Archive for August, 2011

Our cat thinks that I can see in the dark. He can see just fine, so why wouldn’t I be able to do the same thing? He simply cannot see that I can’t see, and he thinks I step on his tail for no reason.

We live in a world of misunderstanding, where no one really knows another person. The King James translation of 1st. Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly…” We don’t know God, other people, or even ourselves as we should.

I can see both positives and negatives in having all the English translations of the Bible that we have today. One of the negative results is the translation that you use, may word something differently from mine. While your version may focus on a single facet of the meaning, mine may be more broad, or focus on another facet. It makes it harder to say the Bible says a certain thing, and it can even look as if they’re contradictory.

Trying to minimize misunderstanding because of these things, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking a verse in multiple translations. Most modern versions translate 1st. Corinthians 13:12 as if we’re seeing a reflection in a mirror, instead of looking through a dark glass. Modern versions use a different manuscript from the older versions, though most of the differences are trivial.

I checked the Strong’s Bible Concordance to see what the Greek word for “darkly” was, but the Strong’s didn’t list it. That may be an omission from my version of the Strong’s. I then checked a direct translation from the Greek in Green’s Interlinear Bible. Strong’s Concordance, and The Interlinear Bible are monumental works, and it’s no wonder that you might find a trivial error here or there.

The Interlinear Bible has the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, with a direct translation into English, and also a rewording by Green for easier reading. The Greek of the New Testament is treated the same way. Green’s also gives the number of the Greek and the Hebrew words in the Strong’s Dictionary. Green’s direct translation of that portion of 1st Corinthians is, “We see for yet through a mirror in obscureness…” We’re not just looking in a mirror, but trying to see through it.

Green lists a Strong’s number for the word translated “obscureness.” The word is “ainigma,” (enigma) obscureness, or darkness. We are looking through a dark glass, and our own reflection in the darkness of the glass obscures what’s on the other side. This scripture is primarily speaking of our understanding of God, but it applies to other people as well. We can’t know them any better than we know God. We see others through our eyes, and they see us through theirs, and no one can really walk a mile in the other man’s shoes.

I’ve written this because of a problem that has arisen at our church. I’ve mentioned before that my wife and sons play music there, and people seem to be satisfied with our music. Apart from that however, they want just a little more than what we can give. They don’t understand why we can’t do just one more little thing. I don’t think they believe that we’ve prayed, and we’ve tried, and even cried, but we can’t carry just that one more straw. They can easily do it, so they can’t see why we can’t.

It has been one of those issues that just won’t go away, and my wife has given up. I can understand why. The only thing that can overcome many of the enigmas of life is the genuine love that Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians talks about. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this time.

All human relationships that fail, do so because someone either can’t, or won’t meet the expectations of someone else. I believe in praying, and I believe in trying, but ultimately grace must exist in any relationship if it is to last. I appreciate the prayers of anyone who happens to read this. This church has been a very good thing for my family, and I didn’t want to see it end.

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In the first three parts of “the Evidence,” I listed nine evidences. The first evidence listed was about the Biblical knowledge of a difference between our atmosphere, and outer space beyond. I’m going to add a little more to that in this post. All the evidences related in some way to the Bible and physics. Number 6 mentioned the Shroud of Turin, and 7 was about art and beauty. Some of the items are more vague than others, but all them are relevant to the science of God.

10. Matter is evidence of the existence of God.

Realistically speaking, nothing should exist. It doesn’t make sense that even lifeless matter would exist. You can question where God came from if you want to, but where did matter come from? That is a question of the same magnitude.

11. Life is evidence of God.

If there was no life, there would certainly be no awareness of anything. If we exist, then why couldn’t God? That isn’t any less likely. If you don’t want to believe that God created matter, and life, then you have to believe that life was spontaneously generated from non-living matter. Then you still haven’t explained the existence of matter.

12. The order that exists within creation is evidence of God. Matter must be ordered in very specific ways to support life. Everything has to be just right.

Evolution is the magic word of science. Everything supposedly changed into something else, but you don’t see that in nature. Living things adapt, but they don’t change into another kind of thing. Cats beget cats, people beget people, nuts and seeds reproduce the same kind of plant they came from.

13. Fixed reproduction of life is evidence against evolution. Science can modify life somewhat, but that is science, not evolution.

14. Good and evil are evidences of the existence of God, and of a Devil (God-good, Devil-evil).

Evil is a deviation, a devolution from that which God created. From there, it makes sense that God would strive to reveal himself to “deliver us from evil.” There are testimonies to that effect, which have found their way into a collection of books. The word “Bible” means a collection of books.

15. Testimony that God has appeared to man must be considered as evidence. If the testimonies are authentic, you would find information in them beyond the scope of man’s knowledge at the time of writing.

16. Knowledge that is ahead of its time (super-knowledge) is evidence.

The writer (or writers) of Genesis for instance could not have known of a boundary between our atmosphere, and outer space beyond, yet the writer just happened to get it right. Our atmosphere is called the open firmament (or face). Outer space is simply spoken of as the firmament, or expanse. The word “expanse”, would indicate an expanding universe. Collectively, these are called “heaven,” or “the heavens.” In the New Testament, Paul makes this even more distinct, by using the term “third heaven,” to identify the dwelling place of God.

Under the super-knowledge category would come many examples from the Bible. I bet that if science were to advance far enough, we could take a rib from man, and obtain stem cells to create a female counterpart of man. There’s no need to do that however, since God already created “woman.” Beauty is evidence of the existence of God, not that beauty doesn’t sometimes mask danger. Earth is a beautiful place, and even the most desolate places have their own special grandeur. I’ve already listed God’s artistry as an evidence, though all these things could be expanded upon.

Isaiah 40:22 speaks of the “circle of the earth.” I think the Hebrew word could there have been translated as “sphere.” The word is translated elsewhere in the Bible as “circuit,” which is perhaps the most accurate. The earth does make a circuit around the sun. This would also fit under the super-knowledge category, but it’s important enough to list separately.

17. Isaiah 40:22 either refers to the earth as a sphere, or its circuit around the sun, depending upon translation.

The problems we have with God aren’t due to a lack of evidence, but rather a willful suppression and rejection of it. The Bible teaches that if first there is a willing mind (or heart), acceptance will come from that (2nd. Corinthians 8:12).

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I had not heard of the Shroud of Turin until I was in my late twenties. A greater percentage of people probably know of its existence now, but I suspect the overall percentage remains low. It’s been two or three years since the Carbon-14 dating was proven wrong, but I only recently learned of that myself.

I don’t think there’s a huge conspiracy to keep the Shroud quiet, though I do believe there’s a devil. I think it’s mainly a fear factor that exists within human nature that keeps people from informing others. People could fear the shroud for different reasons. The image is of an unclothed, crucified man. Though the nakedness is hidden, the picture is a brutal one, like those we sometimes see on the news. A while back, I warned my family about the video from the tsunami in Japan, before turning the news back on. There are some things that you must see, even though you really don’t want to.

Some Christians fear that as a physical object, the shroud could become the focus of worship, and lead to idolatry. That can be the case with practically anything though. Some Atheists fear that it could be real. Some point out that even if it is authentic, it doesn’t prove Jesus was resurrected. It does point in that direction though.

There’s always a temptation to avoid controversial subjects, especially if you don’t know much about them. It’s easier to do that than it is to learn something about your subject. To avoid controversy, and fit in with the world, many churches accept evolution and whatever else comes down the pike. They reinterpret the Bible to fit current opinions and trends. Other churches become so authoritarian in their doctrines that those who have honest questions hesitate to ask them.

You find much hostility toward Creationism in the churches for these same reasons. People fear what they don’t understand. Even some Creationist groups don’t accept the shroud as authentic. Those who reject it, usually do so based upon some traditional interpretation of Scripture they’ve been taught. We need to take another look at the Shroud. The Bible can be interpreted to support it just as easily as not, and the logic of those who support the Shroud is sound.

If you were Peter, or John, or another of the disciples, and you found the shroud in the empty tomb of Jesus, wouldn’t you have kept it. I certainly would have. I would have folded it up, and tried to keep it hidden in a safe place. The image could possibly have formed slowly, and might not necessarily have been visible at the time. If it was, and the Lord’s enemies learned of it, it would have been targeted for destruction. Attempts have been made to destroy it during its known history.

Jesus Christ is a controversial character, which is partly why he was crucified. The Bible, the main source of information about him, is a controversial book. Creationism is a controversial interpretation of the world around us. The Shroud of Turin fits right in with these other things. They are always right in the middle of the battle, but the closer they are tested, the stronger the case for them becomes. From time to time, they may seem to suffer some set-back, but it’s always temporary.

The Catholic Church became the owner of the Shroud in 1983. Until that time, it had been owned by various individuals, though it had been kept in a church for several centuries. The transfer of ownership to the church might not have been the best thing. The church had the shroud cleaned in 2002, calling it a restoration. That may have rendered it impossible for science to obtain a good Carbon-14 dating. If another sample were retested, and a first century date were obtained, that dating would be contested because of the cleaning. Something else that everyone should know is that Carbon-14 dating can be influenced by many factors. Contaminants, as well as cleaning can affect its accuracy.

Vials of the stuff vacuumed from the shroud are said to have been kept for study. I assume that would include particles of dried blood from the cloth. No doubt, the blood will be studied. They will try to determine if it’s any different from other human blood.  Scientists have insisted that the blood on the Shroud is far too degraded for cloning. Other scientists have said the same thing about cloning a wooly mammoth, yet a team of Japanese scientists plan another attempt soon.

I doubt there’s enough dried blood from the Shroud for Carbon-14 dating of the blood, or for cloning either one. If by some miracle of science, a clone of the man in the Shroud could be created, it wouldn’t be Jesus. We know from the Bible, that is not the way he will return. I think that most often, a study of the Shroud of Turin draws us into a deeper study of Jesus, and that’s a good thing.

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Who was the first to use the expression, “Holier than thou?” Isaiah 65:5 in the KJV says these words have been spoken to God, “Don’t come near me, for I am holier than thou.” This is primarily speaking of religious people who have established standards that conflict with those of God, but it applies to every human being. If God appeared in his glory, man would fear to say something like that, but they said it when he came as a man (Jesus).

When Adam and Eve took from the tree of knowledge, they were taking it upon themselves to decide right from wrong. In essence, they were thinking to become like gods, or like God (ref. my page, the Tree of Knowledge). They no longer trusted God to teach them. When he stopped by to visit them afterward, they tried to hide from him. By the time God entered into the family of man, our understanding of right and wrong had become so distorted that many thought Jesus was the one in the wrong.

That has pretty much become the standard thinking in our day. The thing about the tree of knowledge is that people can reach an infinite number of conflicting conclusions because of it. That’s because much of what people think they know is based on their own training and experience. Everyone has their own standards. We’ve heard the expression about honor among thieves. Such a thing exists. Atheists and Evolutionists have their standards, as do Islamic people, Communists, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, all factions of all the above, plus endless unmentioned others.

The ignorance in the world doesn’t absolve us of guilt however, because the Bible teaches that we could have known better if we really wanted to. Besides that, sometimes we each violate our own principles when they become inconvenient for us. Problems that arise from multiple standards affect the whole world. They separate us from each other, and they separate us from God. The strong seek to impose their standards by any means possible upon those weaker than themselves. You can look at the Shroud of Turin as evidence of man’s inhumanity toward man.

I’m not going to try to write a book on the shroud, but it has much to teach us. It shows us how the Romans maintained control of their empire. Pathologists who have studied the shroud say that besides bruises from fists, the Shroud shows wounds on the victim from 60-120 lashes with a Roman flagrum. The flagrum was a short whip with three cords. The cords had pieces of metal or bone attached to their ends. The linen shroud shows wounds that appear to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and nails through the wrists and feet. Yeah, the Romans maintained law and order, but it was their law, and their order. They twisted things around until God was made out to be an outlaw.

For the Hebrew people, there was an Old Testament prohibition against wearing a garment of linen and wool combined. I’ve read of several possible reasons for this, and most of them are just common sense. Linen is cooler than wool, and easier to clean, and so on. The reason that makes the most sense is that moths and other insects that destroy wool cannot digest linen fibers. If you wanted a fabric to last, you would not mix wool with it. If you wanted a burial shroud such as the Shroud of Turin to last for ages, you would use linen.

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