Introduction

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
holy.

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.”
(Genesis
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
distinguish
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.
Material
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
82:6).

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,
one
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
    “awareness
    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
    spirit.
  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
    Spirit.
  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)

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
validity:

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)

In Protestant churches, confirmation
is (hopefully) when young believers are taught arguments and reasons
that confirm and strengthen their faith. In my life, conformation is
when Jesus confirms my faith by contemporary activity. Let me explain
how I currently view faith, the basis of faith and my faith.

Content vs. confirmation

Do Christians believe in miracles? No, we believe in Christ.
Miracles only confirm our beliefs about Christ. Because that’s how it
was in Mark’s last verse:

And they went out and preached
everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message
by accompanying signs.
[Mark
16:20 ESV
]

The people who heard the apostles preach were expected to believe
the content they heard … maybe because of the miracles they saw, but
in any way believing was about the content the apostles told them.
Miracles without this content would be astonishing, but we’d remain
curious. Paul also makes this connection between hearing the content
(the good message about Jesus the Christ) and believing:

So people believe because they hear. They hear because people tell
them about Christ.
[Romans
10:17 BWE
]

Note that this translation is correct (IMHO): “δια ρηματος θεου”
(“through the word of God”, or “Christ”, in some mss.) can be
translated with a genitivus obiectivus. So nobody says anything about
metaphyically quasi-magically supernaturally active “word of God”
(probably the bible, one’d suppose …) which “generates” faith, as one
might understand from this translation:

 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God.
[Romans
10:17 KJV
]

And the Greek “ακοη” means the “hearing”, not the “preaching” as
others translate. As only this fits the context: the next verse starts
with “But I ask, have they not heard?” [Romans
10:18 BWE
].

History-based unconfirmed faith

So people believe because people tell them about Christ … which
has to be understood, in the context of the first century, as the
“historic Christ”. People told each other about the man Jesus the
Nacarene who proved to be the Christ, the son of God, by the historic
fact of his resurrection. This kind of history was and is a valuable
basis for faith in Christ Jesus. It is, currently, the basis of my
personal faith: I believe in the historic content about Jesus, and I
can argue (though not prove) that what I believe is truly historic. So
it’s possible, meaningful and justifiable for me to believe in Christ
without contemporary signs and miracles. Past events, signs and
miracles are enough because the biblical tradition is reliable.

However, such a faith is “unconfirmed” by contemporary experiences!
Wherefore I said, I need my confirmation yet. At least part of my
remaining life is dedicated to search for such confirmation. I call
this search the “Second Acts” project. Currently, I’m kinda satisfied
with this kinda faith, as “history-based unconfirmed faith” as a
rational preliminary faith, a “working hypothesis faith” waiting for
miracles that prove it, has multiple advantages over other kinds of
faith:

  • With a preliminary faith, I am allowed to admit that my faith is
    not yet proven beyond all doubt, while others who think believing is
    the “activity of being absolutely sure” must force themselves to think:
    • either, that history proves Jesus to be the Christ with
      mathematical exactness (which simply isn’t the case for any historical
      proof)
    • or, that they have found contemporary signs and miracles (which
      might be the case, compromise the standards for detecting true
      miracles, or lead to despair if it isn’t the case)
  • A history based, miracle-confirmable faith attributes the
    biblical priorities to both the message about Jesus, and to signs and
    miracles.
  • With a history-based faith you can bluntly admit that your
    present situation might be one where God simply does not do anything.
    It does not hurt your faith that Jesus lives, as you believe from history that Jesus resurrected.

Start date: 2007-11-02
Post date: 2007-11-03
Version date: 2007-11-03 (for last meaningful change)

Don’t pal up with the last reality

When taking an honest approach to life, one must take the most
important problem to be most important. One must face reality. So, what
is the most important problem of man? It’s the last reality: death. It
renders all nothing, destroys what you made of you, ignores what was
dear to you. So foremost, we must face and fight death.

But people seem to have come to terms with death. They accept that
death will destroy them sooner or later. While death accepts that
people ignore it until it catches them. People don’t talk about death.
People don’t talk about diseases, they talk about health. Politicians
who try to cope with diseases work in the “Department of Health”, not
the “Department of Diseases”. People take out a life assurance, not a
death assurance, but it pays only in case of death, not life.

An honest approach to life however forbids to accept death while
concentrating on minor problems. There is absolutely nothing to say
against investing your whole life into overcoming death. One might
sacrifice career, money, health, partnership, social insurances and
everything else in order to find dependable assurance of eternal
life. If there is no eternal life at all, the state of such a man after
death is as miserable as career people’s, even so far as both cannot
hear neither contempt nor admiration. But if there is any sort of
eternal existence, it’s surely a good idea to invest all of one’s
breath therein.

Again: you guys are not allowed to blame me for freaking out now,
totally and outrageously, out of this damned average death-integrating
lifestyle. As it is in order to find out for all of us how to arrive at
eternal life. In
the sense of something to really hope for, something that you expect
and then it happens. Not in the sense of a
religious pacifier.

I will no present some weird thoughts about “inventing eternal life”
on this earth. Please do not interpret this as being disbelief, but
it’s an awfull, absolute,
weird, most extreme, ultimate determinedness to get around death. For
all of lifes sake. Because this is the foremost problem of men and
people simply don’t care. I could screeeeeeeam! People work, highly
motivated, for vain
stuff and then die, and accept it that way. Why don’t people try
instead to get eternal life????? Is there so little logic in
people????? Obviously.

Eternal life by digitization, including uninterrupted existence

On 2006-11-04, I had some interesting insights about human identity
(see my invention
list
), and, building on top of these, a natural implementation of
eternal life seems possible even though medicine found no way to make
the human body immortal. First, the basic thoughts:

What people search is perceived immortality. Therefore, an identical
but younger copy of a person would not prolong this person’s life. Even
if all memories and experiences could be copied. Because, people would
not feel to live eternally that way. In human perception, these two
persons would have their own identity each because they could start to
live contemporaneously but differently (e.g. in different places). So,
an idea is needed how to prolong the life of one person, while
upholding its self-perceived identity.

For this idea, we need to know what “self-perceived identity” is. It
is the awareness of the self, the feeling to be somebody, the awareness
of one’s own body. With this definition, identity is an emergence of all
parts of the body. No part of the body generates the feeling to be a
human body, but together they do, as together they make
self-observation possible.

The inspiring factum is this: exchanging one part of the body (like
by an organ transplant) disturbs “perceived identity” but does not
destroy it. After some time, the new part of the body is integrated
into the emergence of identity. This is due to two effects: it learned
form the other parts of the body to behave according to the identity
which is outweighingly defined by them; and, it influenced the other
parts of the body and thus, the identity, while the perception that
identity stayed basically the same has been uphold. If identity changes
slow enough, it is perceived to stay the same.

This results in the following idea: by exchanging all parts of the
body, one after the other, the body of somebody can be exchanged by a
different body while the identity stays the same. This would include
exchanging the brain, part by part. At least here, very difficult
technical problems could arise: how to create “empty” brains, and how
to “program” them. So it might be better here to exchange the brain by
a functionally equivalent computer. The digitization of the most
important part of a human identity would make it possible to create
“backups” of people. So if a body is crushed in an accident, the
“software” would be restored to an empty brain in a new (comparable)
body, and this human being could start to live further, starting with
the last backup, i.e. with an amnesia of perhaps 1-2 weeks and like
waking from a deep sleep of that length. Sleep and amnesia do not
destroy the self-perceived identity, and this process would not either.

How Christ will qualify as an even better hope

I’m not going to end this post here, as the above mentioned
invention is not my present approach to overcome the problem of
morbidity. I hope however that I would consequently follow after it if
I wouldn’t believe that eternal life is the free gift of Jesus the
Christ, as I do. But I do believe this. I presented the above
“alternative hope” to stir up us believers: everybody would agree that
one should invest into the most promising alternative. Which means we
must explain: why is eternal life from Christ a better hope than the
above mentioned invention of eternal life by digitization? If we cannot
explain this even in the long run, it would be better for all of us to
become scientists and work towards our own digitization. Imagine, 200+
millions of scientists … .

So I am deeply determined to arrive at an explanation here. Tell me
the reason why the Christian hope is better, or join me in
searching for that reason. I call this search the search for “Second
Acts”. Here’s a quick list of some basic approaches, please extend it
where necessary:

  • Document supernatural phenomena with rigid scientific methodology.
  • Document the influence of the “name” on supernatural phenomena,
    check if it is a valid theory to assume name-based dependencies to
    supernatural entities.
  • Document the supernatural phenomena that happen “in the name of
    Jesus the Christ”.
  • Does the collected data confirm that Jesus is the Christ and that
    he’ll save believers as he promised to?

To conclude: I would so much appreciate this desire for life to spread
all over this
society and this world. It is: loving life more than even your own
pride. As
you might need to let loose your pride in order to get eternal life,
e.g. if eternal life is available by Jesus the Christ only.


Start date: 2007-10-19
Post date: 2007-10-20
Version date: 2007-10-20 (for last meaningful change)

Information science developed a good understanding of what
information is: a coded representation of something different, not the
thing itself. And, information science includes a rich use of names:
names are used for coding the informational representation of entities.
Also, we know about the problems that come with using names, for
example, the possibility of identity theft, or any other sort of
misinformation. This givesn an interesting background to a part of the
well-known “ten commandments”.
Depending on how
one numbers the decalogue
, the second resp. third one reads thus:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD
your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him
guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
[The
Bible, Exodus 20:7 ESV
]

Often, people seem to think it prohibits exclaiming “Oh my God!” in
everyday situations. But is it really about that? I now think that this
is directed against “false prophets” and other people who’d hijack the
name Yahweh for
their purposes, which is the name of the God who gave the ten
commandments. So the intended result of this commandment is to prevent
misinformation about God. Which is especially important, as God is
invisible (as an entity, and mostly his acts are invisible, too). So he
is represented in this visible world by information only. This
information is especially exposed to hijacking attacks, back then and
today, as using the name of God promises to have authority over
believers. All this stuff that has been done “in the name of God”, from
the middle age crusades to today’s gay marriages, carries
misinformation about God. No wonder that people are confused today who
God is, what God wants and what he does. We need more clarity here:
only authentic divine things must carry the name of God! Whereever God
is written upon, God must be inside, so to speak. Or this confusion
will never end. Part of this is to check what proposed miracles are
authentic miracles of God, and what are faked miracles “in the name of
God”, as it is sad to see God’s acts discredited by the mix-up with so
much human-generated fake which claims to be done in the same “name”.


Start date: 2007-10-16
Post date: 2007-10-16
Version date: 2007-10-16 (for last meaningful change)

What is faith, in Christianity? In some precious discussions with a
friend, we found out that there are at least two positions. See if you
can agree:

certain faith
The certain faith of fundamentalists is the human work of
accepting some content as the truth.
hoping faith
The hoping faith of non-fundamentalists is an unproven but
justifiable hope that some content is true. Justifiable means that it
remained after considering in all incertainties, difficulties and
objections.

Both definitions apply to all kinds of believers: Christians,
Marxists, evolutionists, etc..

Practical differences

In Christianity, certain and hoping faith show at least these key
differences in practical living:

  • Dealing with facts and arguments.
    For certain faith, being convinced is the work which a fundamentalist
    believer does. He is stronger convinced of the believed content than he
    can justify by facts and arguments; he even needs no facts and
    arguments at all to perform the work of being convinced. So, either he
    is not interested in facts and arguments at all, or he builds tools
    from them to express his convictions. But he does not allow the facts
    and arguments to affect his faith. On the other hand, with a hoping
    faith you are interested in facts and arguments, you believe “for sure”
    what is provable from them, and believe “as a hope” what you can
    justifiably extrapolate.
  • Salvation by grace, or by grace
    and the work of faith?
    Fundamentalists think that faith is the
    “only necessary work” man has to add in order to be justified without
    works. They would not verbalize it that explicitly, but it may be seen
    from their insecurity when discussing what faith is, if not a work.
    Non-fundamentalists think that their faith is no work but the
    acceptance of the work of Jesus Christ, which is justification by grace
    alone. As faith is not esteemed a work, it needs no quality: even the
    philosophically justifiable conviction that Jesus is the Christ if
    there is any God at all
    is saving faith. To fundamentalists
    however, such a conviction is no faith at all: for them, only a certain
    conviction of all the Bible says is faith. Fundamentalists have a
    work-based faith, as faith is a work for them; so they have the same
    burden as every other believer with a work-based faith: salvation has
    to be achieved by good human performance, here by believing in a most
    straight and certain way.
  • Cultivating strenghth or
    weakness.
    In
    fundamentalist faith, being convinced is a human activity, and
    salvation depends on it. So for the sake of your eternal life, you are
    not allowed to be weak here. This cultivated strength results in
    hypocrisy, because people will hide doubts from themselves and
    others. And this cultivated strength extends to other areas, generating
    the idea that holiness must be and can be achieved by human strenght.
    The result is people and churches which pretend strength and hide
    weakness, to be spiritual. On the other hand, hoping faith communicates
    doubts and difficulties and does not fear them: as a justifiable hope,
    it will stand as long as there is a reason to hope. The content of both
    certain and hoping faith is that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of
    this wrecked human race. But only in a faith that needs no own strength
    (i.e. hoping faith), the conception of one’s own wreckedness finds room
    and can grow, resulting in cultivating the admission of weakness. Which
    generates authentic, compassionate people and churches.
  • Strong and weak interpretation
    of the Bible.
    People with a certain faith are certain what they
    believe and that it is true. From this flows a strength-demonstrating,
    knowing interpretation of the Bible, not leaving any questions. On the
    other side, people with a hoping faith might admit that they don’t know
    what many passages of the Bible mean.
  • Trusting oneself or something
    external.
    Certain faith does not need the believed reality to
    exist: it relies only on the ability of the believing person to
    believe. On the contrary, hoping faith trusts not in any own ability
    but in the existence of a real God. Therefore it is interested in God’s
    power and help and can acknowledges one’s own weakness and wreckedness.
    Hoping faith leans on God and trusts God, while certain faith leans on
    oneself and trusts oneself. This is the practical difference of
    “faith’s perspective”, apart from the question how faith is justified.

Which faith is the Christian one

I want to invite you to think about the question whether the
Christian faith is intended to be certain or hoping … you are invited
to discuss it with me here, also. You’ll have noticed that I couldn’t
conceal my opinion in what you’ve read so far. Now I will reveal the
way I came to this opinion. Grown up with the “certain faith paradigm”
(though far ess extreme as pictured above), I couldn’t bear the
unjustiied certainty of my faith. But I though that my faith had to be
that certain and that my salvation depends on such a faith.

Now, the honest consequence of a certain but unjustified faith is to
search for justification. Which means, I needed the scientific-style
proof that Jesus is the Christ, i.e., God’s promised saviour of
mankind. I thought to prove that by contemporary miracles which happen
“in the name of Jesus Christ” and called the project which collects
such miracles “Second Acts”. I intended to execute this project during
a world tour of several years … .

I need not to mention that this kind of faith was
at times a very stressing issue: seeing this certain faith as the key
to
salvation, I expected myself to believe “for certain” but was unwilling
or unable to do as long as the justification was missing. From these
negative consequences, and because salvation is absolutely “not by
works”, I conclude that the gospel of a “certain faith” is no good
message at all, i.e. cannot be the gospel. So Christian faith is hoping
faith.

Another confirming argument is how I arrived at a practical way of
coping with the lack of proofs for my faith, yet without knowing that
this was the transition from certain to hoping faith: in the dilemma of
believing for certain without prove, the two bad options are (1) to
think that you do not need proofs or (2) to generate fake proofs. The
real way out however was to hope that you will once have the proof for
your faith. Concretely, I hoped to find this prove by collecting
“Second Acts”.

This basically turned my faith from a certain one to a hoping one
(but yet with a temporary target and the illusionary idea that I will
arrive at an ultimately proven certain faith within life on this earth
by writing “Second Acts”). At the point of writing this, the current
situation is even better: I can cope with the lack of ultimate proof
until death, where I expect to come from “hoping to seeing”. This is
however no insecure hoping as if in doubt: hoping means that I think
and expect to be true what I believe. But not in a fundamentalist
manner which proclaims certainty beyond measure, rather with a unproven
but justifiable hope.

Now, the essence of hope is the wish to see the hoped-for reality
more and more, to get more and more proof. Which means that this
“Second Acts” project is still alive, but with other reasons behind: I
intend to do a world tour of several years to document proven
contemporary acts of God. There’s nothing more cool and precious than
to see what we hoped for, though this will be limited in this
world to the first few steps only. But anyway, it’s so cool and
precious! If anybody shares this same fascination, just tell me.
Perhaps some of you even like to join me on this world tour?

“For we were saved with this hope in mind.  Now hope that is
seen is
not really hope, for who hopes for what can be seen? But if we hope for
what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” [Romans
8:24-25 ISV]


Start date: 2007-10-08
Post date: 2007-10-08
Version date: 2007-10-08 (for last meaningful change)