Saturday, April 28, 2007

"The Secret" Book Review (Part II: A Biblical Response)

In the last post I tried to keep my criticisms of "The Secret" to a minimum. I was mainly trying to give a picture as to what the Secret is and what it all entails. Here I will turn to a critique. I will firstly give a critique from logic and then I will plunge a stake in the heart of this ideological Dracula by contrasting it with the Bible.

I.) A General Critique

There are numerous problems with "the Secret", I think it is fairly obvious to anyone who has seriously looked at the ideas being presented that these notions simply do not reflect reality. Then again perhaps not. I think the first reply we will hear given to anyone who begins to doubt or question "the Secret" will be as a commentor said on the last post: "Have you tried it?"

i. Impossible to disprove by "Testing"
Well, by "trying" the Secret you will find that it will always come true. You naturally have doubts that you will win the don't. Yet you naturally hope and think you will win $20! Irregardless of the outcome you will always be able to point back to either negative or positive thoughts and say: "Wow I guess this is true!"

Either way the theory is validated. In the first case you need to think more positively, in the second you need to keep it up and guard from negative thoughts. I think this is the case because you are always thinking both negatively and postively simultaniously, in saying yes "I want X" you are equally saying "No I don't want Y".

ii. How do they know this stuff?
This has to do with just how the authors even know these things. In the book the topic of the Secret is treated as though it is ancient wisdom handed down which they have unearthed after much study. My simple question is how do they know how the Universe operates? One of the lines that sticks out to me and is really central for HOW to use the Secret is this:

"When you focus your thoughts on something you want, and you hold that focus, you are in that moment summoning what you want with the mightiest power in the Universe. The law of attraction doesn't compute "don't", "not" or "no" or any other words of negation. As you speak words of negation this is what the law of attraction is recieving:
'I don't want to spill something on my outfit.'
[Universe hears}'I want to spill something on my outfit and I want to spill more things.'"

My question is simply how do the authors know this? Is it written up in the sky: "I the Universe do not hear the word NOT even though I had to use it to explain that I can not compute it!" How did this knowledge become known to humans is what I am getting at. I am sure the author did not come up with this on her own, but I am asking how anybody can know it is a true statement apart from "testing" it.

iii. Numerous Appeals to Authority
One of the most blatant logical fallacies commited by "The Secret" authors is the appeal to authority. This is evident throughout the book not only by the beefy credentials of the authors themselves but also the appeals to historical greats as "secret bearers". Basically history is skewed to make those who were succesess practicers of "the Secret", which of course was the foundation for their success.

"The greatest teachers who have ever lived have told us that the law of attraction is the most powerful laDoes Chuck Norris know 'The Secret'?w in the Universe.
Poets such as William Shakespeare, Robert Bowning, and William Blake delivered it in their poetry. Musicians such as Ludwig van Beethoven expressed it through their music. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci depicted it in their paintings. Great thinkers including Socrates, Plato..."

The authors make no attempt whatsoever to support these claims, they just make them. Socrates practiced the Secret. Oh ok, I guess you have guys with Phd's contributing to this book so they must be right. Also they want to lump all the religions together and say they all really taught the Secret:

"Religions, such as Hinduism, Hermetic traditions, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and civilization, such as the Babylonians and Egyptians, delivered it [The Secret] through their writtings and stories." (p.4)

Now I will take up the teachings of the Secret v. Christianity shortly, however in this instance the point is merely that the authors are making a wild appeal to authority. All the religions of the world taught the Secret. As did all of the civilizations that were great, like the Babylonians and Egyptians. Yet again they give no serious evidence of these seemingly massive claims.

iv. Bereft of any morality
One of the things you will find in the book is that there is no real ethic behind it all. Although there are commands to be full of gratitude, when you really logically put it all together you are really just thanking yourself. It is self worship. With this sort of an inflated view of self, where self really is the ultimate because self is in fact God, there also logically follows an erasing of any moral accountability.

This is one of the greatest struggles of eastern and pantheistic thinkers, they have no way to establish the catagories of right and wrong in an objective sense. This is because objectivity does not exist, all that is is God. If that is the case then the evil that exists (or rather what we often call "evil") is part of God. Hence in Hinduism you see the worship of "Kali" a god depicted with skulls for a necklace and horribly sculpted. This is because in pantheism "evil" is just as much part of God as "good".

That said there is no possible objective standard of morality in pantheism, behaviour such as selfishness cannot be viewed as "wrong".

v. Appeal to Desire
"Get Rich or Die Trying"
is the title of one the most popular rap albums in the past few years, that says a lot about the love of money in our culture. Really at heart the message of "The Secret" is targeting selfish covetuous desires. We live in a culture where the most ubiquotous apetites are for money, sex, longevity, and feelings of importance. The Secret is here to say all of those desires can be fulfilled if you apply the metGet your Siberian tiger's milk-tonic here!hod. It is here to cure what ails ya. The book is riddled with testimonials of people who have had success in all of those areas by practicing the Secret.

Now as I am about to get to, Biblically having these desires in and of themselves are not necessarily wrong. It is not wrong to want to be able to provide for your family, it is not wrong to want a good spouse, it is not wrong to not want cancer, and it is not wrong to know that your life is valuable.

The problem comes when we start isolating these things as an end without God in the picture and talking about these things in forms of "I deserve". It is this inflated view of self that "the Secret" is keying on in our culture. Really it is what almost all advertising is geared towards. The Secret is here to affirm people in their covetuousness and to ultimatly give a methodology to fullfill their apetites.

II. So What's Wrong Biblically?

Well, if you read the first post in which you start to get an idea of the overall worldview that the Secret entails you run into numerous problems if you are going to believe the Bible. Despite the repeated claim on Oprah and even in the book that "The Secret" was not at all in conflict with Christianity, that simply is not the case. What we have are two different worldviews, two distinct views about who/what God is, two distinct views about who/what we are as humans, two seperate views on morality, and conflicting views on God's relationship to suffering. I will take these up point by point and try to be as brief as possible.

i.Who/What is God?
The Secret says:
"So whichever way you look at it the result is still the same. We are One. We are all connected, and we are all part of the One Energy Field, or the Supreme Mind, or the One Consciousness, or the One Creative Source. Call it whatever you want, but we are all One." (p.162)

"You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet." (p.164)

This is a form of Pantheism, all is God and God is all. You and me, the deer, the trees, the earth, and well as they would say the Universe itself is God. Hence the emphasis on language about how we are One. Also God is impersonal, more of a force then a person. This is why the author meditates instead of prays.

The Bible says:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1)

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." (Acts 17:24-25)

God is not seen as being part of nature but rather above and over nature as the creator of nature. Nature is not divine, God is wholly other and is distinct from what He has made. God is personal and to be sought relationally.

ii.Who/what are Human Beings?
The secret says:

"How does all of this make you a spiritual being? For me, the answer to that question is one of the most magnificent parts of the teachings of the Secret. You are energy, and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy just changes form. And that means You! The true essence of You, the pure energy of You, has always been and always will be. You can never not be." (p.159)

This is just another angle at from which the author approaches her pantheism. Note the capital Y's on "You", this is how New Age pantheists refer to us as divine.

The Bible says:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Gen 1:27)

Human beings are creatures. They are not divine. Human beings are not part of nature but are over it because they are unique creatures made in the image of God. Humans have not always existed but all have a beginning.

iii. Money
The Secret says:

One thing I will point out is that this book teaches us to love material things:

"Start to say and feel, "I have more than enough." "There is an abundance of money and it's on its way to me." "I am a money magnet." "I love money and money loves me." I am receiving money every day." 'Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.'" (p.107)

Of course we are really saying thank you to ourselves when you put this stuff together:

"It is not people who are giving you the things you desire. If you hold that false belief, you will experience lack, because you are looking at the outside world and people as the supply. The true supply is the invisible field, whether you call that the Universe, the Supreme Mind, God, Infinite Intelligence, or whatever else." (p.163)

The author even tries to point to the Bible and say that this love of money is quite in line with Christianity:

"If you have been brought up to believe that being wealthy is not spiritual, then I highly recommend you read The Millionaires of the Bible Series by Catherine Ponder. In these glorious books you will discover that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of." (p.109)

The Bible says:

"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness."
(1 Tim 6:6-11)

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."" (Heb 13:5)

We are not to lust after things but be truly content with what we have. So what about this talk about all the "Bible Millionaires"? Well, it is true by an agrarian culture standard men like Jacob and Abraham and Isaac were rich. However, it is complete rubbish to suggest they enjoyed a life that modern millionaires couldn't fathom. Well, maybe that is true. If by that you mean modern millionaires couldn't fathom being a goat herder for a thousand goats as being "rich". The lives of these men were in no way lavish.

As for Jesus being a prosperity teacher that is just ridiculous, I will simply point to His own words:

"And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (Matt 8:20)

"No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him." (Lk 16:13-14)

I also recommend to anyone interested the dialogue in Luke 12:13-34. There is simply no way you could see Christ's teachings as prosperity orientated unless that is what you want to make them. This is why you will find that they only cite the Bible one time in this book (horribly out of context of course).

iv. Suffering
The secret teaches:

"Often when people first hear this part of the Secret they recall events in history where masses of lives were lost, and they find it incomprehensible that so many people could have attracted themselves to the event. By the law of attraction, they had to be on the same frequency as the event. It doesn't necessarily mean they thought of that exact event, but the frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event. If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances, those thoughts of fear, separation, and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You have a choice right now. Do you believe that it's just the luck of the draw and bad things can happen to you at any time? Do you want to believe that you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

That you have no control over circumstances?Or do you want to believe and know that your life experience is in your hands and that only all good can come into your life because that is the way you think? You have a choice, and whatever you choose to think will become your life experience.

Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts."

All suffering is brought upon by ourselves, the way we interact with the Universe. The only things that can come into our lives are things we summon. With this sort of view all suffering whether it is cancer, genocides, rape, child molestation, Katrina, Virginia Tech, etc, all of these were necessarily brought into people's lives because they brought it in.

This is the price you pay in order to believe that you shape all of your reality by your positive or negative thoughts. You have to take the good with the bad. So yes, every good thing that comes someones way is caused by themselves, however every tragedy is not really a tragedy but something they willed into their lives unwittingly through thought.

The Biblical view of suffering:

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

This is the shortest verse in the Bible and it comes in the context of Jesus going to the tomb of Lazarus the man He is about to raise from the dead. He wept over the whole abnormality of death and what the fall has done to the human condition.

"Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it." (John 11:38)

The Greek word translated into "deeply moved" is the word ἐμβριμάομαι "embrimaomai" it literally means indignant. Jesus was angry. Jesus was angry at death, or rather the effects of the fall on humanity.

Suffering, and death are not normal. We are not living in the world as God originally made it. This is a fallen world. Cancer is NOT normal. Hurricanes destroying peoples homes is NOT normal. Gunmen shooting people for no reason is NOT normal. These are the effects of the fall on human life and all of creation. We look to the day when all of creation will finally be fully put right again as Paul writes in Roman 8.

There is much more to say about the Christian view of suffering but this is the hallmark difference between the Christian view of suffering and all other worldviews, in the Christian view suffering is NOT normal. We live in a world that has been effected with the fall of man.

Whether it is Atheism, or Pantheism, or any other worldview for that matter suffering will be seen in some sense as normal and just naturally part of being human. Christianity can look at suffering and say "This is not right!" And we can fight suffering with a reasonable base without fighting God.
III.) Conclusion

Well, my main goal in this was to simply portray the ideas presented in "The Secret" and simply show what they really entail and how that these ideas are simply not Christian. This is a worldview, this is not just a get rich quick technique. These people are serious, they really believe in their pantheism.

However, no matter how serious they are if we adopt the Secret philosophy we are left we some pretty unsavory views on life. Sure running around thinking you're God is probably the biggest self esteem high you can get, but it comes at a price. If everything and everyone is God then what is is right.

So that means Tornados, angry gunmen, Aids sufferers etc are all really just part of what is normal. Biblically none of this is normal, but is a result of the fall of man. One of the things about India and the application of Pantheism is that there are casts and there are some people you just do not help out because they are getting theirs karmaically so to speak. That is the logical end folks.
Christianity gives us freedom to call suffering wrong. It gives us a foundation for compassion. Also we have a foundation say that the sort of self absorbtion propigated in the Secret is wrong. In the end Biblically we know why the Secret is successful:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.[...] For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica." (2 Tim 4:3-4, 10)

I don't know how many people I have known that have seen the Gospel knew it was true had their questions answered and turned right back to a love of the world. And finally, not to be apocalyptic:

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (2 Tim 3:1-5)

I think these Biblical warnings fit "The Secret" philosophy perfectly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Secret" Book Review (Part I)

I have wanted to review this book from the first time I heard about it simply because of its' popularity. I have finally gotten the chance to do just that having received it on loan from someone very dear to me. My assumptions from the outset of what "The Secret" was going to be was basically a New Age version of a health wealth and prosperity gospel that makes so many televangelists popular. I found it to be just that and in many tragic ways much worse.


Firstly, I think that it is important to comment on the mere appearance and package that this message comes in. The Book cover, as well as the inside pages are decorated with what looks like an ancient text on aged parchment with unintelligible sentences in cursive all over. The "S" in the word secret on the cover is inside an ancient appearing wax seal giving the book a look of old wisdom. When you hold the book itself you will notice that it is a bit heavier than most books its size, when you open it up you will see why. The pages are a very thick glossy paper also decorated with an aged browning look with cursive and various mystical/technical looking drawings on many pages.

It is also full of colorful images and pictures of the many co-authors in the back. To be short it is a very slick package. The text itself if put into the right format and made simpler (less drawings and giant font headings) probably could have been reduced to 75 pages and still be very readable. It took me probably an hour and a half to read all 184 pages and I am a very slow reader so that should give you an idea of how easy of a read this is.

So What IS "The Secret"

The central theme of the message these writers want to give us is dubbed "The Secret". If you watch the video (Link here I strongly encourage any reader to watch the first few minutes to see what I am talking about) you will see that this idea is treated as if it is hidden knowledge that has been sought after hidden, handed down, and kept out of the hands of the common folk by the powerful who knew it. Now it is here for what is it?

"The Secret is the law of attraction!" (p.4 Bob Proctor)

So what is the "law of attraction"?

"The law began at the beginning of time. It has always been and will always be." (p.5)

Well if it began then it hasn't always been...moving on though.

"It is the law that determines the complete order in the Universe, every moment of your life, and every single thing you experience in your life. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are...You are the one who calls the law of attraction into action, and you do it through your thoughts." (p.5)

So that is it in a nutshell, the rest of the book is for the most part just application of what was just said. There is this law of the Universe (note the capital "U" I will come back to that later) that basically is attraction. Like things attract like things. So if you are thinking certain thoughts you are attracting what you think about. You get what you are thinking about.

"The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is impersonal and it does not see good things or bad things. It is receiving your thoughts and reflecting back to you those thoughts as your life experience. The law of attraction simply gives you what you are thinking about." (p.13)

That is really it, this sort of technique of thinking about the right things or what you want rather than what you don't want will cause the Universe to give you what you want. This will apply to wealth and the material things, the kind of mate you get, your personal health, and even more globally in peace programs. There are later chapters applying this "right mode of thinking" in all these areas.

So simply put, you can have the life you want. You are the master of your own destiny, the sculptor of yourself. You are the sovereign over all of your life. You determine whether or not you will be rich, have a smoking hot spouse, ever get a disease etc. You can see how this is so appealing in a society that is ripe with hedonistic materialism and self worship.

This really brings me to what I will call the "Dark Side of 'The Secret'".

The Dark Side of "The Secret"

As I will more fully show "The Secret" is not just a technique, it is a worldview. It has things to say about who you are as a human being, who/what God is, and it deals with philosophical problems of suffering. How does this worldview which says that you really are in control of EVERYTHING that comes your way deal with suffering? Well very very coldly and harshly:

"Everything that surrounds you right now in your life, including the things you're complaining about, you've attracted. Now I know at first blush that's going to be something you hate to hear. You're going to immediately say, 'I didn't attract the car accident. I didn't attract this particular client who gives me a hard time. I didn't particularly attract the debt.' And I am here to be a little bit in your face and say, yes you did attract it. This is one of the hardest concepts to get, but once you've accepted it, it's life transforming." (p.27-28 Dr. Joe Vitale)

I was honestly a bit shocked at this. I know that when you embrace these ideas that this is where they lead, however I rarely find New Agers who are basically biting the bullet on this. It is just so cold. Honestly think of what this man is saying here. A women who was savagely beaten and raped really attracted that to herself through the thoughts she projected into the Universe. A person who has cancer eating their body away, really attracted that disease through the thoughts they projected to the Universe. Fill in any suffering afflicting an individual and if you embrace this idea of the law of attraction you must logically say what this man said.

But there is more, in case what this man said isn't clear enough the main author makes it abundantly clear as she writes:

"Often when people first hear this part of the Secret they recall events in history where masses of lives were lost, and the find it incomprehensible that so many people could have attracted themselves to the event. By the law of attraction, they had to be on the same frequency as the event. It doesn't necessarily mean they thought of that exact event, but the frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event. If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances, those thoughts of fear, separation, and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You have a choice right now. Do you believe that it's just the luck of the draw and bad things can happen to you at any time? Do you want to believe that you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time? That you have no control over circumstances?

Or do you want to believe and know that your life experience is in your hands and that only all good can come into your life because that is the way you think? You have a choice, and whatever you choose to think will become your life experience.

Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts."

The embracing of that last line comes at a price. Sure you are now in "control" to call down wealth and health, however, it also entails that every pain you experience is really your fault. What does that do to say Hurricane Katrina? Or the Virginia Tech massacre? These cease to be tragedies, it was just the impersonal and pitiless Universe dealing out what people attracted to themselves. That is the logical conclusion if you want to really embrace this.

Again I am surprised that they would be this upfront about these issues in this book. I was honestly expecting nothing but a bunch of watered down New Age and Positive Thinking techniques and for the most part that's what you have in the book. However, every so often there is a barbaric honesty as to what this worldview all entails. It seems to indicate to me that these people really believe this stuff, it is more then just a magic tonic to cure what ails ya. This is a worldview, a pantheistic New Age one as we are about to see.

So What about God?

As I read the book there were many times it seemed as if the author was talking to somebody and engaging some sort of deity as part of "The Secret". Take for example this quote:

"Every morning, I do not get out of bed until I have the feelings of gratitude for this brand new day and all I am grateful for in my life. Then as I get out of bed, when one foot touches the ground I say, "Thank," and "you" as my second foot touches the ground. With each step I take on my way to the bathroom I say "Thank you." I continue to say and feel "Thank you" as I am showering and getting ready. By the time I am ready for the day, I have said "Thank you" hundreds of times." (p.75-76)

Now as I read this I was a bit perplexed and I blurted out "Pssh! Who are you saying 'Thank you' to?!" because the author has not even used the word "God" one time yet. As I finished the book the picture became very clear. I also found it was very interesting that these very strong statements about who we are and who God is come in the last two chapters of the book. This is all AFTER they teach you the positive thinking technique to get rich, stay healthy and attract hot babes on the beach.

"So whichever way you look at it the result is still the same. We are One. We are all connected, and we are all part of the One Energy Field, or the Supreme Mind, or the One Consciousness, or the One Creative Source. Call it whatever you want, but we are all One." (p.162)

Note that "One" is with a capital "O" this is a very popular New Age rendering of pantheism, in short everything is God. Remember the Beatles song, "I am you and you are me and we're all in this together..."? Well Koo Koo Ka Choo that's exactly what is being described here. This is Pantheism everything is God, that explains the "Universe" references. The above quote not clear enough? Well here's another one that is not at all ambiguous:

"You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Life expressing itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and you are creating the creation of You on this planet." (p.164)

Again, I was a bit shocked that this was in here. Not that it is at all new to me but I just figured this book was a watered down New Age technique. There is nothing watered down about the above quote. The author is saying in no ambiguous language that we are all God. Now again I don't think the author would say this if this was just a scam in her mind, she really believes this stuff.

Again I think that it is interesting that these very in you face Pantheistic pronouncements come AFTER they have taught you the techniques of how to get rich and score with the beach babes. I think that is strategic considering the ideas in this book have been touted as "Christian". Also I don't think most Americans would read very far if on page 1 the book read "The Secret is that you are God..."

So now you have a better picture of who is being "Thanked" in the morning as the author gets out of bed. As well as why the "U" is always capitalized when they refer to the Universe giving to you. They are teaching Pantheism. This is worship of self amplified to the greatest heights.

The Deity and Worship of Self:

"It is not people who are giving you the things you desire. If you hold that false belief, you will experience lack, because you are looking at the outside world and people as the supply. The true supply is the invisible field, whether you call that the Universe, the Supreme Mind, God, Infinite Intelligence, or whatever else." (p.163)

In short you have one person to be thankful to in all of your success...YOU.

That said I think this explains the success of the book. Our culture is full of self centered autonomous notions of self reliance, freedom, rights, and over all an idolatry of self pervades our culture. I honestly think this is the greatest idol of American culture we as Christians need to challenge in our day, the idol of self.

Think of nearly all the hot button moral controversies in our day and what do we find at the center? My rights, my freedoms, my life etc. So we hear of a woman's "right to choose" whether or not the time is "right" for her to have a baby. People have the right to choose when we will die with "dignity" because it is MY life and I will decide how, when and on what terms it will end. Or even it is my right to marry who I want to marry, even if that person is of the same sex, it is MY life and it is MY choice, you have no right to deny me this.

In all of these issue SELF and MY personal choice are at the center. We want complete authority to govern the type of life we will have, we view it our "rights" to decide these things for ourselves. Well in this sort of cultural setting where self is at the center of life, a philosophy in a book like "The Secret" fits quite well. This book in effect puts you at the very center of the Universe. I mean you can't be anymore self centered then to view yourself as God in flesh.

In effect it says what the secular culture says and spiritualizes it: "You can have the life you want, you are in complete control of every aspect of your life." How do people who embrace this right to choose the type of life we want act? Well their actions manifest in hedonism. I want money, girls, cars, health, etc. The TBN preachers have thriving off of these desires for decades now. The Secret is cashing in on a very lucrative market, and they have Oprah Winfrey giving them air time to boot.

In the next post I will explain how thoroughly un-Christian all of this really is. You don't have to be a heavy duty Bible student to see what was described has nothing to do with Christianity. The Secret is in no way compatible with Biblical Christianity as has been so often stated, it is antithetical to Biblical Christianity.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More on Virginia Tech...

Here is a link to the post that Doug Wilson has made regarding the Virginia tech shooting. Wilson does an excellent job, as usual, in pointing us to the truth in Christianity. Like my post (below) he too is showing how although most Atheists are probably grieving over this and would say that it was "wrong", they really have no reason to. I am debating purchasing his "Letter from a Christian Citizen" a response to Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation". Here is the Link

Monday, April 16, 2007

At least 33 People Were Killed Today at Virginia Tech...Have You Mourned Over the State of Our Culture Yet?

I heard about it in my German class, as my warm and quirky German teacher lamented the blurring of right and wrong in our culture before we moved to the genitive case of German grammar. I had to hold back the tears. In my car ride to go help out at my church (we just got a building and were getting chairs so they needed grunts to haul stuff in, I fit the grunt description quite well it seems) I flipped through all the talk radio stations to hear what was being said about this horrible event. Rush was making fun of Hillary and Obama, another channel was seriously discussing the Milwaukee Bucks future and the 2008 season, another host was about to begin his show coming on with "The Electric Slide" as his intro...I found nothing talking about this issue.

At least 33 people died today one of whom was the gunmen who took his own life to avoid the only consequences for his actions he thought possible. In class as I listened to my classmates try to give answers as to "WHY" these things have been happening more and more all we were left with was frustration and confusion. Some suggested psychology as a solution, if only we could help people become more "stable" then these things wouldn't happen...that is the problem we are psychologically unstable psychology has the answers for our culture's moral vacuum.

I read on the Internet peoples reaction to this, many are calling for a banning on gun ownership. We need to get rid of all the guns then this stuff will stop happening. Others are suggesting having more guns as a solution, if more people had guns the less damage one guy on a rampage could accomplish. Nonetheless 33 people are dead today.

I don't have any societal plans for action, I don't think it matters what the investigation turns up about what kind of music this man listened to. Over the next few months we will hear numerous answers for "WHY?" some will say "The NRA! Get rid of Guns!" Others will say "Counseling! This young man needed some psychological counseling!" Others will say "It was the music he listened to! Ban Eminem!" Others will say, "Why wern't there metal detectors? Where were the cops?!" Others will say "It's that Grand Theft Auto game! He's just acting it out!" I think all of these are merely symptoms and surface, they are not the real issue.

What I know is that our culture is lost. That means individual people who make up the culture are lost. Honestly I want to put forward what I think is the real question we should be asking a lost culture. The question is not "Why do these things happen?" But rather "Why not?"

At least 33 people were murdered for seemingly no reason whatsoever, and the man turned the gun on himself to end the rampage. He did so acting on his worldview, there would be no consequence for his actions. BANG. And the rampage ended.

We need to honestly ask, will that man ever reckon for what he did today? If no, then the question "Why Not?" remains. Were the beings he killed anything other than animals, just evolved biological machines, if that is all that humans are, then "Why Not?"

The answer I have to this crisis is simple, Jesus Christ of the Bible and the Christian worldview. Based on this we know why those people who died today had value, they were not just biological machines, blobs of tissue with no value. These were people made in the likeness of God, they were valuable. That is why this is tragic.

Also, this man will reckon for what has done. Shooting himself was not an escape from consequences for his actions. He will stand before his Maker to give an account.

These simple reasons explain why this is tragic and why we should weep over the culture. People have by and large rejected these truths, and are left with blank surface replies to the moral dilemmas of our day. There is a complete moral crises in our day. It is nothing short of a crises when people will go on rampages and then take their own lives thinking not only that they have done nothing wrong, but also that they are escaping the consequences. This is the fruit of a society that is in moral decay.

Honestly ask people why this was wrong, you won't find any real answers. And it is men like the "rampaging nut" who are acting on this moral vacuum, he is the consistent one.

I want to be short, but this is the note I want to end on, one of sorrow. At least 33 people are dead, 33 people whose lives had value and meaning were snuffed out in a senseless rampage. Also sorrow over the lightness at which we deal with these things, sorrow over the coldness at which people can look at these events....I mean people are already criticizing the NRA for crying out loud! Also I would not leave us with just sorrow but the answers that Christianity gives to us. We know why this act was wrong, we know why the victims lives had value, and we know that this man has not escaped justice.

Friday, April 13, 2007

So You've "Killed God"...Now What? (The Unsavory Implications of Atheism)

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

This prodigious event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves."

—Nietzsche, The Gay Science

What Nietzsche is really getting at in the above quotes (which are addressed to Atheists) is that people have not at all realized the impact the removal of God from society will have. I think this passage is very powerful, and I think Nietzsche is right in his assessment. Just like we see the lightning before we hear the thunder so the removal of God from the centrality of life in the west will have profound after effects.

Essentially what I want to get at is this: If you are an Atheist do you really know what the implications of such a position are? This is what Nietzsche is getting at here and what I also want to put forward. Western culture has been shaped primarily on a Judeao-Christian worldview, once that is removed there will be radical effects. I think one of the most glaring areas is that of ethics.


What I have found just in my own personal conversations with people as to the issues of morals and ethics is a great deal of confusion. People, everyday people, simply have no answers to questions about what is right and wrong behaviour, why are these things right and wrong, and how do you know these things. Again this does not apply to academics or the more philosophical types, this is just your average Joe. With the removal of a Christian base people simply have no idea whatsoever.

What I often find is that non-Christians and even Atheists will simply borrow from Christian ethics while rejecting the base, "Do unto others" is the most popular kidnapped Christian ethic. Like Nietzsche was saying, this is only done really without realizing the impact of rejecting Christianity means. "Do unto others" as an ethic is dead because the God who gave the exhortation is dead.

People will protest and say "I don't have to be a Christian to think that 'Do unto others' is a good ethic to follow." I agree. However, it is still meaningless, it is just now arbitrarily embraced. One could equally embrace Nietzsche's "Master morality" where really the moral and right are what you want to do even if it crosses others and hurts them. What matters is self glorification and acting on your natural barbarian desires. All "do unto others" is according to Nietzsche is a man made morality that was created by the weak to keep the strong from overpowering them by saying the natural impulses to conquer, rape, and abuse are wrong.

I think Nietzsche's take on morality is closer to the logical conclusions of and embracing of Atheistic evolutionary scheme of ethics. People erected walls of "right" as psychological weapons to protect themselves from the physically strong. So raping became "wrong". In reality what is is right, if you want to do something and you have the power to do it it is right.

Again, have people really faced this reality? In bits and pieces the vacuum seems to be being seen for what it is. There is no one ethical truth, people will decide for themselves what right and wrong are. What we are left with in the removal of the Christian base is a blank relativism and moral actions that have no real meaning and significance.

For myself an all too real example of this came in one of my Literature classes in which we were discussing abolitionist writings. One student who seemed to be very antagonistic to any Christian references angrily asked the professor: "Why do all these people cite the Bible as their reason for thinking slavery is wrong?!" the professor opened the floor to the class to answer this man's question to which I responded "Well, ultimately the Bible gives us a fixed reference point to know right and wrong, without that saying they thought slavery is wrong is just their subjective opinion, not objective fact."

People seemed very uneasy about this reply, they didn't like it. Not only because it was an apologetic for Christianity as the truth but it shined light on the bankruptcy of the prevalent morality which most probably unconsciously embrace, moral relativism. Honestly most people simply can not give anything that could be considered an answer as to why the abuse of Africans in slavery is wrong. By the way because it hurts people isn't an answer, that simply raises the question as to why hurting people is to be frowned upon.

This is the void rejection of Christianity creates ethically, my question to the non-Christian is simply this: have you faced this reality? Have you seen the implications rejecting Christian Theism brings about?

Human Dignity

This issue ties in closely with the ethical dilemma above. Likewise, a rejection of the Christian worldview in a culture that has used Christianity as it's base leads to an inability to answer why human beings have any dignity. By dignity I mean intrinsic worth or value of the lives human beings. When an Atheism is embraced (I would apply it to all non-Christian worldviews) I can not see any rational way to avoid having no answers that give human life any real intrinsic dignity.

I think this is particularly glaring when we see things from a naturalistic evolutionary sense. Man is an animal, or a biological machine, that is what man is in a Atheistic evolutionary sense. So how can the value of a biological machine be accounted for? So often I think when we are faced with abortion and bio-ethical issues the question isn't when does human life begin (that is secondary) more foundationally we need to ask do we have any real reasons to think human life is precious and valuable at all?

If the answer is no man is just an animal, a biological machine, a zero. Then all bio-ethical hell is permissible. From euthanasia to infanticide, human experimentation, cloning for spare parts to sell, genetic manipulation to create a "Brave New World" scenario. All is permissible.

Christianity gives us answers as to the dignity of man, man has intrinsic worth and value because he is made in the image of God. Just think about that answer for a minute, can you even fathom any higher honor that could be given to human life? What can be more honoring or dignifying than saying to human beings that your life is valuable because you are made in the very image of the One who created everything that exists? This is simply the highest honor you can possibly give to human beings.

Once this Christian base is removed there is no rational basis for seeing that human life has intrinsic worth and dignity. Now don't get me wrong I don't at all think that most people are on board with infanticide or genetic manipulation to create ideal soldiers and things like that. However, does anybody have rational reasons for NOT endorsing such practices once the Christian base is removed?

An Apologetic

What I mainly aim to do in this post is not paint a bleak outlook on the current status of American culture. Rather the main aim is to point out the tragic results rejecting God has on key areas of life. When I read men This is the consequences of bad philosophy of ethics and human dignity, we need real answers to these questions or it WILL happen Nietzsche and his ideas of calling traits like oppression, dominating, and inconsiderate the most commendable traits part of me thinks I am reading the silliest Novel I have ever read. Kind of like a Novel saying: imagine how screwed up everything was if we really had everything backwards and self-glorification and complete indifference to others pain really are the most commendable traits while meekness and humility are detestable.

Tragically, I don't think it takes much to connect the dots from Nietzsche to the gas chambers in Nazi Germany. The whole "master morality" concept can only fuel such a view of human life.

But then I realize that this man is completely serious. And if enough people gave as much thought to where they are they would say similar things. When I realize this I feel a great heaviness for my lost fellow man. That's what people are who think things like this, they are lost.

The good news is that there is hope. God is there and He has not been silent, He has given us truth about Himself and us as human beings in His word the Bible. In the Bible I know why men have natural desires as Neitzsche says to rape and pillage and conquer. It is because man is fallen and has a sin nature. So just because a desire exists "is natural" does not make it right (If you are a Materialist that is where you will end up if you are honest and it is the most popular argument for homosexuality today). I know this because man is no longer in the perfectly good state in which God made him.

Also we have answers as to why man has dignity and worth higher than animals, animals are not made in the image of God we are.

We have answers to these basic questions surrounding human existence because Christianity is the truth. It gives a real account of man's moral motions, it gives us a basis for seeing life as precious and valuable and ultimately it gives us meaning. These are all things that are basic to the human condition.