Archive for the ‘conversations’ Category

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Trusting God

July 17, 2007

Pony, interesting discussion over dinner yesterday! I have one suggestion:

Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? (Gen 17:17)

We can safely say that “fell upon his face” is not a sign of unbelief or disrespect, in fact it means otherwise:

And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. (Gen 50:1)

And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face (Num 16:4)

The problem then seems to be “laughed” and “said in his heart,” the former being unbelief, and the latter possibly murmurings. (Which gives a new meaning to the condition of heart-murmur)

Hmm… almost after Abraham laughed, Sarah laughed too- and God disapproved of it:

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. (Gen18:12-15)

Hmm it does seem that God choose to disregard Abraham’s laugh but confronted Sarah for laughing.

It seems to suggest laughter of two essentially different nature, do you think so? 🙂

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Obeying God

July 16, 2007

Dear pony,

Thank you for visiting my church again. Looking forward to having you with us again. 🙂

This is to follow from my “dun mind” comment on the solemnity of the church service- i believe my answer then, was that is because i believe that is the manner of worship that God likes or find acceptable.

This, i guess, is related to the divine command ethics:

In “Autonomy and Theological Ethics,” Robert Adams discussed four types of people:

1 The autonomous Nazist soldier: who kills because he believed (or rather act on the false belief) that Nazism is correct.

2.The conscientiously obedient Nazist soldier: who kills because he is following order.

3. The autonomous relief worker: who stops relief to the poor to go to corrupted authorities

4. The conscientiously obedient relief worker: who did nothing to stop relief to go to corrupted authorities.

1 and 2 are attitudes towards evil; whereas 3 and 4 are attitudes towards good.

Adam goes on to say that for an evil cause, it does seem that an autonomous person is more blameworthy; whereas for a good cause, an autonomous person is instead praiseworthy.

This then goes on to show that the obedience to God, which is something good, should be more praiseworthy if it is autonomous. Thus a person should believe in the moral truth because of the truth itself, rather than because God commands so. (Blind obedience, in his lexicon, is termed as “heteronomy.”)

However, he later coined a term used by Paul Tillich, called “theonomy:” “Theonomy asserts that the superior law is at the same time, the innermost law of man himself, rooted in the divine ground which is man’s own ground.” (p126) and concludes saying “the theonomous person may love his moral principles for their own sake, but believe that they owe their status as moral principles wholly or partly to their divine sponsorship.” (p127)

 Consider Gal 5:22-23:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. ”

Given these fruits, I believe a solemn manner of worship aids in the cultivation of Christian character, and desirable as ends itself, even if it is not commanded by God. 🙂

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Pleasing God

July 11, 2007

Pony, this is to follow up on what we were discussing yesterday about the petitionary prayers.

I wonder what you think about the idea of “pleasing God?”

I guess my take is that God gives us freewill to freely choose to do things that are pleasing to him.

Hmm does this actually brought into question the immutability of God? – It seems the case to me.

As such there are things in which God cannot predestined to come into being unless He knows that it is the free wish of his creation. However, I guess being God, he sees the larger scheme of thing and sees further too. For example, a boy wishing for a birthday cake may not get his cake because that may say means that his parents have to go hungry by skipping lunch to buy a cake for him etc. – in that case, when we pray for God’s will to be done, we are praying for Him to help us decide on what is the best outcome for us.

That point aside, on the meaningful relationship we are talking about. An analogy will be father is thinking of buying me a cake for my birthday- but there is a difference between i voicing out my wish that i want a cake and not doing so. Father will definitely be happier and he may decide to give me a better cake! And coming back to the first point again, if it is his wish for me to have a cake rather than say a transformer toy that will distract me from my studies, then he will stick to his will. Though i may not understand why father should deprive me of a transformer toy, i trust that he loves me and wants the bring out the best in me- and thus i pray (no matter how unwillingly at this juncture) that his will be done.

Hmm what do you think? 🙂

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Why suffereth the animals?

May 17, 2007

We discussed with Ola the problem of animal suffering during lunch today and I tot it will be good if we get our thoughts in order.  If I din remember wrongly, the conversation was sparked off by the rivalry between the snowgoose and its nemesis, the arctic fox, which was featured in Planet Earth last night. It aches me to see the arctic fox scurrying off with one innocent snowgoose chick in its mouth, still chirping helplessly, away from the snowgeese parents who were still recovering from the shock of the arctic fox’s sneak attack. It is easy to sympathise with the snowgeese for their loss of an adorable chick; however if we see the equally adorable adorable cubs of the arctic fox, playing with each other like cute little puppies, but which will not survive through winter without ample food, we face a dilemma:  We probably have two questions (or more) in mind. (1)   Why did God allow this to happen?(2)   Will innocent animals which suffered unnecessary pain get to heaven? 

That brings us to the explanation for animal pain. Perhaps lets explore C S Lewis take in his article “Animal Pain,” in The Problem of Pain, 132-147.  I am sure you read it before.

 In this short article, Lewis offered three explanations. (though he made it clear that these are only possibilities as the Scripture is completely silent with regard to animal sufferings): 

1. That animals, though some may be sentient, and feel and share similar biological nervous system as man, are not conscious, and do not have a soul/ self  (I think for the benefit of layman, he seems to use these two synonymously.) Which means, like what Ola had suggested, they do not reflect on pain. In Lewis’ words, they see two sharp pains as two instead of one continued by another. This, I beg to differ. How do we explain animals’ ability to learn? From Lewis’ explanation, it seems like animals will fall into the same trap laid for them in the same place and same manner umpteen times! And as we have discussed about the visit to the abattoir, apparently pigs do sense/ know that they are going to be slaughtered and some even tear and oink loudly when they are sent to the slaugher house. In fact, my take is that probably they heard the cries of pigs before them being slaughtered, understand the pain, and oinked at their prospective plight. (Am I going too far if I say they grieve for the death of their fellow pigs? Perhaps.)  This aside, it is apparent that relationship between animals (mates or mother-child) does not diminish in intensity compared to human. Let us remember, for example, the case of the Emperor penguins. I do think that even royal penguins pursue meaningful relationship – a very high-order good. 

2. The second explanation is just a logical possibility. That the cruelty we see in the animal world is a result of the Fall of the animals. They have to thus suffer and are also exposed to the works of Satan. And it is interesting that Lewis conclude this section with a vague “It may have been one of man’s functions to restore peace to the animal world, and if he had not joined the enemy he might have succeeded in doing so to an extent now hardly imaginable.” Lewis agrees too that it is highly conjectural. 

3. In a way, the third point is related to the second- that only domesticated animals that has a meaningful relationship with human will go to heaven (as part of the homestead.)  This is in line with scripture’s saying of man’s dominion over animals and drawn parallel with God’s dominion over man – the gist is probably this- if man gets to heaven by having a meaningful relationship with God, then animals get to heaven by sharing a meaningful relationship with man. This is a very attractive offer. I am sure you would love to see your cats in Heaven! However, one sad thing about this is that abused animals will not get into heaven because, apparently, they do not share a meaningful relationship with their owners. (Goodness, probably their owners will go somewhere else in the first place- but is God going to “wipe the tears” of a cat which has suffered from intentional scalding by its owner?) Perhaps let me appeal to a thought experiment that you will perhaps feel more about: A kitten was born and lost her parents, it was picked up by a boy who used to like it but then grow tired of it, and the kitten learnt from this, and actually yearn for human love (that was once showered to it when it was first adopted – i am sure you agree that the kitten is able of doing that? ) The kitten was finally abandoned but later unfortunately picked up by another boy who the kitten trusted for a while (i am sure you agree that the kitten is able of doing that too?), but this boy is not a animal-lover, and due to neglect and finally abuse, the kitten died. The question is thus whether the kitten get into heaven? If yes, for what reason?

This bring us back to the fawn which spent five days in seemingly unnecessarily agony from burns caused by its inability to escape from a forest fire ignited by a lightning. From Lewis’ three explanations, the fawn does not seem to stand a chance. What do you think?