Posts Tagged ‘God’

Anthropomorphizing God—And More

April 1, 2018

This is a reblog for Easter, 2018

Anthropomorphizing God—And More.

The definition of  Anthropomorphizing, according to Webster, is “to attribute a human personality or form to things not human.”

We commonly do this when we say that “our computer is thinking”, “our dog is like our 2 year old child”, “it is trying to rain”, or the “the lake is angry today”.

I admit to using such language when I am cussing at my slow computer, loving my puppy, trying to plan a picnic, or wishing to go for a sail on Lake Michigan.

I try not to use such language when, as a researcher, psychological practitioner and scientist, I am thinking about any serious topic. For me, serious topics include things like a research article, technology, social/cultural evolution, religion, economics, politics, mental health issues, and more.

I try to be a good Christian, though I confess that my church attendance has been spotty at times. I know, sadly, that some Christians will reject the idea that I am a Christian because I am picking and choosing what I believe from the Holy Bible. 

Still, I want to be a Christian, I want to act like one, and I believe that I am one.

The beloved departed Catholic Saint, Mother Teresa, struggled mightily with her doubts about God, though her faith obviously won-out. I believe it is natural for thoughtful people to encounter this troubling existential challenge.

http://blog.franciscanmedia.org/mother-teresas-doubts-reveal-a-deep-faith

Well, I surely am no Mother Teresa and I can use all the help I can get with my faith.

So, it does not help me when a preacher, high in his pulpit, stupidly screams to our congregation: “I know exactly where I am going when I die, I’m going right up there!”…as he energetically stabs his finger at the church ceiling and presumably the sky above.

Did he not stop to think that when he points up, other preachers standing standing on different sections of earth would be pointing down and sideways?!

I hope and pray there is a heaven, but it is silly to try and point at it.

O.K., I get what he was trying to illustrate, but advise a more grown-up way of leading from the pulpit.

Furthermore, this is the same preacher who used to make fun of scientists, as though there were none sitting in his pews.

Also, does not help me when one of my past preachers vigorously enjoined his congregation to follow the Ten Commandments, yet he was an adulterer with one of his parishioners. Later the congregation is split in half and badly damaged as a result.

My dear sister-in-law Jeanne Ollhoff was a life-long devoted Christian. She was also a marvelous choir director, organist, parochial school teacher and parochial school principle. Jeannie was a staunch and joyful leader in God’s work and was not the least bit naive about church politics.  I once heard her say, with a smile and an wink, that “the only thing wrong with God’s churches is that there are people in there!” Jeanne was not a cynic; she was a happy, buoyant realist and a stalwart servant of God to the very end. 

When Jeanne died of cancer, those who were with her as she passed saw her smile, open her eyes and reach out her arms. When they tried to tried to hold her hands, she brushed them away. Then she was gone.

You may interpret this event anyway you wish. The Faithful by her side easily understood and tearfully rejoiced. They knew that her Faithful dream had come true.

I have tried to believe that every hair on everyone’s head is counted and known by God. I have tried to believe  that the Faithful are favored by His grace in important ways.

But, it does not help when very bad things frequently happen to devoutly Faithful people in my family, among my friends; to Faithful people everywhere and through all time.

It does not help when countless faithful millions pray for the life of their innocent young children and other Faithful loved ones; who are addicted, abused, divorced, crippled, born deformed or die anyway.

It does not help when random natural disasters indiscriminately wipe-out churches of all faiths, along with the Faithful, agnostics, atheists and anything else (animate or inanimate) in their paths.

The facts are that, along with the lawful orderliness of our world,  there is a great deal of destructive and murderous chaos. I cannot believe that God wantonly kills countless millions of Believers every year just because “it is their time to go”, they “are needed in heaven”, or that it will in some way “make the living stronger in their faith”.

The fact is that prayer may have comforted the innocent Faithful who have charged to their deaths in countless battles in God’s name, or were marched to their executions by Kings, dictators and other bad people through all of history. Perhaps their faith in a better after-life helped them to face death, but an earthy reprieve was profoundly unlikely for any of them.

I remember an old man who fought in WWII on nearly all of the embattled islands in the Pacific telling me: “Our prayers in battle didn’t matter”, we got shot, stabbed and blown-up praying all of the time. See the ending of the paragraph above.

I am asked to “believe like a child”, I did this when I really was a child and vividly saw “god” in one of my dreams. I will never forget that experience. My “god” appeared as the owner of the drug store across the street where I bought pop, candy, gum and caps for my cap guns.

No, I didn’t grow up to shoot anyone, or any living thing for that matter.

I have decided to believe as an adult. In order to do so I will simply not trouble myself with  details such as: Did the Red Sea really part? Did a fish and a loaf of bread really feed all of those people? Did he really walk on water, cure a blind man, cure a leper? Etc., etc., etc..

Finally, as in the title of this blog, it does not help me, when I read in my Bible and hear from the pulpit, that “we” have been created in the image of God.

It is a fact that Jesus was a human being. But the idea that we we are all created in God’s image and therefore, logically, God must look like a human being, strains credulity to my breaking-point.

I doubt that God, in the form of a human-being, is floating among the planets and stars anywhere in the universe.

This idea feels too close to secular humanism’s self-aggrandizement and narcissism: An anthropomorphism of God. I do not believe that this perspective is needed for we humans to be God’s spiritual and behavioral representatives on earth and to follow the moral/ethical precepts and Commandments sent to us through Jesus’ and his inspired disciples. I am happy to believe that God’s powers created us, but not that he looks anything like the man in my childhood dream.

I believe that the ability of humans to do science is just one of our many gifts from God. I also believe that humankind and perhaps our whole world will rise or fall based upon how we use these gifts.

It is just this simple, we can follow God’s dictates, or, there will be hell on earth until all is lost.

Science has provided strong evidence that our universe has not existed forever. The preponderance of current scientific evidence is that everything has had a beginning. So, from all we can tell at this time, there was once nothing. Then, according to science, suddenly, there occurred “A Big-Bang” and there was something!

That “something” was our world and universe, along with the laws and principles to which its matter conforms, as well as all that has unfolded ever-since.

Science also asserts that something cannot come from nothing.

As best we currently know, something did come from nothing, including everything we see and know—and everything we do not yet see and do not yet know.

We can choose to believe “creation” was just a matter of statistically improbable random events coming together in a miraculous way. Or, we can choose to believe there is a Higher Power that created the universe and everything in it.

Many, throughout all of history, have call that Higher Power: God.

I do not believe that this Higher Power is a male or a female, that is another anthropomorphism, and a sexist one at that. These distinctions are reserved for many of God’s living creations; even though a small minority of humans have become seriously confused about this matter.

In spite of all the bad things that endlessly happen to good people, faith in God statistically correlates with many good things. Some of these things are increased happiness, increased physical and psychological health, greater longevity and more. Yes, many scientists think that the strongest factor in these attractive correlations is the social support and acceptance among fellow believers that the religious often enjoy. I must agree that emotionally healthy humans tend to be social animals and social isolation is correlated with the inverse of the good things listed above.

Yet, I find it interesting that at times when I do not make it to church, I do not feel deprived. And in the dark, before I shut my eyes to sleep, I frequently say two prayers that my dear and beloved Fraternal Grandmother taught me. Then, I just feel good.

I wonder, is it simply my conditioning/learning history? Perhaps it it just that I have adopted a soothing and health sustaining delusion. Whatever it is, I can assure you that it is real in me and I will keep it.

I just feel better….

In all of this and more, I am reminded: “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

In the final analysis, I am certain that far-more is unknown than is known about existence…and what is real and what is not.

I also believe it is important to understand that scientific thinking is not incompatible with a belief in God.

See for your self!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 3/30/18

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Anthropomorphizing God—And More

March 30, 2018

Anthropomorphizing God—And More.

The definition of  Anthropomorphizing, according to Webster, is “to attribute a human personality or form to things not human.”

We commonly do this when we say that “our computer is thinking”, “our dog is like our 2 year old child”, “it is trying to rain”, or the “the lake is angry today”.

I admit to using such language when I am cussing at my slow computer, loving my puppy, trying to plan a picnic, or wishing to go for a sail on Lake Michigan.

I try not to use such language when, as a researcher, psychological practitioner and scientist, I am thinking about any serious topic. For me, serious topics include things like a research article, technology, social/cultural evolution, religion, economics, politics, mental health issues, and more.

I try to be a good Christian, though I confess that my church attendance has been spotty at times. I know, sadly, that some Christians will reject the idea that I am a Christian because I am picking and choosing what I believe from the Holy Bible. 

Still, I want to be a Christian, I want to act like one, and I believe that I am one.

The beloved departed Catholic Saint, Mother Teresa, struggled mightily with her doubts about God, though her faith obviously won-out. I believe it is natural for thoughtful people to encounter this troubling existential challenge.

http://blog.franciscanmedia.org/mother-teresas-doubts-reveal-a-deep-faith

Well, I surely am no Mother Teresa and I can use all the help I can get with my faith.

So, it does not help me when a preacher, high in his pulpit, stupidly screams to our congregation: “I know exactly where I am going when I die, I’m going right up there!”…as he energetically stabs his finger at the church ceiling and presumably the sky above.

Did he not stop to think that when he points up, other preachers standing standing on different sections of earth would be pointing down and sideways?!

I hope and pray there is a heaven, but it is silly to try and point at it.

O.K., I get what he was trying to illustrate, but advise a more grown-up way of leading from the pulpit.

Furthermore, this is the same preacher who used to make fun of scientists, as though there were none sitting in his pews.

Also, does not help me when one of my past preachers vigorously enjoined his congregation to follow the Ten Commandments, yet he was an adulterer with one of his parishioners. Later the congregation is split in half and badly damaged as a result.

My dear sister-in-law Jeanne Ollhoff was a life-long devoted Christian. She was also a marvelous choir director, organist, parochial school teacher and parochial school principle. Jeannie was a staunch and joyful leader in God’s work and was not the least bit naive about church politics.  I once heard her say, with a smile and an wink, that “the only thing wrong with God’s churches is that there are people in there!” Jeanne was not a cynic; she was a happy, buoyant realist and a stalwart servant of God to the very end. 

When Jeanne died of cancer, those who were with her as she passed saw her smile, open her eyes and reach out her arms. When they tried to tried to hold her hands, she brushed them away. Then she was gone.

You may interpret this event anyway you wish. The Faithful by her side easily understood and tearfully rejoiced. They knew that her Faithful dream had come true.

I have tried to believe that every hair on everyone’s head is counted and known by God. I have tried to believe  that the Faithful are favored by His grace in important ways.

But, it does not help when very bad things frequently happen to devoutly Faithful people in my family, among my friends; to Faithful people everywhere and through all time.

It does not help when countless faithful millions pray for the life of their innocent young children and other Faithful loved ones; who are addicted, abused, divorced, crippled, born deformed or die anyway.

It does not help when random natural disasters indiscriminately wipe-out churches of all faiths, along with the Faithful, agnostics, atheists and anything else (animate or inanimate) in their paths.

The facts are that, along with the lawful orderliness of our world,  there is a great deal of destructive and murderous chaos. I cannot believe that God wantonly kills countless millions of Believers every year just because “it is their time to go”, they “are needed in heaven”, or that it will in some way “make the living stronger in their faith”.

The fact is that prayer may have comforted the innocent Faithful who have charged to their deaths in countless battles in God’s name, or were marched to their executions by Kings, dictators and other bad people through all of history. Perhaps their faith in a better after-life helped them to face death, but an earthy reprieve was profoundly unlikely for any of them.

I remember an old man who fought in WWII on nearly all of the embattled islands in the Pacific telling me: “Our prayers in battle didn’t matter”, we got shot, stabbed and blown-up praying all of the time. See the ending of the paragraph above.

I am asked to “believe like a child”, I did this when I really was a child and vividly saw “god” in one of my dreams. I will never forget that experience. My “god” appeared as the owner of the drug store across the street where I bought pop, candy, gum and caps for my cap guns.

No, I didn’t grow up to shoot anyone, or any living thing for that matter.

I have decided to believe as an adult. In order to do so I will simply not trouble myself with  details such as: Did the Red Sea really part? Did a fish and a loaf of bread really feed all of those people? Did he really walk on water, cure a blind man, cure a leper? Etc., etc., etc..

Finally, as in the title of this blog, it does not help me, when I read in my Bible and hear from the pulpit, that “we” have been created in the image of God.

It is a fact that Jesus was a human being. But the idea that we we are all created in God’s image and therefore, logically, God must look like a human being, strains credulity to my breaking-point.

I doubt that God, in the form of a human-being, is floating among the planets and stars anywhere in the universe.

This idea feels too close to secular humanism’s self-aggrandizement and narcissism: An anthropomorphism of God. I do not believe that this perspective is needed for we humans to be God’s spiritual and behavioral representatives on earth and to follow the moral/ethical precepts and Commandments sent to us through Jesus’ and his inspired disciples. I am happy to believe that God’s powers created us, but not that he looks anything like the man in my childhood dream.

I believe that the ability of humans to do science is just one of our many gifts from God. I also believe that humankind and perhaps our whole world will rise or fall based upon how we use these gifts.

It is just this simple, we can follow God’s dictates, or, there will be hell on earth until all is lost.

Science has provided strong evidence that our universe has not existed forever. The preponderance of current scientific evidence is that everything has had a beginning. So, from all we can tell at this time, there was once nothing. Then, according to science, suddenly, there occurred “A Big-Bang” and there was something!

That “something” was our world and universe, along with the laws and principles to which its matter conforms, as well as all that has unfolded ever-since.

Science also asserts that something cannot come from nothing.

As best we currently know, something did come from nothing, including everything we see and know—and everything we do not yet see and do not yet know.

We can choose to believe “creation” was just a matter of statistically improbable random events coming together in a miraculous way. Or, we can choose to believe there is a Higher Power that created the universe and everything in it.

Many, throughout all of history, have call that Higher Power: God.

I do not believe that this Higher Power is a male or a female, that is another anthropomorphism, and a sexist one at that. These distinctions are reserved for many of God’s living creations; even though a small minority of humans have become seriously confused about this matter.

In spite of all the bad things that endlessly happen to good people, faith in God statistically correlates with many good things. Some of these things are increased happiness, increased physical and psychological health, greater longevity and more. Yes, many scientists think that the strongest factor in these attractive correlations is the social support and acceptance among fellow believers that the religious often enjoy. I must agree that emotionally healthy humans tend to be social animals and social isolation is correlated with the inverse of the good things listed above.

Yet, I find it interesting that at times when I do not make it to church, I do not feel deprived. And in the dark, before I shut my eyes to sleep, I frequently say two prayers that my dear and beloved Fraternal Grandmother taught me. Then, I just feel good.

I wonder, is it simply my conditioning/learning history? Perhaps it it just that I have adopted a soothing and health sustaining delusion. Whatever it is, I can assure you that it is real in me and I will keep it.

I just feel better….

In all of this and more, I am reminded: “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

In the final analysis, I am certain that far-more is unknown than is known about existence…and what is real and what is not.

I also believe it is important to understand that scientific thinking is not incompatible with a belief in God.

See for your self!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 3/30/18

 

Guns, Faith and Culture

February 25, 2018

Guns, Faith and Culture.

It should come as no surprise that traditional morality has declined to pitifully low levels in America. By this, I mean the traditional moral and ethical codes of conduct that are based upon the Judeo/Christian faiths and their derivations.

I have documented the decline of traditional American culture and social conduct in here my blogs since 2009, now approaching 1700 publications. I did the same as a university professor, when I changed my area of research to these matters in the 1980’s. 

There are many corrective laws and encouragements that can be promulgated by our various levels of government. Also, there are those of us who are dedicated to showcasing America’s cultural and social decline. We hope to embolden everyone to fight the forces of our undoing in all available peaceful ways. 

Yet, I struggle with one great fear. This fear is that, no matter what a secular government and an increasingly secular culture and society may do to reverse its own steady decline…nothing will work. 

My grave concern is that nothing will work because there is no compelling reason to forsake the immediate pleasures that a population’s increasingly self-centered (“selfish”) behavior most quickly and most reliably secures.

Without God, and his sacred rules of conduct, there is no compelling reason to abandon our own selfish pleasures in order to only have a chance at securing the long-term benefits to ourselves and perhaps for society at large. What is it that will motivate us all to forestall or give-up immediate rewards in order to benefit others who will succeed us in the distant future?

As a doctoral student, I was trained that there is no such thing as human nature. I now know this is false.

Humans prone to pursue their own short-term rewards. They prefer that these rewards come faster not slower and larger not smaller. They also prefer that they come on a thicker schedule of occurrence,  that they come with greater convenience and less pain.

Humans also love to control the odds that their rewards will become bigger and faster, etc., and that means that they will strive to control their physical, social, political and geopolitical environs. Humans are prone to use their powers to reward, hurt or kill others to achieve these ends.

Unless there is some powerful counter-controlling force, they will use whatever methods most immediately provide these things that  human animals tend naturally covet.

Within any society, it takes a mighty powerful generally accepted  belief system to motivate its inhabitants to conduct themselves accordingly and to acculturate their children to do likewise.

Historically, mighty powerful belief systems have come in the form of a society’s chosen God, who must be obeyed in order that individuals and their society can gain favor and avoid a myriad of  terrifying cataclysmic events.

Often this Godly influence has been augmented by political leaders, kings, or dictators who use their God’s rules to control their population through the threat of slavery, banishment, imprisonment or execution. Many kings and dictators have even commandeered the status of a God in order further enhance their mighty powerful control of their subject’s beliefs and behavior patterns.

Since the Founding of America, a particularly pro-social and peaceful God has shaped the development of the United States. The attendant belief system is composed of Judeo/Christian precepts and rules for personal conduct defined good and evil behaviors for the worshiping majority of Americans.

Secular forces and political leftists  have relentlessly attacked this undeniable truth and have increasingly lied and propagandized to impose their own religion upon America. This failed religion is secular humanism and its “god” is humanity itself.

Though it has lost much of its power, the Judeo/Christian God-Based belief system has been so interwoven into the fabric of American culture, that it was also woven into the fabric of its Constitutionally based Representative Republic Government.

This assertion is incontrovertible. I hope you will read one, or both of the following two books to understand the undeniable true font of America’s Greatness.

1. Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rediscovering_God_in_America

2. One Nation Under God, by  David Gibbs with Jerry Newcombe

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/350512.One_Nation_Under_God

America’s Founding religious beliefs guaranteed HUGE fairly immediate and also deferred spiritual CONSEQUENCES for engaging in good or evil (bad) behaviors during one’s lifetime. Believers were promised the love and favor of God during their life-times. Also, huge delayed consequences were promised, heaven if one will believe and follow the Ten Commandments; hell if one did not. A strong belief in the personal and social advantages of God exerts, both then and now, strong peaceful and pro-social influences over human behavior.

Even if a strong belief in God begins to fade for the reasons stated above, the behavior patterns learned under this Godly belief system can persist for a time with some strength. 

But for the generations that follow, without the sustaining religious belief system that sustains good behaviors and reduces bad population acts…the rate of selfish, short-sighted, hedonistic and corrupt behavior will increase with each successive generation.

This, I believe, is what we are witnessing in America and all around the developing world. The common denominator of these trends appears to be the growth of science-based beliefs and technologies that bolster human’s confidence in the their own ability to increasingly control their environments and other important events in their daily lives.

The majority of us appear to love science-based modern technologies and the amazing advantages and conveniences that we enjoy.

Sadly, these technological “gifts”  appear to be powerfully undermining the moral/ethical behavior of America.

The the thing I fear the most is that it is the proliferation of science-based technologies that have led to the growth of secular humanism and socialism leading to destructive forms of narcissism for leaders and extreme dependency and helplessness for followers. All of this correlating with increasing sociopathic/antisocial behavior for all.

I suspect that this self-destructive cycle has, along with other killing influences,  spelled the downfall of developing societies (a relative concept), for all time. 

All living things are born, they live for a while, and then they die. So it also has been with cultures. 

In the past I have fantasized that cultures, particularly America, can teach themselves how to live with increasing health for longer and longer intervals of time.

Now, and I hope I am wrong, my happy fantasy seems to be logically flawed. If it is ever to occur, even temporarily, it may take another of our great national tragedies to bring America again to its vital roots…roots that can only be found on our knees in prayer. 

I endorse the importance of the following article and hope you will give it your close attention.

http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=WA18B48&f=WU18B16

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D., 2/25/18

“Rediscovering God in America”

September 9, 2010

“Rediscovering God in America”

The title to this blog is in quotes because it is the title to a New York Times BESTSELLER by Newt Gingrich. The subtitle is: “Reflections On The Role of Faith in Our Nation” (2006, by Integrity Publishers: Nashville, TN).

I strongly recommend that you read this small book that  undeniably documents the role of Christianity and God in the construction and success of this great nation.

The bed-rock values involved in every fiber of this massive creation were religiously based. The removal of the affirmation of these values from all public places, except the hallowed halls and monuments in Washington D.C., has been a self-destructive and propagandistic act of epoch proportions. “Separation of State” was never meant to be taken to this radical extreme.

This act, among many others, is a significant part of our decline and impending  downfall.

Joe Grunert sent me the following Email which comports with the documentation in the book I just referenced, so I am posting it for you to see.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.    9/9/10

DID YOU KNOW?
As you walk up the steps to the building which houses the U..S Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world’s law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view … It is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments!



.

DID YOU KNOW?

As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion of each door.

DID YOU KNOW?
As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall, right above where the Supreme Court Judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments!

DID YOU KNOW?

There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington , D.C.

DID YOU KNOW?

James Madison, the fourth president, known as ‘The Father of Our Constitution’ made the
Following statement:

‘We have staked the whole of all our political Institutions upon the capacity of mankind for Self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control  ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to The Ten Commandments of God.’

DID YOU KNOW?
Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777.

DID YOU KNOW?


Fifty-two of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members of the established Orthodox churches in the colonies..

DID YOU KNOW?

Thomas Jefferson worried that the Courts would overstep their authority and instead of Interpreting the law would begin making law an oligarchy the rule of few over many.

How then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this Country is now suddenly wrong and Unconstitutional?

Lets put it around the world and let the world see and remember what this great country was Built on The Holy Bible and belief in GOD!

 

A Warm Loving Hand or His Fist

March 2, 2010

A Warm Loving Hand or His Fist

If there is a God, He has done no more than set the laws by which natural forces abide. He does not directly intervene to favor or eliminate certain individuals or species.

The laws of genetics, biology, physiology, physics, chemistry, ecology, economics, and psychology are the embodiment of the hands of God.

It is through the laws of natural selection that we humans may perceive the warm and loving hand of our Creator—-or His fist.

V.T. Mawhinney
8/4/83


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