It seems to me that today, radical believers are not sober (“not
that interested in truth”), while sober believers are not radical
(“without effect”). But faith must be both, to have the right
effect. Also, only sober and radical faith will lead to
“life”, where this means a justified, appropriate and
adventurous, interesting dealing with one’s own existence.

So, can faith be sober and radical at the same time? In my personal
experience, demystifying
my faith
led to a sober but lifeless faith, as many believed
immediate experiences with God turn out to be fake. Such faith is not
radical any more. But now it seems to me that there is a sober,
justifiable and radical, practical, lively faith, and that
I’m coming in proximity to it. I will trace here the steps how such
faith emerges
from what is accessible to human perception. (I don’t view emergence as
something that arises out of its own, but as an attribute of planned
systems which have self-development capabilities planned in. So, man’s
way to God is not his own way, but following the path that God prepared
for this.)

(1) From nothing to knowing about God’s existence

I know about evolution and the proposed proofs for it, and it seems
to me obvious that there must be a creator god. Because I
found no persuading proof of any complexity-generating mechanism in
dumb matter, and whenever I read biology-related stuff I marvel at the
awful complexity of life again. So the principal alternatives to me are
theism and deism (or, natural theology),
and this persuasion seems justified and even scientifically valid to me.

Another thing to learn from nature is: in sight of the creator God’s
might and greatness, it is impossible for humans to “serve” God. God
might expect people to act morally, but if they don’t there is no way
for humans to “repair” that, as humans cannot bring anything to God
that he needs, Therefore, if justification is necessary, it can only be
by grace alone.

This is what can be learned from observing nature, but there might
be more truth regarding God. For example, nature and nature science
does provide no hint that there is resurrection, but it also
does not proove the opposite. Therefore, one now has to think how to
justifiedly aquire additional knowledge to move from natural to
revealed religion.

(2) From knowing about God’s existence to knowing God by experience

The world is full of surprises. Until now, I thought that refusing
to justify one’s faith by arguments is a small-scale, personal
phenomenon, based either in personality type or folk religion. But I
just read that it is a well-known and wide-spread theological concept,
even in Christianity!! The concept is called fideism.

“Fideism is the view that religious belief depends on faith or
revelation, rather than reason, intellect or natural theology. The word
fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means
faith-ism.” [Wikipedia
on fideism

The above cited article also shows that fideism is connected to
Luther, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard and Pascal. It’s good to have words
now for what I want to say: my faith in God and Jesus is no fideism,
but instead connected to evidentialism
and reliablilism.
I see “faith” as the opposite of works (Romans
3:28 ESV
), not of reason! My esteem for reason rests upon a very
basic observation: a human being comes into the world with an “empty
brain”, that is, everything whithin the brain (including knowledge) can
only be made up from what entered through the senses. This is
a purely experience-oriented perspective: aquiring knowledge about the
outer world is
to make sense of one’s senses. (If this view or fideism is correct
depends on the structure of reality: if reality is one continuum,
including spiritual and material reality, fideism cannot be the
to spiritual truth as it is not to truth about the material world; but
if there is a separation into two disjoint parts, the case is
different. Until now, I assume the former, as I have no hint to a
separation, and the Bible accounts for God making himself
experienceable in the material world also indicates that reality is one
big continuum.)

Information about history and God also enters through our senses, in
form of documents and artefacts. And one has to make sense of it, by
testing the reliability of the sources etc.. If any revealed religion
is true, therefore, there must be also a justified way to acquire
knowledge about this truth, i.e. to make sense of what can be perceived
from it. This calls for God to be experienced within this world, or
believing anything apart from natural religion could not be justified.
Happily, this is the case for Christianity: the Bible claims that God
was experienced on various occasions. For example, that Jesus
resurrected, proving his divinity that way.

There is also a justified Christian belief before knowing reliable
miracles: if any thing that gives hope is true, than it is the gospel
about Jesus the Christ – because Christianity adheres to justification
from grace alone (which follows
from natural theology, see above), and because Christianity is founded
in history
so that a historic proof can be sought after. This kind of faith cannot
be overthrown, and it provides for relaxedness even when one does not
yet know the proving facts that one expects to be there.

Now how to gather the knowledge that justifies believing in the god
of Christianity, if there is such knowledge? The proposal
would be: by making sense of the experiences of people who claim to
have had immediate encounters
with God. This would
use both biblical accounts and contemporary accounts (upcoming “Second
” project), as from a big continuum. That way, no special
mystical role as “holy writings” is attributed to the Bible.

One cannot understate the importance of history (experiences
of men with God) as the basis to believe. Because everything else could
for mere psychological reasons, including the effects of grace. Grace
“works”, but such pragmatic
does not make a believe true. But truth is important
for the afterlife: is there an afterlife, or not. Experiencing the
“hard reality” of God cannot be explained away, while inner-psychic
motions can. Therefore it is of such value that Christianity includes a
wealth of claimed experiences with the “hard reality of God” (esp. in
the Bible), which can be checked and hopefully result in the
persuasion that God is real and not a mere concept. In Christianity,
even the central message is inseparable from history: the gospel, in
the context of Mk.16,15
, is pimarily the message that was at hand there: the good
news that Jesus rose from the dead!!!

Now one might find it difficult to know what God or Gods
(of perhaps many ones) is behind each experience, i.e. to make sense of
experiences with invisible reality. Some thoughts: different religions
report different experiences, and from this difference it should
hopefully be clear that the God of Christianity is the only omnipotent
God (who
must therefore be the creator god, if any known God is). This God made
himself identifyable by dealing with the Jews only, for al long time:
he can be identified as “the God of the Jews”. Today, the name “Jesus
Christ”, identifying the son of this God, makes the connection to this
God; so one can expect that prayers in the name of Jesus Christ
have a different effect than those without, and this can be checked.

But is it really that complicated to come to a justified belief in
God? No way. Me thinks this is just the thinkers’ way, while there are
other approaches to the truth about God for other types of people. The
thinkers’ way is hard, with many dangers, and it is a pure gift to
arrive at the truth about God this way (see 1Cor
1:18-26 ESV
). This is just for people who don’t accept axioms, not
even the intuitively acceptable idea that a human being is an entity
that was intended to be an entity. Approaches with such axioms are also
possible, I think, but only because God provided circumstances so that
he can be found these ways. For example, a humble heart that’s
conscious about its guilt, combined with fideism, also arrives at the
faith in Jesus when being told about his grace. Therefore, due to this
epistemically correct result, fideism should not be criticized on all
occasions in Christianity.

(3) From knowing God by experience to radical faith

We are now at the point where there is (hopefully) enough evidence
to justify believing what the Bible says about God. That is, this God
is real, not a mere concept. And this statement holds true even if one
does not have immediate contact to God. Therefore, a radical faith in
this God is justified even if one does not experience God personally.
might be people who never experience God supernaturally themselves (for
example those in Hebrews
11:35-40 ESV
), but have good reason to believe from the reports
of others.

This is really an interesting finding: radical faith can be
justified even without personal, immediate encounters with God. Such
“radical but distance-accepting” faith is quite beautiful as it
answers both the desire for fervent radicality and truth (in the sense
of demystified faith, which emphasizes that there is a distance).

Oh, I forgot: what is radical faith, actually? I would define, it is
to deal with God in the same quality as if he’d be visible or otherwise
immediately accessible. This seems to be a very basic aspect of faith,
as it is said about faithful Moses that he “endured as [if] seeing him
who is invisible”
11:27 ESV
). The definition says “in the same quality”, not with the
same actions: so radical faith does not mean
to act if God would be present as a person in space and time, just
invisible, as this would lead to mystical stuff such as “feeling the
presence of God”. Radical faith accepts this distance, but is
nonetheless radical in obedience and consequence. Paul might be seen as
an example of a radical believer: his faith in Christ and the
resurrection rests on the reorted experiences of the other apostles and
his own (but past) experience of Christ, yet he emits such radical
statements as “O death, where is your victory?” [1Cor
15:1-58 ESV

Such consequent obedience means to risk something by behaving
according to
the example of Jesus and other biblical characters. For example, to
risk job,
friendships, relationships and stuff. And exactly this, taking
justified risks, is the enabler of life (where “life” means something
interesting, adventurous). And in the long run, taking risks instead of
living in a luke-warm state is very rewarding: one finds a hundredfold
of what one lost, even on earth, just as Jesus
promised (see Mark
10:28-30 ESV

People who do not believe don’t risk anything: it is an observation
that people who view the visible reality as the most important one seek
a secure place in it and won’t risk that for anything. But people who
believe in a higher, worthier reality might risk their current security
for that. Because beliefs are such a string force, it is very important
to hold the true belief. Believing lies also motivates to radical life,
but dependent on lie’s content it might result in the radical life of
jihad warriors.

(4) From radical faith to repentance

When taking Jesus seriously, one has to take seriously what he says
about sin and forgiveness, and then, to repent. This is difficult as it
implies to humble oneself, but the lack of radicality and consequence
in this point can withhold people from following Jesus at all, even if
seeing his miracles first-hand (e.g. John
7:3-5 ESV

The problem of guilt is in fact even the primary thing that drives
people to Jesus, not historic evidence, which is then added afterwards,
if at all. In this sense, these “steps to sober and radical faith” are
idealized to conform to logic, not to reality. Only intellectual people
have these additional problems which force them to seek for historical
evidence … .

(5) From repentance to love

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for
loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” [Luke
7:47 ESV

Love flows from being forgiven. Radicality cannot be an activity,
but must be motivated by love towards God – else it will run dry in the
long run.

(6) From love to radical practice

We are now at the point of radical faith, which wants to put itself
into action. This seems at first glance a very difficult thing: What
radical steps are justifiable from a belief where concrete, immediate
commandments from God occur rarely? How
to live with Jesus in daily life, if it cannot be an immediate
relationship on average? That is: what do you do to live out your faith
and experience faith if you cannot expect your God to interact with
your life on a daily basis (but only on surprising, special occasions).

But, the interesting thing is: radical obedience to mediate
commandments is also possible. Mediate commandments are, for example:
the timeless, general truths of the Bible; and especially the example
of Jesus. The previous article “Way
to truth and life, fifth start
” contained some rather general ideas
for a practical and lively, radical faith. Thoughts have gone further
somewhat, so here are more concrete ideas what actions and activities
fit for a faith which is sober and radical at the same time:

  • Take it for serious. Radical faith means, perhaps first
    of all, to take radically serious what one believes. So that it affects
    one’s life and decisions in a consequent way. This makes other people
    recognize that one really takes this to be the truth, and they will
    hopefully check for themselves if one’s beliefs are a mere concept or
    truth indeed.
  • Take risks. Risk something by behaving
    according to truth, which you can learn from the example of Jesus and
    other biblical figures. One example: if a friend needs a rebuke, rebuke
    him (or her). If it deems
    on you that smalltalk is not appropriate for a particular situation,
    move to more risky and effective topics. The opposite of taking risks
    is to live a totally adapted life. But how to find a situation to risk
    something when
    everyday life is filled with just recurring everyday activity? This is
    not really a problem: every day grants at least one possibility,
    and every possibility can set off an avalanche of new possibilities if
    one takes it.
  • Love one another. “If this has been done, enough has
    been done” (Apostle John, according to a tradition). Love is something
    very radical and very practical. It includes “filling the day with
    people”, as mentioned in “Way
    to truth and life, fifth start
  • Thank God for creating a world which provides plenty of food.
    If you thank God for a meal, that’s what you can thank God for. You
    cannot thank God for coordinating that exactly this meal is on your
    table, as this is a mystical belief that lets the problem arise why God
    does not do the same for all the starving people. But when we start to
    see that God created a good world without the necessity of famine, and
    that famine is purely man’s work, this problem does not arise.
  • Read the Bible as if truth-sunbathing. What view on the
    Bible is both sober and radical? For example, this: when reading the
    Bible, that’s because you seek and enjoy the long-term
    effects of being exposed to truth, and you do not search an immediate
    encounter with God. With this view, you doesn’t expect each single
    Bible time to give you concrete directions for your life, and would
    even accept if your decision couldn’t be traced back to “what God said”
    in concrete Bible times, but only to Bible truth in general.
  • Seek mediate guidance. When you seek to be led by Jesus,
    seek the timeless, general truth offered in the Bible, and not an
    immediate encounter with Jesus (which is possible nonetheless). The
    timeless, general truth is enough for nearly all cases: only if we obey
    it consequently and still lack wisdom how to live this life, there is
    reason to seek God’s immediate action.

These tips are in one word: obey. Humble yourself, pray etc., as you
see appropriate in your situation, judged by timeless, general truth.
Such a life generates a lot of positive effects that we like to call
“experiences with God” now: for example, honesty and authenticity have
loads of positive
effects, but are nothing more than human behavior, in obedience to
Jesus’ example.

(7) And perhaps: experiencing God personally and immediately

What is new to me personally here is the idea of a radical
life, founded in timeless truth, not immediate commandments. That has
to say something on the role of miracles and personal experiences.

First of all, miracles are not that necessary. They were never
intended from God
“just help” people, but to show his character and divinity. For this
purpose, some miracles
are enough, and most of them can be history. God wants to help people
not by miracles, but by transformed people: the
practical problems of this world will inevitably go away when people
start to live according to the example of Jesus. One historical example
for this is the worldwide example of abolishing slavery.

The basis of faith is not the personal experience of miracles (while
these are nice to have and they support faith), but instead faith rests
on the fact that
such experiences have been there in other people’s lifes. This is quite
relaxing, as faith may stay sober: no mystical stuff
has to be introduced to fake miracles in one’s personal life.

Now, this should not lead people to mistrust “by default” own or
other’s proposed immediate experiences with God. There are
immediate encounters with God (including
supernatural answers to prayer, impressions from the Spirit, gifts of
the Spirit). Just, it seems that one cannot provoke
them to occur in one’s own life (it did not work for those in Hebrews
11:35-40 ESV
, e.g.). They just happen.

One additional thought: there are cases where the Bible claims that
God is at work immediately, while it seems to be normal natural life to
men. For example, the Father draws people or they cannot come
to Christ; or, the mind of Christians is able to intend positive stuff
because of the Spirit. It is not clear how to detect God’s intervention
here from a sober, scientific point of view, but it is not that
important, either: the effectshould be attributed to God, but these
cases cannot serve as the basis of faith as they looks like
natural human life outwardly.

Summing up

“[W]hoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in
which he walked.” [I
John 2:6 ESV

Really believing in Jesus is taking him that serious that one starts
to live according to his example, and starts to learn his radicality.
Which makes this article to be nothing more than a fervent appeal to
start living after the
example of Jesus again: open, honest, humble, loving, radical,
fearless. We might have started this once, and got frustrated because
God did not answer as immediately as we expected. This should not
frustrate any more: there is this distance between creator and
creature, but recognizing the truth about God and living radically
according to it is possible nonetheless.

Start date: 2007-11-25
Post date: 2007-11-28
Version date: 2007-11-28 (for last meaningful change)


What situation do you want to spend our life in? What people do you want to have around? What do you want to do as your long term main activity? Here is mine variant. Living with some fellows as a permanent, mobile, technology-enabled, intentional community … serving God by serving others … and searching God by seaching what he does today. I cannot imagine something better, something more comforting, something more stirring. Standing there, one day, dear friends around you, and knowing you’ve found what you was searching all life long: the sense of this all, in an obvious, non-ignorable way. Knowing, from then on, that you’re moving to an eternity on God’s side. Instead of just being convinced to do so.

Of course, I would prefer joining an existing community of that style, instead of building my own. Because building an  organisation is a hard, risky and tedious task – and without any worth of the desired organisation already exists. However, I did an intensive web research on 2007-11-17, and found nothing. What I found is this, by appropriateness:

  • Mobile Freak Gemeinde (MFG): in English, that’s “mobile freak church”; they’re a group of some  Jesus Freaks, living in camp buses and touring the world to tell people about Jesus; they are currently “on hold” (see post “Pause” from 2007-08-12). I really hope that you find a way to continue your vision, guys! You really rock! While they’re closest to the community I have in mind and I’d really like to meet them, they’re a group of personal friends and, as said, on hold. Not to mention our small differences in lifestyle … really, don’t want to mention 😉
  • White Stone Community: written about on this blog of its founder Baba, they’re a really stylish Jesus Freak community in Portugal and somewhat connected to MFG. Sadly, they seem to have quite high fluctuation and are not mobile … that is, they differ from the style of community I search, but again, you guys rock, too, and I’d like to meet you some day.
  • Rainbox Gatherings: this seems quite a fascinating thing, yet I do not know why I include them here as I search for a small, permanent intentional community.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams: they have a nice, consequently radical style and are Christian, but I do not share (1) their occupation with peacemaking, (2) the a priori opposition to any kind of violence, (3) their centrally controlled organisation style, (4) their dependence on fundraising, (5) their strong anti-Israeli mindset.

So … if anybody can point me to an existing group to join, I would be grateful beyond measure. But if no such group exists yet, I would be willing to start one – else I cannot expect to experience any kind of teamwork and communal living in this work that I can totally enjoy. I assume now that I indeed need to start one such community … I made good experiences with using fictional content to envision stuff, drawing a lively, motivating and self-motivating image in my and other people’s minds. To have a vision is, after all, viewing something worthy to endure pain for, so some more motivation will not hurt. I should note that this vision also expresses my wish to live an interesting, well-going life … hope God will bless me with that, not sure.

The vision

Hi … I’m Tam of Cmando. My wife Celina and six other fellows are also of Cmando. Pronounce it as “come-and-do”, with the empasis on the latter. I don’t know what Cmando is. Cmando is an intentional community of eight people … a Christian church of eight … your permanent world tour with 7 friends … a bunch of journalists and metaphysicists, tracing miracles … a multi-party house with couples and singles in it … an all-wheel truck … a company of eight friends in ever-ongoing financial trouble. Some people see us as a civil analogy to military commando, which sometimes applies, sometimes not at all.

Celina reminds me jus’ now that Cmando is rather just a permanent group of long-term friends … a set of lively discussions every evening (and mostly helpful) … these windows with their ever-changing exceptional view on untouched nature … a collection of complicated computer stuff that you never want in your living room (but sadly we have just one room in total, so it looks like ISS interieur) … a group that wants to be able to help whereever we see it fit … a network of contacts to several thousand helpful and needy people worldwide … a particularly challenging time last year (socially, as friendship is not always a box of chocolates). And so on 🙂

But, don’t worry what we are. Instead, read what way we lived today … it easier to get precise on that topic. Well then, step by step. We are currently to an expedition in Tanzania, trying to track some of the concrete things God does today. When we’re done with that, this will be published as our third (and last) book on that topic, and we’re glad to find such a wealth of  incidences that even Matew seems to be happy with that.

However, we’re not doin that stuff all day long, as we need to earn some money to live and travel here, and as we try to help some fellow Christians on the go. Therefore, this morning was dedicated to our community-owned little IT company … standing up at 5 o’clock, we’d have our running course, but with me and Celina staying at the truck for security reasons. Well, and to prepare a nice breakfast 🙂 After breakfast, our four programmers would settle behind their computers and finish one of their website projects, working in something they call extreme collaboration in a warroom environment; I’d say it’s related to

Celina and Rebeca assisted them by doing accounting and office administration, while Rhett and I took the motorbike with sidecar to visit some local market and buy food for all of us, to prepare the food for storage, together with us, and to create a
nice meal. When we arrived back home at the truck, they were in the midst of deploying their website via Inmarsat satellite internet connection, while the girls were ready. After eating together and relaxing during the hottest part of the day, we mobilized the vehicle and departed … but paused a little while after to take in some water from a public well (whereof a location based GPS reminder had made us known).

After two hours of driving (and only 45km of distance …) we arrived at this little village of Adjoa. He was a fellow Christian whom we had met the week before, and we had promised to come and try to repair their village’s jammed well (which was a result of a tribal feud two years ago). Arriving there in late afternoon, we were heartily welcomed by Adjoa and the village elders. We were invited to an evening meal and discussed the problem with them for a while, then joined Adjoa and others in their evening prayer meeting. And finallly we sat outside at a small camp fire, discussing among Cmando members how to dig this well up again. We were kind of in a mess, as this was a 20m deep hole in the ground, 35cm in diameter, and we did not have any kind of well drilling equipment. Finally, Brady had the idea to mount our small-outline air hammer together with ballast and this high-volume fan (for removing stones and dirt) to a steel cable. And we decided to try that the other day.

End notes

Interesting enough, God’s vision for the whole Christian congregation is quite similar to the vision above. Just that I dare to envision this for a small, prototype group only, while God dares to envision that for all of us. Nonetheless, I am impressed how Paul expresses the way God envisions congregations to be … full of love, saring, honesty, mercy … and full of venturesome, faithful co-workers:

(1) Does Christ speak to you? Does love call to you? Do you have a part in the Holy Spirit? Do you have any love and care for others? (2) Then make me very, very happy. Live in happiness with one another. Have the same love for each other. Think the same way. Agree together about things. All have one purpose in mind. (3) Do not try to  prove you are better than others. Do not be proud of yourselves, but be humble. Think of other people as being better than yourselves. (4) Each one of you should not think only about himself, but about other people also. (5) Think the same way Jesus Christ thought. (6) He was in every way like God. Yet he did not think that being equal to God was something he must hold on to. (7) He gave this up and became a servant. […] (13) For God is at work in you. He helps you want to do it. And he helps you do what he wants you to do. (14) Do everything without grumbling or making trouble. (15) In that way you will be completely good. No one will be able to say anything wrong about you. You will be God’s good children living amongst bad people. Among them you will shine like lights in the world. […] (19) I hope the Lord Jesus will let me send Timothy to you soon. I will be glad to hear about you. (20) I have no one like Timothy. He is troubled to know about you. (21) All the other people think only of themselves and not of Jesus Christ. (22) But you know what a good man Timothy is. You know that he has worked with me in telling the good news. He has worked just as a son works with his father. […] (25) I thought I must send Epaphroditus, our Christian brother, back to you. He has worked with me and has also been a soldier of Christ with me. He was your messenger and he brought your gift for my needs. (26) I am sending him back because he has been lonely without you all. And his heart has been troubled because you heard that he was sick. (27) He was very sick! He almost died! But God was kind to him. He was not only kind to him, but also to me. God did not let me have one trouble after another. (28) I want even more to send him to you so that you will be happy when you see him again. And I will not be so troubled any more. (29) So receive him with much joy because he is a Christian brother. Give respect to men like him. (30) He almost died doing the work of Christ. You wished to help me, but you could not come. He came instead. He was willing to put his life in danger in order to help me. [Philippians 2:1-7,13-15,19-22,25-30 BWE]

Image source: they are used for illustration purposes only and are completely unrelated to the content of this completely fictional story. They are licensed under a Creative Commons license, published by user “simontaylor” on as images 286272346, 286269549 (in this order).

Start date: 2007-11-17
Post date: 2007-11-19
Version date: 2007-11-19 (for last meaningful change)

Four dead-end roads

How to arrive at a truthful and (if possible) joyful life? This is
justifiably the desire of humans, and it’s my desire. I tried several

  1. Child-like accepted faith. I accepted to have found
    truth and a joyful life through Jesus, without thinking about it. This
    failed when I began to think about it in ~1996.
  2. Intellectualized fundamentalist faith. I was absolutely
    convinced to have found truth and a joyful life through Jesus, as I
    collected and thought about and accepted all the fundamentalist’s
    arguments for believing in Jesus. This failed in beginning 2005 when I
    realized this had shifted me to a legalistic, joyless, strained life
    with deliberate but not necessarily true convictions.
  3. Experienced faith with emotions. This was the best time
    yet: I got to know Jesus in a totally different way as a loving,
    gracious friend and saviour. Along the way, I throwed out many
    legalistic and otherwise strained convictions and wrote about that. But
    the best thing was that I experienced God personally in concrete ways,
    including some few supernatural experiences that I accept as genuine
    even today and honest, precious relationships to friends. That was
    really a time of joyful life … it ended in first half of 2006 when I
    experienced God no longer in these ways and then started to question
    the genuineness of some of these experiences, and the validity of my
    emotional reactions to them.
  4. Demystified history-backed faith. The following time was
    filled with many philosophical considerations about God, genuine
    experiences with God, valid emotionality etc.. It resulted in throwing
    out many opinions I once held and now recognized as non-genuine,
    mystical and religious … as documented in my blog articles. The
    result was an intellectually justifiable faith in Jesus, and if only as
    the basic conviction that Jesus is the Christ if there is any God
    at all
    (which is also
    ). My faith was now founded in the historical facts about
    Jesus and the hope to find contemporary miracles of God in the Second
    Acts project (see my article “My
    vision for my life, as a mindmap
    “). This ended on Tuesday
    (2007-11-13) when I realized that this course would lead me neither to
    joy nor truth: it is the stressful, self-navigated philosophical course
    of a desparate seeker, therefore something that excludes joy; it also
    excludes joy as it would not lead to any new experiences with God,
    emphasizing thinking so much, not doing; and it would not lead to a
    confirmed conviction of truth in the short run, as Second Acts is
    rather a long-term project.

Fifth start: Jesus-led practical faith with experiences

My above mentioned human desire for a way to truth and life is
acknowledged by Jesus as he promised all three: “I am the way, and
the truth, and the life.” (John
14:16 ESV
). Jesus even promised to be the way to truth and life
himself – which is the new idea for my fifth start: to let Jesus be the
way. Another way round: if there is an Almighty,
there’s no need for me to live this stressful seeker’s life, as God is
then able to lead me to truth and life anyway; and if there is no
Almighty, there’s also no need to live this stressful seeker’s life, as
there’s nothing to be found.

Now, what shall this analogy mean to “let Jesus be the way”?

  • Stop to find out yourself. That is, at least for me,
    stop the current habit to philosophize, as it makes stuff really
    complicated and mostly joyless. The only alternative to excessive
    thinking is to start doing something. Which will also result in more
    practical articles in the future.
  • Expect God to navigate your life. That does not mean to
    just sit and wait, but to stop worrying where all this will end. As,
    such worries are implied in a self-navigated life: the problem is
    navigation when you neither know where to go nor how to get there.
    Letting God navigate, however, implies to not expect him to adhere to
    your own plans (as I proudly did with my agenda how to find truthful
    and joyful life). But you can trust him to strictly adhere to good
    plans 🙂 Only if you let God navigate, you’re going to make
    experiences with God; when deciding all for yourself, you’re going to
    make experiences with yourself.
  • Expect God to find ways to answer your questions. I
    won’t accept
    unjustified a priori statements about God and how he wants to navigate
    my life, and also, I won’t return to finding out myself about God and
    how he wants to navigate my life. But I expect that God will find ways
    to show me the truth about him and how he guides people, in a way I can
    justifiedly accept.
  • Expect God to find ways to confirm himself by experiences.
    Philosophy shows what could possibly be true, but one needs
    to experience facts to know for sure. But, stop searching those facts
    yourself, as that’s stressful and joyless. Personally, I expect God to
    show himself in my own practical life … and  to let me know what
    he does currently in this world. Wherefore I want to pursue this Second
    Acts idea further, but in a not-so-desparate way, expecting God to
    correct it or make it succeed.
  • Find your flavor of a lively, relaxed, simple relationship to
    the Father, Jesus and the Spirit.
    There’s no need to dig up again
    legalistic or fundamentalist  practices of faith, but you need a
    pratical faith to get out of the theoretical realm. See below for
    concrete ideas. Whatever form you choose, put emphasis on a proud-free
    relationship that has room for collecting concrete experiences with
    believing God.

Caveat: these elements of “letting Jesus be the way” may sound as if
one should expect an immediate, 24/7 relationship with God. This is not
the case (see my article “The
third way of life in this world
“). You can expect God to
navigate your life, but it is unclear in what way and when you can
expect this. You’ll have to try yourself. From my experience I conclude
that it can be very different form immediate, audible or visible words

Practical ideas for practical faith

As said, you’ll need to let God choose the experiences you make in a
radical-practical faith that’s led by God. All we can do is to durnish
an environment that fosters practical experiences with God. Here are
some ideas, but as I’m right at the beginning I’m quite clueless and
would appreciate any additions. What is very obvious is that practical
faith needs practice: thinking and talking alone has neither power nor
effect. One cannot learn how to live with God practically from
philosophizing and blogging (as in my case).

  • Fill the day with people. Whatever filled the day that
    was not practical faith, it is worth to be replaces by just that: by
    the simple and beautiful activity of having community with people
    sharing practical Christian love and building authentic relationships,
    which is very precious. One practical idea: when living alone, one
    might move to a flat-sharing community.
  • Collect some inspirations for outer forms. The goal of
    every outer form of faith is to support and foster the practical
    relationship with Jesus. You may look for new forms if you find
    inadequate what you know; for example, look at some things
    the emergent church movement does. Any outer form that supports even
    such basic things as memorizing what you know to be true is worth to be
    considered. This may include appropriate dealing with music and lyrics.
  • Find your positive access to the Bible. Whatever problem
    you may have with the Bible (or, more precisely: human conceptions of
    the Bible), it is the most important document for the Christian faith.
    Therefore, face your problems and find for yourself how to dig up that
    buried treasure. I once made good experiences with the four gospels,
    getting to know Jesus in a new way. And with changing the translation
    … . Also, I made the experience that faith can become quite arrogant
    and overcomplicated if one forgets the basics … which are spoken
    about in the Bible.
  • Collect your prejudices against God. After a frustrating
    period, it might be a good idea to find out what exactly is ones
    frustration now. That avoids an overall, diffuse disclination and
    fosters to consciously lay down these issues and try to learn about God
  • Invest into honest, authentic friendships. This
    includes: daring to trust without fear, daring to be open and really
    (!) honest about yourself, daring to be interested in other people (not
    just their abilities or gifts), daring to enter a dynamic relationship
    without knowing the direction, talking about
    unconvenient matters, daring to struggle with each other (in a
    constructive way) and learning to do so.
  • Start to believe again in everyday life. Pray and
    believe, as those who do not pray won’t receive. It might be a
    difficult time to learn why so many many prayers do not get answered
    and what God really wants, but without starting to pray one can never
    arrive at positive experiences with God’s gifts.

Start date: 2007-11-16
Post date: 2007-11-16
Version date: 2007-11-16 (for last meaningful change)


Some of my previous articles contained experimental thoughts about
the nature and relationship of human spirit and body. Namely:

They were good for
nothing more than to question our traditional conceptions, to catalyse
thinking in new directions. These thoughts have developed somewhat
further now so that I’m able to present a consistent hypothesis here.
This will hopefully the last post about this topic: I think I’m
satisfied to know one possibility how to harmonize the
neuropsychological and the biblical image of humanity. I don’t need to
know if this possibility is correct … and I cannot, lacking the
resources for the necessary experiments. So, after this article I’ll
turn to some more practical topics.

My motivation for thinking about the body/spirit relationship was
that it really bothered me to know no explanation for the seeming
contradiction between modern neuroscience and the biblical concept of a
human “spirit” … I am not willing to believe biblical content at the
expense of scientific integrity, and I am not willing to mistrust
biblical content based on preliminary scientific results. So I am happy
to offer my harmonizing hypothesis here, and I am curious whether or
not it will
prove valid while science develops further in the next years.

Spirit: a phenomenological definition

How to define “human spirit”? A first shot would be: spirit is
“intention”, either body-less or abstractable from the body. Or: spirit
is an intention generation system (a “mind”), either body-less or
abstractable from the body. But it’s not that easy, there is much
confusion what abilities are attributed to the spirit and what not.
Also, the “spirit” concept is mainly used in areas with low overall
affinity to scientific thinking, e.g. in Christianity. Here, some
people might say spirit is “the ability to communicate with God” or
only “the knowledge that there is a God” which animals have not. Other
Christians might attribute typically human abilities (like semantic
language, rational thinking etc.) to the spirit. Again, others think
the spirit is mainly a “higher quality, immaterial cybernetic system”,
opposed to soul (with emotions) and body (with biochemistry etc.), and
argue that man has to seek “living out of his (renewed) spirit” to be

To get out of this confusion, this article takes a simple
phenomenological perspective: all or some differences between higher
animals and humans are attributed to the spirit. Because people (esp.
Christians) agree at least in this point that animals do not have a
spirit. This definition is enough for the purpose of this article.

Hypothesis presentation: brain-powered human spirit

The intuitive Christian conception of “spirit” is probably: it is an
entity, it is the center of a person, it is made of non-material
substance, it does not die, and it is able to communicate with my body
or at least my brain. This conception comes probably from the idea that
Genesis 2:7 implies that God imparted something divine (i.e.
non-material substance) to man at his creation, and that this is being
made in “God’s image” (Genesis 1:26 WEB), contrary to animals:

“Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and
breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
2:7 WEB)

Now, neuroscience seems to indicate that all of human’s mental
capabilities are brain capabilities (see the justification below),
among them rational thinking, semantic language and all other
differences to animals. So, no non-material spirit is needed to explain
the differences between animals and humans. Wherefore, then, do we need
the concept of a “spirit” at all?

The hypothesis introduced here is this:

“Human spirit” designates the brain capabilities that
humans from all animals. So, human spirit is materially implemented in
the brain, but there is also something like “immaterial spirit”,
sharing comparable attributes but a non-material implementation.
and immaterial spirit are functionally compatible to some degree, e.g.
they can communicate with each other.

To prevent misunderstandings: in this hypothesis, “spirit” is not a
later introduced abstraction
to verbalize the perceived differences between humans and animals, but
an intentionally created “thing”: created by God, who created the
differences between humans and
animals to resemble the differences between God and creatures.

What is new in this hypothesis is to view “spirit” as
implementation-independent: it might be implemented in material
substance (as with humans) or in non-material substance (as with angels
e.g.). This central idea is justifiable from the purpose the creator
God intended for this world (see below), and it allows to harmonize
neuroscience and the biblical concept of “spirit” and a “spiritual
world”: it is in harmony with the (probable) result of neuroscience
that man is made from matter and nothing else, and with the biblical
message that man has a spirit and that there is a non-material,
spiritual world out there.

Hypothesis justification

Being the image of God demands for a brain-powered spirit

Let’s question the intuitive conception of “being created in the
image of God”, which is something like: because God is an immaterial
being, man must have an immaterial component, too, that is, the human
spirit. However, how about this view:
man is God’s image not in the abolute sense (i.e. compared to God) but
in the relative sense (compared to this world’s nature). To be God
implies to be strongest of all, yet the bible says that angels are
stronger than men – therefore, man cannot be the image of God relative
to the spiritual world. Yet man is the image of God relative to this
world, which he was told to subdue and have domion over (Genesis 1:28).
Probably it is in this sense that the bible calls us “Gods” (Psalms

If this conception of being the “image of God” is correct, it does
no longer necessarily imply that the human spirit is made of the same
immaterial substance as God’s. The human spirit is the image
of God’s spirit: it is a spirit relative to the material world
around him, but the image of a spirit relative to God. As with other
images, there is likeness but also reduction implied: a photography
reduces a four-dimensional world to only two. Relative to the material
world, some higher brain
capabilities qualify as “spirit” (as they
enable language, ratio, …) and give the attributes of a “God of this
world” to man, as it enables men to have dominion.

It seems that God intended this disconnectedness between the
material and the immaterial world, creating the material world as an
independent, four-dimensional image to view at it and be glad. To grasp
it in concepts of physics, the material and the immaterial world might
be said to be parallel universa, (nearly) completely disconnected from
each other. Only if man is in such a “universe of its own” that exists
independent from God’s concrete intervention, he qualifies as the god
of this area, i.e. the image of his creator God. This kind of demands
that man is completely made from material substance, to uphold this
disconnectedness from the immaterial universe.

The difficulties of spirit/brain interaction demand for a
brain-powered spirit

If one assumes that the spirit is a separate entity from the body,
has to assume an “interface”: something that creates the undissolvable
link between an individual spirit and an individual body. As a
atom-by-atom copy would be connected to a different spirit, this
connection cannot have a material implementation, i.e. one assumes that
a supernatural element is implied in the body of every human being.
That’d be an inconsistency in God’s creation, a nasty flaw, from an
engineering perspective. So it should be assumed that nothing of a
person would exist if the body would not exist.

And another indication that the human spirit is brain-powered: the
alternative would be a brain-spirit interface. Brain injuries which
affect typically human (“spiritual”) capabilities like language show
that these capabilities are distributed all over the brain. Which
implies that a non-material spirit would have to
interact with the brain as a whole. This however is really improbable,
as one would have to assume then that spirit can interface with all
kind of matter (as the brain is no special matter).

And another reason: brain injuries that affect small areas of the
brain can result in losing spiritual capabilities like language. Which
means that a brain-powered spirit would probably consist of a
relatively small area of the brain; the
description of this small structure might well fit into the believed 3%
of DNA
divergence between humans and modern apes. Remember that the spirit is
not detectable from a specific outward form of the body or one of it’s
organs, it just enables beings to use their limbs and organs in more
complex ways. The spirit is better software (in the sense of: control
ability) for an otherwise identic body. Even better, it is
self-learning software and probably loaden with emergence, that is,
it might be a really compact piece of
DNA that describes it.

Hypothesis application: implications on various phenomena

  1. Sleep. If the spirit would be a non-material entity, one
    would have to assume that awareness of self continues while the body is
    asleep. This is not the case, which indicates that the spirit is
    brain-powered, and sleep means that the brain area for creating
    of self” is put into another mode of function.
  2. Coma. If the spirit would be a non-material entity,
    awareness of self and spiritual activities like thinking sould continue
    even if the body is in coma or vegetative state. But he have no
    indications to think so.
  3. Metal handicaps. This could be explained as a defect of
    the material part of the brain-spirit interface (assuming the spirit is
    a non-material entity) or as a defect of the brain itself (if the
    spirit is assumed to be brain-powered). Occam’s razor
    advises to use
    the most economic explanation, and this is to postulate that all mental
    human capabilities are implemented in his brain, not in a immaterial
  4. Heart vs. head. If human spirit is
    brain-powered, there cannot be
    a qualitative difference between “heart” (in the imaginary sense of:
    the center of will and direction) and “rational thinking”, as
    both are brain capabilities; at least there cannot be a qualitative
    difference out of metaphysical reasons. However, currently many
    Christians assume rational thinking to be of lower quality.
  5. The social gets important. If the human spirit is
    brain-powered, the social area is related to the spirit in the sense of
    its emergence.
    Therefore, it could no longer be justified to view society with all its
    complicatedness as “unimportant for spiritual / Christian matters”. As,
    society would belong to humanity just as the brain does. Things like
    social atmosphere, room atmosphere, optical impression etc. could no
    longer be completely low-valued out of a priori reasons.
  6. Humans have no supernatural abilities. With a
    brain-powered spirit, it would be sure that humans cannot have
    abilities that transcend the laws of nature. This would, for example,
    change the view of prayer: prayer is no “direct spirit-to-spirit
    communication” with God, but normal, materially implemented talking (as
    we do with humans) or thinking. It would reach God only because God, as
    an omniscient being, perceives all that happens onn earth.
  7. What is original sin? If the human spirit is implemented
    as a brain capability, then original sin might be nothing that is
    passed on by inheritance, but by learning from other sinners.
  8. The homogenous conception of man. Often, it is argued
    that the Bible does not teach that human’s are made from separate
    components (like the trichotomy of body, soul and spirit) but that all
    these are only aspects of an integrated whole. If however man would be
    made up of an immaterial spirit and a material body, this exegesis is
    difficult to apply. With an brain-powered spirit it is easy, however:
    humans are made of matter and matter only, and the body is indeed an
    integrated whole where each part affects each other.
  9. What is being filles with the Spirit? Being filled with
    the Holy Spirit changes people’s behavior, as reported on many
    occasions in Acts. From the perspective of a brain-powered spirit, this
    would be supernaturally caused, (temporary) changes in the programming
    of the brain, or functional equivalent to that.
  10. The body is not the shell. If the spirit is implemented
    as a brain capability, the body is much more important than it is to
    those who think their body is just the “shell” they will leave back
    when they die. Dismissing these thoughts will lead to a new awareness
    and appreciation for one’s body: “I am what my body is, not something
    that dwells in my body.”
  11. Creating new people. If the spirit is brain-powered,
    then the procreation of a human being happens completely in the
    material realm. Because there is no necessity for an act of God, like
    “creating the non-material spirit”. This is a really cool implication,
    as it says: God created man as an being that independent that man is
    able to re-reate himself without the help of God. Which would mean, God
    gave man the true ability to create, making him a true image of God
    also in this sense. One can sense the parents marvelling at the ability
    to create in tehir likeness just and God created them in his likeness,
    when the first man and the first woman created a son:

    “In the day that God created man, he made him in God’s
    likeness. He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called
    their name “Adam,” in the day when they were created. Adam lived one
    hundred thirty years, and became the father of a son in his own
    likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” (Genesis 5:1-3)

    But this implies also a great and awesome
    responsibility: humans, not God, are the reasons why new humans come
    into existence. And it demystifies our conception about our own origin:
    we are not as we are “because God created us as we are”, with all
    attributes and abilities, but because of natural and random effects
    occuring during the recombination of chromosomes. Else one had to
    assume that God creates animals the same way, i.e. by directing the
    only apparantly random recombination of chromosomes.

  12. Who is Jesus? According to the biblical records, Jesus
    proclaimed to be the Son of God, i.e. God himself. Which implies that
    he cannot be just an ordinary man, as he had a preexistence as an
    immaterial, spiritual being (as “God is spirit”, John 4:24). Therefore,
    the process of incarnation is something supernatural, but compatible
    with the ranges of above mentioned hypothesis: it would be an
    implementation change, from a non-materially implemented spirit to a
    brain-powered spirit, transfering some or all mental attributes.
  13. Heaven and earth als parallel universa. One can
    understand the biblical concept “earth” as the material universe
    (including our material world and us humans with our brain-powered
    spirits), and one can understand the biblical concept “heaven” as the
    non-material universe where God and the angels dwell. Because they are
    disconnected with respect to the natural laws, it is impossible to
    assign a relative location to them. God promised to create once a new
    heaven and a new earth, and that resurrected believers in Christ will
    then be in “heaven”. Which is quite interesting, as it says that they
    will be spiritual beings “like God’s angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
    This is compatible with the hypothesis that the human spirit is
    brain-powered: it is implemented in material substance now but might
    get re-implemented in non-material substance later, thereby retaining
    all experiences and memories.
  14. Intended closuredness of the material universe.
    Traditionally, it is assumed in the Christian faith that the creation
    of angels and the creation of the material world has some connection to
    each other. This is easy to justify if humans are spiritual, angel-like
    beings, but placed in a body. But if they are totally material beings
    however, as argued here, there is not necessarily an intended
    connection between the two universa. That is, it could have been
    totally against God’s will that non-material spirits like Lucifer
    interfer with the material world, as they did. It was possible however,
    as the non-material universe seems to be a “superset” or in another
    sense the mightier one.
  15. Recognizing God within people. A brain-powered spirit is
    the “programming” of a person, inclucing character, intentions,
    attitude etc.. God, also having a spirit, also has character,
    intentions, attitude etc.. Which makes it possible that these (holy)
    attributes of God are, by God’s power, presented in the life of humans,
    to hint people towards God. And these hints would be justifiable: they
    mean something, but perhaps they are not obvious in some situations.
    Whereever people change in character, intentions, attitude etc., it is
    a change in spirit – effected by education or perhaps through the Holy
  16. What is possession by spirits? The Holy Spirit does not
    make people possessed, but offers an undirected, positive force that
    people can use to want and do good. Demons however want to possess
    people, that is, completely control them. This implies a supernatural
    genesis: a non-material spirit controls the body of a human. The
    results however would be completely in the material realm, that is, a
    change in the programming of the brain. The possibility of possession
    (when affirmed) shows at least that spirits are compatible with each
    other with respect to interaction, and the respective implementation
    would not matter.
  17. Immortal experiences. Humans learn things in this world.
    This would have no value for eternal life, however, if all our
    experiences would get lost upon death. They would, if only a
    non-material spirit would survive while all our experiences and
    memories are stored in brain. But they do not, if humans have a
    brain-powered spirit, implying that all experiences belong to their
    spirit and are resurrected with the spirit. Just as software can be
    copied to a new computer. The value of generating our “software” in the
    tedious process of learning in this world rather than by creatio ex
    nihilo (also possible)
    is this: in the latter case, the result would be identical, but the
    facts would be different, as no history is implied which would
    attribute a worth to the “software”.

Discussion: advantages, differences, difficulties

Of course, this hypothesis is just a first draft and nothing one
should follow as a “new belief system” (beware, readers!). It’s just
meant as a set of experimental thoughts to foster reconciliation
between the scientific and the Christian image of humanity. As a draft,
it contains several difficulties and open questions. The following come
to my mind, and you may add your own below:

  • Jesus said that his words “are spirit” (John 6:63). This cannot
    just mean that these words are “information”, as this wouldn’s make
    them different from human words. Perhaps he uses “spirit” (in the sense
    of: from the Holy Spirit) do designate the quality of his words, as
    opposed to human “fleshly” quality?
  • How to explain inner impressions from supernatural sources
    (images, dreams, visions) in this theory? This implies to find
    authentic and trustable accounts of such impressions.
  • How to place the biblical concept of “flesh” into this
    hypothesis? According to the Bible, spirit and flesh are opposed to
    each other (Galatians 5:17): does that mean the Holy Spirit as a
    person, or the human spirit? In both cases, what is “flesh”, as it must
    have functions in the same are area as spirit, or else it couldn’t be
    opposed to spirit.
  • Postulating that there is a non-material spiritual world out
    there demands to search for verifications, e.g. finding trustable
    accounts of miracles etc..
  • How do education (of the human spirit) and spiritual influence
    (from the Holy Spirit) relate to each other? One proposal would be:
    education is a law-like force, using pressure and expectation, and is
    therefore unable to create “wanting the good” in somebody. While the
    Holy Spirit (functionally equivalent to a changed programming of the
    brain) gives just this: an undirected force to want what is good.
  • There is no indication that angels are made of the same
    “spiritual” substance that God, is it? They might just as well be a
    created universe of their own, not God’s “natural” living place since
    eternity, but the place he chose to dwell. However, this article assume
    yet that angels and God are related by substance.

Start date: 2007-11-04
Post date: 2007-11-15
Version date: 2007-11-16 (for last meaningful change)

Smooth societal life. People striving for survival won’t understand this: living a highly civilized lifestyle deprives of life. Within this lifestyle, I don’t have any intensive experiences. That is, I can barely distinguish between my   “experiences”. That is, I have no experiences at all, just everyday life. That way, people don’t feel alive, as they cannot recognize from their experiences that they are living beings. The fact that such a culture often tries to tie up every aspect of life adds to this excessively boring, vigilant coma like state. For example, in Switzerland and Germany, everything is poured into concrete by an enormous amount of laws and regulations, until nearly every degree of freedom is missing. The upside of this state is: you don’t have to bother for survival, for the next day or anything else. The system does it.

Smooth spiritual life. It seems to me that an analogous development took place in the spiritual life of many Christians who live in such a culture: their faith got “domesticated”. The typical Christian lives a very adapted life, including a house, a car, a career, womb-to-tomb security and good social status. Filling the life with such stuff was only possible by getting rid of all risky behavior, including the expectance of miracles. Because we do not risk anything, nothing happens: our spiritual experiences got levelled down so that strong, obvious experiences are no longer possible.

Radical life. Life was not always that boring and meaningless as in this kinda society where radical lifestyle is rare and unwanted. Christianity started as a radical grassroots movement, and it was even dangerous to be part of it. But whenever domestication creeps in, visions are displaced. The smooth kinda lifestyle I criticize above are reconized from the lack of visions. Visions are always risky business: you cannot know if you’ll have success. Therefore, visions are incompatible with a security-oriented, smooth (and boring) life. One should define: revival is when new visions arise, i.e. conceptions of what should or could be.

Practical radical life. Now I’m going to awake the longing for radical, non-boring, not-everyday life in me and my readers. Radical life must be practical radical life, not just a collection of impractical radical thoughts. I have to  admit that my vision for a mobile, high-power, intentional Christian community of about 10 friends is something beyond reach at the moment … it’s impractical at the moment as there is no handle to start it immediately. Therefore, here are some other suggestions how to start living out your newly found radicality immediately.

  1. Stop theological discussions. Theological discussions (e.g. about the nature of the Trinity) are implicitly never radical, as they cannot be put into radical practice. Concentrate on living (ideally, like Jesus did, of course 😉 ) if you want to be radical!
  2. Radically change your use of time. To be radical, radical changes of personal lifestyle are needed. A good point to start is to use one’s free time for radically different things. For example, to give up one’s hobby of computer programming and start caring more about one’s friends.
  3. Make relationships risky and dynamic. Security-oriented, superficial and dissembled relationships are a result of living a smooth life without risking anything. To change something, you need to risk something. The  relationships to your friends are a good starting point: risk something for the better. This might result in hurts, misunderstandings and other difficulties, but at least something happens now! Which implies the chance that your relationships might get better.

Add your own thoughts, folks!

Start date: 2007-11-04
Post date: 2007-11-12
Version date: 2007-11-12 (for last meaningful change)

If you like being creative, you add additional problems to your
how do you manage your ideas, how do you sort and archive and utilize
them efficiently? I’ve discussed this topic lately and promised there
to write something about my current style of idea management. So, here
it is.


  1. Esteem and cherish your ideas. If you don’t, you will
    become less creative. If you do, your creativity rises. You do so by at
    least writing down all your ideas, even those which deem you
    nonsense. And by publishing those ideas on the internet which don’t
    seem fit for any other utilization. As known from brainstorming
    techniques, filtering ideas too early blocks good thoughts to arise and
    being uttered.
  2. Divide into ideas you pursue and those you don’t. Time
    is a rare resource, so don’t give yourself to the illusion that you can
    put more than 5% of your ideas into practice. After the initial idea
    came to you, decide if you want to pursue it or not. Those you want to
    pursue will be put into documents where topically related ideas reside
    and begin to form a “grand whole”. Those you don’t want to pursue are
    best put into a simple chronological document.
  3. Freely you got, freely give. It is totally
    understandable that people are hesitant to publish their precious ideas
    to everybody – just as with stuff you have lieing around, it might come
    the day where you need exactly that idea. From experience, I can
    contribute that this day never comes: with most ideas, it is obvious
    right away if you have a realistic chance to utilize them commercially.
    If this isn’t the case, there’s no harm in publishing them: you can use
    your idea anyway, sometimes even commercially, just not for
    patenting it. Ideas did not cost you anything, they came to you … and
    by publishing “unneeded” ideas on the internet, you give people the
    chance to find an inspiration or idea they need.
  4. Accept work in progress. Idea management can become a
    stressy issue if you are perfectionist and want all your ideas reside
    in perfect verbalization and perfectly elaborated. But memorize that
    your idea documents are mainly meant to keep you from forgetting about
    them … those ideas you eventually put into practice don’t need
    documents anyway, as they became real and tangible. Even documents with
    orchestrated collections of many ideas are better seen as “draft under
    development”, as it takes too much time to keep up higher standards of
    order. I made good experiences with using a paragraph style for to-do
    sections, placing in them just notes to memorize later what I mean.
  5. Avoid redundancy. Every idea has its perfect place …
    some in the chronological archive of ideas you don’t pursue, some in
    other documents, depending on the kind of idea. Under all
    circumstances, avoid redunancy: no idea should go to two places, as
    later additions to one copy would create inconsistency.
  6. Use multiple forms of note-taking for different situations.
    Of course, the ideal way is to immediately store the idea in the place
    where it should go, but this is only possible whenever you sit in front
    of your computer or have your computer nearby. For situations where you
    are on the road or in other people’s home, use a PDA to take quick text
    notes. Be disciplined and do not use handwritten notes, neither on
    paper nor on screen, except for diagrams – as you’d need to transcribe
    them later. For situations where note-taking must be very quick, use a
    digital dictaphone – you need to transcribe your audio notes later, but
    at least your ideas did not get lost.
  7. Let ideas mature. Among those ideas you want to pursue
    will be some that can be orchestrated to bigger ideas. These ideas deal
    often with issues in your areas of special interest. It is a good idea
    to be patient (even for months, sometimes years) before putting ideas
    into practice, as it happens more often than not that your initial
    ideas are overthrown by revisions or revolutionary ideas. Before
    starting to realize your ideas, overthrowing can be done with ease and
    relatively effortless.

My current technical implementation

My system currently consists of the following components. I must
admit that it is a rather improvised system far from working really
efficiently, and I hope to replace this system with one that is
designed from ground up. But anyway:

  • PC. I use a notebook, so that I can type ideas directly
    into the right place even when I’m in other places for some days,
    taking my notebook with me.
  • PDA. I use a Sony Clié PEG-TG50 (at eBay for 50-60 EUR
    currently) to take voice and text notes on the road. I experimented for
    some weeks now what is the best solution, and arrived at this: where
    necessary, I take voice notes and tranfer the .wav files to a folder on
    my PC’s desktop for later transcription, which might be delayed for
    some days or weeks; where possible, I take text notes, using the to-do
    list of the PDA for that. Compared to the text note program of the PDA,
    this has the enormous advantage that synchronizing (better: moving to)
    with my PIM software at the PC creates tasks there. That way, I never
    forget to move the text notes to the right place. By the way, I use the
    Linux software kontact from KDE as PIM software, with korganizer for the
    to-do list part. I tried the Gnome alternative but found no better
    solution than kontact yet.
  • Inventions log. All the technical ideas I do not want to
    pursue go to a simple text file. It has no formatting as it does not
    need this: that’d complicate idea logging and perhaps take so much time
    that it is no longer fun to record every single idea. I publish my
    inventions log from time to time on the internet as PDF and text files.
    The first publication was done in my blog in the post “Read
    these 1364 inventions
    “. I know that there are web portals that are
    much better for making your inventions known, but again: if I had to
    enter every of these 1300+ ideas into a web form, it’d be no longer fun
    and I’d probably stop collecting ideas.
  • Tasks. All ideas for things I want to do go into my
    kontact to-do list, including all ideas I want to realize (or at least
    references to them). The most efficient way to order them is not to use
    categories (to much clicks …) but instead, to start the task title
    with a hierarchical, colon-separated list of keywords. Then, simple
    alphabetic ordering of the taks gives a good topical overview of what
    tasks are open yet (and don’t have a due date assigned). In my case,
    task titles might start e.g. with “Homepage: Blogging: Blog-Post:
    […]” or “Homepage: Blogging: Software: […]” or “Computer: new
    installation: […]” or “Fitness: […]” or “Job: […]”. Whenever I
    decide that I don’t want to realize a specific task any longer, it
    becomes a subtask of the task “idea store”. That way, it’s out of my
    way without deleting it.
  • Blog post drafts. Many of my ideas deal with upcoming
    posts for my blog. I collect them in the description part of tasks in
    my kontact to-do list. When the  draft has matured and integrated
    many ideas already, I write the post, reordering and reworking the
    draft content and then publishing it. I found it a helpful practice to
    verbalize as much as possible as tasks in kontact’s to-do list. This
    makes it a central and general solution and you need to search in fewer
    places when you don’t know where a specific idea has gone.
  • Mindmaps. Mindmapping software was introduced to me by a
    brother of mine, and I became a big friend of it. I use the software freemind, a very well
    developed and efficient tool with good import and export filters. All
    things that are just considerations and information but no concrete
    tasks go to mindmaps. Currently, I have the following mindmaps:
    • identity mindmap (who I wanna be and have some day, and the
      long-term steps in that direction)
    • ideas around intentional community
    • job organization
    • mindmaps for concrete jobs I’m involved in
  • Computer FAQ. When working with computers, it is very
    handy to document solutions you’ve found, including command snippets
    for later copy&paste. I think that a simple text file that contains
    simply a collection of questions and answers is the most efficient
    alternative to use here. To find a solution I once worked out, I use
    the search function and type in a specific keyword.
  • Specific realization documents. While realizing bigger
    ideas, you need more specific means to orchestrate your thoughts and
    ideas. What is adequate here depends completely on the kind of ideas
    you’re working on. Try to find a ergonomic, single structuring element
    to be used for the whole document – this makes it easy to insert new
    thoughts and ideas. One example: I’m currently developing a personal
    equipment that contains everything necessary from IT to clothing, in
    most lightweigth and compact form. The structuring element I use for
    this document is a commented packaging list.

Towards the ideal system

You see that my current idea management system is quite heterogenous
and unintegrated, and therefore not really efficient. There is an idea
in my mind how this could change, but I’m not aware of any existing
software that I could use for that purpose. Here is what it would need
to do, in my opinion:

It is a general “think support software”, providing all the
externalizations which help in intensive brain work. Especially, it
must allow to work on many larger ideas at the same time, adding to
them whenever new thoughts arise, over an extended period of time. This
system should need no synchronisation at all, i.e. you’d take your one
and only PC with you everywhere you go. That’s possible with an UMPC. The software would
provide a generic management of idea artefacts, including voice, text
and graphic notes, and would offer “pipelines” to convert / transcribe
and move the fragments until they arrive at their destination places.
You could use even very short, previously unuable free and latency
times to do your idea management with that software, so idea management
would not add more stress to a busy life. To that end, the software
must be freehand usable, e.g. by voice commands, voice recording and
speech recognition when driving car. And for those people who are
engaged in writing scientific texts, a literature management system
needs to be included, featuring the documents in full-text, digital
highlighting etc..

Start date: 2007-11-11
Post date: 2007-11-11
Version date: 2007-11-11 (for last meaningful change)

When talking about Jesus, many people seem to think that his death
is a quasi-mechanical payment for people’s moral debts of people. As if
God would kep an account for every person’s deeds and it needs to be in
balance in order to go heaven … and as if Jesus would’ve come to pay
the debts by his death, for all these accounts.

What is embarassing here is the idea that God, as an infinite person
with emotions, would retract to numerical accounting when it comes to
determining people’s righteousness. Instead, I currently think about an
alternative analogy, and would appreciate every thought about its

Might it be that Jesus’ death is in no way a mechanical payment, but
rather an expression of emotion. Namely, an expression of God’s
infinite love for people. Just as Jesus said: “Greater love has no one
than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” (John
15:13 ESV
). As an expression, it is no payment for debts, but
something symbolic, something that has a meaning and wants to say
something. Namely, that God invites all people to come back to him and
be forgiven all their moral debts. God will not even count them.
Numbers do not matter for a character filled with love and grace … .

Start date: 2007-11-11
Post date: 2007-11-11
Version date: 2007-11-11 (for last meaningful change)