You can probably figure out my interests from the content of this site. There are some pictures of my buddies from the Wesley Foundation. I've documented the discussions of an Christian apologetics group, which meets bi-weekly to discuss the historical and rational basis of the Christian faith. I write poetry, and am in the process of finishing a book called Nobody's Child. I've been working on the book off and on for about four years... Hopefully, it will be finished soon, because it is beginning to feel like "Mr. Holland's Opus!"
My mind constantly thirsts for knowledge -- unfortunately not always on the subjects I'm studying in graduate school!! -- and I read constantly in my spare time in order to satiate the hunger for growth. I'm always collecting cool quotes... I'm also including a list of recommended authors, and hope in the future to give links to their Web Pages.
This Web site highlights photos of me and my "big sis" Andrea. I have included some faces from my past, including my mom (now deceased) and various shots from my childhood. These photos include a mysterious figure... The Mystery Kid can be viewed by clicking on this link. Let's see if anyone can recognize him!
My Mom: Ann-Marie
When you first hear the Word
Its taste hits the tongue
and it sifts the raw soul
and later grows deeper
the truth is more whole
to the intermost part
past the intermost lies -
you relearn in surprise
the Word still a Seed, Its work is not through
always more truth
God can produce in you
to purify the depths of your spirit
to split the soul and spirit apart
you say you "know it"
when God gets through with you
you'll know it by heart.
Lisa Yanarella; 5-16-94
Christian Apologetics Discussion
Southland Church has an apologetics group which meets bi-weekly. The purpose of apologetics is to deal with the intellectual questions concerning Christianity. Knowledge does not undermine faith; rather it precedes it, and often strengthens it.
The following is a summary of the group discussions. If you have any questions, want to join the group, or perhaps you are already a member and want to tell me about something which I might have left out... Well, if for any reason you wish to discuss this with me, please e-mail me at Lisafirstname.lastname@example.org
Group leaders: Scott Heid & Brian Marshall
First Meeting: No Meaning Without God
Second Meeting: Proofs of God's Existence
Third Meeting: Why Is There Pain and Suffering?
Fourth Meeting: Why Does Hell Exist?
Fifth Meeting: What About Other Religions?
Discussion Summary - Sun. Oct. 5, 1997
Readings: Fredrich Nietzsche's account of the madman;
Francis Schaeffer's assessment of "The Necessity of God and Immortality"
1.) Who was Fredrich Nietzsche?
A philosopher of the 19th century (1844-1900) who was a caustic critic of Christianity..
Nietzsche's father, a Lutheran minister, died in 1849, of a bad fall down a flight of stairs. Young Nietzsche reacted to his father's death by questioning his belief system; he came to his own conclusions. How could a loving God allow evil and suffering to exist in the world? Nietzsche went to seminary for a while. He rebelled from Christianity and wrote a series of books, including the reading on the madman; "God is dead, and we are his murderers." His intellectual, analytical mind could not let such issues rest. Nor could he find peace and satisfaction within the realms of atheism. Nietzsche wrote, "The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night" (Beyond Good and Evil). This is sad, because eventually, Nietzsche contracted tertiary syphilis and went insane - and he committed suicide, August 25, 1900.
2.) Nietzsche's influence on Hitler and other dictators:
Nietzsche's writings, and those of Niccolo Machiavelli, were the bedside reading novels of Adolf Hitler. Hitler asked many of the same questions about evil and suffering as Nietsche did.. It is not surprising that he embraced the same conclusions. Hitler looked back on his own childhood with embitterment. His mother died while he was young; his father beat him (up to 200x in one beating). Both Neitzche's concept of the "superman" and Will to Power, and Machiavelli's reasoning that it was better for a prince to be feared than loved were actively embraced by Hitler. These ideologies were utilized by him as justification for his actions regarding the Holocaust and other political decisions of his career. Hitler thought so highly of these readings that he shared them with Mussolini as well.
3.) Loss of God is accompanied by loss of meaning.
A quote from the readings: "Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself. For, without God, than man's life becomes absurd." Without God, man faces a sense of loneliness and personal despair. What will make life meaningful? Attempts to fill up life with meaning have been made throughout history. In the eighties, they found their god in consumerism. It was the "Me-Generation;" perhaps material goods might fill the void. This chase after fulfillment is captured in the Book of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon went through a period in life when he denied himself nothing that his eyes desired. Riches, study of great books, beautiful women. The result? He found that it was "meaningless just a chasing after the wind."
God created us for oneness. Individuals in American society have lost connection with others in the aftermath of a lost connection to God. Current Generation X-er's seek bonding through email, the Internet, and online chat sites. Porn on the Internet provides its viewers with a form of "visual intimacy," without the soul (heart, mind, will) or spiritual connection. Nothing is wrong with technological pursuits in and of themselves - but it is brutal to allow technology and hedonistic pleasures to own us. Anything, whether it be an endeavor, a concept, or a person, becomes an idol when it takes the place of God.
4.) What does it mean to kill God?
To enthrone ourselves as the authors of our own destiny. To take the glory for ourselves; to think that we no longer have any need for God. Renaissance means "rebirth." In this era, humanism was on the rise; human thought was defined as the measure of truth for the world. Post-Enlightenment has brought medical and scientific discoveries which are beneficial to mankind. Yet it has also reinforced human exaltation. The Industrial Revolution in the 1800's made men less dependent on their neighbors. The permeating attitude in our culture is one of isolation, fragmentation, and self-sufficiency. "I don't need God, nor do I need my neighbor. I can figure this thing out for myself." Many people see God as oppressive; they prefer their own authority.
5.) When two apparent truths seem interwoven, it is difficult to let go of a false teaching and still retain the truth: Religious thinkers who were misguided (zeal without knowledge) have affected the lack of receptivity to spiritual thinking within the academic world. The Catholic church, in its reign as a central authority figure, once considered it heretical to believe that the earth was round.
As advances in astronomy were made, many people were shaken in their faith to find out that the earth was not the center of the universe. Even though this was not a Scriptural claim, it had been taught along with the truth of Scripture. It was hard for people to let go of the false concept while still retaining other things which the Church had taught.
In the ravings of Neitzsche's madman, the man cries, "What did we do when we unchained this earth from the sun? Whither is it going now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually?" If God is no longer enthroned as the center of life, what are humans to hold onto?
6.) Who will wipe this blood off of us?, Neitzche's madman raves.
Sin still leads to death. The blood this madman speaks of is the burden of guilt. Without God, there is no available source of Atonement. This concept is central to Christian belief. It is what Christ had to die for: to pay the price for a debt which mankind could not offer.
Humans are fallible. Paul, in Romans 7, noted, "I do not understand what I do. For, what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord." Human beings often have good intentions, but fail in their desire to carry them out. Not only that, humans must deal with a set of conflicting desires as well. Scientists have referred to this as "the selfish gene." Freud referred to it as an argument between the ID and the Ego, which is mediated by the Superego.
Christians recognize it as a struggle between their flesh (their human nature) which desires self-satisfaction, and the Spirit of God within them, which calls them to lay down their life --and the satisfaction of some of their desires -- for others, and out of obedience to God.
7.) What happens when humans enthrone themselves?
To try to become gods is a human-based religion. With God "eliminated" from the equation, there is left a power-vacuum; an authority void. The default option is: "Why not us?" The ramifications of a godless society include: loss of purpose, loss of values, and loss of meaning. If God doesn't exist, it's really a "free-for-all". Most people are uncomfortable living without values and inconsistent in living them out.
Another thing than occurs in human exaltation is the potential for dictatorship. People are governed by the supreme ruler; there is no higher authority. (A scene from "Schindler's List" and a music selection by the German composer Wagner were played. The music of Vogner particularly backed up Hitler's mode of authority; the lyrics are, "We are the gods of the universe.")
Lord of the Flies is an intriguing book. Military school boys, who are morooned on an island after a plane crash, set up their own form of government in the absence of adults. Power struggles prevail; they begin to prey on each other. There are no bounaries; no higher authority; no set parameters for behavior. The outcome is horrifying.
This book depicts a microcosm of our world without God. The teen crime rate has doubled since 1983. The ideas of tolerance and moral relativity are rampant.
In fact, "Easter Island" is an real-life example of Lord of the Flies. There were no trees on the island and the people used up all their resources. They could no longer fish from the shore, and they had no boats. What were they to do for food? First they ate fish, then rats - then people. There was a lack of resources, so they turned on one another. The strongest were determined to survive. Nietzsche himself predicted that people would eventually realize the implications of their atheism; and that the ultimate outcome would be an age of nihilism - the destruction of all meaning and value in life.
8.) Where, apart from God, is the basis for moral standards?
The trouble is that, apart from God, there are no moral absolutes. No standards; no ultimate law. "If there is no God, then what makes rape or murder wrong?" Are the answers to this question sufficient, when they are made on the basis of a purely humanistic point of view?
Some of the answers we have been given are the U.S. Constitution and Darwin's reasoning of survival. The Constitution is the U.S. frame of reference - yet it can be reinterpreted. (Such issues as euthanasia, capital punishment, and tri-semester abortion were discussed).
Social Darwinism is another attempted answer to this question. "Survival of the fittest;" every species wants to continue to exist. But this leads to circular reasoning.
Relativism has entered into some factions of the church as well. There is a danger in churches which attempt to constantly "reinterpret" what God says. Scripture is consistent. You can't ditch one part of Scripture without ditching all of it. Some religious teachers of today are treading on dangerous ground when they attempt to cut and paste Scripture and reinvent the whole thing.
9.) Resistance to the idea that guilt is a social phenomenon:
C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, has some points to make in favor of a Moral Law. This will be discussed more next apologetics meeting.
What is the definition of a psychopath? It is a person with no conscience. The assumption is that most people can in fact tell right from wrong. This understanding is fundamental to the existence of laws within a society.
Carl Jung, in Jung on Evil, has much to say about the function of the conscience. His work in analysis led him to indepth research of the role of moral choices, conscience, and ethical reflection. I highly recommend his "Psychological Study on Conscience."
Consciences can be sharpened or dulled, depending on whether they are heeded or ignored. For example, a shoplifter might feel guilty on the first trip, but less so after much practice. This might be a functional trait in some instances; for example, a soldier at war must become accustomed to killing "the enemy" in order to continue to serve in the war.
10.) Whether or not God and heaven exist are fundamentally important in determining how we each live out daily life:
The first issue in life you have to deal with is death. Death brings about with it the threat of non-being.
Quote from the readings: "With no hope of immortality, man's life leads only to the grave." Blaise Pascal wrote, "There can be no doubt the soul is either mortal or immortal: this ought to make all the difference in ethics, and yet philosophers have drawn up their ethics independently of this question." (Pensees, 219).
Quote from the readings: "Modern man, says Schaeffer, resides in a two-story universe. In the lower story is the finite world without God; here life is absurd, as we have seen. In the upper story are meaning, value, and purpose.
Now, modern man lives in the lower story because he believes there is no God. But he cannot live happily in such an absurd world; therefore he continually makes leaps of faith into the upper story to affirm meaning, value, and purpose, even though he has no right to, since he does not believe in God.
Modern man is totally inconsistent when he makes this leap, because these values cannot exist without God, and man in his lower story does not have God."
God infuses life with meaning and gives significance to existence. Without God, man cannot live both happily and consistently; he must choose one or the other. If there is no God, carpe diem is the only way to live. Our days on earth are numbered. But, if there is a God, an eternal purpose is woven into the pattern of our existence.
A Final Note: How do atheists answer the problem of mortal existence?
Basically, the only answer which atheism has given over the centuries is to bravely face mortal life and deal with it. Bertrand Russell advises us to build life upon the foundation of despair. Camus advocates the acceptance of life's absurdities, and living a life of love for each other. Other athiests have posed more active measures, such as Nietzsche's Will to Power. A mental image of "King of the Mountain" comes to mind.
Are these better answers? Can they provide the basis for joyous, moral, meaningful existence? Can they undergird practical, everyday life and make it satisfying?
One last quote from the readings: "the point is that if there is no God, then objective right and wrong cannot exist. As Dostoyevski said, 'All things are permitted.' But Dostoyevski also showed that man cannot live this way."
Can one accept murder of innocents or torture of political prisoners? "Everything in him cried out to say that these acts are wrong - really wrong. But if there is no God, he cannot. So he makes a leap of faith and affirms values anyway. And when he does so, he reveals the inadequacy of a world without God."
Discussion Summary - Sun. Oct. 19, 1997
Readings: chapter 2 of When Skeptics Ask: "Questions About God"
Is there a God? If so, what is His character? Here's a quote from Blaise Pascall:
"Man is obviously made for thinking. Therein lies all his duty and his merit; and his whole duty is to think as he ought. Now the order of thought is to begin with ourselves and with our author and our end.
"Now what does the world think about? Never about that, but about dancing, playing the lute, singing, writing verse, tilting at the ring, etc., and fighting, becoming king, without thinking what it means to be a king or to be a man." (Pascall, Pensees, 146)
Four basic arguments for the existence of God:
a.) Cosmological argument (from Creation): Since there is a universe, it must have been caused by something other than itself. This is based on the law of causality: "Every limited thing is caused by something other than itself."
Is the universe eternal, or does it have a beginning and an end? The second law in thermodynamics says that energy is winding down, so the universe cannot be infinite. Therefore it must have both a catalyst for creation and a sustaining power.
Something put the universe in motion, and something is keeping it running. The "watch in the sand" theory was mentioned. This compares finding a watch in the sand and thinking it "evolved" out of the natural elements to thinking that everything in Creation is the result of chance. Rather, the question is: Who created and who wound the watch?
Tracing the originating cause: Can matter create itself? (This is the "oscillating universe theory.) This is an example of circular reasoning. Matter is finite; it cannot exist before and after time. One participant in the discussion compared this to high school chemistry; "you've got to balance your equation." Something can't come from nothing.
The Big Bang started with energy, and energy is quantifiable. Do we need a continuing cause in order to sustain our existence? The suggestion was made that perhaps the universe is like a computer batch file. In this scenario, laws were established, etc.; after which, the Creating Force ceased to be involved. This idea was nicknamed "the bastard child" theory of the universe, by another participant. "God" in this theory would be comparable to an absentee landlord.
(Something in the readings was mentioned about "infinite regress;" if anyone wants to read that over and explain it to me, I'll be happy to include it in the outline!)
Humans hunger for a personal God. But science alone cannot determine whether or not such a God exists. The purpose of science is observation. Scientists can chart facts which can be derived from the five senses: "Raised the heat to such and so degrees; the beaker boiled; the substance turned orange." Scientific study is extremely valuable in such areas as medicine and defining natural laws. But scientists can only hypothesize about the reasons behind these observations.
b.) Teleological argument (from design): This argument is that all designs imply a designer. There is great design to the universe; therefore there must be a Great Designer. This has also been termed "the Cosmic Gardener."
There is a difference between simple patterns (which, arguably, might be the result of chance) and complex design. Snowflakes and quartz crystals contain simple patterns which are the result of natural causes. But sentences written on stone must be written by a human being; since language communicates complex information. An arrowhead differs from a rock because it demonstrates complexity which could not be attributed to natural forces.
The universe, life itself and the human body are all of complex design. Each DNA molecule, the building block of all life, carries as much information as an encyclopedia. Quote from the readings: "No one seeing an encyclopedia lying in a forest would hesitate to think that it had an intelligent cause, so when we find a living creature composed of millions of DNA-based cells, we ought to assume that it likewise has an intelligent cause" (p. 21).
Not only design, but some sense of order (within the chaos) prevails. Natural laws provide parameters and boundaries. Some outside force might seem to have created a paradigm for us to live in. Given the amount of order to the universe, it would take a greater amount of faith to believe that it was created by accident than that it was created by something else. Albert Einstein said, "God would not play dice with the universe."
This leads us to the next argument, on this premise: "If there is a purposed order, my life is intended to follow order."
c.) Axiological argument (from moral law): Can man know absolute truth? Does it exist? The search for truth implies a standard by which to question and judge issues. Without objective moral law, there can be no right or wrong value judgements.
The premise behind this argument is threefold: All men are conscious of an objective moral law. Moral laws imply a moral lawgiver.
Therefore, there must be a supreme moral Lawgiver. C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, defines two types of natural laws. There are scientific laws, such as the law of gravity, by which creatures are bound.
Secondly, there are moral laws to which people are not bound; they have a choice in the matter. Scientific laws describe what is; moral laws describe what ought to be. What the moral law says is that there is an absolute standard for righteousness - and we fail to meet it. The purpose of moral law therefore, is to show us how far we fall from the standard of perfection, or of God. (See Galatians 3 and Romans 7).
Staunch Darwinists would disagree. Darwinism ascribes social behavior to scientific causes; survival of the fittest, for example. Even acts of kindness are attributed to the inbred desire to sustain the species or the herd. From this viewpoint, altruism might be apparent in nature. Queen bees are protected; apes have defined roles in their social structure.
Are all morals taught? What is the function of the human conscience? Are moral constraints bound to some cultures and not others?
C. S. Lewis' book, The Abolition of Man, demonstrates the moral codes which different worldviews/religions share. For example, in one culture, it might be acceptable to have one wife; in another, four or more. But, in no culture is it acceptable just to walk out into the street and take whatever woman you want.
d.) Ontological argument (from being): This argument was not discussed at length, and I'm not sure I understand it. (Would be happy for input.)
Readings: "Rebellion" by Fyodor Dostoevsky; the Book of Habbakuk
Can one hold onto faith in the midst of suffering? "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. I will surely defend my ways to His face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance " (Job 13:15-16a).
1.) Is it easier to love our neighbors from a distance?
To love from afar is to avoid the risk of rejection. Yet isolation is rampant with lovelessness.
It is easier to love what is attractive and "loveable." Yet our love is worthless if it only loves the loveable aspects of a person. Real love means involvement. True, intimate connection must embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Love costs. The value of a gift is what it costs the Giver.
A lot of things hide under the guise of love that aren't love. The word has lost its meaning in our society due to its overuse. "I love my car; I love my spouse; I love my country. Is that a new dress? I love it!" Can these declarations of love all mean the same concept?
C. S. Lewis' book, The Four Loves, explores the differing types of love in greater depth, The four which he focuses on are phileo (brotherly love), eros (lust); storge (affection), and agape (Godly, unconditional love).
2.) Are children exempt from blame, or easier to love?
Human suffering is a tragedy, regardless of the age of the victim. Value of life is independent of race and sex. Yet being an adult does come with some advantages. Adults have more emotional and physical resources than children. This provides them with a shield or bolster against tragedy. They can exert control and make choices over their own lives. Children, on the other hand, have less control over their environment. They are still forming their knowledge base.
Also children, being egocentric, are more likely to internalize pain and blame themselves. The adult outlook is one of refined perspective. Adults are more able than children to separate themselves from events and circumstances.
3.) Why does a loving God allow suffering?
Evil and suffering are the cost of free-will. In the reading "Intellectual Barriers to Faith," there is the following quote from C. S. Lewis's Problem of Pain:
"If you choose to say "God can give a creature free-will and at the same time withhold free-will from it," you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning because we prefix to them the two words: "God can." It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of his creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives, not because his power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense, even when we talk it about God."
Love must have its choice. What lover would have the person whom they desire succumb to them only due to a love potion?
God, like us, wants us to choose to love him. Offering this choice is His biggest gamble of all. Christ set us free to love Him, or to despise Him; to spit in His face, to embrace Him,, or to walk away. Because love does not force its object to reciprocate in like fashion - there must be a choice.
We are not robots. Rather, each person is accountable for their own moral choices. And, just as our decisions impact those around us, we can be affected by the moral choices of others.
Ever since the Fall of Man, this universe is not operating according to God's original design. He has given his very life (in Christ) to redeem it.
4.) Whose responsibility is it to pardon or to execute justice?
Is there Absolute Justice? Is judgment God's prerogative or ours?
Often, when someone wrongs us, we want to retaliate. Our first impulse is not to turn the other cheek. Nietzsche wrote that "It is inhuman to bless when one is being curved" (Beyond Good and Evil, 175).
Is it our personal responsibility to see to it that justice is served? Matthew 8 warns us to "judge not, lest you be judged." Romans 1 makes the point that all men are likewise under sin; "there is no one blameless - not even one." Since God is sparkling white and holy, all of our actions show up clearly as varying shades of gray. Only by the Blood of Christ is there a pathway for atonement.
In the Old Testament, the administration of justice was focused toward making amends for wrongdoing. If you stole a goat, you would have to replace it with two. Simple and natural consequences; "here's the penalty; now it's over."
Does our current system of justice work? (Reference to the movie "Shawshank Redemption.") Keeping criminals in jail for years costs taxpayers a great deal of money. How much effort is actually spent toward rehabilitating criminals? (Positive reinforcement was suggested as a method of law enforcement. How effective might this be?)
5.) One purpose of suffering is brokenness.
We are so self-sufficient and often self-serving in our own efforts. Falling on our face in the midst of tragedy can often awaken us to our need for God. Blaise Pascal noted that, "It is good to be tired and weary from fruitlessly seeking the true good, so that one can stretch out one'' arms to the Redeemer"" (Pensees, 422).
Human beings often go through cycles. Sometimes we want to know about God; other times we don't. There's a saying that "there are no atheists in foxholes." Often, it is at times in our lives when we most need God that we call on Him.
Joe, a man diagnosed with AIDS, gave a talk a few years ago at the Newman Center. He said, "Everyone has something in their lives which they love more than God." Joe added that, it is in our times of desperation that we realize God's relevance and importance. He said that, while facing death, he had finally gotten to the point where he loved God most.
A secular example of brokenness might be found in the book, The Velveteen Rabbit. The toy rabbit, who so wants to be "made real" achieves his goal only after his fur and eyes have been loved off. All the external dross has been stripped away.
6.) Can suffering be beneficial?
The Bible says that Christ learned obedience by what He suffered; maybe we do, too. Other passages tell Christians not to be surprised by fiery trials which they are undergoing, since the purpose of this trial is to build character. Character leads to perseverance, and perseverance leads to hope.
Trials bring us down to the grass-roots level of our lives. They make it possible for us to recognize the nonessentials - and to prioritize the things that really matter. Rich Mullins has some lyrics about this phenomena: "when everything that could be shaken was shaken, and all that remains is all I ever really had " Trials test the firmness of our foundation. They question our beliefs - but they can strengthen our faith.
The best history teacher I ever had at UK once enacted the persecutions of Christians in class. "Are you a Christian?", he screamed at me three times, in escalating volume. (He had already asked the guy sitting beside me, who had cheerfully offered to denounce Christianity and worship at the alter of Baal.)
After I said, "Yes" for the third time (in a more shaky voice than I like to admit), Dr. Holle yelled out, "KILL HER!" Needless to say, the whole class was a bit shaken up by this turn of events; we walked about like zombies after class was over.
Yet, his questions sent me in pursuit of more truth, and I became more rooted in my faith than I had ever been before. At the end of the semester, after the final was over, I gave him a poem I had written thanking him for his questions.
7.) Other issues involved with the suffering-question:
a.) Perfect Will vs. Permissive Will: A long discussion could be made about differentiating God's perfect will from His permissive will. Humans themselves have free will, yet God is constantly at work in order to conform all things to His ultimate purpose.
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
b.) Boundaries and natural consequences: If I put my hand on a hot stove, it will burn; this is a natural result. We humans are accountable for our decisions - we can't blame God for them. The reason for the "Thou shalt not's" is because these negative consequences are the exact things which God is trying to keep us from having to experience.
Why did God set boundaries for us in the first place? In order to keep us safe. Self-destructive (human) tendencies require set boundaries for behavior.
8.) Where is God when we suffer?
Sometimes, He can seem far away. But feelings don't necessarily correspond with realities. The Psalms say that God is near to those of a broken heart.
Acts 17:24-27 gives a unique perspective: "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives man life and breath and everything else.
"From one man, He made every nation of man, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the TIMES for them and the EXACT PLACES they should live.
"God did this so that men might seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US. For, in Him, we live and move and have our being. As some of your own prophets have said, 'We are His offspring.'"
9.) Is it worth it?
The reading ends with Ivan saying that he cannot take the ticket. Alyosha tells him his actions constitute rebellion.
"Rebellion? I'm sorry you call it that," Ivan responds. "One ccan hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me yourself, I challenge you - answer. Imagine you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death one tiny creature - that little child beating its breast with its fist, for instance - and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me and tell me the truth."
"No, I wouldn't consent," she replies. (See readings, p. 66).
10.) Is God a passive observer of our suffering - or does He suffer with us?
What is meant by the name Immanuel? In the future, we will have more extended discussions about God's character.
A Final Note:
During this discussion, mention was made of instances in which people have used the name of Christ and carried out evil purposes. (The Crusades, etc.)
Religion can be abused. So can science. Yet, the question of value transcends the potential for abuse. If we disposed of science it can be perverted, we would miss out on many medical advances, etc. The fact that men have twisted the ? of Christ to serve their own agendas over the years is an unquestionable tragedy. I won't defend such actions; they are deplorable.
Yet the question is not whether or not people are fallible and can pervert things. Human history testifies only too well of our shortcomings. The question is whether Christ Himself would justify those actions. Looking at the character of Jesus, how would He have acted in those situations?
Readings: compilation of C. S. Lewis' chapter on hell
This discussion has not yet been documented...but will be in the future. Keep on checking this site!
Future discussions will center around Christianity vs. other world religions.
"I want to be a believer with passion and intelligence,
and my longing always brings me to a desert place - a place of emptiness and death.
And it is there that I learn how to love." - Alan W. Jones
Some More Faces From the Past