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Post Universe and Multiple Universes
Created by John Eipper on 01/11/15 9:11 AM

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Universe and Multiple Universes (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 01/11/15 9:11 am)

My gratitude to John Heelan (10 January) for his interesting questions. Scientists have made some amazing progress identifying (proposing through mathematical modeling) and then corroborating in practice many phenomena which a few years ago were totally unknown: the Big Bang creation, the expanding Universe, the creation and death of stars and the chemical elements, quasars, pulsars, black holes, etc. On the other hand, the gods invented by most people are credited with having created the Universe as we experience it every day. To them gods and the experienced universe are separate entities. Thus for those aware of scientific progress in cosmology and astrophysics, much of this progress is amazing but detached.

In my case all the above phenomena are mere manifestations of God the Universe. If the theories (i.e. crossing the event horizon into another Universe or part of the Universe, multiple Universes, etc.) surviving the rigorous criticism of the scientific community would convincingly say multiple Universes are the reality, then to me God would be made up of multiple Universes. Hawking's dictum "God is unnecessary; science can explain the universe without the need for a creator" someday might turn out to be correct mathematically, but it will never show that God is unnecessary, since God is the Universe. Furthermore, it will be impossible to show in practice that there is no need for a creator, since the Universe would have to end and be started all over again without a creator but with the same science observers. Hawking is perhaps talking too much and not delivering enough. In fact, physicists (including Hawking) have thus far failed to integrate the mathematical modeling essential for explaining sub-atomic phenomena (very well established) with the mathematical modeling they are using to explain the Universe. When they try to solve the integrated set of equations, the results are a few infinity signs. This is a serious problem right now; thus scientists are having great difficulty understanding my God the Universe mathematically.

JE comments:  As I said yesterday, this is very deep stuff for my positivist mind.  So I'll respond with a film question:  who has seen the Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything?  I have not yet, but will.  Thoughts/opinions?

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  • God, Science, and Salvation (Enrique Torner, USA 01/13/15 4:39 AM)
    Returning to our discussion on God and science, I want to bring back two complementary posts: the one by Timothy Brown (5 January), and the one by John Heelan (6 January), who was responding to Tim. Basically, their point was that irrational (unscientific) faith is necessary for salvation. This is absolutely true: it is only by faith in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection that salvation may be achieved, according to the Bible. Lots of Bible verses support this statement:

    Rom. 3:28-30, For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

    Rom. 4:5, But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

    Rom. 5:1, therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;

    Rom. 9:30, What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;

    Rom. 10:4, For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    Rom. 11:6, But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

    Gal. 2:16, nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.

    Gal. 2:21, I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.

    Gal. 3:5-6, Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

    Gal. 3:24, Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.

    Eph. 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, lest any man should boast.

    Phil. 3:9, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

    Therefore, if science were to prove the existence of God, nobody else could be saved! We would all be automatically condemned.  Therefore, everybody should stop trying to demonstrate the existence of God, or we are all doomed to hell. This is something that had never dawned on me. And here I have been trying to demonstrate God's existence (as have many other Christians) to non-believers. Of course, another big question is why, then, so many philosophers, theologians, and other famous people have been trying to demonstrate God's existence through all the centuries. Maybe they didn't think they could actually do it?

    Conclusion: let's stop trying to prove God's existence before we condemn the world to hell, including myself! Let's change topics.

    JE comments:  I don't really follow why proving God's existence would invalidate the whole concept of salvation.  But let's focus on the Scriptures:  can someone explain why faith is valued above works, which I assume to mean good deeds?  (See Ephesians 2: 8-9 and Romans 11:6, above.)  This seems to go against Christ's central message of love your neighbor.  Do I oversimplify?

    In any case, I'm in agreement with Enrique Torner that the God and Science topic has run out of steam.  WAIS discussions on religion(s) are supposed to compare and explain, especially across cultural lines.  The point is not to attempt to convince readers of the superiority of one theology or belief system over another.

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    • Salvation, and a Conversation with a Jesuit (John Heelan, -UK 01/13/15 6:20 AM)
      Enrique Torner (13 January) uses the support of the Bible as a crutch to justify irrational faith for Salvation (whatever that is).

      WAISers will forgive me as I have already recounted this true story of my discussion--in my formative years--with my Jesuit schoolmaster about the Bible and faith.

      Me: As God and the Resurrection are key to Christianity, how do we know they are true?

      Jesuit: Because the Bible tells us so in many places.

      Me: How do we know what it says is true?

      Jesuit Because it tells us so in several places and the Church believes it so.

      Me But is not a self-reference logically worthless in determining truth?

      Jesuit: Ah, my son, that's heresy! You need faith to believe the Bible is true.

      (Apparently game, set and match to the Jesuit--or was it?)

      JE comments: Tocayo Heelan, didn't you know never to argue with a Jesuit?

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    • Faith and Salvation (Enrique Torner, USA 01/25/15 4:50 AM)
      Two weeks ago (13 January), John Eipper replied to me that he doesn't see why proving God's existence would eliminate all possibility of salvation.

      Faith, according to the Bible, is believing without seeing, this in a broad sense. Therefore, if science demonstrated God's existence, realizing that God has been proved to exist, one could not have faith in Him, making salvation impossible.

      Regarding John's second question (why the Bible gives priority to faith over good deeds), the answer is that "we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Ro. 3:23). Only through the redemptive and substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for our sins can we be saved. You need to be holy to be in the presence of God, and only Christ never sinned. He died for humanity so anybody who believed in His death and resurrection (faith) could go to be with Him forever. There is nothing you can do to go to Heaven, and, no matter what you have done, if you confess your sins and accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, by faith you will be saved (Jn. 3:16; Acts 16:31, Eph. 2:8, Phil. 3:9, to name a few).

      This, in a few words, is the Gospel, and the proof of God's mercy. This was one of the main reasons for Martin Luther to start the Reformation. No matter how hard he tried to be good, he always felt he was short of receiving the Glory of God (heaven). Guilt was always after him, so, when he finally realized the concept of "sola fide" and "sola gratia," he felt immensely relieved! Read it for yourself:

      "Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, 'As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!' Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.

      "At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, 'In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."' There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.' Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God." (Luther's Works, Volume 34, pp. 336-337)

      John Heelan had mentioned that he was educated by Jesuits, and recollected a dialogue he had with one of them that stayed with him forever. I was also educated by Jesuits. Catholics believe that you are saved by faith in Christ and by works (good deeds); therefore, you have to work your way to Heaven. I remember being taught of the fear of God and hell on a regular basis at the Jesuit school I attended. Jesuits always tried to make us feel guilty. Finally, I stopped going to Mass, because I couldn't take it any more (I was about 15 or 16 then), and decided to forget all about religion.

      Then, many years later, when I was a graduate student at Indiana University, I heard the Gospel, and I was touched. When I found out that the Bible clearly stated that salvation is by faith alone, regardless of your previous and future actions, that gave me great relief and hope, and, later, after a long period of research, including reading through the whole New Testament for the first time, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. The God of love (NT) took over the God of fear that the Jesuits told me about, except that it is the same God, not two; the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Mt. 5:17) The guilt of having been a sinner finally stopped, because I understood that Jesus' righteousness was imputed to me through my faith in his death and resurrection.

      This changed my view on life completely. Not that I didn't sin any more. We are all (Christians and non-Christians) sinners. However, when you are justified by faith, God gives you the grace and power to overcome it: this is called sanctification. This doesn't mean that you don't sin any more: it means that God gives you the power to eliminate your previous sinful patterns. Still, some Christians (even, or especially, Christian leaders) fall into disgraceful sin. This is a shame, and that's why many people (like Tor Guimaraes), when they see what these "model" Christians have done, they want nothing to do with Christianity.

      Some theologians would argue that these "fallen" Christians had never accepted Christ to begin with (that is, when they accepted Christ, it was only a superficial, but not heartfelt prayer); others defend that they fell away from Christianity, which means that they lost their salvation. This second argument is not biblical: you cannot lose your salvation. Another argument is that a person plainly disobeyed God. Whatever the reason, dismissing Christianity because of these sinners' behavior is equivalent to dismissing Islam because of what ISIS is doing. Any religion should be followed or not based on their scriptures alone.

      There are good and bad people in all religions, including agnosticism and atheism, which are also beliefs. I have Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Muslim, Hindi, agnostic, and atheist friends, to name a few. There are also Christians I don't like because of how they behave, as well as people from other faiths. I suggest Tor and others who don't want to associate with Christians to reconsider, and examine the scriptures.

      The argument that always comes up against "sola fide" is: if you are saved by faith alone, you then have the freedom to go and sin more; you don't have an incentive to be good any more! The answer to that is that, after God has saved you from hell, He will give you the grace and desire to please Him by obeying His laws. Also, in the Final Judgment, God will give us more or less rewards depending on how we lived our lives. Here are a couple of websites with a more in-depth explanation:



      Here are some supporting Bible verses:

      "21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ [a] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement [b] by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed." (Romans 3:21-25)

      "8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--9 not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8-9)

      "4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness..." (Ro. 4:4-5)

      "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

      "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" (Jn. 14:6)

      JE comments:  It is Sunday morning, folks!  Towards the end of his comment, Enrique Torner touches on the most obvious rebuttal to the "salvation through faith alone" principle:  how does this incentivize good deeds here and now?    The "everyone is a sinner, so faith can be the only litmus test" argument seems to give a free pass to the worst behavior.  And then there is Calvin's notion of predestination, which I suppose Enrique rejects.  The Calvinist worldview always struck me as demoralizing (as in depressing):  if your eternal fate is already determined, why "bother" at all?

      Can anyone put in a word for Calvin?  And as John Heelan asked several days ago, what exactly is "salvation" anyway?

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      • Calvinism (Robert Whealey, USA 01/26/15 1:48 AM)

        When commenting Enrique Torner's post of 25 January, JE asked: "Can anyone put forward a word for John Calvin?" I am not an
        absolute believing Calvinist, but as an American historian, I have a duty to explain why
        Calvinist philosophy took over in Holland, 53% of the Swiss, the Scottish Presbyterian
        Church, the English Congregational Church, and the Massachusetts Puritans, who spread
        to dozens of new Christian sects and split-offs up to about 1917.

        Rest assured, John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion" (1536) is now seldom
        consulted. Science, technology, Hollywood, the Internet, the places of pleasure in NY,
        London, and Paris are now dominant, but are now themselves politically and economically
        confused by capitalist, imperialist greed.

        JE by his rush to judgment about Calvin does not really understand the idea of
        "predestination." Calvin did not give his followers a free pass to sin. Calvin made no
        claim to knowledge as to who was saved. Only God knew that. But the Calvinistic
        churches argued, "look at your neighbors." See who is sober, who is loyal and loving
        of his wife, and who is going to houses of prostitution, bars, homosexual houses, and gambling
        dens.  The hard-working savers might be saved while the drunks and sodomites are
        probably not going to make it.

        Of course, many uninformed ministers jumped to conclusions and put themselves in
        the pulpit claiming that they "knew God's will."

        Although I am an agnostic and am unsure about Heaven and Hell, as Hamlet was, I
        tried to teach my three children that health and happiness (by doing a good job for
        yourself and others), which was an informal practical Puritanism, was the more
        rational road to follow.
        The "new left," in reality the "old romantics" of the 1964-1969 period made no
        impression on me at age 35-40. I was too busy like Sen. George McGovern,
        Linus Pauling, Martin Luther King Jr, et. al, in resisting the Vietnam war and the
        nuclear arms race.
        Calvinism at its best and pacifists are on the same side.

        The Calvinistic churches
        are only one road to the Bible. The philosophers and theologians by logic alone can
        never explain its many contradictions. It is only a source book for the history of
        Christianity and Judaism.

        JE comments:  Puritanism is commonly seen (especially by Europeans) as the foundation of US culture--the idea of working hard and making sure your neighbors do the same.  It's likely a great way to build a wealthy and functional society.  But I've heard of recent revisionist studies that question the assumptions about Puritans being so "puritanical"--especially with regards to drinking and sex.

        Robert--you mention the places of pleasure in New York, London, and Paris.  Such places don't exist in Michigan, but I'm intrigued.  We do have a colleague or two or three in each of those cities.  Colleagues?

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      • Tolerance of Religious Diversity (Tor Guimaraes, USA 01/27/15 8:36 AM)
        Enrique Torner (25 January) made a statement about me which I need to explain: "I have Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Muslim, Hindi, agnostic, and atheist friends, to name a few. There are also Christians I don't like because of how they behave, as well as people from other faiths. I suggest to Tor Guimaraes and others who don't want to associate with Christians to reconsider, and examine the scriptures."

        I also have many friends and relatives from a wide variety of religions, and agree that all religions have good and bad people. But it is completely wrong for Enrique to think I "don't want to associate" with any of them. First that is not possible, second some of them are great people and I admire them.

        John Eipper commented on my 25 January post: "Nobody ever said these discussions of faith are logical. To come to Enrique Torner's defense, that is the whole point of faith: to believe in something unseen and unmeasurable, which means it defies logic." Exactly right, but also if anyone is to unquestionably be able to make up whatever beliefs they want to have faith in (which is what most religious people do today), then the price mankind has to pay is the messy religious situation we now have (clash of civilizations fueled by major differences in religious beliefs, disrespect for some of each others' religious beliefs, disrespect for scientific knowledge, faith in absurd superstitions, widespread religious corruption, etc.).

        That is why I think mankind needs a more scientific religion with less trust/faith in the supernatural.

        JE comments:  Yes, like it or not, we have no choice but to associate with people of all religions.  As Prof. Hilton wrote in an undated mission statement:  "WAIS is one big international network whose aim is to promote peace across cultural, religious, and political boundaries."  So pax is even more important than lux.  Most of the time we do a pretty good job of it.

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        • Religioius Diversity: an Analogy (Michael Sullivan, USA 01/27/15 3:20 PM)
          After reading the many WAIS discussions on religion it ends up so complex, divergent and confusing that I have developed a simple analogy. It's like taking a plane from LA to New York, as there are seven or so airlines that offer the trip and you believe the one you choose will get you there.

          Non-believers can take a bus or car and they too believe they'll get there. Bottom line, in the end, we'll eventually all arrive at the same place!

          JE comments:  Michael Sullivan's travel analogy is ecumenism perfected.  But atheists are the ones who drive?  Taking the land route is infinitely more spiritual! What commercial airline will let you stop at Carhenge on the way?  I made the pilgrimage last March; you could feel the presence of Nebraska's ancient Druids.



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          • Carhenge and Stonehenge (Randy Black, USA 01/29/15 10:33 AM)
            I am very entertained by John Eipper's Carhenge photos in Alliance, Nebraska, and plan a pilgrimage there in the coming summer break. (See Michael Sullivan, 27 January.)

            Having been to Stonehenge in England several times over the decades, I've attached two photos, one from the 1971 Stonehenge Open Golf Championship in which I finished 2nd after bouncing my drive on the final hole off a bird that was sitting on the top of the center stone and suffering a one-shot penalty to lose to the then current British Open Champion and close friend Lee Trevino. The other photo is from 2011, prior to our WAIS bi-annual meeting at Torquay.

            I was about 44 years younger and 75 pounds slimmer in 1971. The amazing thing seems to be that I was really that young and that fit once upon a time!

            JE comments: But you're still handsome, Randy! I'm confused about one thing: why would they build a "Henge" out of mere rocks?

            After publishing the Carhenge images earlier this week I remembered that I already did a post back in March (https://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=83494&objectTypeId=72055&topicId=44 ). Is my memory failing? We've also run Randy's golfing pic before, but not the modern update.  At the end I pose at the Museo Iconográfico del Quijote, in Guanajuato.  What is the relevance here?  Randy is tilting at Stonehenge, and I am wearing a Carhenge T-shirt!

            Randy Black, 1971

            Randy Black, 2011

            Guanajuato, 6 April 2014

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            • Visiting Stonehenge (Nigel Jones, -UK 01/29/15 12:14 PM)
              Sad to say, Randy Black (29 January) would not get anywhere near the stones of Stonehenge if he visited the site today. Like the original Lascaux caves in France, the whole site is "verboten" to the public, who can only view it from a safe distance, allegedly because the ancient monument was suffering wear and tear, though they have built a hi-tech visitor centre nearby.

              JE comments: My one visit to Stonehenge was in 1998, and even then a cordon kept you 20 meters away. Randy: how did you manage the 2011 photo at such a close distance?

              Stonehenge must be suffering the abuse of all those golfers. (!)  But fear not: at Carhenge you can get as close as you want.

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        • Tolerance of Religious Diversity; Response to Tor Guimaraes (Enrique Torner, USA 01/30/15 1:54 AM)
          I want to apologize to Tor Guimaraes (27 January) for not having expressed myself clearly in the paragraph he quoted from my Jan. 25 post.  I had written:

          "I have Christian (Catholic and Protestant), Muslim, Hindi, agnostic, and atheist friends, to name a few. There are also Christians I don't like because of how they behave, as well as people from other faiths. I suggest Tor and others who don't want to associate with Christians to reconsider, and examine the scriptures."

          I never meant to imply that he does not associate with any Christians. What I was trying to say is that you should not judge an entire religion based on a few individuals who have fallen into disgraceful sin, and decide, as a result of that, that you don't want to join their religion (not "them"). I know it's impossible for somebody not to associate with any Christian at all, or even any follower of another religion. My statement followed the reasoning of a previous paragraph of mine (actually, two paragraphs before, so I guess I must have been tired and did not follow up appropriately):

          "We are all (Christians and non-Christians) sinners. However, when you are justified by faith, God gives you the grace and power to overcome it: this is called sanctification. This doesn't mean that you don't sin any more: it means that God gives you the power to eliminate your previous sinful patterns. Still, some Christians (even, or especially, Christian leaders) fall into disgraceful sin. This is a shame, and that's why many people (like Tor Guimaraes), when they see what these 'model' Christians have done, they want nothing to do with Christianity."

          My comment for Tor was due to a previous statement of his (which I can't find right now, and it's getting late for me!), in which he mentioned having encountered some Christians doing things he didn't like, and that's one of the reasons (I assume not the only one) why he doesn't feel inclined to join Christianity (or a Christian church, or something to the effect).

          Tor, I am really sorry if I misrepresented and upset you.

          JE comments: My thanks to Enrique Torner for the kind (irenic) words.  

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          • Christianity; Response to Enrique Torner (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/01/15 3:47 AM)
            My gratitude to Enrique Torner for his very gracious apology of 30 January; however I regretfully must say that he misinterpreted my position once again. It is not true that I am judging "an entire [Christian] religion based on a few individuals who have fallen into disgraceful sin," which has resulted in my rejection of Christianity.

            My problem with organized religions has been detailed in several posts over the years. My position has always avoided singling out Christianity as a bad religion just because of the many well-documented nasty deeds its followers have committed over the centuries; the followers of other religions have done similarly nasty things. Over time I have grown increasingly against all organized religions because they seem to create more problems than help to humanity. They also often defy the truth based on logic and science. Scientists have an obligation to show that some religious teachings (i.e. the Earth is the center of our solar system, creationism versus evolution, etc.) are wrong. This is particularly important because many religious groups have been prone to killing their critics or members of other religions in the past, and some even do this today. This is true regardless of the fact that much of religious belief is supernatural, based on superstitions that many times contradict basic logic and laws of nature.

            I consider myself a scientist who decided to believe in God fervently. However, my definition of God has to withstand reasoning and existing natural law. Further, why debate if "God" created the Universe when we will never be able to prove this one way or the other? That the Universe is God makes more sense. Atheists cannot argue against that because obviously the Universe exists. Why must religious founders invent a heaven full of virgins or virgin births, ghosts, resurrections, etc., which only make their beliefs unacceptable to scientific-minded people and/or members of other religions?

            JE comments:  Today promises to be very snowy in Michigan, and full of theological debate in WAISworld.  Enrique Torner has sent an interesting note on Calvinism.  First, however, stay tuned for Vincent Littrell on the Petrine-Pauline split in Christianity.

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      • Calvinism (Enrique Torner, USA 02/01/15 5:45 AM)
        Our dear editor had asked at the end of my 25 January post if anybody could "put in a word for Calvin." I initially thought that he was asking for an explanation of Calvinism, but now that I read it again, I believe he meant a defense of Calvinism.  [Yes, I meant a defense--JE.] Regardless, after reading Robert Whealey's response to my post, I thought that Calvin deserved a more thorough theological explanation, so I will try to do that with an easy to remember mnemonic technique I learned from Dr. Thomas F. X. Noble. The word to remember is TULIP. This will be very simplistic for some, but, if you are already an expert, you can use it for teaching the concept. Here it is:

        T--Total depravity: Man is utterly sinful and incapable of taking steps to merit his own redemption.

        U--Unconditional election: Those whom God elects to salvation are elected unconditionally, that is, their election is not conditional on their mode of life, on their works.

        L--Limited atonement: Christ died for the elect, not for all humankind.

        I--Irresistible grace: God's grace is irresistible for the elect, who have, therefore, no claim to merit grace as a reward for their conduct.

        P--Persistence in grace: Grace cannot be lost or rejected by the elect.

        John Eipper had asked me if I am a Calvinist, guessing that I am not. Well, he guessed right! Actually, I don't quite fit with any theologian, nor do I desire to. If anything, I consider myself a Berean: the Bible is my guide, and I have my own interpretation, which I have reached from reading it, considering different theological viewpoints, and meditating about it all. I have never become a member of a church, nor do I want to. Like Tor Guimaraes, I don't like anybody telling me what to think or do. I try to follow what I believe God is saying in His Word, and nothing else. I already experienced the power, control, and manipulation of the Catholic church when I was young; I also noticed several churches/pastors trying to impose their beliefs and behaviors on everybody in their congregation. As an American citizen (yes, I claim my nationality: it took me a lot of work!), having been raised under Franco's dictatorship, I cherish my current freedom.

        JE comments:  I'll still stand by my earlier appraisal of Calvinism as unconditionally depressing.  I've tried to discuss this with US Presbyterians, who seem to have abandoned the harsher tenets of Calvin in order to become a middle-of-the-road Protestant church.  I presume a number of WAISers are practicing Presbyterians.  I hope one of them will comment.

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