DayBreaks for 7/09/18 – Bertrand Russell’s Mathematical Equation

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DayBreaks for 7/09/18: Bertrand Russell’s Mathematical Equation

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

What lies at the heart of all things?  The answer you get will depend on who you ask and what their world view is.  An evolutionist would pretty much have to say that at the heart of all things is blind chance and some principle that came from who knows where, that champions “survival of the fittest.”  Given enough time, the evolutionist claims, all things are possible.  Theoretically, I suppose that’s true – but not nearly enough time has passed since the so-called “big bang” for the diversity and complexity of life as we can observe it on this planet alone to have taken place.  So – don’t let this next statement alarm you – we shouldn’t be here.

Closely akin to an evolutionary point of view is that of a more sophisticated scientist, or an atheist, such as the late Bertrand Russell.  It was Russell’s belief that if we were able to strip away all the mystery we see all around us in the universe so that we could get to the real heart of things, we would find a “mathematical equation.”  2+2=4, or something like that, only probably much more complicated.  Now isn’t that exciting?  Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart to know that behind all this is math?  I hate math! 

I certainly don’t want to, nor do I believe, that this world and universe is all predicated on something that is as cold and impersonal as a mathematical equation.  I can’t accept that.  It isn’t possible to my way of thinking.  For one thing, it fails to explain this: if there is no Creator possessed of personality and intelligence but only cold math, how can human personality have come from something as totally cold and impersonal as that?  We speak of people having personalities (and I know some real characters!), we even talk about our pets having character.  On rare occasions we may even say that a building or some other non-living thing has “character”, but we mean it in a different way than when we’re talking about something alive and breathing.  Has anyone you’ve even known say of a rock in their yard that it has character, i.e., personality?  If they did, you’d gently put them into your car and drive them to a padded room somewhere.  How can personality come from something inanimate and as dead as a mathematical equation any more than personality is passed on to people by touching a rock?!

I prefer to believe that behind all the mystery of the universe is something much more than a mathematical equation.  I prefer to believe that there is a Creator possessed of infinite wisdom, capacity, of PERSONALITY that is not totally comprehensible, and that you and I have personalities because the Creator is a Personality, and He has given something of Himself to us – a spirit that is in His very image.  He made us all “characters” and gave us personalities so we could have a relationship, a personal relationship, with the One who made us.  Now that’s something to be excited about! 

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, for the delight of personalities!  Thank you for the rich variation in your creation.  Thank you that you want to have a relationship with us who were made from the dust of the earth – and given personality by the God who made it all!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 10/25/17 – What We Are

DayBreaks for 10/25/17: What We Are

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

What are we?  Ask that question to a variety of “experts” and you’ll get different answers:

A biochemist would probably say that a human is composed of 65% oxygen, 18% carbon, 10% hydrogen – and then goes into a myriad of other atomic components in various trace amounts.  99% is made up of those three, plus nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus.  Whoopee!

One philosopher’s definition follows: “I believe a human being is a creation containing two unique parts, equally important for our ability to interact with everything that surrounds us along an endless mysterious path known as time. One part is crystal clear; it is the physical and material matter occupying space, known as the body. This form of matter has size, shape, and dimensions and can be experienced empirically. The other part of the human being is harder to understand since it has no shape, size, or dimensions and cannot be experienced by empirical knowledge, it is the mind.”

A theologian might say: “The psalmist would say that the riddle of ben-‘adam is hidden in the mystery of God. Only faith can envision the point of convergence. Humankind recognizes itself fully only in the recognition of the Being from whom all reality arises.  The claim of the psalm is that we can say “human being” only after we have learned to say “God.”

Here’s another one that I won’t even venture to try to classify, other than to say it sounds very new-agey: “Human being may be defined as the humantrue life of the individual, lived according to her or his own supraconsciousness of fulfilled intellect, so that the co-operative being of humanity is this undeniable humantrue awareness on the part of, and between, each and every individual, with no authority, meaning or faith above or beyond that. The human individual is a mind and body of the human species, led by the mind. Human being is being fully and truly human.  The second and most important objective is to point out that true human being is to be defined by supraconsciousness – that when both our thinking and activity submits to the guidance of the postconscious which is also embodied in the structure of our society, then will we be wholly fulfilled, i.e., humantrue.”

Yuck.  Drives me nuts.  It appears that there is great confusion about what it is to be human.  We focus on our humanity a lot, but is that the right thing to do? 

I like (very much) this view of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, quoted in Philip Yancey’s Rumors of Another World: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.  We are so focused on our flesh and bone that we neglect the spirit and soul.  We think we are humans who, every once in a while, have spiritual insights or spiritual encounters with God, Jesus and the Spirit.  They may be wonderful moments of ecstasy and inspiration…but they are not as present and real to us as the flesh, muscle, blood and sinew that courses through our veins. 

De Chardin would have us remember our origin, and our true definition: that we are spiritual, formed in the image of the One who was and is and is to be, and that we are destined to return to Him and to live as spirits (albeit with some form of incorruptible body, it would appear) eternally.  It is our humanness that is fleeting, it is our humanness that is nothing more than a cloak that hides the spirit.  We would do well to remember our true nature and to concentrate our efforts, attention and affections accordingly.

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 (NIV) Remember him–before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

PRAYER: In spite of all appearances, Lord, help us to live wisely in our temporary coats of flesh, so that our spirits, the real us, may live with You forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.