Life After Birth

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” – Útmutató a Léleknek

Change of Strategy

Dear Isabel,

This is yourself speaking. You seemed a little concerned, a little perplexed at how Christians and non-Christians think so differently. You appear flustered about how others will never feel the same way you do about God and about life. You look worried that people will never see things the way you do. You say to yourself ‘Oh, if only they could feel what I feel, then they would know that God is real. If only there was a tangible way or evidence of God’s existence.

Well maybe, you’ve got it all wrong. Intellectual debate and apologetics can only go so far. What the mind knows does not necessarily flow into the heart. Many theologians have studied the bible but never felt anything in their hearts.

Maybe you should change your strategy. Stop professing and saying that God is real because of historical and scientific evidence or philosophical arguments. Start living your life as an ambassador of God. We are the only bible other people read. Shine. Be a light. Sprinkle grace in every conversation, your words should be rooted in Christ, your thoughts should be pure. Let all bitterness and wrath go. Forget your excuses about ‘Oh I’m human and I fall short. I can’t help it’. The thing is you can, and because you are human, you have a choice. You have a choice to forgive and let go. You have a choice to be loving, kind, gracious, cheerful, hopeful, faithful. You were created in the image of God, you have His likeness, His characteristics, His inner morality about what is good and bad.

So change your strategy. Erase your plans. Start afresh, this time with the renewal of the mind and of the heart.

The only way others can see God is when they see you.

Love,
Isabel

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First Session of Christianity Explored

I brought a friend to ‘Christianity Explored’ organised in my church in Durham. ‘Christianity Explored’ is sort of the like the Alpha Course, and it’s a really good platform to ask all your questions.

In retrospect, I found the session very intense because I realised that there were questions that I couldn’t answer too, and was very amazed and thankful that the session leaders were able to answer/attempt to answer it.

In particular, there was a fresher who came loaded with questions – really good, raw and nerve-racking questions I must say. And the one thing that struck me was that she came with an open mind. It felt a bit unusual because her questions were posed in such a way that did not question the existence of a God, but rather the character of God as displayed in the bible and through the Christians around her.

I remember her saying something along the lines of, ‘My boyfriend and I have a lot of questions. Like, he studies philosophy and has a lot of questions. He’s not atheist, he believes that there is a god. He thinks that it’s stupid for someone to think that we are all here by chance, and he believes that there is some sort of creator’.

That really struck me because I know many philosophy friends who swing to the other side of the argument. And it was just so refreshing for someone to come to the conclusion that there was in fact a God, as opposed to ignorance or passiveness.

I felt very encouraged that the people who came had a lot of questions/things to put to the table, and I pray that God will continue to move their hearts.

Also, I would like to encourage us to attend these programmes as well, because many times, we live in our own bubble. Christianity requires a paradigm shift and when people outside of that bubble ask us questions, we freeze because we don’t know how to answer those questions. Therefore, such sessions and discussions are a good way to hone our ‘apologetics’ experience.

Have a blessed Thursday,
Isabel

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Is Christianity A Psychological Crutch?

I know I wrote about this before, but I was reminded again of this pertinent question about a month ago during my exams, when one of my non-Christian friends asked: ‘You appear more relaxed now that you have put your trust in God for your exams. So is Christianity your psychological crutch?’

Indeed, it is a very good question, and one I had been grappling with because I never felt that the answer I had gotten from the talk from the Durham Christian Union was sufficient. It seemed to sort of go around the question, but didn’t tackle the essence of the accusation head on. For my previous post on this, click here: https://ihaveareasontosing.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/the-psychological-projection-of-god-versus-faith-%E2%89%A0-blindness/

However, I slowly began to realise that I had been tackling the question in the wrong way. The accusation that Christianity, or religion for that matter, is a psychological crutch, can easily lead people to assume certain things and make various preconceptions.

So firstly, I would like to point out and debunk a myth about psychological crutches, and then argue that Christianity is not a psychological crutch.

1. Myth: Psychological crutches are rare.

Very often, when people criticise religion as a psychological crutch, there seems to be a negative aspect to the notion of a psychological crutch. However, I think everyone has a psychological crutch! Simply defined, a psychological crutch is some kind of hope, aspiration or idea that gets us through life, and it sustains us through our problems. In a way, our very own dreams could be considered a psychological crutch, because it allows us to place our hopes on a better future or potential reality. Therefore, psychological crutches are not rare – in fact, they have been academically argued as natural. Everyone, I repeat, everyone, has a psychological crutch. So why can’t Christianity be one too? 

Interestingly, there have also been arguments put forward that atheism is a religion. Anti-religion is a psychological crutch as well because it is something they can’t live without. How would atheists react if Jesus did come back? If they saw Jesus coming back on the clouds, would they be angry? Would they deny it? Why? I don’t have in-depth knowledge about the arguments for and against atheism as a religion, but I suppose that since there are still essays and university topics concerning this area, there is still debate on this question. 

2. Myth: psychological crutches are bad. 

Does it matter whether Christianity is a psychological crutch? After all, Christianity is about mercy, grace and love! It’s about a God who cares about us and wants us to cast our cares and burdens onto Him because He loves us. Christianity affects us in a way that gives us a hope and a future, that’s why it’s a religion. Religions are psychological crutches – and does it matter that it is one? 

3. Christianity is not a psychological crutch.

Why do I say so? Because there is suffering as a Christian. Christianity cannot be a psychological crutch if it puts you through suffering and pain. 

Part of the core of Christianity is sharing the suffering of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:24: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Note, there are three key aspects to being a Christian:

a) Denial of one’s self. There must be a recognition that we are no longer our own. We deny our worldly identity. As a Christian, earthly possessions and credentials no longer define us. Rather, God defines us. We are who we are in God’s eyes and we no longer set ourselves according to the standards of the world. 

b) Taking up our cross. 

c) Following Jesus. 

In fact, Paul understands that the call of Christianity involves suffering, and he writes a lot about it in the book of Philippians. Philippians 1:29 states that ‘For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.’ Paul finds that when we become Christians, suffering will be given to us. We should rejoice in our suffering because we become stronger through suffering and we become more Christ-like in terms of selflessness, grace, love and wisdom as we go through trials and tribulations. So, Christianity is not a psychological crutch, because it puts us through suffering.

Arguably, it seems like the suffering of a Christian like in Paul’s time is no longer relevant. Gone are the days of the Roman empire, where Christians were thrown into arenas full of hungry beasts, or were dipped in oil and set alight as human torches. This kind of physical suffering no longer seems to occur anymore because many legal systems have begun to accommodate religious freedom and democracy. However, there are still stark remnants of such persecution, like the Sudanese Christian woman condemned to death for not renouncing her faith. 

Nevertheless, do we really need to use such obvious examples of suffering? In today’s world, we are plagued by many negative ideas propagated by the media. We see so much of gender fluidity, sexual immorality etc to the point that morality now has a new standard, if there even is one at all. Everywhere, there is psychological bombardment that it is difficult to stay pure. It is difficult to live as a Christian when all these funny ideas are flying around. 

So, we have new challenges; new sufferings. We may not have physical persecution, but we are still very much ridiculed and verbally abused for being a Christian. We are challenged by the world for our seemingly rigid values. In this age of liberalism, confusion and volatility, it is not easy to openly proclaim that we are Christians and that these are the values we live by. 

Hence, in a sense, Christianity is not a psychological crutch. The identity, values and mindset that we take on as a Christian are easily criticised and mocked. If we go through such suffering for our religion, is it actually easy to assume that it is a psychological crutch? 

That ‘Christiany’ Friend

Lately, I think I’ve been very surprised that people are actually reading my blog.

It was originally meant to be a personal blog and testimony to my friends, but lately has seemed to become a little bit more than what I originally expected – and I pray that it is all for His glory.

Yet, I realise that I got a bit anxious when I realised one of my friends read my blog, mainly because they didn’t know I was a Christian, or they didn’t expect me to be that kind of Christian. Ashamedly, my first thoughts would sometimes be ‘Do they think that all these blog posts are weird? How are they going to relate to me now? Are they going to ridicule me or treat me differently?’

In fact, I vividly remember two of my friends talking: ‘Oh you know that rugby player? That very ‘Christiany‘ boy? Ya, that one.’

In this modern society, I suppose it’s hard not to realise that the adjective ‘Christiany’ seems to be a negative implication…

I know that I should try not to be afraid of these things. Mere thoughts can cause big yet unreal fears. And as I thought about it, I realised that people should not ridicule Christians. People should not have to treat Christians differently just because of the way we think. So here are just a few thoughts that I would like to share, if some of you are struggling with the same things:

1. Christians are still humans!

We are still like everyone else. We have a sense of humour (in fact, I think I am hilarious 🙂 ). We are not necessarily blinded by our faith – in fact, there are many intellectuals who are Christians. Take my favourite example, CS Lewis. We, like everybody else, have the capacity to question life, explore the wonders of science and art, and analyse the human mind.

What’s the key difference then? Christians do not just live from day to day. We believe in life after death and we believe that there are things beyond than physical life on earth. Sometimes, we gear our actions towards a higher purpose, but we very much operate in the real and physical world. We enjoy every moment on earth, yet at the same time, anticipate life after death.

2. Christianity shapes us and makes us better people

There are principles and rules in the bible that shape us to become better people. Arguably, the ten commandments may be deemed as constrictive, yet they were perfectly logical. In fact, these commandments must be taken in the light of its historical background, where Israel had just come out of slavery. This the first time they have freedom. Yet, with freedom comes discipline and restrain.

You must not have any other god but me.
You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.
You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Honour your father and mother.
You must not murder.
You must not commit adultery.
You must not steal.
You must not testify falsely against your neighbour.
You must not covet your neighbour’s house.
Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

There are many other passages in the bible. In essence, the bible teaches us how to be humble, patient and kind. It told us of the greatest love ever – one that is willing to die for us.

Hence, Christianity and the bible has the power to discipline, correct and guide. It is a commendable way of life.

3. Christianity is not a trend

Through persecution, ridicule and modernity, Christianity has stood the test of time. It is a religion based on historical fact.

And therefore, we are not people who are making a religion up as we go.

In fact, it’s probably not that ‘cool’ to be a Christian now anyway. Why believe in a man who lived 2000 years ago, claiming to be God? Yet, Christianity remains, cutting across cultures, languages and time.

4. Christianity is intellectually invigorating

5. A different idea of faith, trust and hope

Some people have lucky charms, while others believe in karma, yoga and the ‘laws of energy’. They place their hope and beliefs in something. Likewise, we place our hopes in a God and religion that has stood the test of time, culture and human persecution. People may call us disillusioned people relying on a psychological crutch – but at least we live our lives with hope. We believe, not in ourselves – because we are constantly changing variables – but in a God who is constant and omnipotent.

So my friend, I am just like everyone else. I am still like you – I walk, talk and breathe like you. The only difference is my beliefs – and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, right?

Now that I am old and gray,
    do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation,
    your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Psalm 71:18 NIV

Was I Pre-Determined To Write This?

Pre-determinism asserts that we are all controlled by the laws of nature.

What are these laws of nature? They are the laws of science.

‘Just as an apple falling from a tree was pre-determined to fall onto the ground, we are also pre-determined.’

BUT, this completely ignores the fact that we are human. We are different. We can think about thinking. We have a conscience and are conscious. And I think that’s what sets us apart.

Just the other day, I was having a conversation with a friend who studies philosophy (by the way, I am really no philosopher. I don’t read books or anything about philosophy, but I’m just trying to use my common sense).

She believed that we were pre-determined.

But I replied: ‘By asserting that we are pre-determined, we are standing outside of pre-determinism to assert that that statement is absolute truth. We are rising above our controlled, wired and determined mindset.’

Then again, there is the possibility that we could be pre-determined to think we are pre-determined.

But how can that be? If some people believe they have free will, and some people believe that they are pre-determined, then how are the laws of science consistent in the way they pre-determined humans? Surely, there is uniformity in the laws of science. If an apple that is falling will always drop; then surely, all humans should unanimously believe we are either pre-determined, or have free will.

There is an inconsistency, and to me, it can only mean one thing – opinion, which is, free will.

Also, I do not believe that the laws of nature control our thoughts. Science determines physical happenings, and yes even to the smallest reactions between atoms. However, science cannot control the way we think – the intangible thoughts and feelings. Even DNA does not determine what we like or don’t like; it can determine how we look like, but not how we are like.

And if we refer not the law of physical science, perhaps we can refer to another kind of scientific law? Yet, does that not mean that there is law could possibly be one of a ethereal or supernatural nature? Could this not imply that behind all these weird and funny laws of science or whatnots, there is a Higher Being who fashioned this immaterial aspect of science?

What we are like comes from our human environment, and even then, sometimes we do not necessarily conform to society. Surely, there is not controlled by the laws of science.

Science is split into natural sciences (biology, physics and chemistry) and pseudo-sciences (psychology, economics etc). And why are they pseudo-sciences? Because they do not quantifiably measure certain factors, it is all based on interpretation, conformation bias, observation and hypotheses.

So, no, I do not believe the laws of nature pre-determined the actions of humanity.

Moreover, I do not think that the laws of science can limit the imagination of a human mind. We create artwork that transcends across history. We create beauty that we can actually stop and marvel at. How does objective science pre-determined patterns and imagines that ignite the soul?

I do not understand this part of philosophy. What is the point of even discussing free will versus pre-determinism? If we all accept pre-determinism, then why are we all still carrying on with our lives? Besides, if we all decide tomorrow that we are all determined and that we might as well just laze around, then let’s just do that! Because we were all pre-determined to do that in the first place.

“I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street” ~ Stephen Hawking

Do we want to live life without caring? ‘I won’t look when crossing the road, because if I get hit by a car, I was determined to die this way, so let it be.’

Pre-determinism essentially removes purpose. Yet, we are know inherently that we were made for something. We are yearning and looking for something. There’s something more to be discovered. Pre-determinism does not fit in with our own human compass.

 

Then again, whether pre-determinism and free will can exist together and overlap, is another story. What I’m trying to say here is that, I don’t believe there is absolute pre-determinism.

There Is Only One God

There Is One One God

This issue has been pressing me lately, partly because I have frequently heard this statement –

There are multiple religions that exist and are truth. Either that, or there are multiple religions that lead to one heaven.

To this statement, I firmly rebuke it, and there are four reasons to this:

1. Bible is the truth in its entirety

If we believe that the bible is inspired by God, then surely, we cannot ignore what it says.

  1. “There is no one like Yahweh our God.” Exodus 8:10
  2. “Yahweh, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
  3. “Yahweh, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39
  4. “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me” Deuteronomy 32:39
  5. “Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one!” Deuteronomy 6:4
  6. “You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You” 2 Samuel 7:22
  7. “For who is God, besides Yahweh? And who is a rock, besides our God?” 2 Samuel 22:32
  8. “Yahweh is God; there is no one else.” 1 Kings 8:60
  9. “You are the God, You alone of all the kingdoms of the earth.” 2 Kings 19:15
  10. 10. “O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You” 1 Chronicles 17:20
  11. “Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” Isaiah 43:10
  12. “‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.” Isaiah 44:6
  13. “Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.” Isaiah 45:14
  14. “I am Yahweh, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:18
  15. “And Yahweh will be king over all the earth; in that day Yahweh will be the only one, and His name the only one.” Zechariah 14:9
  16. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24
  17. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? ” Matthew 19:5
  18. “”The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; ” Mark 12:29
  19. “you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” John 5:44
  20. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God” John 17:3
  21. “there is no God but one” 1 Corinthians 8:4
  22. “yet for us there is but oneGod, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6
  23. “There is one body and one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6
  24. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5

I think we get the picture, and if you don’t, there are more here: http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-oneness-unity-one-god.htm

I am accepting only parts of the bible, but not the whole truth. In doing so, I am declaring the falseness of the bible, and to that effect, the falseness and non-existence of Christianity because I have violated its fundamental truth.

2. The existence of hell

If all religions exist, then why do some religions include hell?

Indeed, some hells are for those who do not believe in the God of that religion, like Christianity. And some hells are for those who do not do ‘enough good’, but why would people be in that ‘hell’ if there are other religions they can turn to, which would let them get to their ‘heaven’?

The purpose of hell is to punish non-believers, but if there are multiple existing religions, then hell would cease to exist.

3. Our mission as Christians

For me, to be Christian AND to believe that other religions exist means that I have not been fated and destined to be a Christian. It’s mere chance.

Following this, it also means that I don’t have to carry out the task that Jesus gave – to spread the gospel. Since other religions exist, I might as well sit back and let non-Christians follow their own beliefs. However, that is clearly not what Jesus has tasked us to do. For all those parables of the harvest, the grape vine, the city of a hill and so many more –

I would simply be a living irony of the gospel.

4. INCOHERENCE

Some religions state that there are multiple gods and multiple religions. For example, some Hindus believe in Jesus and Mother Mary because this way, there are more paths to heaven. However, Christianity believes that there is only one true God.

If there is an inherent conflict between these two religions, then how would there be multiple paths to heaven?

If all religions were existed, and that each of their heavens and earths existed, then a religion that I make up tomorrow, will jolly well be true.

In this sense, many religions are created by humans (did you know there is a religion called dude-ism? Well, I highly doubt they have a heaven and earth!) and therefore, humans in our finite minds and abilities have absolutely no power to create physical and psychological heavens and earths.

I need not say more – this belief that all religions and that there are many ways to heaven – is simply incoherent, dubious and impractical.


“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.”
Isaiah 43:10

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6