Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why Christians are so hated

   As our country has become more and more secular, fewer people every venture inside of a church to see what goes on inside it and rub shoulders with real Christians.  To many, visiting the inside of a church is viewed as more threatening to them than jumping on board a plan and travelling to a third-world country like Columbia or Afghanistan.  This being the case, many people are left to their own imaginations and the imaginations of others as to what Christians are really like and because we fear that which we don't understand we can only imagine the absolute worst.  This is not anything that it new for Christians.   In the 1st century Rome, very little was known about this new sect called "Christians".   Hear-say accusations were often thrown about in Roman society about them.  Their "love fests" were thought to be orgies and group sex when in reality it was merely a worship service and "Loving one another as Christ has loved them".   They were thought also to be engaged in cannibalism because they had heard they have a meal where they eat their leaders "body and blood" but instead it was merely a eating of "bread and wine" which Christians believe Christ gives himself "in, with and under the bread and wine".   Finally they thought Christians were anarchists because they saw Christ as their king and therefore were not allegiant to Rome or any government.   This too was completely false as Paul tells the followers to "honor the emperor and pay homage to all in authority".  It wasn't until many years later that these false rumors were corrected and Christians were better understood.

A Fun House view of Christians.

     Like a person who gets a warped perception looking at their reflection in a Fun-House mirror many people who "hate" Christians have really no understanding of Christianity today.  Like the man on the commercial who says "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV", many people today would say "I've no knowledge of what Christians believe, but I will hate them anyway".   They have a Monty Python view of ministers who just wear funny robes and are disconnected socially with how the rest of the world works.   They think that because they have seen one played on TV that this is how they actually are.   They believe Christian are: anti-science, hateful of those who are different, hypocritical and uneducated.

Anti-Science

     While yes, Christians may not all accept the Big Bang or Evolution,  that does not mean they are unwilling to accept or learn scientific principals.  Many of sciences early founders were in fact Christians.  Sir Isaac Newton for example who founded the study of Calculus and Differential Equations as well as the application of mathematics on the physical world (that is what Physics is) was a very devout Christian.  One could even make a reasonable argument that his faith actually helped point him in the right direction because he believed that if God gives us "laws" to dictate our spiritual lives, he must have also given his universe "physical laws" to govern how it operates.   This is why he penned the term "Law of Motion",  "Law of Energy" as opposed to "Concept of Motion" or "Concept of Energy".   I, myself, am a computer engineer and would never ever consider myself "anti-science".   As well, I also know many other doctors, engineers and scientists who also are men of "faith".  When I say "faith" here, I am not just meaning the Christian faith, but including many of the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist religions as well.   I bring this up because I often find it odd that it is only those of the Christian faith that are derided in the public sector as "anti-science" even though there are plenty of people who espouse other beliefs that are never given this label.   My challenge to those who make this claim is that they apply it evenly across all religions or not at all or else you are guilty of being a bigot.

Hateful of those who are different

    As for the "hateful of those who are different" label, I would like to first say in some ways some Christians have allowed this to be an accurate portrayal of them.    We've seen the TV news crews showing angry people holding up signs that say "God hates gays!" and "Abortionists are murderers" and hitting people (literally) over their heads with Bibles.   I cannot say those people do not exist, but they do....sadly.   But that does not make all Christians to be this way.   As I have read my Bible and become more familiar with God's word I see that I need to let God be God and not me.   We all too often feel that we need to stand up for God, but God is able to do that on his own.   Paul tells the church in Corinth to "not judge those in the world, God will judge them".   In the same passage he says we are only to judge those "inside the church" meaning those who say they are believers.   Paul brings up this in the issue of a member who has taken his father's wife as his own lover (most likely a second marriage).   He tells them to expel them from the church so that they will repent and come back to their senses.   Later in his next letter to them he urges them to allow them back in and forgive them so they will be saved.   We must remind ourselves as Christians that we live in 2 kingdoms at the same time:  the world and God's.   Too often we forget this and try to mix the two together and this only causes animosity because those who want nothing to do with God, will only be angered by your constant harassment by you to make them behave like you do.  Paul even urges his followers to "be at peace with those around you as much as you can".   The best example I can think of is the case of the couple who would not bake a cake for a gay wedding.   While I can see this activity as being against their personal beliefs, at the same time, their actions do not aid in the spreading of the Gospel.  Will their actions help in converting the gay couple? Most likely not and even if they did talk to them, will they be able to say anything to change their mind on homosexuality?  Not at all.  In my opinion they should go ahead an make the cake (but leave the cake topper to them because they can make a decent argument that its too costly for them to keep these in their inventory because they don't get asked to do gay weddings enough).   The gay couple is "in the world", not in the church.  Let God be God and treat them with love and respect.   You do not accept their view on homosexuality and they don't accept your view on the Bible being God's word so call it even and live at peace. 

    Where I would draw the line is what the church is allowed to believe and do as a church or as the head of my household.  If a city bans a church or taxes them for their beliefs then that is stepping over the line and should not be tolerated by a Christian.  Nor should I allow my children to be taught that homosexuality is okay and normal.    

Hypocrites
  
     Too often this has been the case shown to others by people we have allowed to represent us.  I still remember the 1980's and the fall of Jim and Tammy-Fae Baker.   The Baker's gave the world a horrible example of what it means to be a Christian.  They stole countless money from their supporters and pocketed much of it for themselves.   When they were exposed the picture was not a pretty one as it was full of drug use, adultery and squandering of money and tax evasion.  The word hypocrite became synonymous with "the Bakers" so much so, I believe Webster considered putting their picture next to the definition.   But the Bakers are not the only hypocrites, there are many many more... including myself.   Yes I too am a sinner.   Paul talked about his struggle with sin and how "the good I want to do I don't do, but the evil I don't want to do.. that I keep on doing!".   What people don't understand is that it's not because I am so good that God loves me.  He loves me because he wants to love me.  I am a poor wretched sinner and always will be until the day I die.   The writer of the song "Amazing Grace" could not have put it better when he penned the following:

                             Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
                             That saved a WRETCH like me!
                              I once was lost but now am found
                             Was blind but now I see!

  
    True Christians know they are sinners and are only saved entirely by the grace of God.   We are set free from the price of sin and therefore "should" live lives differently.   Have you ever seen someone who has gone off the deep end?   They've committed a crime they know they are going to go to jail for and so they add to it many more crimes since they have nothing to lose (or at least they think that have nothing to lose).   It's really a sad case when you see something like this.  But it doesn't just happen with murderers or drug dealers.   It happens with every day people as well.  They know in their heart they really are no good and they give up on themselves.   Christians are the same way.  The call for them to turn from their sins and live differently is not too make them "more acceptable to God" but instead of protect them from a possibility of them believing the are no longer acceptable to God and giving up on themselves and falling away.   That is how sin works on us as humans.  Those in the world don't have that understanding and get the wrong idea that we are refraining from sinning to some how earn "points" with God and get on his good side where as it could not be any further from the truth. 

Uneducated

    Last, but not least, the view that Christians are uneducated is used profusely.   Studies have actually shown this be just the opposite in fact.  This is because Christians value education greatly in their house holds and often spend more money per child than non-Christians.  My wife and I sent both of our children to a Lutheran elementary school from kindergarten to 8th grade at a price of around $3000 per year.  Not just because we wanted them to learn about Jesus but also because we believe they do a better job at the other subjects because their teachers are not doing to earn a paycheck but also as a way to serve their Lord.   If Christians were truly uneducated then you would see millions of kids being pulled out of school at the age of 16 and sent off to work because we would not value it much.  Instead higher percentages of kids who come from Christian families go on to higher education.  (Also note, Harvard University got its start as a religious college). Even God commands us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your MIND.   We are not told to commit some sort of intellectual suicide to be come believers.   Peter even writes, "That we did not tell you cleverly devised tales....".   Paul also extols his reads that "if Christ is not raised from the dead, we are to be pitied by all the world because we only have a hope for this life".   He shows that our faith is not "wishful thinking" but is well grounded in the historical fact that Jesus Christ died on a cross and was raised to life 3 days later.   Finally Christians are more knowledgeable about history (both recent and ancient) than most non-Christians.  We have to be in order to understand the stories in the Bible and how used various people and countries throughout history to bring about his salvation.  Just ask your average non-Christian about who Nero or King Nebuchadnezzar  was and you will most likely get a blank stare back.   Oh I am sure you will find some subject matter to stump a Christian on for you can't know everything, but to say we are uneducated would be an false accusation over all.

    Will these views on Christians get any better?  Probably not.  As our culture becomes increasing politically correct, fewer people will want to ask any questions about Christianity for fear they will hurt some ones feelings or lose their job.   This will only increase the ignorance of who we are and what we really believe.  Who knows we may even find ourselves once again falsely accused of cannibalism and sex orgies as in the days of Rome.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bill Nye the LYING Guy

     Lately a lot of attention has been placed on the air pressure of footballs.   A subject that normally would bore the crap out of you is now suddenly the most interesting subject for sports and non-sport newscasters to discuss.   All of this because the Indianapolis Colts complained that a football used by the New England Patriots during their Jan 18th "smack down" (that's what you call it when one team beats the other by a score of 45-7), had low air pressure.   The referees were alerted and they brought the ball to the locker room and found it to be 2 psi (pounds/square-inch) lower than the acceptable minimum of 12.5 psi.    People, all over the media, demanded answers as to WHO let the air out of the balls during the game.  Countless talking-heads were brought to the airwaves to find out who measures the pressure, when do they measure it, how do they measure it,  who has access to the balls etc..    Everyone had an opinion on the matter and most pointed their fingers at Tom Brady given he would have the most to gain from doing this.

   But no one thought to blame the most obvious culprit: the cold weather.   Yes, the cold weather.  It does get cold in New England and Jan 18th was no different.  Temperatures started out in the mid 50's and by the end of the game were in the upper 30's.   Coach Belichick even tried to point this out in one of his interviews as a possible cause.

   To clarify this claim, ESPN brought in the TV personality: Bill Nye "The Science Guy".   First thing I must ask ESPN before I go on is this:  Are there no other ACTUAL scientists out there who you could pull in to your shows to answer this question?  After all, MIT is just a few miles from Foxboro.  Would it be too hard to drive over there and ask a physics or engineering professor to get their take on it or were they all too busy?  None the less, Bill Nye was their go to man on this subject and Bill decided to use some props to illustrate what air pressure and temperature do to inflated balls.  But Bill did not use actual footballs, instead he chose to use regular rubber playground balls.   In his illustration he showed that heating or cooling the balls would only change the SIZE of the balls and not the internal pressure.  He even went so far as to say "the ONLY thing to change the pressure in the balls is by inserting a ball needle and putting more air in or taking more air out".  Check out the video here

    But is that the COMPETE TRUTH?   

    Far from it...

    There is a basic equation that is used in the study of Thermodynamics he never discusses:

                   PV  =  nRT

     Where :
                  P  =  Pressure  (pounds per square inch)
                  V  = Volume  of the container
                  n   = # of gas molecules
                  R  = Thermodynamic constant
                  T  = Temperature (measured in kelvins)

     In the case of the balls used by Bill Nye, the rubber is stretchy enough to allow the volume of the
container (V) to increase.  When the ball is heated/cooled, the gas expands/contracts and pushes the walls of the ball out allowing the pressure to stay constant (unless at some point the rubber becomes harder to stretch).  But this is not the case of the football at all which is wrapped in a hard leather made of cows-hide that keeps the ball from expanding beyond its predetermined dimensions.  This means the variable V is actually a constant for a mostly inflated football. 

    So if we make V, n and R all constants (which means we don't add or subtract any air from the ball) we have the following relationship

               P =  kT     (where is k =  nR/V)

    Given this relationship,   as T goes UP .... so does P.   Likewise as T goes down....do does P

    In fact, when the refs checked the pressure indoors (which is what they do) before the game and saw the balls had P = 12.5 psi at a room temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees kelvin) the balls pressure would drop to 10.5 psi  at a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (277 degrees kelvin). 

    This accounts for 100% of  the 2 pound drop in pressure

     Coach Bill was right and Bill Nye was wrong.

     So why would Bill Nye lie about this?  Certainly he knows this equation and how it works.  The answer to that question actually comes at the end of the interview when he mentions he is a Seattle Seahawks fan and says "Go Seahawk!".

     You are so pathetic Bill.  You often lambast Christians for putting their beliefs before their science, but you put something even more lame before your science.  You put your preference on a stupid football game.   You had an opportunity to tell the truth and set the record straight.  You had a chance to exonerate Tom Brady from any mischief on the playing field.   You were the "go to person" to explain a basic scientific principle to the masses but instead you chose a pathetic answer that would keep most Americans in the dark and forever brand a player as a cheater.

    Way to go Bill!   You have destroyed your reputation as a credible person of science for nothing.  

    Our problem in our country is not a lack of air in a football, but instead a complete and utter lack of basic science by those in our sports and also in our media and a lack of integrity of those in the media who the public looks to for answers.  It angers me to see a people rush to judgment without taking into account all the possibilities as to what could happened.  But for too many their motto seems to be:
    
                   SLANDER FIRST... ASK QUESTIONS LATER.   

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why I don't plan on seeing the movie Selma


      My Uncle Carl, who was a farmer, once said, "Cow manure doesn't stink until you rake it up!".   His simple proverb simply means that we should at some point allow things in the past to settle and that going over those mistakes does not help in the healing process.

      It is for this reason that I don't plan on seeing the movie Selma.   Yes, Selma was some bad white
"shit" and it should never ever be repeated again against any race; black, red, yellow or white.  But to me it's like a 16 year-old who steals the family car, gets drunk, totals the car and gets arrested.   Later he grows up and becomes a responsible adult but every year at Thanksgiving he has to listen to the same story about how much money and trouble he cost the family in that infamous accident.   Each year, more and more gory details are conjured up by family members.  At some point he will stop coming to the family dinners because he doesn't want to be treated like that irresponsible teen he once was but is no more.  Will he ever be allowed to live it down?  Will hearing the story over and over change what happened?  Will he feel more loving towards the family or become more hostile and angry?   I think the answer is pretty obvious to anyone reading this that it won't accomplish any of those goals.

    In the same way, does Selma offer any new insight?   Nothing that I am aware of.  I have seen the news real footage of black people being beaten and gassed at Selma.  It was horrible.  I know of the tremendous courage of Martin Luther King to stand up to those in power with the conviction of "Non-Violence".  It's all there and it's all true, but that doesn't mean I have to relive it or flog myself with a scourge until I paint the floor with my own blood either.   I feel no need execute any form of penance for things neither I nor my parents or grandparents did as my ancestors came well after the Civil War and lived no where near the South or had anything to do with the KKK.  What impact will Selma have on our current generation of black youths who will undoubtedly feel anger and hatred towards non-blacks?   Will it increase the violence we see today towards our police who are only doing their job to protect our communities?  Will it foster more new violence (only this time without good people like MLK to hold them back)?   

     Every nationality or race has been discriminated against at some point in our worlds history.  The Irish were treated horribly in the 19th century and given jobs too dangerous for a slave to do because they cost so much to own.  The Chinese were looked down upon and treated horrible during the building of the railroad.   My own people, the Germans,  during WWII were treated as spies and kept from speaking their own German language (the government even made it illegal to speak German in church) and many were incarcerated wrongfully.   Were they discriminated against?  Of course they were.  But do I as a 3rd generation American need to be cognoscente of it or have our government issue some grand apology for those actions?   Of course not!

    To me, movies like "Selma" or "12 Years a Slave" are like trying to drive down the highway while looking behind you instead of ahead of you.  Of course you will see where you've been but you won't be able to avoid the obstacles coming your way.   At some point you will have to stop looking over your shoulder and start looking ahead and say

 "What's done is done.  Tomorrow will be better".
   

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Freedom's Balloon


     Freedom is constantly under attack by those around us.  When you think about it freedom is a scary concept.  It requires you to surrender your need to be in control of me.   What will I do with my freedom?   That's for me to know and for you to find out.   Will I upset your little world?  Maybe.   Will my words change your long held views?  Maybe.   Will my words offend you?  Maybe.   Sadly, The ones who hate freedom the most are those we put in government to protect it.  It's almost a requirement of the job when you consider those who go into congress are there because they love to be in control and therefore they have little desire for freedom for those who put them.      
    Have you ever considered the workings of a balloon?  A balloon is pushed outward by the air pressure inside and pushed inward by the balloons rubber and external air pressure so also the pressure to expand freedoms boundaries is met with a hostile world afraid of that freedom.   Similarly when the pressure inside is reduced, the balloon does not keep its current shape.  Instead it retracts and gets smaller until someone is willing to exert the necessary force to push more air into it.   Sometimes this air escapes quickly when you let the opening open for a brief moment.  Sometimes it escapes very slowly as most rubber balloons will "leak" air through its porous membrane over a long period of time.

    Freedom is much like this balloon.   First of all, it doesn't inflate itself on its own.  Energy must be exerted by an external force to push air inside the balloon.  This internal air pressure is matched by increasing amounts of pressure exerted by the balloons material and by the external air pressure.  Freedom too takes energy to expand those freedoms.   Those who fear what those freedoms will do to them will undoubtedly push back with increasing amounts of hostility.   Of course some will "push the boundaries" further than we would like them to be pushed.   Take in point the artists of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, what published cartoons that made fun of Muslims and their so called prophet.   Those cartoons were meant to cause a rise in their opposition.   Some say they "took it too far", but in reality they merely pushed freedom's boundaries a little further and increased the room inside the balloon a little more for all of us whether we agree with them or not.   When we stop pushing freedom's boundary over time it will begin to shrink, because the pressure from those who oppose it will not relent.   Over time, freedom begins to "leak" as well and slowly vanishes from our midst.  This is actually the most dangerous mechanism for freedom to be lost as it happens so slowly that many don't even see it happening.  But thanks to those who do stand up from time to time and bring our attention to what is happening and are willing to sound the alarm so new air can be refreshed into its cavity and its volume increased again.

   Also it must be noted that when air is pushed in or let out, the balloon inflates and deflates evenly on all sides.   There is no way to just inflate the left or the right side, likewise there is no way to only deflate the left or right side.   When we call for bans on types of speech WE find offensive, we only hurt ourselves as the other side will find OUR speech to be offensive as well and we will be measured with the same stick we use on them.  I used to be in favor of the government stopping foul language on music albums and the like as a parent.  But now I see that I only favored such an approach because I didn't want to be the "bad guy" to my kids and restrict what they could purchase.   It's easier to call on the government to do the "dirty work" for you so you can say "It's not my fault son, the government is the one that is forcing them to do that!"    Our best bet is for all sides to call a truce in the war on speech because in this war the only winner is our government who takes away these freedoms from us. 

    Ronald Reagan once said,"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
   We should all say "Thanks" to the french cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo who did their part in pushing freedom's boundaries to make more room for all of our freedoms which we enjoy!