Decomposition as hindering being “intuitively human”

Or: “Why logic is no valid maxim”. “Maxim”, for the context of this post, shall mean “the single, highest principle that guides all activity of a human being”.

When conducting research in any aspect of analytic anthropology, an anthropological model arises according to which man is composed of components. And the components, the finer we analyse, turn out to be nothing but dumb matter. Elements (in different degrees of granularity) are: neurophysiological correlates of thoughts and emotions, hormons, cells, atoms.

Now this does not mean that natural scientists see themselves as something mechanical, but some of them see themselves as something that should be mechanical. More concretely: in their jobs, they arrive at meaningful results by applying mechanical means and mechanical logic unemotionally and consequently, while in their private lifes, they see rampant emotionality (their own or others) damaging everything. This can make one think that “logic” is better, or higher, than emotion. And then, they might train to act logically instead of emotionally. Until now, not much of a problem. But for these people who think analytically, it can become difficult to accept their “typical human” attributes, those like emotion that are the combined achivevement of the “system human being”. Because: as for themselves, these attributes don’t have something to do with objective reality or truth.

There are, for example, emotions: why should one allow oneself to exert emotionality, if it is neither true nor objective? However, there’s an answer to this. One has to distinguish between the implementation levels and the (abstract) level of what is “meant” by the implementation. It’s like with computer programs: the program is a collection of bits, but it means something different than just to be a collection of bits. So the justification to accept oneself as a human being (with all the “typical human” attributes) and to live as a human being comes from the fact that we’re meant, by God, to be human beings. He wants us to have and exert all these human attributes. And regarding the emotion example: emotion has nothing to do with truth, and it does not have to: it’s meant as a tool for sharing and experiencing love.

Probably, intuitive / “typically human” behavior and logic behavior should be treated as aspects, not levels. Because logic behavior is in itself typically human: animals are not capable of grasping abstract meaning and building logical steps on it. It’s a human noetic attribute. The essence is then: don’t use just logic but also the other typically human attributes.

But then, if logic and intuition are both justified, it’s also correct to say: While it’s ok to use ones intuition to determine interesting hyptheses and good assumptions what might be true, logic (and good observation) must be employed to see if something is true. For religion this means: It’s ok to “feel God at work” in some religion or in people of a specific faith, but this should be nothing more than the motivation to check this hypothesis. It’s not ok to determine truth by way of religious feelings, as done in most religions.

Women as being intuitively humans

The problem that I tried to explain seems to be a male one only. Women generally accept themselves as humans “a priori” (i.e. just based on their intuitive impression and experiences, so even without the desire to justify this acceptance by objective observations). In their eyes, they are humans, so they live as humans, and don’t think about their own decomposition. This is why, for women, emotions and relationship stuff and all that is “more of a direct, objective reality” than for men. Because, men think of matter as being the ultimate, direct, objective reality, and emotions and stuff being just “added” to reality (as something that’s unnecessary in most cases). But: if we’re meant to be humans by the wll of God, the way men think about reality is false! And, by the way, I must admit that this blog post was inspired by women, resp. by observing how women are and behave.

Implications

Implications for the basis of believing resp. my “Second Acts” project: it might be that the Gospel wants to be understood as something that’s dealt with by the humanities (i.e. as something that has to be accepted by exerting “typically human attributes” like faith / believing). This would mean that the Gospel is something that deals with humans on the human level, not on the level that deals with things, atoms, laws, and objective truth. Now while this might be the case, the foundation of a true Gospel is nonetheless the existence of the lower levels … just as there cannot be a human being without atoms, there cannot be a Gospel without the historic events it relates about. And Second Acts is about looking at these basic levels, as giving the justification for accepting the Gospel, then, on the highest (i.e. human) level.

Putting all this another way round: it’s not correct to see logic behavior as the highest goal of human behavior (as I do currently). Because logic means dealing with everything according to objective truth, adequately when just taking into account the material / lower level attributes of things. For example, logic behavior would lead to believe in Christ because of historic facts. This is logically correct.

However, what is missing by behavior that’s guided by the maxime of logic, is human behavior. Because, logic is cold, dealing with everything just according to its material / objective attributes. Logic won’t lead you to love your neighbour, and not at all to love your neighbour emotionally and in a way that’s beautiful to experience.

Therefore, it should be seens as something positive that humans are generally not lead by the maxime of logic. Example: different world religions couldn’t have evolved if people would’ve been logic. However, logic should be the basis of human behavior (so that it becomes true) and upon that, love should be added (so that it is graceful). See what’s said about Jesus: he came ingrace and truth.

After the psycho hygiene system, here’s another idea that I posted to Google’s Project 10100. They collect ideas and will honor the idea that will help the most people. Practically, this means that the five best ideas are sponsored with 2 million USD on average, to be executed. It deals with settling a question that is currently the cause of many quarrels, from self murder attacs to even divorce. The question is: What is the truth about God? To settle this once and for all, I think we’d need to employ means that are different from just “revealed religion”.

If you follow this blog you’ll notice that this project is in essence exactly my Xpedition’s “Second Acts” project. It would be awful to get this sponsored 🙂 This would not mean that I can execute it myself, but in any way it would provide many valuable insights. If you like, read for yourself:

10. What one sentence best describes your idea? (maximum 150 characters)

Religious wars could be prevented by basing theology on rigorous scientific methodology.

11. Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)

According to the world view of natural science, the physical reality can be modeled, that is, man assumes that it is “understandable” and that it does not contradict itself. The proposed models might be different, but at least there is the common search for the best one. However, in the realm of theology, mankind did not yet agree to undertake a common search for the best theological model, that is, a model for the spiritual world. (This is normally attributed to the character of theology as not being a discipline of natural science, but this is an error: theology claims to teach about a part of reality: the spiritual realm, just as natural science teaches about the material realm. A rare example for applying rigid scientific methodology to the spiritual realm is Princeton’s PEAR Institute (http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/).) Such a common search would, dismiss religious quarrels and wars in favour of a synergistic collaboration. Just as in science, there is collaboration, but no wars about scientific issues,  though the opinions differ widely.

Therefore, this idea is to initiate a common, synergistic, worldwide search for the best (“true”) model of the spiritual world. This search should be promoted as the global search for God, and all people should be allowed to join.

12. What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)

Primarily, all religious wars (in the widest sense of the word, from interpersonal to international) that are caused by different (but mutually exclusive) theologies. This is, of course, conditional on succeeding to agree on a common theologic model, and conditional on teaching this model to the whole world. Religious quarrels belong to the most dispensable of all problems, as mutually exclusive theologies can be traced back to the lack of proper theologic cognition on at least one side.

13. If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)

The greatest benefit is for those who are preserved from suffering in religious wars, because a “theologic standard model”, properly propagated through education, avoids religious wars as something needless. Suffering from religious conflicts includes bad economic conditions as their side-effects. This is often the case for ethnic minorities whose religion differ from that of their environment.

One could add speculations that there could be even greater benefits for whole mankind, e.g. if the findings from executing this idea include how to gain an eternal afterlife. But as this is conditional on yet unknown spiritual reality, it’s speculation yet.

Note that this idea is for the real long-term (min. 30 years to agree on a “theologic standard model” and 100 years for the findings to fully take effect). The amount of time that other scientific revolutions took to unfold in history (like Galileo’s world view etc.) makes one expect this time span.

14. What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)

Set up a worldwide, cross-discipline working group to start working on this project. Special ideas for publicity must be developed to avoid that religious fanatics, who have instrumentalized beliefs to reach personal goals, cause bad publicity.

Of course, initiating the project includes to set up workable criteria for the truth determination process. As the subject differs from natural science, these criteria will differ, but should be as dependable as the former. Some proposals: a worldwide database in the Internet, where everybody can contribute in wiki style. This collects all proposed religious experiences (scientific experiments are no possible method here, as supernatural encounters might be of historic, unreproducible character). Then Filter all collected data automatically, to apply rigid scientific methodology. This would imply identity confirmation, event confirmation with web-of-trust methods, etc.. By querying the database, the current scientific evidence for basing theology is on is accessible to everybody in real-time, through the Internet.

15. Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)

The minimum result is more peace in the world, due to less religious warfare. The maximum result would be if this project’s findings are that there is at least one benevolent, personal God and that there are ways to be in contact with this God. As, this would enable everybody to access the supernatural help of this God while living, and perhaps even after ones death.

On measurement. Religious peace can be measured by tracing an index, where incidents of religious war contribute to, according to gravity and length. Supernatural help can be measured by an “human development index”. Positive effects on an afterlife are beyond measeurement, if the afterlife is eternal.

There is this ever-ongoing discussion about when and how the baptism in the Holy Spirit happens, and / or being filled with the Holy Spirit, etc.. I’m going to present here in short my own model for that, which will probably be integrated in an anthropological model in later articles (brain / spirit discussion). First the model, then its justification.

The multi-pentecostal model

Regarding the relationship between a Christian and the Holy Spirit, there two basic types of events:

  1. Receiving the Holy Spirit. This happens once, upon conversion, and marks a person as being saved. In the NT, it’s called with different terms, and not consistently: “being sealed with the Holy Spirit”, “baptism in the Holy Spirit” etc..
  2. Being filled with the Holy Spirit. This may happen zero to many times in the life of a Christians and is getting supernaturally equipped for the demands of the current  situation. In the NT, it’s called with different terms, and not consistently: “filled with the Spirit”, but also “baptism in the Spirit” [e.g. Acts 11:16] and even “receiving the Holy Spirit” [Acts 19:2] (so there is no clear terminology in the Bible itself!). Pentecost is just the name for the first-ever of many such events, but Pentecost is in its quality in no way unique, neither in the life of the apostles nor in general Christian history. “Being filled with the Holy Spirit” is a supernatural cause and may have different effects; among them, boldness (of a supernatural source, not due to encouragement etc.), supernatural gifts (tongues, miracles, healings, prophecies). Being filles with the Holy Spirit is not mechanically correlated to any human action, neither leaying hands, praying, worshipping, singing, anointing with oil nor anythin other. It’s something that God does when he sees it fit … there may be temporary correlation in some time in church history (like the Apostle’s laying on of hands), but this is just how God saw this  to be fit for that time, and does not constitute a law of “spiritual mechanics”. For the human part, the only thing is not resisting to be filled by the Spirit when God wants to do it, i.e. maintaining an open, obedient mind.

Reasons and observations

The Pentecostal view: commonalities and differences. Interesting enough, the above division between receiving and being filled with the Holy Spirit is also made by Pentecostal Christians, and they also assent that Pentecost was just the name of the first “being filled” in NT ever. But then they leave the subject and intensely try to find the laws  of spiritual mechanics to “generate” this being filled by the Spirit; for a presentation of the whole theology, see [Peter Kwiatkowski: multiple fillings – ERROR #8]. As there is no spiritual mechanic, this endeavor must fail: their “fillings with the Holy Spirit” are in  most cases just of psychological-emotional origin. Where this becomes apparent, it let’s their whole theology appear flimsy, though it is basically correct! Additionally, this mode of practice makes people suspect that there is no God at all in the Christian faith, just pseudo-divine emotional experiences.

Being filled and the charismata. In Acts, there are multiple cases where “being filled with the Holy Spirit” is recognized by other people because these filled people have spiritual gifts, like tongues. Compare e.g. the story of Cornelius [Acts 10:44-47]. If we now extrapolate these observations to generality (take care: this might be true, but cannot be prooved) we get this: supernatural charismata are effects of being filled with the Holy Spirit. These fillings may fade away (else there would be no reason for the new fillings recorded in Acts), which means that a gifted person is not able to exercise his / her gift all times in the same intensity, but gets equipped as God sees fit for the current situation. Another stumbling block: we should not conclude that all charismata are of supernatural origin. Miracles, works of power, tongues, prophecies etc. surely are. Others like encouragement, being an elder etc. might not need supernatural abilities, but the character of a mature, forged disciple; in this sense, these might be “gifts of an office”, not “gifts of an ability”.

Being filled as getting power. In most cases where the NT relates on people “being filled” with the Spirit it is in connection with their bold, audacious demeanor; examples: [Acts 4:8], [Acts 13: 9-11]. People who are filled with the Holy Spirit are still able to choose what to do, and they think and choose themselves, they simply have supernatural  courage to do what is appropriate. This effect of “being filled” is what Jesus promised when saying: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” [Acts 1:8, ISV]. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit is a power, he gives a power when “filling” people. Coming back to the charismata as the effect of “being filled” (see above), all this might mean: charismata may be mainly about supernatural courage to do something (to serve), not the supernatural ability to do something, and not the supernatural instruction to do something particular. Of yourse you need ability to heal. But e.g. when Peter teached, he rather dared to teach about Jesus without formal education, than showing a supernatural ability to teach. He might still have his bad rhetorics, but who cares? He knew a simple and important truth to tell about Jesus, and he dared to do so.

Differing being filled from intra-psychic courage. To detect where and if a supernatural filling with the Spirit takes place, one could execute a psychological study: one would need to be able to categorize psychological states, and do that for a multitude od average people and those who claim to have been “filled” by the Spirit in a specific situation. Applying multivariate statistical analysis, one would be able to detect the probability that the “filled” peoples behavior differs from the average behavior just by chance. That’s a normal tool in scientific studies: if that p-value is below 0,05 one says the result is “significant” (in this case: the probability that “being filled” does not take place and the suggested effects are just by chance would be below 5%). Now, if the outcome would indeed indicate that there is a supernatural cause of courage (i.e. no psychological explanation is available), one should keep in mind the character of a miracle like this: a miracle is an effect without a detectable, common cause (e.g. when a dead person is raised: there is no cause that might have the effect of reparing all single cells at once). Therefore, it would be nonsense to search for “how a miracle works”; when dealing with “being filled wihth the Spirit”, there is no meaning in psychologically analyzing how it works, as there is a psychologically visible effect but without an psychological cause.

Being filled as God’s agency. Observing that both gifts (including concrete prophecies, miracles and the like) and courage are effects of “being filled with the Spirit” means that nearly all supernatural events in the NT are connected to this. So generally, except the exceptions, “filling people with his Spirit” seems to be how God helps his people supernaturally in NT times. Which means: when you need God’s help in a specific situation, rather don’t expect to hear God’s voice personally and immediately when you pray, don’t expect supernaturally “implanted” wisdom to find in you, and don’t expect difficult situations to supernaturally cease tomorrow, rather expect to be filled with power, courage and gifts.

Why does the Holy Spirit fill people so rarely today? Yea, a very difficult question, at least for those Christians living in highly civilized countries. I simply don’t know. Perhaps it is because we resist to being filled? Not? Then perhaps because we don’t need it? In the sense that there are no special situations in our lifes that we couldn’t handle as disciples of Jesus ourselves, and that we would never ever dare to get ourselves into such situations … .

On what Hume destroyed

The modern secular approach to miracles is deeply influenced by the writings of David Hume. He hold the opinion that, in order to accept something as true, one has to acquire full confidence of it, and thought about the conditions that need to be in place for that [Hume, David: Über den menschlichen Verstand, Leipzig 1983, p. 140].

The consequences, of course, are awesome: demanding 100% certainty for everything means that most facts of history and natural science would have to be termed “not assured” or “unreliable”. Hume took this “empirism” approch to a point where he even concluded that there is no outer world [“Das Problem der Außenwelt” in German Wikipedia] and no self [“Das Problem der personalen Identität und des freien Willens” in German Wikipedia]. But in fact, he just discovered that logic does not allow to conclude with mathematical 100% certainty that there is an outer world or a self, if given sense data. So Hume should have better termed himself an empirism-based agnostic, or should have  moved on to search for better tools to determine truth in the area of the world’s basic structure.

Hume raised the bar for determining the truth that high because he wanted to do something against those commonplace invented miracle stories, which indeed do collateral  damage, not only to science. In the same way, some Christians (including me, up to now) apply a very high measure before accepting something as an genuine act of God, because of the collateral damage effected by heretics (invented doctrines). Observing lying people makes us distrust other people, too, even including the authors of the biblical books. And the, to re-gain trust, we want to apply more exact measurement tools, like scientific studies and stuff. With the result that we trust nearly nothing any more, as the  effort for scientific studies etc. is simply unpractical to do in any normal man’s life.

So, after Hume and after all the collateral damage done by miracle mongers, in Western cultures we’re consequently anti-supernatural. And that’s a problem because being anti-supernatural it is being prejudiced. What we need to re-gain is the right measure for determining the truth content of proposed miracles: most believers have it too low and most unbelievers too high.

On the best epistemological tools

Regarding the epistemological tools, the error of Hume is this: it is not allowable to use a higher threshold for determining the truth in more important matters. While we, as humans, have a pragmatic way of determining truth and employ it all the way in practical life, some of us get on the idea that other tools have to be utilized to determine truth when it comes to more important matters, such as “is there an outer world”, “is there a self”, “are there miracles”, “is Jesus the Son of God” etc..

One of the proposed other tools is to search for present-day miracles because to integrate the biblical miracles into a “stream of experience” (as Hume would say) and make them
believable that way.

But seeing that these other tools leave us as agnostics means that there are no better tools than those we employ in everyday life: those tools don’t offer 100% certainty, but at least don’t leave us as agnostics. In this world, we simply have no better tools available. If we don’t accept the available tools, we simply cannot arrive at any conclusive statement regarding if some “important” matters are matters of fact (e.g. miracles). And that’s surely not what we want. We need to embrace some degree of uncertainty to master life.

Also note, that “scientific methodology” makes no difference when it comes to practical determinaton of truth: the end user, i.e. nearly all people in nearly all situations, needs to accept scientific truth not on empirical grounds, but on everyday epistemological grounds. We believe these facts not because of we tried them out ourselves (which we could, however) but because we believe their accounts. So the end user accepts accounts of natural science with no better epistemological justification than theological accounts.

So what are our everyday tools to determine truth?

Now if we want to apply our empistemological everyday tools to determine the truth content of miracle data, we first of all need to know what actually are these everyday tools.  How do we, in normal cases, determine historic truth in “normal cases”? After that, theses “everyday measurers” of historicians can be applied to accounts of supernatural  events, like the biblical miracles and today’s miracles. Depending on the outcome, we then have a justification to believe in God that’s on par with the justification to believe in concrete.

The basic thought of the everyday epistemological tool is to accept a story as true if it has a historic proof of good everyday quality. We require no additional empiric verification (“repeating the story”) to see that it is possible etc., we deal with it as an isolated, discrete event only. Therefore, we should believe historical miracles if they have historic proof, even if there are no contemporary miracles. So for everything that happens in mesocosmos (the area accessible to our senses), the everyday approach of witnessing events (and recording them as history) is enough and must be accepted.

We should now move on and see if and how the everyday epistemological tool is capable of recognizing falsehood, e.g. filtering out fake miracles. To recognize falsehood, we normally do the following:

  • Exclude that the author of the account might have an selfish motive to tell the account. For example, this can not be excluded for the global warming hypothesis, the holocaust lie or the evolution hypothesis.
  • Check if there are multiple witnesses for the account, and if these witnesses are independent from each other. Check the witnesses’ personal histories to see whether they seem “trustable” or not.
  • Check if the account deals with very subtle perceptions, which would put the account in danger of being no more than a vague interpretation. For subtle perceptions, our direct sensual perception is indeed not the appropriate tool: try, for example, to compare the quality of two like medicines based on direct sensual perception, regarding the effects on you and some friends. In such cases, we need a scientific approach, as it can handle subtle differences by employing statistics, series of double-blind experiments etc.. Well then, deal miracle stories with events obvious enough to be handled by the everyday epistemological tool? Yes, with regard to all biblical accounts of miracles. So we simply shouldn’t allow stories of “subtle miracles” to be handled by the everyday epistemological tool today … there must be enough obvious miracle stories out there.

Consequences for dealing with miracle accounts

This “lowering the bar” approach says that miracle accounts should be able to enter the “Second Acts” series if they use the “everyday tools to determine truth” in a mature, sober manner. Including use of multiple witnesses etc.. This approach also attributes high value to the Bible, as a document about God’s acts here on earth. Because it argues that the Bible accounts can be accepted, as they employ the everyday epistemological tool in a mature, sober manner.

I presume this will get quite a mournful article. It’s not that I’m
happy with what I’m going to note here, I’d really like it to be the
other way round. So disprove me if you can, I’d be grateful for that.

The problem starts with the sad fact that we as Christians in the
Christian Western world don’t experience God for real. There are some
believable reports, but not enough and not obvious
enough to serve as a contemporary justification for ones faith. Most
are not believable, though: they’re too close to the entropy lowerings
that happen by chance in a life full of dynamics and interaction. It’s
a point of selective perception: we select the favourable chances out
and call them “acts of God”, and ignore the unfavourable chances as
“that’s just life”. This would not be possible with obvious works of
God.

The first thing to note is that is is no exceptional case. We’ve got
other cases like that reported in the Bible. For example this:

“Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli.
And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent
vision.” [The
Bible, I Samuel 3:2, ESV
]

So I won’t suggest general cessationism as the “doctrinal solution”
here. Instead, it “just happens” (for some reasons yet unknown to me)
that God does not acts or speaks in some areas at some times. I will
call it “geo-cessationism” or “living in a cessationist area”. It seems
as if God would let people alone at times with just the historic fact
that Jesus dies for them and that they can get saved by believing that.
Of course Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be always with us, and this
might be the case, but then, the effects of the Spirit are untraceable,
neither in our own nor in other people’s life in cessationist areas, so
that it is impossible to use the effects to justify ones faith in the
Holy Spirit and Jesus.

For us, this means that we need to be able to cope with such a
situation. Here’s my suggestion for the various aspects of a coping
strategy:

  • You have to justify your faith from other sources. From history,
    and /
    or by moving to or visiting an area where God acts today. This is more
    difficult and less reliable than experiencing God himself, but it is
    just that way.
  • You’ve gotta live your life pretty much on your own. You may
    spread your life ‘n sorrows before God in prayer and you can expect him
    to listen. But don’t expect him to help practically. (There will be
    some rare cases where he does, rejoice in them. But don’t expect this
    to happen for any single case you pray for, as it won’t happen in the
    average case and “hope deferred makes the heart sick” [The
    Bible, Proverbs 13:12, ESV
    ].) From God’s side, all that is there to
    help you is the general truth in the Bible (you need to read,
    understand and apply it yourself), the community with your brothers and
    sisters and their loving help. That’s pretty much compared to not
    believing in God, but it lacks His concrete help, like, by prophecies
    for you and stuff.

So while it seems possible to cope with living in a cessationist
area, it’s no box of chocolates. So may I be surprised with
experiencing God’s acts, here or otherwhere, not too far from now … .


Start date: 2008-05-10
Post date: 2008-05-10
Version date: 2008-05-10 (for last meaningful change)

“Second Acts” is a project to collect the contemporary acts of God
in good historician’s manner. It was just
started
, but until now I don’t know if God recommends or forbids it
or if he’s indifferent about it. As this is important to known, I
prayed and thought about that, and here’s a thought that brought me
somewhat further.

If I want to know if “Second Acts” is justified, I could look at
“First Acts”. Which is justified in the sight of God, as can be seen
from it appearing, as man is used to say, in the “Word of God” (the
Bible). First and Second Acts are comparable, as they both try to
collect the contemporary acts of God, and the contemporary experiences
man made with God.

Now, Luke, the author of Acts, did not say much about its
justification:

“(1) In my first book, Theophilus, I wrote about everything Jesus
did and taught from the beginning, (2) up to the day when he was taken
up to heaven after giving orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he
had chosen.” [The
Bible, Acts 1:1-2, ISV
]

He seems to imply “this second book is to record what the Apostles
did as a consequence to that command”. Luke mentions no specific
justification for the Book of Acts, but he refers the reader to his
first book and does not mention that the justification of the second is
any different. In the first book we find:

“(1) Since many people have attempted to write an orderly account
of the events that have been fulfilled among us, (2) just as they were
passed down to us by those who had been eyewitnesses and servants of
the word from the beginning, (3) I, too, have carefully investigated
everything from the beginning and have decided to write an orderly
account for you, most excellent Theophilus, (4) so that you may know
the certainty of the things you have been taught.” [The
Bible, Luke 1:1-4, ISV
]

This states as the book’s purpose to assure Theophilus of the
certainty of the Christian belief’s content. And this is exactly the
aim of the Second Acts project, by executing a proof that God is indeed
real, living and active today. This makes up a basic justification for
“Second Acts”.

And the above verses contains some other interesting points that
support and extend this justification:

  1. The “events that have been
    fulfilled among us” (Lk 1:1) —
    The Greek “πεπληροφορημενων”
    (Strong 4135) rather means “being fully carried out in evidence”, and
    as the Greek form is (resultative) perfect, it should be translated as
    the result: “by which we have beedn fully convinced”. This is a very
    sober, rational word, and should not be translated “to be believed”, as
    in some German translation, to not mix up with the translations of “πιστευειν”
    (to believe, to be faithful towards). This implies that a
    rational-hearted approach to the content of the Christian faith is
    legitimate.
  2. “I […] have carefully
    investigated everything from the beginning” (Lk 1:3) —
    “Investigate”
    is the translation of “παρηκολουθειν” (Strong 3877), which is a
    compound meaning literally “follow near”. This activity, of “tracing
    the events from the least achievable distance” is Luke’s tool to assure
    Theophilus of what he has already heard from other sources (Lk 1:4).
    Which says practically, not every account of the Gospel is equally
    appropriate to let the reader recognize its truth. This depends on the
    sender of the Gospel message. In Theophilus case: he heard the Gospel
    message before from an unmentioned source, but that source was
    seemingly not sufficient to convince him fully of the genuineness of
    the Gospel facts. Then, he had the ideal case: he got the message from
    Luke, a skilled and trustable acquaintance; and Luke got it from the
    eyewitnesses (probably; see Lk 1:2), and the eyewitnesses got it from
    their eyes. Now, 2000 years and countless nameless transmitters after
    Luke’s books, it could be high time to reduce our distance from the
    facts about Jesus — by recording the facts that happen in our time.
  3. “the certainty” (Lk 1:4) —
    “Certainty” is “ασφαλεια” (Strong 803) in Greek. This is a compound
    noun starting with the negative particle “α”, so should be translated
    better “unfallability” or “inerrancy” to catch the notion.
  4. “the things you have been
    taught” (Lk 1:4) —
    Literally, “the words you have been instructed
    with”. By implication, “λογος” (Strong 3056) means also topic, doctrine
    and stuff, but the first meaning is “something said” (“word”). This
    vocabulary makes it somewhat more obvious why Theophilus needed some
    confirmation from a nearby observer he can trust: when hearing it, the
    Gospel is just made up of words, and words are not trustable per se.

To summarize these points, this would be my rendering of these
verses:

“(1) Since many people have attempted to
write an orderly account of
the matters of which we have been completely convinced, (2) just
accordingt to them being passed down to us by those who had been
eyewitnesses and servants of
the word from the beginning, (3) I, too, have carefully investigated
everything from the beginning as a near observer and have decided to
write an orderly
account for you, most excellent Theophilus, (4) so that you may know
the certainty of the words you have been taught.” [The Bible, Luke
1:1-4, my version]


Start date: 2008-04-27
Post date: 2008-04-28
Version date: 2008-04-28 (for last meaningful change)

Ok then. Finally, this is the “official” start of the Second Acts
project. I’ve to admit that its predecessor project (“A Seeker’s Guide
to Life”) is not yet finished. But there’s a need to move on now, away
from knowing God just by words about him.

Definition

The project “Second Acts” is a proof that God is real. (It’s however
no classical “proof of God” because “proof” is used as in everyday use
and does not mean a strict quasi-mathematical proof.)

This proof is performed by identifying and collecting cases where
the direct and immediate agency of God was experienced. This will
include supernatural answers to prayers, healings, fullfilled
prophecies. To arrive at a strong proof without the discussable
attributes of textual transmission, only contemporary cases are
included, and strong confirmation from various disciplines is collected
for these cases.

This is a quasi-empirical proof, because this way of collecting
contemporary acts of God can be repeated infinitely with new
contemporary acts of God. This is sensitive to the fact that a
permanent personal immediate encounter with God is impossible —
instead, encounters with God occur on are special, rare occasions, and
these cases have to be collected (see the article “The
third way of life in this world
“).

The “Second Acts” project will, for a good part, be no more than a
historician’s collection of what God does today — this fills a gap, as
writing sober chronicles has become unpopular in this world of
Christian pamphlets, emotional devotionals and Bible commentaries. In
biblical times, simply writing facts down was a more common thing to
do, as can be seen from the four Gospels and Acts, which are the new
testament chronicles.

Purpose

To prove and show God to be real is necessary because ubiquituous
human success, error and heresy robbed our perception of God’s reality.
This is  detailed in the article “Oh
ye of little faith!
“. It’s necessary if we want to want a true,
clear, absolutely full conviction of what we believe — if it is true.
And to disprove Christianity — if it is false.

In practical faith life, the results of the “Second Acts” project
should be combined with a nonreligious, completely demystified
Christian faith. Because this provides a reality-conformant faith in
God: what remains is just the truth, and its confirmation by experience.

The purpose of the “Second Acts” project is not to “find life”, i.e.
to arrive at the conviction and experience that life in this world is a
good way to spend our time. Finding life is up to “A Seeker’s Guide to
Life”, the other project, and “Second Acts” is a part of that, so to
speak. However, an important part, as finding the truth about God is a
very important part of life.


Start date: 2008-04-22
Post date: 2008-04-23
Version date: 2008-04-23 (for last meaningful change)