions, I go there now to prepare a place for you.”
So what have I attested to? I believe in God and I believe in Jesus. I believe Jesus died for my sins. I believe Jesus’ teachings show the way to true belief in God. If this diminishes me in some folk’s eyes, so be it. However, it is not for people that I live, I live for God, my family and myself.

Does God reject technology? No, he gave us technology to better ourselves. As with any tool, how we use it determines whether the tool is good or bad. Do modern teachings contradict the Bible? No. If you realize that most of the creation story is metaphor, used to explain something we don’t have full understanding of even today, to ignorant herders. When looked at as metaphor it actually parallels what we know. Look at the theory of vacuum fluctuations and compare it to the story of genesis. As to what timelines are used in the Bible, again, try to explain millions of years to someone who barely understands how to count his herd of sheep.

It is odd that those that insist on a literal interpretation of their favorite passages that damn certain behaviors or exalt other behaviors they profess to believe in themselves but then they tell us other parts are metaphor. Remember that the true test of a prophet is that what he prophesizes comes true. I am afraid many of the added texts in the Bible fail this test as do many of the founders of many splinter religions who used imperfect understanding to make prophesies of specific dates for events such as the “rapture” and the second coming. Of course instead of applying the test to these false prophets and rejecting them, they merely allowed that they were mistaken but that their prophesies would come true eventually.

Limiting God to a simplistic creation story is demeaning to God. That God could put into motion such marvelous mechanisms as those behind vacuum fluctuations and evolution is a testament to his greatness, not a detractor from it. That we cannot understand everything is a testament to God’s greatness . God guides technology, giving us tools to better understand his universe.

Burying our heads in simplistic beliefs because we cannot understand God’s plan as implemented in his universe is an affront to God.

6 comments:

Aman Sharma said...

Mike,
Unrelated to this post so apologies, if there is any tech question, where can one ask you? I wanted to discuss about the Memory map of Linux regarding oracle with you, is there any place where I can put my question?

Regards
Aman....

Mike said...

www.statspackanalysis.com has a forum where you can post Oracle questions.

Mike

Mike said...

Make that statspackanalyzer.com

Richard said...

Hi Mike,

Intersting stuff!

Here's my take on it:

If you belive in an all-powerful God; that He made everything; that eternal life is a reality... then I can't think why you'd have a moment's trouble with Jesus coming back from the dead. A simple parlour trick compared to creating the universe!

Nice blog entry, all the same.

K said...

Odd that you mentioned circular logic. A circle would be much easier to follow because you are all over the map.

1. I don't understand how dismissing Apostle Paul's writings help you make sense out of your beliefs. First of all, you say you are a Christian but you dismiss a large portion of your book (the New Testament). Supposedly this Paul guy wrote most of the New Testament (not including the gospels). So you put your critical thinking hat back on once you get to the end of the gospels. Interesting.

So if you read it in the gospels you believe it literally? You dismiss the creation theory as a metaphor and you dismiss Paul's writings as lunatic rants.
If you do in fact hold fast the writings of the gospels then do you really believe Jesus walked on water? Water into wine? Healing lepers, cripples, etc? Better yet, do you believe he raised Lazarus from the dead? That story is told in the gospels. If he raised someone else from the dead, why are you so dubious about raising himself from the dead? BTW, there are 9 gospel accounts of Jesus wandering about after the crucifiction. Are they metaphors?

"thinking Christian"

Is that a metaphor. How does reading metaphors all day long settle your mind about life after death? I don't get it. Maybe that's because I'm a happy atheist who is highly educated in scripture and theology in general? Yep.

Zaffer Khan said...

You'd be astonished to know (if you've not known it earlier) that Islam believes Jesus was a messenger of the Almighty God. Islam makes it an article of faith to believe in Jesus, that he was one of the mightiest messengers of God. He healed the lepers and brought back the dead to life (all with the permission of Almighty).

Find out how Joshua Evans dealt with the similar case of Finding the Almighty (as you are dealing with it) at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bynbGhdFzKQ

I would like to know your thoughts on the subject.

Regards
ZK
http://islammessageofpeace.wordpress.com/