God’s Idea

consciousness

In StarTrek, the characters are able to go from their ship to a planet’s surface almost instantly via the transporter device. The transporter works by converting the matter of a person into energy, beaming that energy to a target location, and then rematerializing the person. Now, there is an interesting philosophical question that arises from this method of transportation: If the physical brain of the person being transported is taken apart molecule by molecule, atom by atom, then what happens to that person’s consciousness? If consciousness cannot exist without matter, as some propose, then is the transported person’s consciousness obliterated in the matter-to-energy conversion, which could then be considered death? If so, what rematerializes at the other end?

Another angle on this thought experiment is from the film The Prestige.(Spoiler Alert!) In that film, one of the main characters, Robert Angier, has a machine which enables him to perfectly clone himself. He uses that machine to perform a magic trick in which he disappears on stage and then reappears at the back of the theatre behind the audience. Of course it is an amazing trick as he would have no time to get back there so fast. But, it is really his clone who appears. Meanwhile, the original Angier on stage falls through a trap door below the machine into an awaiting water tank, which closes and locks, thus drowning him. The clone goes on to perform the trick again the next show, clones himself, drowns, and so on and so on. Why would he do something so crazy? Well, you have to watch the film. The real question is: Does Robert Angier still exist after the first cloning?

I had an uncle, Uncle Fred, who was my dad’s older brother. He moved to Canada from Germany after WW2 to start a new life. In Canada, he started his own electrical company, which he ran for a couple of decades before handing it over to his sons and retiring. Late in his life he had Alzheimer’s disease. The disease progressed to the point where he believed his wife was his mother, he still owned his electrical company, his sons were his business partners, and he still lived in Germany. Because of the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s, his identity and his consciousness became a chaotic mix and match of various events throughout his lifetime. Did my Uncle Fred still exist at that point? Or, had the real man died already?

There is no doubt that my consciousness, my identity, and my personality are dependant on my brain. If my brain is damaged or functions abnormally, I change. It is a bit disturbing to think about. What happens if my brain is irreversibly damaged? What happens when my brain dies?

As a Christian, I believe that I will remain even after my brain dies. How is this possible? It is only possible if I exist primarily, first and foremost, not as a physical being, but as an idea of God. I suppose you could call that idea a spirit.

I’m speculating now of course, but I believe God’s ideas are not like our ideas. For God, His ideas are so perfect, and so powerful, they all become realities. God does not have half-baked ideas floating around in His mind with which, through trial and error, He comes up with final decisions. God’s ideas are perfect from conception; and being perfect from conception, they become immediate realities. Or, if they are delayed realities, that is only because God wants them to be delayed. The Bible would call these ideas of God His Word. (See Isaiah 55:8-11)

Jonathan Edwards wrote, in his essay on the Trinity, in regards to the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity:

“…God perpetually and eternally has a most perfect idea of Himself, as it were an exact image and representation of Himself ever before Him and in actual view, and from hence arises a most pure and perfect act or energy in the Godhead, which is the Divine love, complacence and joy. The knowledge or view which God has of Himself must necessarily be conceived to be something distinct from His mere direct existence. There must be something that answers to our reflection. The reflection as we reflect on our own minds carries something of imperfection in it. However, if God beholds Himself so as thence to have delight and joy in Himself He must become his own object. There must be a duplicity. There is God and the idea of God, if it be proper to call a conception of that that is purely spiritual an idea.”

Basically, what Edwards is saying is that God’s idea of Himself is so perfect that it becomes a Second Person, just as real as the First. And the love expressed between the First Person and the Second Person is so perfect, that it itself becomes a Third Person, just as real as the other Two. That’s the Trinity: Father (First), Son (Second), and Holy Spirit (Third).

I exist as an idea of God. An idea so perfect, it becomes real. This is my source of life. The physical is how God brought the idea of me into being, but the idea of me is not based on the physical. Also, the idea of me will never be extinguished — from the moment of my conception, I will always exist. Why? Because God will never forget me.

As a Christian, I believe that when I die, when my brain dies, I will still exist. Exactly in what form I will exist, I don’t know, but I will still be the same I I am today, conscious and aware. Then, sometime in the future, I will be resurrected in a new body, with brain and all. And when I am resurrected, I will not be a Swampman.

The Swampman is a philosophical thought experiment put forth by Donald Davidson in the 1980s…

“The experiment goes like this. Suppose Davidson went for a walk in a swamp and gets hit by a lightning bolt, and consequently dies. Coincidentally, at the very same moment this happens, in another part of the swamp, the lightening rearranges some molecules into the same form of Davidson’s body, copying every structure completely. This ‘being’ is the Swampman, which looks exactly like Davidson to the smallest respects, and it walks out of the swamp. Is this being Davidson? Is this being a being, that is, is this being a person? Does this being have the same thoughts as Davidson? Does this being have thoughts at all? Davidson’s own answer leans towards negative towards all of these questions.
“The reason Davidson opines that the Swampman is not Davidson, and in fact, the Swampman might not even be a person, is because Davidson holds that that Swampman is incapable of cognitive thought, because the Swampman has no causal history, and a being needs causal history of thoughts to have any cognizance in the first place. So while the Swampman’s utterances may feel like they have meaning, according to Davidson, they actually don’t. The Swampman’s propositions are thus not genuine according to Davidson. Davidson while claiming the Swampman’s utterances have no meaning, does not actually outright doubt Swampman’s personhood, yet refers to the Swampman as an ‘it’ rather than as a ‘he’ and it seems to regard the Swampman as not having meaningful qualia.”*

At my resurrection, the idea of me, which has always been and will always be sustained by God whether I am in physical form or not, will be placed once again into a physical body. I will not be a clone, or a replica. My consciousness will be an uninterrupted flow of existence from now until then.

One could argue that God will take the exact same atoms of my original body at the time of my death and use those same atoms to recreate my new body. Why not? It doesn’t really matter I suppose — the atoms which made up my body as a child will probably have all been replaced by the time I am an old man.

If I buy a motorcycle, and over the course of 20 years, replace every part of that motorcycle, is it still the same motorcycle?

The idea remains.

*See Donald Davidson – Swampman

Advertisements

8 Steps to Overcome Porn

Even though I am a Christian, when talking to men who masturbate and watch porn, I will not tell them to stop because God is mad at them. I will tell them to stop because masturbating and watching porn is for losers. If you’re married, why are you setting a real flesh and blood woman aside for your hand and a video screen? And if you’re single, why don’t you get married?

Anyway, here’s 8 steps (in no particular order) a man can follow to get off porn….

  1. The man must admit the problem and become aware of the patterns of the addictive habit. He must be honest with himself and with God. No hiding. When does he usually look at porn? How often? What triggers the desire? What thoughts run through his mind just prior to viewing porn? He must identify and define his addiction. He must know his enemy.
  2. Pray, fast, and pray some more. I’ve known several men, and I have my own personal experience with this, with various different addictions — smoking, drugs, porn, drinking — who, after struggling for years, suddenly knew one day that their addiction was gone. And it is somewhat of a mystery. “Why now? Why have I been struggling for so long, and why now am I suddenly free?” Obviously there is a spiritual battle going on, and we can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes — perhaps there are angels fighting demons, perhaps something else — but through prayer we participate in the battle. Prayer calls down the power of God against our enemies. The man must not quit his spiritual warfare when things are difficult, but rather, “Rejoice evermore. Pray with out ceasing. In every thing give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  3. Run. Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to flee sexual immorality. There is no shame in fleeing an enemy the man can not possibly defeat all on his own. The man must flee the enemy and later fight the enemy from higher ground (in the prayer closet and in worship). In fleeing temptation, the man resists temptation, and in resisting temptation, the devil flees from him (James 4:7).
  4. Remove items of temptation. Maybe he needs to turn his computer around so that others can see what’s on the screen, or get out of the office and work in a more public space. Maybe he shouldn’t be alone for too long periods of time. He needs to keep his hands busy doing better things in his free time and when he might be alone — build a workshop, learn to weld, do some woodworking, learn an instrument, read more, write more, etc.
  5. He needs to tell others of his problem. Tell a counsellor, the pastor, his wife, his friends, his brother, and who ever else can help him. Sin thrives in the darkness but dies in the light. Hopefully he attends a church in which it is safe for him to confess his sin without being condemned. If not, he needs to find a biblical church.
  6. If he begins to look at porn, but does not follow through to climax, he needs to know that he can and should stop himself in the process. Just because he has begun doesn’t mean it is a lost cause to stop.
  7. If he does fall, he needs to have, what John Piper calls, gutsy guilt. “I [Piper] call it that because the believer admits that he has done wrong and that God is dealing roughly with him. But even in a condition of darkness and discipline, he will not surrender his hold on the truth that God is on his side.”* No hiding in the bushes when God comes asking where he is. He goes to God, admits what he has done, and submits to God’s discipline. This is the quickest path to restoration. The words of Micah 7:8-9 should be memorized by the man who falls into porn use: Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Psalm 51 fits well here also.
  8. The man needs to set up a structure in his life so that he can actively replace the bad habits with the new ones. He needs to order his ways before the LORD. This is where he can get help from a Christian counsellor who will give him homework assignments designed to create new patterns of habit. Counsellor and counselee can work together to list all the bad habits in the man’s life which lead to porn and what can be done to replace those habits with godly habits.

*How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause by John Piper

Recommended reading:

Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson

Fidelity: What it Means to Be a One-Woman Man by Douglas Wilson

~~~

One

I recently tweeted: The only theology that matters: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

A Progressive/Liberal Christian responded….

IMG_0260

Obviously LunaticFringer didn’t bother to look up the two O.T. verses, in which she would have discovered what Jesus was quoting when He said, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

As I have young children, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will successfully pass on my Christian faith to them. It is not a guaranteed thing when mom and dad are Christian that the kids will be too. I’ve seen it too often when children, even raised by pastors, reject the faith when they’re old enough to be allowed to do so.

This passing on of the faith can be looked at in relation to a whole society in much the same way as individual families. The Deuteronomy passage tells us what to do…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
(Deut. 6:4-9)

First we are told to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds — everything we are. Second, we are told that these words need to be in, or on, our hearts. That doesn’t happen automatically. If we want the faith to continue to the next generation we must teach God’s word, and make His word foundational to all aspects of our lives — our children need to hear us talking about God and living what we are saying. Whatever we do with our hands and with our minds is submitted to God (compare to Revelation 13:16). Our family life (thy house) and our political sphere (thy gates) are shaped by His word.

If we don’t do these things we are guaranteeing that our children will either become atheists directly or Liberal Christians, which leads to the same place. Liberal Christianity, both its fading modernist version and its new progressive/post-modernist version, with its worship of the zeitgeist god and its false mission to “save” the Church from itself, has always been and will always be a direct road to atheism.

Today we live in an overly feminized culture. If you say or do anything which offends people and makes them feel bad, you are in the wrong. Truth, when offensive (as it often is), is rejected. God’s word is truth; God’s word is offensive. The strong father figure is no longer respected and is seen as “toxic masculinity”.

God is one — He is not divided. He is not tossed to and fro in His thinking. He was not different in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. His word does not change meaning over time (as post-modern philosophy teaches). What He said to the O.T. Israelites as recorded in the Bible was not just their confused understanding of His word muddied by their tribalistic warrior worldview.

Christian fathers need to grow some backbones and pass on the uncompromised word of God to their children and the entire next generation.

Further reading…

Men in Charge?! So Patronizing!

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (Book Review)

Postmodern Jesusism

Men in Charge?! So Patronizing!

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 7.57.49 AM

Rachel Held Evans is speaking of this article: Husbands, Get Her Ready for Jesus.

I suppose the article would be a lot less “offensive” if it were titled: Wives, Get Him Ready for Jesus. In fact, no one would be offended at that title, including the most conservative and patriarchal of Christian men. But because the article is calling men to be leaders in their marriages it is “so patronizing”. I wonder if RHE would be equally offended at this Desiring God article: Real Men Love Strong Women.

So what does the Bible have to say on the subject?

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
~Ephesians 5:21-27

Are husbands and wives commanded to submit to each other? Yes. In the same way? No.

The husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the Church. This is called Covenantal Headship, or Federal Headship. Adam was the federal head of the human race. Even though Eve was the first to eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, sin poisoned humanity through Adam. Jesus is the federal head of the Church and the New Creation. All who belong to Him have died to Adam and have been recreated in Jesus. Jesus is also a man. That’s how covenants work — the head of the covenant is responsible for the whole.

A man is the federal head of his family. Want to see a happy and healthy family? Find one with a strong man who lovingly takes charge. He is not a tyrant. He listens to his wife. Wisdom is, after all, personified as a woman in the Bible. He submits to his wife’s and childrens’ needs. He is not selfish. He would die for his family — he does die for them a little each day when he puts his own desires aside for them. He does not make decisions democratically as no one has the final word in a 50/50 relationship, but he listens to the counsel of the whole family before deciding. I have never heard a woman complain about a man like this, but I have heard women complain of men who are too timid to be like this.

I imagine RHE would not disagree with the description of a good man I’ve given above, but if she would, then who has the final word in her marriage? If it’s her, is that okay?