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Friday, May 2, 2014

Real things, unseen things

My purpose in this article is to express some thoughts about some things which are unseen, but which are unquestionably real. Especially, and no less to be included, are those things which are dismissed by some precisely because these things are unseen. I want to focus on some things in nature and in human experience through which we seek to gain an understanding of life around us. Often, nature and human experience are the basis for how we determine whether we will accept what we have learned and understood, that is: If we can see it it must be real or if we can not see it it must not be real. Here is a simple assertion: These unseen things are real. I want to focus on those similarly unseen human experiences such as love which humans express towards one another. Whether we like or dislike, reject and deny things merely because they are unseen it does not change the reality of these things. I want to frame these unseen things as the naturalist responds to these unseen matters.


There are two things which are common to every theist, atheist, man, woman, children, plant and animal alike. It is life and death. What life and death have in common is that they can not be seen. Yes, we can look at a living person or a dead person, but neither of these permit us to touch these with a finger and declare -this is life; this is death, definitively. The span between these life and death is filled with natural and human experiences which can not be seen, but the reality and effect of these remains unchanged regardless of one’s belief and understanding. Our understanding of what we learn may compel us to change in our mind, but it is our acceptance of what we have learned regardless of whether we like it or dislike it which prompts the transformation which begins in our mind.


the flippant dismissal of death


Their self-designated names differ and change from time to time. However, their belief,  (a word which conjures aversion and derision) or knowledge being the preferred term, with scientists, evolutionists, humanists, Darwinists, atheists and naturalists remains the same. It is the belief that there is nothing beyond the threshold of the unseen reality of death. It is the end. finito. nada mas. fin. Of course, naturalists and their brethren do not deny the existence or reality of death, but the flippant dismissal of death could as well be because death can not be subjected to empirical research: a way of gaining knowledge by means of direct and indirect observation or experience. (A close cousin of empirical research in terms of methodology and a bit more cerebral is epistemology. It is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. [It appears belief is an approved, accepted term provided it is qualified as justified.])


Empirical research and epistemology are no more the domain and property of naturalists anymore than faith is the domain and possession of theists.


air, emotions, death and the unseen


The problem with empirical research (itself, an invisible tool!) becomes readily apparent with something as essential to life and survival as air. It is invisible, but it can be felt. Even at that, it can be felt only when pressure causes our skin to feel the sensation in the wind. Water, which is visible, becomes invisible when it is vaporized. Yet, it can return to its liquid state or a solid in the form of ice. There is hardly an argument to any of these simple explanations from either side of the discussion as to the reality of these elements. What these elements reveal is the transformation of energy into different forms as scientists (science, from latin, scire, to know) informed us long ago.


Yes, emotions represent a human experience while air and water represent elements in nature. However, one key reason which might explain the naturalist’s null view of death devoid of any possibility of life beyond death is that death, like the emotions of love, joy and happiness, is unseen. Neither death nor emotions can be weighed or measured in accordance with empirical research. Here again, especially given the nature of emotions there is a quickness to dismiss emotions as totally unscientific. After all, emotions are erratic, fickle and not to be trusted, right?


pressing happiness


Still, there is little point in arguing that the euphoria of being happy (here’s a tune for your happiness) is a wonderful human emotional feeling. While happiness is not to be trusted anymore than any emotion as the basis for decision-making because of its erratic nature, nonetheless it is hard to suppress or deny the reality of happiness. Of course, there is no denying that naturalists can and do experience the unseen realities of death and happiness. But, when happiness is pressed, (not unlike death) like water into vapor to a higher plane a transformation occurs. Happiness transforms into love. It is no more to be dismissed than the transformation of matter.


Do you wonder by what high-level intelligence naturalists tout proudly their conclusion that something as non-intelligent as a water and other matter transforms into another state, but life and intelligence is annihilated completely?


the emotion of love


Love is a human emotion, too. Love, like water with its different forms and states, is a verb (action), but it is a noun, (place, person or thing) also. How can love be verified if it can not be weighed or measured?


If it can not be weighed or measured anymore than death does it, as the naturalist contends about death, cease to exist and slip into nothingness like death or because of death? Human nature reveals that it is sometimes easier for us to see and learn from what we see in other people, but there are things to learn just as well from inanimate nature. It is harder to see it in ourselves and even harder to accept what we learn especially when it raises a conflict with all our prior perceptions and conclusions.


“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.” Stephen Hawking


If we have learned and have accepted how water, which one moment is visible and next moment is invisible and transforms into various states, - why is it inconceivable if love, or even intelligence, which are both invisible, should transform into another state and not merely cease to exist altogether as naturalists maintain?


We express and give love to a child without the child having to ask for our love. As children grow they too express and give love to their parents and others. So, what is it about the wonderfulness of love which one can express and give others and receive love and yet, a person can say they do not feel loved? Despite mutual, reciprocal love what is it that causes a person to feel the need to long and seek for something more than human love? Is it possible that as great as is love between humans there is a greater love?


One aspect of love which illustrates the development (yes, you can call it evolution) of love is when a child reaches that point in life where the love of their parents can no longer fill their need and desire to be loved. They seek love from and with another human being perhaps one with whom they will walk through life together the rest of their lives. As much as we desire to receive love we have the desire to love another and to love others. We can find ourselves the unwitting recipient (Yes, this can be bizarre, but lets think about this in a friendly, amicable way for the sake of discussion) of love and though the two may elect to to follow their life path separately the fact is love was revealed and made known. It may not have been mutual, but it was acknowledged without further ado.


first love


I have often posed this question to the saints in Christ: Do you know where the first reference to love occurs in the Bible?


2 He said, “Now take your son, your only son, whom you love, even Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”


Even believers who may not know the verse may readily recognize the passage concerning the call of Abraham to offer up his son Isaac. (I anticipate and I am not ignorant of the familiar and typically angry reactions to this sacrifice. So, I will refer interested readers to my article on human sacrifice.) The birth of a son which had seemed an impossibility for Abraham to father had been born to Sarah and Abraham according to the promise of God. Now, God was calling Abraham to offer him up as a sacrifice. Long story short: Isaac was not sacrificed, literally, and the lessons are there for the learning of the saints. Those lessons are not in the scope of this article.


greater love


The significance in the sacrifice of Isaac is that it foreshadows the actual, literal fulfillment of love which is contained in a similar verse in the Bible.


For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)


Once again, the above verse evokes in some people the urge to run away in a fit of rage, ridicule, anger or hysteria, but this does not negate, as has been said of unseen things, the reality of love. Whether or not we have seen it, as in because I was not there does not invalidate or negate the reality of love.


More specifically, that love to which John referred in the gospel was expressed, unsolicited and freely by Jesus, the Son of God. It may be a good starting point to consider that sacrifice as nothing more than just a man. Would love by just an ordinary man be any less worthy to be prized and valued as to evoke a thought or word of esteem? Even if nothing else, Hawking admonishes,  if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away. The fact that you were not present does not necessarily invalidate that love and here is the test of such love:


Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.


The sacrifice of love by Jesus was not forced. It was the voluntary act of love with full awareness and full consciousness. It was the love which he pronounced during his entire life. He fulfilled it. There was never any denial of what he had done or accomplished in terms of his resurrection by those living and/or witnesses, friend and foe alike.


conclusion


There are things unseen in nature and in human experience. The essence of air, happiness, life and death are all unseen. Whether or not we are present to see, touch or feel those unseen things in nature or in human experience does not negate or invalidate of those things.


The naturalists’ flippant dismissal of death as the finite annihilation of life is driven by the illusive nature of the unseen, particularly death, to analysis and quantification. Their conclusion that death marks the annihilation of life into nothingness is counter intuitive to the empirical research approach. Scientists long ago noted that matter is not destroyed, but that it is merely transformed. This holds true of water which can transform from a visible state to an invisible state and back to solid or liquid form. Water is not annihilated or destroyed when it transforms into vapor. A thought is not annihilated or destroyed when it is expressed verbally as an idea. Death and life share a uniqueness. They are not repeatable experiences, but then neither are the big bang nor the theoretical stages of evolution.
Love is repeatable. Yet, the greatest prophesied and fulfillment of love as declared by Jesus is not repeatable. But if the big bang which occurred one time long ago with no human being present to observe it commands the scrutiny of human thought then love demands no less because it is the greatest testament of humans created in the image of God.

It is no small irony that God who is invisible and unseen, which is the reason men dismiss Him, took on the form of man to become visible to be seen and understood only to be rejected nonetheless. Why? Only because he looked too much like man, the creation of his own imagination? It goes back to what I stated at the beginning of this article about whether or not we will accept what we understand regardless of whether or not like or dislike it.

Peace in Jesus, Lord and Savior, the Son of God.

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