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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to Honesty

Last blog I discussed how to be intellectually dishonest. Today I’d like to get back to good old-fashion honesty. Pluralism essentially is a bunch of garbage. So if we conclude that all paths CAN’T lead to God, how we can be sure which path does? Now some people say that you have to experience all religions for themselves, but with all the world’s religions and the new one’s they are inventing everyday it’s just not practical to test drive them all. Wouldn’t it be good if there was a challenge? I mean these religions can’t except you to just accept them blindly? Can they? Let’s ask them.

Hinduism says “…we have to accept it as it is; otherwise there is no point in trying to understand the Bhagavad-gita and its speaker, Lord Krishna.”Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Preface, p xix

Buddhism says that, “Absolute truth… is unconditional undeterminate and beyond thought and word.” KKS Chen, Buddhism, The Light Of Asia, 1968, p76 So in other words I know nothing unless I experience this religion for myself.

Islam dares anyone to be able to produce 10 chapters or even one that is like the Quran.

Quran 11:13 and Quran 10:38

Now on the surface that sounds like a challenge. But what’s my measuring stick? Who determines if what I’m writing is akin to the Quran? In the words of Dr. Subodh Pandit “a subjective, nebulous challenge…..is not a real challenge.”

What about Christianity. Now I have said before on this blog that one of the distinct things about Christianity is that its sacred scripture the Bible contains prophecy. In fact 30% of the Bible is prophecy. Although the other religions make many wonderful, astounding, and even supernatural claims, none of them supposes to predict things before they occur. But God says in Isaiah 41,

21 “ Present your case,” says the LORD.
“ Bring forth your strong reasons,”…
22 “ Let them bring forth and show us what will happen;
Let them show the former things, what they were,
That we may consider them,
And know the latter end of them;
Or declare to us things to come.

23 Show the things that are to come hereafter,
That we may know that you are gods;
Yes, do good or do evil,
That we may be dismayed and see it together.

That sounds like a challenge to me. In this text God is giving a challenge to all others gods. He’s saying “If you guys are really what you claim than you should be able to know what will happen before it does.”God says something like this again in Isaiah 46:10 “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done…” God is declaring in a nutshell “I am God, No one else is God, and I’ll prove it, I know the end from the beginning and I will tell you before it takes place!” Jesus says, "And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe" John 14:29. Now those are bold statements, but they are rather empty unless God can back them up.

Let’s say that I told you that the US was going to be destroyed in one night. Not only did I tell you it was going to be destroyed, but I told you how. And not only did I tell you how, but I told you who was going to take it down and then what would remain of it afterwards. And lets say all this came true. I think I would have people following me to the ends of the earth throwing money at me and begging me to tell them what was going to happen next. But when it comes to the Bible people allow their own biases to keep them from believing in truth. Let’s investigate this massive claim God is making in the Bible.

Now in Jeremiah 51 God tells just how Babylon is going to be destroyed.

36 Therefore thus says the LORD:
“ Behold, I will plead your case and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry.
37 Babylon shall become a heap,!
A dwelling place for jackals,
An astonishment and a hissing,
Without an inhabitant.

Now at this point I think I should pause to tell you some things about Babylon. It was a flourishing city 54 miles south of modern day Baghdad in Iraq. At the time of this prediction, said to be about 595 BC, Babylon was at its zenith. The ancient kingdom of Babylon was an amazing kingdom, one of the great cities of antiquity. The city was 15 miles on each side and its walls were 200 feet high in some places. One of the seven wonders of the world was in that city-- the great hanging gardens. The river Euphrates flowed right through the middle of Babylon. In fact the city had enough food inside to last 20 years. Historians say that on the night it was conquered Babylonian people taunted the enemy armies by throwing food over the mighty walls. Babylon reigned supreme from 605-537BC and then things got interesting.

In Daniel chapter 2 God predicted that an inferior kingdom would take down this Goliath of a nation. And 150 years before he was born God names Cyrus, as the Persian general that would pulverize Babylon.

Isaiah 41 says

1 “Thus says the LORD to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:

(Isaiah was written in 680 BC by the way.)

Now what does the last part of that description mean? On a certain night when the Babylonians were in a riotous drunken feast, Cyrus, in an act of military genius, went up the river several miles, he dammed the river, and diverted the river off into an adjacent field, so that the river went down and his army could march in through the double doors underneath the city's impregnable gates. And Babylon, that great city of antiquity, fell in a single night!

Let's review.

The Bible says Babylon was going down. Happened!

The Bible says an inferior kingdom would take it down! Happened! The Meads and Persians were inferior.

The Bible says the river Euphrates would become dry. Happened! Cyrus effectively dried the river to gain access to the city.

The Bible says Cyrus would be the dude to do it. Happened!

The Bible says he would open double doors (describing how this whole thing was going to go down) Happened!

How do we know all this? Well the Cyrus cylinder is a rock record housed in the British Museum that authenticates the Bible’s account of what happened.

And now for the last part of the prophecy! Fasten your seat belts for this one yall. God said that Babylon would not be rebuilt. It would become an uninhabited heap where jackals dwelled. Alexander the Great tried to rebuild it and failed. Saddam Hussein tried to rebuild it and the US captured him before he could. Today those who visit the ancient site of Babylon describe it as desolate place full of jackals.“Few words evoke as many images of ancient decadence, glory and prophetic doom as does ‘Babylon’. Yet the actual place…is flat, hot, deserted, and dusty.” Smithsonian, June 2003, p50

Is this all coincidence? No random person could accurately predict all this. My conclusion is that this prophecy had to be supernatural. You see in Christianity God gives us a challenge. He says I am God, I’ll prove it too you: I can tell the future. Any regular person can put His prophecies to the test to see if they are accurate. Why don’t you put aside your biases and honestly take up the challenge?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to Be Intellectually Dishonest

You shall seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all of your heart. Jerimiah 29:13

I had quite a journey ahead of me. I was in the process of relocating from Baltimore, MD to Northwest Ohio. Having had less than two hours of sleep that night, the following morning I packed up the Sentra and with my family trailing close behind me we hit I-70 and were headed west. After about two hours of traveling the adrenaline wore off and I asked my then boyfriend to take over the wheel while I caught a quick nap. A short while later he woke me up and asked, “Which way do I go now?” It took a minute for the question to register. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and noticed that we were reaching a point where the highways split into two. On one side we had I-76 and on the other I-70. I looked at the directions my cousin had hand-written because my printer was not working. “Um it says take I-70.” I mumbled. “Are you sure?” he asked. “Yeah, that’s what it says here and this looks familiar to me any way. Get over in the next lane.” He obeyed and I positioned my head against the window and resumed napping. My family followed us as we traveled the lonely highway.

Nature woke me up a short while later. I needed a bathroom break. When I woke up for the second time I realized that the road looked different. Nothing seemed familiar, (my Dad and I had traveled here previously). The road became increasingly mountainous. “Where are we?” I yawned. And then I noticed in the foreground a sign that said “Welcome to West Virginia.” Then it hit me! For hours we had been traveling the wrong way. “We should have taken I-76! The directions are wrong! We don’t have to pass through West Virginia. We are going the wrong way. We were heading south when I needed to be heading north. But it was too late. At this point we had already traveled well pass I-76. We drove a little ways more in hopes that we would find a rest station where we could get a map and figure out where we were and how to get to Northwest Ohio expediently. What else could we have done?

Let me answer this question the way some secular and religious minds would. See according to some just realizing that I was lost and that those who were following me were lost would have been enough. Why bother to try to get on the right path? To others there is no right path. I could have just stayed on I-70 because after all it does not matter whether I am on I-70 or I-76 because all roads lead to the same place. Eventually I would have arrived at the place I wanted to be, right?

Now you’re probably thinking “Crystal that is ridiculous! Who on earth would believe something like that. I mean everyone knows two roads going in opposite directions can’t get you to the same place!” Perhaps you have a point, but this is exactly the kind of nonsense that secular AND religious authorities (some of them Christian FYI) are trying to tell us. And they even have a fancy word for it too. It’s call pluralism! And no, these aren’t all ignorant low brow people promulgating this train of thought. No, many of pluralisms proponents are Phd’s, scientists, and intellectuals. They are not just peddling a unifying philosophy; they are indoctrinating us with pure intellectual dishonesty.

Suppose you are trying to get to work. You overslept and you are running late. So you throw on your clothes, grab your briefcase and you hit the main road. Then you get a brilliant idea. Instead of driving on the road that takes you to your job you will take the road that goes the other way. Maybe this road even goes to another state! Or maybe you don’t even know where this road is going to take you! Your postmodern university did tell you that all roads lead to where you want to be. Tell me honestly would you really want to play this kind of game with your career? I would hope not! But that’s exactly the dangerous game that millions are playing with their spirituality and the consequences are a hundred-fold more costly and perhaps even deadly!

Now to be sure, pluralism on a very micro level is not necessarily bad. In the United States for example we have a multitude of different cultures, languages, traditions, religion etc. Nothing wrong at all with diversity. God did not create us to be a bunch of clones. The problem begins when we start believing that everyone’s philosophy is correct, especially when it comes to religious matters. In a sense the pluralism of today has little to do with diversity and tolerance and everything to do with an agenda (I’ll talk more about that later). So we say all roads lead to God because we want to be all-inclusive. Let’s not leave anybody out! Yet this is completely intellectually dishonest, so much so that most of the people that subscribe to this philosophy instinctively know that it is bogus!

That’s quite a statement, you’re probably thinking. But I can back it up. In logic they teach you about various types of propositions named after vowels. Suppose we have two statements.

Statement 1: All the lights are on.
Statement 2: All the lights are off.

Now question: can these two statements both be true simultaneously in the same space? The answer is no. That simply defies all logic. Why? Because there is a law called the Law of Non-contradictions which essentially postulates that two completely opposite things can’t both be true at the same time. Duh!

I can give you a better example. Suppose you are out and you bump into an old friend of yours. You give her a hug and you asked her how things are going. “I’m pregnant!” she exclaims. Just as you are about to congratulate her she follows that statement with “I am not pregnant.” Now you are scratching your head and ready to take her to get some mental health. Why? Because at the core you realize that it is impossible for the women to be both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time. She can either be one or the other. And the same goes for religion. In fact, it is more logical to say that absolutely all religions are false than to say that all these religions (and denominations in Christianity) teach completely contrary things and ways and means to God, but that all ultimately lead to Him any way. Nonsense!

There is a Zen saying that goes “To understand God is to Listen. Listen to Jesus and Muhammad and Buddha, but don’t get caught up in the names. Listen beyond them; listen to God’s breath.” Now doesn’t that just sound poetic. This is the heart and soul of religious pluralism. But the bad news is that pluralism is a lie. In our postmodern society we want to be so tolerant that we abandon the true meaning of the word (treating diverse people with respect) and accept a quixotic philosophy of believing everyone on everything because everyone is correct. We are so scared that we will be politically incorrect that we sacrifice truth in order to save face.

Instead the world says all religions and all roads lead to God, so that we don’t exclude anybody. Well let us let the major world religions speak for themselves.

Hinduism: “Let there be one scripture… for the whole world– Bhagavad– gita; Let there be one God for the whole world– Sri Krishna: one hymn, one mantra, one prayer– the chanting of his name.”-- Intro to the Bhagavad-gita
Islam: “Allah! There is no God but He– The Living, The Self-subsisting, Supporter of all– His are all things in the heavens and on earth– His throne doth extend over the earth– He is the Most High, The Supreme”-- Quran 2:225
“Verily I am Allah; There is no God but I.”-- Quran 20:14
Buddhism: “This Lord is truly the Arhat, fully enlightened, perfect in his knowledge and conduct, well-gone, world-knower, unsurpassed, leader of men to be tamed, teacher of gods and men, the Buddha, the Lord.”-- Buddhist scriptures
Christianity: “For there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.”--Acts 4:12
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”-- John 11:24

Well there you have it. This doesn’t sound pluralistic at all. I don’t know about you but it sounds like each religion is claiming exclusivity! Not just Christianity, but all of them are suggesting that they are the ONLY way to Truth. That’s interesting. How can we reconcile these opposing belief systems? The answer is that we can’t! Not if we want to be completely honest.

In the beginning of this blog I told you how I got lost on the way to Northwest Ohio. But let me tell you how the story ends. We did not continue on I-70 because otherwise we would have ended up in Utah. Instead, even though it took us forever to find a rest stop in mountainous West Virginia, we found one and we got a map--an honest map. We admitted that we had lost our way and that we need to find it again. The map showed us how to get to where we desired to be. We followed its directions and we ended up in Northwest Ohio. And because I don’t subscribe to logical fallacies the story ended happily. Albeit it took us some 15 hours to get to our destination, just as it might not be convenient to go out of your way to search for Truth. But it is well worth it when you find it.

The logical outworking of religious pluralism is chaos, and my God does not dwell in disorder. Why don’t your reevaluate your position on pluralism, make that U-turn and get on the right path—the one and only path that can take you to where you long to be.

*For more information on this controversial topic I recommend this book. It is the awesome story of how one man put aside his biases and preconceptions and after 20 years he found the Truth. You can learn more about him here.