The view from my windowIMGP0182

About the blog and all that

It’s strange how news of a potentially fatal disease concentrates the mind. When Margaret was given a cancer diagnosis on the 28th June last year, I started writing a diary. At the time, I had no idea or intention of publishing it as a blog. We had no idea how things would turn out or how they would end. Thankfully, Margaret had an operation (last November) and she has made a remarkable recovery. We don’t know what the future holds, no-one does. But of one thing we are certain, that God in Christ has been in the middle of everything that has happened. The diary is a record of God?s dealings with us and the only reason for publishing it is the hope that it will help others in a similar situation. Inevitably, as a former skeptic, and a person who always questioned things, there is the apologia, and apologetic, and I apologize in advance to those who aren?t interested in such intense discussions. I have put in headings to make it easier to skip bits people aren?t interested in!

Teilard de Chardin (1881-1955), the prophet of the internet

De Chardin was a Jesuit priest and paleontologist and evolutionary biologist. At one time, many years ago, I was quite interested in his writings. His idea of the noosphere stuck in my mind. The noosphere is the sphere of human thought and consciousness which would one day envelop the world like a cocoon. The world, according to him, was evolving to the Omega point, the goal of history, where mind would have total awareness of itself. De Chardin is sometimes known as ‘the father of the internet’. In a way, his words were quite prophetic. Nowadays, there is indeed a mantle of thought covering the world. Messages pass in an instant from one mind to another.

The other, and greater, prophet

What led me to thinking of the noosphere is what it says in Matthew 24:14 ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ The internet and the noosphere make it possible to tell the message of the kingdom. Certainly, it is remarkable that the words of Jesus are being realised in ways that could have not been foreseen in earlier ages, and at the speed of light. Could it be that this is the new emerging church, where Christians give witness of the work of the Spirit in their lives?

Diary: Saturday 14th July 2012

Living like a monk!

No hope of a phone-call from the hospital today or tomorrow; a day for practising patience and listening to the inner voice. I sometimes think that my life is like a monk’s. It is more and more a life of prayer and contemplation and seeking to do God’s will. Recording this diary, I’m on a journey with Margaret and we don’t know how the journey will end. Still we go on, believing that God is in the middle of it all, for we have seen him at work so clearly in our lives in the past. For those who believe in the fourth world, the world of spirit, the evidences of God are everywhere; but nowhere more than in the human world. For the soul, the heart, is the ground in which the spirit acts. Heart-breaking as the apparent nullity of the world appears, in the interaction of the first (nature) and second (human creation) and fourth world (spirit), yet the person of faith will rejoice in the presence of the eternal.

When subjective and objective experiences cohere

For we know with a sure internal proof that the workings of the Spirit are real. More real than anything that impinges on us from the other worlds. I’m aware of the internal journey, of the changes of my soul through life, as is every fellow traveller on the Way; aware of the many failings, of the journey away from the Centre, and of the journey back. And the joy when we discover that he hasn’t completed rejected us. That we are going through the fire to be refined. This is the internal knowledge of which the non-pilgrim knows nothing. There is nothing to be compared with living in the miracle of his blessing. And this is true especially, very specially, when subjective experiences and objective ones combine. It is inexpressible in words how God speaks and has spoken to us and how the inner world of spirit and the outer world of sensible appearances cohere. I praise the Lord for these blessings.

The world of either-or

In today’s world every thinking person lives in the either-or. What do I mean by the either-or? Either there is a totally naturalistic explanation of the world or there is also a supernatural and trans-physical side to the world. Man has a body and a soul, as traditionally believed by most societies, or he is the product of the merely physical. There is an eternal infinite Mind and Spirit apart from the physical or everything is physical. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain or it has a reality in itself. When we die there is nothing afterwards or in some form the conscious self continues.

Should the Bible be treated like a scientific text?

Dyed in the wool materialists have become ever more vocal in their assertions that all religion is nonsense. Mostly, they take their stand with science. If something cannot be measured and repeated then it doesn’t exist. Now, I am not against the scientific method. So much has been achieved in many fields and we live in a world saturated with scientific achievements. Personally, I find science reveals to me more and more the glory of creation.

Atheists (such as Richard Dawkins) and fellow travellers accuse Christians of being dunces and unsophisticated. Unfortunately, this is sometimes true. When Christians treat the Bible literally like a scientific text and claim that God created the universe literally in six days, they are being naive, and giving themselves as hostages to the enemies of religion. The Bible was never meant as a scientific textbook. It is an existential and spiritual text and deals with the eternal destiny of man, with the interior journey to the heaven state or to the hell state, not with the merely material or physical. The Bible is in essence the Christ reality, the story of the crucified and the living resurrected Christ.But if some Christians are unsophisticated, so are many atheists and their fellow travellers.

Experts in what?

Crucially, atheists and Christians alike should be sophisticated. This is so important in the modern world because so much mischief can be caused by people who think they have true knowledge. They may have true knowledge in their own field of expertise. They may be experts, for example, in palaeontology but that doesn’t give them the expertise to adjudicate on religion or spiritual experience.

Weighing everything in the balance

The way I look on it is that we must weigh everything in the balance. Of course, it’s not possible to be an expert in everything. But we can listen to what the experts in their various fields say, the ones who are at the cutting-edge of their disciplines. We can keep an eye on what is happening in the fields of knowledge which impinge most importantly on the most important questions of all. Such as, is there a God? Is there an afterlife? And so on.

If we think of the old mechanical type of balance with a container at each side, on one side we might put all the arguments and experiences of the sceptics and on the other the arguments and experiences of the believer. They might appear like this:

The sceptic says

Evolution and natural selection explain the human being and all life.
Near death experiences are a dying dream of the brain, all down to natural processes.
The self and consciousness are illusions brought about by neurons and activities of synapses in the brain.
The universe wasn’t created by God, there are multi-universes and we happen to be in one which can create and sustain life.
ple imagine there is a God but in reality it is all mythology. When people are ignorant they fill in the gaps with imagined deities.
The ‘spiritual’ world, so-called, is all illusion, wish fulfilment and projections of various kinds. The imaginings of weak people who cannot accept reality.
Personal experiences of supernatural events, such as miracles, are anecdotal and cannot be taken seriously. Only quantifiable and repeatable events which can be publicly demonstrated are real.
The ‘spiritual’ world, so-called, is all illusion, wish fulfilment and projections of various kinds. The imaginings of weak people who cannot accept reality.
Synchronicity is mere coincidence by another (posh-sounding) name.
The Bible is full of the most gruesome tales of a vengeful God and of old wives’ tales. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.
I have personally never had anything supernatural happening to me. If I did, I would think I was going nuts rather than any deity revealing itself to me.
If there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God, why is there so much senseless suffering? Could he not with a flick of his little finger cut out large swathes of suffering.

The believer replies

Evolution is a very partial explanation, instead I’m amazed that stellar processes produced carbon.
Strange are the dreams that produce out of body experiences (OBEs) where the ‘dead’ patient sees from the ceiling what the doctor is doing to their body.
Thoughts are real, yet cannot be weighed. Neuronal activity doesn’t create thoughts and intentions, rather the horse of thought pulls the neuronal cart. The brain is a conduit for consciousness, which is primal.
This universe with its amazing fine-tuning was created by a supreme all-knowing mind who is separate from the universe but who is also immanent in it.
God is as real as your next breath. Nothing makes sense without God.
The human has an innate sense of God coming from: 1) within, in the inner being and 2) without, from the awesome intricacy and beauty of the world.
The spiritual world is real, which is why miracles and supernatural events are possible. The physical world is real and so is the spiritual.
Just because supernatural events are not quantifiable and repeatable doesn’t mean they aren’t real. What they do indicate is that there is a dimension parallel to this one which scientific method cannot quantify but which can show effects in this dimension.
Where a spontaneous event happens in the physical world that ties in with a mental event, we have synchronicity. Again this points to a trans-physical reality.
The Bible is a mirror of human folly and wickedness but also a progressive revelation of God revealing himself in Jesus Christ.
Many people have had supernatural events happen in their lives. An investigation of these should thoroughly convince any fair-minded person that there is a trans-physical dimension which knows everything about us.
Some kinds of sufferings help us to develop spiritually. Other suffering, for example, natural disasters, are an existential necessity, that is, they are intrinsic to the creation of the cosmos.