Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Matthew 6-8 O ye of little faith

Matthew 6-8
Been under the weather for the last few days and once again this entry wasn't auto-posted.

Jesus continues his lessons.

6:9 gives us the Lords Prayer.  How many thousands of times have I had to recite this in church and at home?  I'm finding it quite fun to see where the Catholic Church gets the content for it's mass!   I also love reading all the phrases and saying that have become so common it todays world.

Jesus rightly tells us to do good deeds without the need for reward.
But, he also gives us this load of poop.

7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

We don't get everything we want. Even the most holy don't always get what they pray for.  Do they?*

Chapter 8 is the 'Healing Chapter".  Jesus shows off his variety of powers to cure lepers, the sick, those possessed by demons and even calm rough seas!

We get another example of Jesus saying that we should keep the laws of Moses after he cures a leper;

8:4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

Once again I have to say that I really like the writing from Jesus over the Old Testament.  Other then the more positive attitude, it's also much better written and more engaging.

*Please don't answer this with "God answers every prayer and gives us just what we need."  That's just a cop out.

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  1. A couple of different ways to answer your *.

    1. God answers our prayers on His timeline. Not the person praying. Praying is not to give God a list of demands to be answered in 30 minutes or less. Opening your mind, body, and Spirit will give you the defintion to prayer, Since prayer is different for all.
    2. Depending on what the person is asking for during prayer, God may open those doors right away only for the person not to see that wide open door because of other earthly distractions.
    Or God could be telling you that you have to do something in steps.
    but the quoted text above, too me, is a bottom line, ask and you shall recieve...He has always answered my questions or concerns.

    Regardless if its 5 minutes or 12 years.

  2. @Bruce "*Please don't answer this with "God answers every prayer and gives us just what we need." That's just a cop out."

    oooo - oooo - teacher - can I answer that one? "God works in mysterious ways".

    I too, and thrilled to be reading the NT - it's refreshing and uplifting - so far. One quibble ... Jesus should have really avoided the whole rock and sand allegory in Matt 24:27. After all, the divinity of Jesus presupposes the existence of God, which presupposes the supernatural ... and ... you know where I'm going with that!

  3. Bruce stated:
    It's the responsibility of the person making the claim of existence to prove that existence, not the other way.

    I say:
    Who wrote that rule? Since billions have believed in God ( Christian, Jewish, Islam, and others) I believe the burden of proof falls to you.

  4. @Tom,

    Why would the burden of proof be on the side NOT making the claim?

    That fact that billions believe in a god does not prove that a god exists.

    Science doesn't care about currently held beliefs. The scientific process looks for the truth thru observation and evidence, not faith.

  5. @Bruce,

    Actually, the scientific method does rely on "faith," in the sense that it presupposes certain things that are unprovable by scientific means. Most notably, science assumes what philosophers call the principle of induction. Let's say that mixing X with Y under identical circumstances always yields Z. Why is that? Why are the laws of nature static enough so that we can expect controlled experiments to have the exact same outcome every time? There's no scientific or philosophical reason that the results will be the same every time, yet science depends on that being the case. It can't be proven, but science falls apart without it. So in this case (we could also mention the laws of logic, which are universally accepted yet unprovable via the scientific method) science does "look for the truth" through faith.

  6. @Christian
    Nice response...you have a lot of patience.

    You claim that God and a Devine Jesus do not exist.
    Since, many humans would dis-agree with you and I have a historical document saying that God did create the Heavens and the Earth. The burden of poof falls to you now.

    Please provide a reliable source that billions have followed, of course.

    So...I take it that you are a fan of Jesus' teaching. I posted a question in the previous blog.

  7. @Christian,
    You said "There's no scientific or philosophical reason that the results will be the same every time, yet science depends on that being the case. It can't be proven, but science falls apart without it."

    There is a scientific reason the result will always be the same. It CAN be proven. Mixing X and Y to yield Z consistently came thru experimentation and observation. Scientists hypothesized, experimented, observed, measured results and came to a conclusion that Z was the best answer based on the evidence.

    Science relies on evidence, faith is based on belief regardless of evidence.

    I often find (but not always) that there is an inverse correlation between the level of someones religious beliefs and their knowledge of science. That's why I encourage EVERYONE I know to learn critical thinking and learn about the scientific method.

  8. @Bruce,

    We don't get everything we want. Even the most holy don't always get what they pray for. Do they?*

    This won't work for you. Please read John 9:31. ;-P

  9. @Tom - you said  "I believe the burden of proof falls to you."

    That's the kind of mature, reasoned discourse that will earn new converts to Christianity!
    Now that we've regressed to junior high school, I present to you the Ontological Argument for the Existence of InfiniTwinkie:
    1. It is possible that a maximally great snack cake exists.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great snack cake exists, then a maximally great snack cake exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great snack cake exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    4. If a maximally great snack cake exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    5. If a maximally great snack cake exists in the actual world, then a maximally great snack cake exists.
    6. Therefore, a maximally great snack cake exists.

    Therefore the universe was created by a Twinkie.

    Now - you prove it wasn't.


  10. Like many other words, "faith" has several, very different meanings.
    I have faith in science because there are hundreds of years of scientific evidence to support this faith.
    I have no religious faith because religious faith means believing something for which there is no evidence.

  11. @Bruce,

    I agree with what you're saying to a point. Yes, X+Y=Z, consistently and predictably. But here's what I was getting at - WHY does this equation always yield Z? Why doesn't it sometimes yield (Z-2), or Q? Observation tells us that it won't - that, all else being equal, it will always yield Z - but the observation of a trend doesn't necessitate an iron-clad - dare I say it, faith? - that this MUST be the outcome. We may have great confidence that this will be the outcome, but the scientific method doesn't claim that this will always happen. It just says, "Based on careful observation, this is what has always happened." Anything beyond that relies on the principle of induction, which is simultaneously unprovable by the scientific method while also necessary to its success.

    For example, if I mix X amount of sodium and Y amount of chlorine, and I keep the conditions the same every time, why does it always yield Z amount of salt? Why doesn't it ever yield gold or iron or chlorine gas? The scientific method says I can reasonably predict that those will never be produced, but when we ask a very fundamental question - "But WHY is it so predictable? Why does the same experiment yield the same result every time?" - the answer is something to the effect of, "Well, because that's what we've always observed, and we have no reason to doubt it will prove different." As completely sensible as that answer is, it is not in itself sufficient to PROVE that, every single time, the experiment MUST yield the same result. The scientific method takes it on faith that the result will be the same every time.

    I belabor this point, not at all to say that science is worthless or unhelpful, but instead to show that science is by no means the rock-solid foundation for all knowledge. Science, as wonderful as it is, cannot prove everything it assumes. Scientists assume the principle of induction every time they repeat an experiment. This assumption is based on a calculated and sensible observation of the past, of course, but it cannot be proven. Therefore, if "faith is based on belief regardless of evidence," then science does involve a certain kind of faith. That's not coming from an inferior understanding of science, is it?

  12. @Tom "The burden of poof falls to you now."

    As in the "Poof, there it was!!" theory? Sorry, the burden of proof falls on those making a specific affirmative claim. I have a historical document that says the world was poofed into existence by the Flying Spaghetti Monster (pbuH). Is the burden of proof now on you to prove that it wasn't? I don't think so.

    And you are making the argument ad populum - that the number of people who believe something is relevant to whether that thing is true. Millions of Aztecs used to believe that the sun would not come up without a daily human sacrifice. Early in xian history there were only a handful of followers of Jesus, not billions, but does that affect whether you think those people were correct? Numbers of believers does not have any relevance to whether the claims of a religion are true.

    I've heard freshman philosophy students trying to make the same argument about science and knowledge. The problem is that this kind of argument never produces a useful result. If you start second-guessing everything we have ever found out about the world, and saying "but what if it doesn't next time?" you will have to stop flying in airplanes. And riding in cars. And relying on doctors. Etc, etc. Our whole modern world (including the computer you are reading this on) is based on the enormous success of science as the best method for figuring out how the universe works.

    Science deals in confidence levels and error margins, not philosophical word games. The universe does what it does, there's no point in sitting around wondering "what if it decides not to?" I don't have "faith" in science, I have "confidence" in things that have consistently been shown to work.

  13. @Ubi,

    Well, with your experience in freshman philosophy classes, I'm sure you'd be able to recognize the subtle ad hominem and appeal to ridicule in your response ;o)

    In all seriousness, I'm not sure you understood my point. I never said that science isn't good, useful, important, helpful, reliable, etc. In fact, I think I went out of my way just to say the opposite. I'm not second-guessing anything, and I'm not advocating that anybody think science isn't wonderful.

    What I am saying is that, as wonderful as science is, it can't answer everything. In fact, as I said over and over again, "the enormous success of science" depends on the belief that the same experiment under identical conditions yields an identical result. That belief does not rest on evidence - in fact, it cannot be proven. I agree with you that "science deals in confidence levels and error margins." Our disagreement lies in whether or not that constitutes proof. I am under the impression that just because something happens the same way every time does not necessitate that it HAS to happen that way every time.

    Again, I think it is good, right, and sensible to expect things to happen the same way every time. That's why the first paragraph of your response is a straw man - I don't believe any of the things you're attacking. Instead, I only meant to point out that science depends on truth that can't be scientifically proven. I could say the same thing about the laws of logic as I'm saying about the principle of induction. They are true - THEY ARE TRUE - but that can't be shown through scientific experimentation. Science works because scientists share a belief in a truth that cannot be proven (or disproven) by the scientific method. By Bruce's definition (it's mine, too), that is faith. You may call it "confidence," but the difference is only semantic.

    I feel like I'm repeating myself ad nauseum, but just so we're clear: science is good. Science often shows the truth. And science depends on truth that it itself cannot prove. That's not a slander against science. It's also not a "philosophical word game" (whatever that means?). It's a simple observation about the nature of science. From that observation, I think I'm justified in implying that science works because science includes a certain kind of faith/confidence/belief in an unprovable idea.

    Does that help, or do I still sound anti-science?

  14. @Christian,
    You said "What I am saying is that, as wonderful as science is, it can't answer everything. In fact, as I said over and over again, "the enormous success of science" depends on the belief that the same experiment under identical conditions yields an identical result. That belief does not rest on evidence - in fact, it cannot be proven."

    My brain is melting. The evidence is the repeated observation of coming up with the same result over and over. It CAN be proven by repeated observation.

    People once thought that that the sun was pulled thru the sky by a god. and that everything revolved around the Earth. by repeated observation and people using their brains, humans eventually found that the Earth was not the center of the universe and that WE revolved around the sun. Do you think that this is 'unprovable'?

  15. @Bruce,

    I think we're talking about two different things here. Sorry about my failure to communicate. Let me try to explain it differently.

    Let's say that I own a donut shop. Every morning at 8:30 Joe walks in and buys a cup of coffee. Every morning at 8:30, without fail, this is exactly what happens. In fact, Joe has shown remarkable predictability in this - he's done it every single morning for the past twenty years. No missed mornings, no irregularity in the time he comes in - the same thing, every day.

    Now suppose you ask me, "Will Joe come in tomorrow morning at 8:30 and buy a cup of coffee?" Based on the incredible consistency with which Joe visits my store, it would make perfect sense for me to say, "Absolutely. I have every confidence that Joe will be there at exactly 8:30, just like always. I've observed this thousands of times with absolutely no exceptions. I am certain that Joe will be there."

    Now here's the real question: "Can you PROVE that Joe will be there at 8:30 like always? Can you prove it so that it is an absolute certainty - not reasonably certain, not beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt certain, but absolutely, 100% certain?"
    The answer, of course, is no. I can't prove it, if "prove" means "it absolutely will happen because it absolutely MUST happen." Do I make sure I'm ready for him to come at 8:30? Of course. But would I stake my child's life on the certainty that Joe will come in at 8:30? No. Why not? Because I can't prove that it will happen. I can observe it after the fact, but I can't prove that it will and must happen.

    Now let's apply that thought experiment to our conversation. Science, like me as the donut shop owner, can observe reality and interpret it in such a way that we can make highly reliable guesses about the future. But at its best, science can only make very, very educated guesses. Just like I can't prove with 100% certainty that Joe will continue his pattern into the future, science can't prove anything about the continuing of any pattern it observes.

    That doesn't mean we disregard science, but it does mean that we realize its limitations. It cannot prove with 100% certainty that the future must follow the pattern observed in the past. In order to argue against that, you have to assume your answer is right from the beginning - it can't be proven. That's begging the question, a logical fallacy that is explained to every first-year philosophy student.


  16. (cont.)

    So, in summary, science is not omnipotent, nor is it omniscient. It cannot prove that things will continue as they are, no matter how consistently a pattern has continued in the past. Science just can't do it. But every box of Kraft mac 'n' cheese is produced because people (quite rightly and reasonably) assume that this box will turn out just like the last box, and the box before that, and the box before that. That's common sense. But science can never prove with 100% certainty - I mean, reality-would-collapse-if-we're-even-the-slightest-bit-wrong kind of certainty - that the next box will turn out exactly like all the others in the past have.

    For the record, this isn't some kind of Christian apologetic gotcha. The problem of induction was most significantly raised by David Hume, who as you might know was somewhat less than respectful in his view of Christianity (see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction). It is recognized by philosophers of all stripes as a serious question that has direct implications for science.
    As a Christian, I believe that there is a solution to the problem - namely, that there is a God whose existence is necessary for reality, who created the laws of nature and ensures that they abide unless directly and personally revoked. There are secular answers to the question as well. But my argument doesn't come from an ignorance of science or an inability to think critically (which, apparently, is directly tied to my Christian faith). On the contrary, there are just as many atheist scientists who would happily admit it. Most wouldn't admit that their work rests on "blind faith" in the scientific method (though some would!), but it is nevertheless true that such a belief (doctrine?) is at the heart of all modern science.

  17. @skepti
    You are assuming that all snack cakes are twinkies.
    Lol...moving on.

    @ all who are married or in-love.
    You can't prove you love your spouse. No matter what you say to provide evidence...there is an out. Just like no matter what believers say, non-believers have an out. Let's get back to NT since beating a dead topic is not very informative.

    Some examples...if you say I love my wife because I give her a roof to live under, all that means is that you are a provider. Many people provide for strangers.
    If you say its the little things like rubbing her feet and sweeping the floor, I can come back and say I have a maid that sweeps the floor, does she love me? And thousands of businesses provide foot rubs, does that mean they love me?