Are There Two Realities and Two Competing Explanations of Them?

Rabbi Breitowitz, former professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, recently gave a speech about the difference between religion and science. In it, he attempted to distinguish between two types of realities as explained from two perspectives: religion and science. However, he begins with a faulty premise by claiming that religion and science address two different types of realities: one the “what” (science) and one the “why” (religion). These types are vague claims and not knew. What is “type”?  Those who believe in evolution as the explanation of origins also make such a claim while using the claims of science. This claim creates a bifurcation with reality – that is what exists, and runs in conflict with Torah itself.

Here is the link to Rabbi Breitowitz’s speech video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hvrv94sl-Lw

At the beginning of Torah, its reads,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

This claim is not a type of reality separate and distinct from the “type of reality” of science. Rather it is a true explanation of reality and does not run counter to science. It affirms:

  • The material world
  • The material world began and was not eternal
  • God existed before any time-space beginning
  • God created what exists

Science does not have its own reality nor addresses a particular type of reality. Science does not have the thinking capacity or will to address anything let alone reality. People think and will. Second, it is a false comparison to posit religion against science or more specifically Torah against science. God created both, not as two separate sources or explanations of two separate realities but as affirming one another.

Science cannot affirm or dis-affirm any reality, because science (or a better term “the sciences”) consists of mechanisms or tools man created to examine the material world and to make sense of it through interpretation. There are many sciences (meteorology, archaeology, anatomy, biology, etc.). Each deals with a segment of existence.

A large part of science is the human mind, because without it there would be no means for developing the tools, mechanisms, and methods used as science to explore and interpret what exist. That is, science would not exist apart from the living being known as man or woman. Science is often used in a vague manner as THE way individuals explain what exist. However, the explanation and interpretation of data does not come from science but from individuals. Therefore, science (or the sciences) does not explain anything or interpret data. People do. However, frequently, pseudo-scientists or even scientists misleadingly conflate the mechanism and the interpreter, making them one and the same. This is a false approach.

Second, it is false to set up religion versus science and then claim they address two realities. There is only one reality – that which exists. Religion and science are not true opposites addressing two realities. To make them so is a logical fallacy. Just as science does not address a reality, in that it cannot think, religion cannot do this either. Religion, just like science, is not a living and thinking being but simply a metaphor known as a metonymy. That is, it represents that which it describes.

For example, people often speak of a head of a nation as the “crown.” The head of a nation is not a crown, but the crown is a representative symbol for that person – a metonymy. However, those who refer to science or religion as being able to do this or that or give evidence or claim certain things as true naively fail to distinguish the thing from the symbol (metonymy) that represents it. In doing so, they raise a deception and a logical fallacy while misleading people into accepting the thing itself as an authoritative living entity (that is, science is the living authority). The deception is that the one who commits this fallacy is setting himself up as the unquestioned authority. In doing so, there are no hypotheses, theories, speculations, or guesses but simply unquestioned fact.

Third, religion and science both have their origins in and through the minds of individuals. People examine specific areas of what exist and give that discipline a name, such as anatomy, biology, astronomy, and so on. Those names did not exist prior to the minds of individuals. It is false to claim that because the material world existed before humanity, that the sciences that described it existed in tandem. Individuals created the mechanisms and methods of discovery.

They did not suddenly appear with the material world. Therefore, to make the claim that science proves something or that science proves God does not exist or cannot prove God exist is conflating a metaphor and the individual interpreter and in essence makes
the individual an impersonal metaphor.

Rabbi Breitowitz commits this fallacy by positing religion and science as opposites and as describing two separate realities. In doing so, he makes two separate claims, one a false opposite fallacy (religion versus science) and the other a false view of what exists. If there are two realities and we live in one, where and what is the other? There is no other if the Rabbi holds to Torah’s beginning and the claims this beginning statement makes,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

Many atheistic scientists reject God and retreat to evolution.

However, evolution is not another reality but a separate explanation of origins. It is no more than a symbolic name associated with origins.  It is an explanation that rejects God as the originator of all that exists in the material world.  Two explanations actually pose true opposites – that which is true and that which is false or reality and non-reality or fact and fiction. That which is true and that which is false cannot both exist as true, because that would violate the law of non-contradiction, that is, A does not equal non-A.

The difference between the explanations from Torah and a scientific textbook is really that of genre and not different realities. Learned critics often confuse (falsify) or conflate opposites. Genre is the type or form of literary work appropriated. Torah’s genre is narrative and story of historical reality while scientific textbooks are descriptive interpretation of observable historical data. They have one thing in common: historical fact.  These approaches are very different but are not in conflict as some theological or scientific critics who reject the Bible wish to lead people to believe. These genres can support one another, such as in anthropological science: relics supporting history. They have indeed done so in biblical archaeology and anthropology.

When reading or listening to a critic of religion or science, such as Rabbi Breitowitz, examine his or her premises and the language used. Are the premises sound? Do they use metaphor or plain speech? Remember, even seemingly plain speech is metaphor, because it seeks to explain something through representation. For example. the crown is only a symbol for the authority it represents. It is also a name given to a combination of metal and jewels, and that name represents that combination. Is the user of specific words applying them correctly or falsifying reality by these words? Deception can arise from falsification. Do not be deceived.  The Apostle John wrote,

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

False prophets do not have to be religious.  They can also pose as scientists, psychologists, or philosophers bringing a false perspective of reality and attempt to falsify truth.

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Who is God? Part 3

Those who worship the God of the Bible in spirit and in truth need to be careful not to reduce the Most High to nature, being, evolution, process, humanity, or even religious experiences…No church can long serve the God of truth with an untrue and diminished view of who He is.”

– Gordon R. Lewis & Bruce A. Demarest, “Integrative Theology”

If you conducted an on-the-street survey with the question “Who is God?” how many different answers do you think you would receive?  Given the number of gods that inhabit the minds of individuals, countless gods could outnumber a single nation.  The survey could not offer a list.  The New Age borrows from the old age of ancient Greece and Rome.  The Pantheons would be a meager bunch compared to the number one could count today.

Many gods have arisen because people have sought to imagine God according to the elements of creation. They then depart from the path of knowing the one true God onto another dark, dangerous, and destructive road of idolatry. The study and knowledge of God is a thoughtful lifelong process requiring dependence on Him and what He reveals to us in the Bible.

No one can know God rightly without God first revealing Himself to that person. A corollary to this truth is that no one can then seek after Him unless God first not only reveals Himself but also draws the heart to Him (Romans 3:10). For unless God takes the initiative with each act, everyone in his or her human condition will seek another path.  Many have claimed that people across the world cry out for God and seek after Him.  If we are to believe Paul the Apostle in his statement in Romans 3:10, these many cry out for that which is greater than themselves but one like them.  They want a savior much like Israel wanted a king like the other nations.  Corruption brings about such perverted desires.  Albert Mohler refers to these perverted religious desires as making God into a “therapeutic category” (The Eclipse of God at Century’s End: Evangelicals Attempt Theology with Theism).  Paul quotes from the Psalms of the Old Testament:

The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside…” (Psalm 14:2-3)

When the real God shows up, people exclaim,

“That’s not God, not the god I desire, one I can see, feel, and hear, one who pats me on my back and consoles me in my predicaments, one who gives me wealth, health, lots of toys, recognition, and popularity (instead of ridicule).”

C. S. Lewis wrote,

A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads— better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap— best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband— that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?

– Lewis, C. S., A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 3). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

As people reject the true biblical God, they create Him according to their imagination, raising in their minds what they want Him to be according to their own desires and their alienation from God. They then design an entire worldview around this god or these gods, projecting on these deities an authority that actually shifts this authority away from God to themselves. Note, it is not to another god to which they shift authority but to themselves. Once they have established their own authority, they can then project on themselves their present condition and include it into their worldview (“I’m OK, you’re OK, but others outside of our circle are downright nasty.”). As a remedy, they offer their own solutions from human-centered philosophy, religion, and psychology.

Seeking?  Yes.  Spiritual?  Yes.  Religious zeal?  Yes.  Seeking after God?  No, that is until He finds us and gives us a willing heart and mind.  All the rest of our seeking, according to Lewis, is dabbling in religion.  God is not at all what we make Him to be.  However, He is everything we need Him to be given our current state of affairs in this destructive, unenviable, hopeless, and violent environment in which we find ourselves.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17)

God loved.  He gave.  He sent.  He saved (delivered from destruction).  In His matchless initiative, He reached out to us in our religious dabbling, philosophizing, and therapeutic machinations.  No initiative on our part comes infinitely close to His strong hand of mercy and grace.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Who is God? Part 2

In the previous article, “Who is God? Part 1,” we examined approaches to God and how the biblical God offers the only true choice for a real and personal God with whom humanity can relate.  However, humanity has decided to pursue its own set of gods deriving from the created order, one who is limited and impersonal.  These are imitations and straw man perversions of the one true God.

This article focuses on the question,

“Why is God as a personal God an important and strategic truth?”

The personal biblical God is indisputable and unanswerable from the view of unbelieving evolution, atheism, and all other idolatrous religions. None of them can explain how humanity can possess the nature of personality (being a person) apart from a personal God. All that other religions and philosophies can do is offer speculation about how impersonal and inanimate matter can ultimately become a person. Speculation is no substitute for truth. This speculation fails because other religions and philosophies cannot identify a clearly defined trajectory from the impersonal to the personal.

God as Personal

While God transcends the created order and our experiences in it, He has a personal nature and is immanent with us.  We do not project on God a personal nature because we are personal beings.  Such a projection is merely speculation and cannot define a clear trajectory from the impersonal to the personal.  In other words, there is no clear and definite answer for explaining the personal nature of human beings except through a personal God.  Rather, He shares this nature of person-hood with humanity because He created us in His image.  The personal God created us in His image with person-hood being a major part of that image.  This creation alone explains how we are persons.

Importance of a Personal God

The personal God provides the only reasonable explanation for the personal nature of humanity.  Humanity’s personal nature is unanswerable from evolution, atheism, impersonal theism, polytheism, and all other idolatrous religions or philosophies. People are unable to relate with the impersonal god(s) of these religions.  None of these provides an adequate religious or philosophical model for explaining how we came to be persons.  Furthermore, the sciences has no means of explaining how we assumed personality. They simply discover the observable and offer an interpretive best guess.  Even then, clashing and competitive interpretations exist among scientists, the social sciences, and philosophies.  We could never know or comprehend love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, patience, gentleness, or other personal qualities apart from God as a person. Individuals defines such qualities in so many conflicting ways.  Without God, these qualities are simply open to interpretation from clashing philosophies.

FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PERSONAL TRIUNE GOD

It is easy to overlook the importance of the Triune God. Many people do, and end up concluding God to be other than who He is, one arising from the created order or from a myriad imaginations.  One of the most crucial and fundamental characteristics of the image of God in which He created us is the capacity for personal relationship. This characteristic exists as fundamental to the being of the Triune God.  When God created us in His image, that image implanted in us the capacity for relationships.

There is another extremely important reason for understanding why we relate to and worship a personal God. God is a Triune God.  To know the living God is to know the personal Triune God. It is impossible to relate with something impersonal. You cannot have a relationship with a rock, but you can sell them. There is no reciprocation and no capacity to relate. Additionally, humans as personal beings cannot arise from an impersonal state or an impersonal god. The speculation and conjecture of evolution proposes that humans as personal beings can arise from an impersonal source by chance. However, such speculation fails to explain how our person-hood came into existence and how chance alone brought us about.

Let us return to statements from the previous article:

  • When there is a rejection of a personal God and the desire to know Him, this leads to a breach between God and humanity as the historical account of the Fall demonstrated
  • When a breach between the personal God and humanity occurs, worldviews with impersonal gods arise (pantheism, polytheism, animism, agnosticism, atheism).  Atheism and agnosticism assumes the impersonal.  Atheism stands for no god or gods.  There is then no source for relationship resembling the personal and no explanation for the person-hood in humanity.
  • Such worldviews turn men and women inward toward self (isolationism) rather than outward toward God (relational)
  • When other worldviews minimize a personal God, they also tend to minimize the person-hood of humanity. This minimization shows up in the devaluation of individuals in treating them like numbers, statistics, or sources of profit
  • Minimizing the person-hood of humanity leads to devaluing life altogether or valuing life in terms of monetary gain: abortion, human trafficking, and slavery serve as examples of individual devaluation

These statements show why it important to trust a personal God.  Such trust is a personal attribute and demonstrates how the rejection of the true biblical God leads to the devaluation of humanity in various forms: abortion, human trafficking, and slavery.  Some may claim, “Well now, here is a Christian who speaks of value but ignores what Christianity has done in the past.”  This statement raises a straw man “Christianity,” one that is man-centered and not God-centered and biblically centered.  It is easy to point fingers when one pointing them is guilty of the same thing.  The one thing that does away with finger pointing and criticism is humility and faith in the one and only God of which the Bible speak, because He alone informs us of Himself and exposes us for what we really are – those separated from Him, living in darkness from the truth, and in need of Him.

 

Why Worldview Makes A Difference for Morality and Philosophy for Life

night moonRecently, I engaged in a discussion on the http://www.linkedin.com network website.  The discussion was “The Moral Guidelines that Could Change Our Moral Codes” (http://linkd.in/1vp7DDa).  The author suggested that not all moral codes make us think.  He then proposed a question answer scenario that would facilitate our thinking.  In doing so, he posed a number of questions prior to acting or making a moral decision:

“Would this action or practice
– facilitates or impede my/our development?
– facilitates or impede the development of our fellow citizens?
– facilitates or impede my/our interrelations with my/our families and my/our friends?
– facilitates or impede my/our interactions with my/our colleagues and fellow citizens?
– facilitates or impede the functioning of my/our governments?
– creates or maintain an environment where we are free to develop?” (, “The moral guidelines that could change our moral codes.”

In a comment to a series of other replies, particularly focused on Ayn Rand’s philosophy, one gentleman posed a suggestion: “When we do for others we do for ourselves for it creates our reality…the same is true when we only focus on self/fear.”

He came very near what Jesus claimed by paraphrasing what He actually said.  The difference between this gentleman’s suggestion and what Jesus claimed is that Jesus claimed that such a statement revealed a singular and truthful worldview and not the creation of “our reality.”  I went on to say,

“One thing missing in this discussion because this one thing rises above and encompasses the details of what has been said: worldview. Rand’s philosophy rises from her worldview.  [Name withheld], the initial statement you made (a paraphrase) in your recent post rises from a specific worldview: “When we do for others, we do for ourselves.”

Jesus actually claimed that statement:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:7-12).

He embeds that statement in His worldview, that is God is above all. Notice at the beginning of the cited quote, Jesus says, “Ask…seek…knock.” Ask…seek…knock from whom? GOD. Then He continues by describing the nature of humanity. He said that although people are inclined to evil, they know enough to do good for their families. Then Jesus notes that God is greater, because He is Father of all. Afterwards comes the quote in question: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (7:12). That is, those who seek God and His worldview will have this mindset, because it comes from God, and all humanity is created in His image.

This worldview claims, then, all have His imprint within and know value and duty. Value recognizes the worth of all God created and the order He established. Duty recognizes moral obligation. That is, everyone knows when they do right or wrong. Treatment of others and allegiance to God show both. We do good to and for others because we see them as having great value. Doing evil toward another or even toward ourselves devalues others and ourselves. Doing evil devalues oneself. Although we are naturally inclined to evil, as shown by our need for any moral code at all, we recognize good and do good because we are created in the image of God. Jesus claimed that our commitment to God enables us to live according to the image in which He created us, that is, according to Him.

Worldview makes a huge difference in terms of how we view moral codes. If we reject God as the giver of morality, we will attempt to create our own. When everyone does this, conflict arises, and morality becomes relative to one’s own worldview. There will be no end of conflict, tension, and wars in the world as each person, group, or society competes for the power to exert its worldview. Power plays happen in all organizations. Recognizing and committing ourselves to the source of our existence goes toward reducing such conflict and living in love toward one another. The last phrase Jesus said acknowledges this. He referred to the claim of doing to others as you would have them do to you as arising from the Law and Prophets. Jesus made only one other claim that did so, and that claim was loving one another. He said doing this fulfilled the Law and Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s worldview preempts all other worldviews and moral codes. It is universal while any human created worldview and corresponding moral code is limited because it is finite.

If then a moral code assumes that all are inclined toward evil and all need correction, as Denis’ questions suggest, then the solution is a worldview and corresponding moral code that is sufficiently universal to apply to the universality of the inclination toward evil. That worldview is that which Jesus claimed.”

Worldview matters, because it does indeed reflect truth and that truth reality.  The significance of the worldview of Jesus is that His worldview is the only one that works, because God alone changes people from the inclination toward evil to an inclination toward right living through imparting to them a new life altogether.  The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Through faith we commit ourselves to the worldview of Jesus and in doing so to the greatest commandment of the Law – to love one another.  This worldview is reality because it reflects the truth of God.  Worldview matters for morality and philosophy of life.