Credible Witnesses

41pyhgxginlOr how were his disciples to have boldness in speaking of the resurrection, were they not able to say that he first died? Or how could they be believed, saying that death had first taken place and then the resurrection, had they not had as witnesses of his death the men before whom they spoke with boldness? For if, even as it was, when his death and resurrection had taken place in the sight of all, the Pharisees of that day would not believe, but compelled even those who had seen the resurrection to deny it, why, surely if these things happened in secret, how many pretexts for disbelief would they have devised? Or how could the end of death, and the victory over it, be proved unless challenging it before the eyes of all he had shown it to be dead, annulled for the future by the incorruption of his body?

— Athanasius, On the Incarnation, para. 23 (emphasis added)

For to None But Himself

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Yet some things there are that they cannot see, neither alone nor taking counsel together; for to none but himself has Ilúvatar revealed all that he has in store, and in every age there come forth things that are new and have no foretelling, for they do not proceed from the past.

— Tolkien, The Silmarillion, 6.

 

 

 

The hidden things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29 CSB).

The Devising of Things More Wonderful

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Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.’

— Tolkien, The Silmarillion, 6.

“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people” (Genesis 50:20 CSB).

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28 CSB).

Seeing and Loving

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To be sure, God cannot be seen in this life, but he can be known and loved in this life in the one who comes from his bosom in the Spirit. Knowledge of the God that Jesus makes known is knowledge that yields love. Such love is coterminous with sight. So Thomas: “And this is the ultimate perfection of the contemplative life, namely that the divine Truth be not only seen but also loved.”

— Christopher Holmes, The Holy Spirit, 208.

 

 

Asimov’s Three Laws

This video from Computerphile has an interesting discussion. In it, computer scientist and artificial intelligence (AI) expert Rob Miles discusses how the three laws of robotics aren’t realistic or feasible.

The late Isaac Asimov is a world-renowned science fiction author who created a set of three laws that “robots” (or, AI in general) must abide by to prevent them from taking over the world a la Terminator.

The first law is that AI must act in such a way as to keep humans from harm. The problem from a programming standpoint, according to Miles, is that you have to define “human.”

At this point, the discussion is no longer a properly scientific discussion (which Miles acknowledges in a very roundabout way). It’s certainly sad that there has to be a debate whether an “unborn fetus” (which he calls an “unborn person” seconds later, seemingly by accident) is a human or not. But the discussion is no longer within the realm of science. We’re now in the arena of theology and philosophy.

Something that seems to be so clearly “science”—computers and programming and technology—so quickly veers off into the arenas of metaphysics (what is), ethics (what ought to be), and epistemology (what do you know and how do you know it).

Another comment Miles made struck me as well: “You have to solve ethics [before you can program the first law].” The entire video is dismissive of the three laws as outdated, obsolete, and unuseful, and this reinforces his point. We cannot create something and program it with ethics, because we don’t have all the answers (first of all), and we can’t program intuition. We intuitively know what a “human” is, but we can’t quantify it and program it.

And yet, God can. He did, in fact.

He has given His law to some in verbal form to some (Israel); He has given it to everyone in the testimony of what He has made. The problem is not that we don’t or can’t know metaphysics and ethics. God has given us the answers, both in His word and in His creation. We’re just not smart enough or powerful enough or creative enough to do it ourselves.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the expanse proclaims the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour out speech;
night after night they communicate knowledge.
There is no speech; there are no words;
their voice is not heard.
Their message has gone out to the whole earth,
and their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4a CSB).

Psalm 19 declares that though there is no audible or written communication in Creation, what God has made continually declares His glory to us. No one is immune. No one escapes. The message of creation–that there is a God with eternal power and divine nature–reaches to the ends of the whole world, so that people have no excuse (Romans 1:20).

Our problem is not simply that we can’t create robots into people with full-fledged ethics in place (although that’s enough to show us our finitude). Our problem is that our own ethics is corrupt and broken. We are so shot through with sin and corruption that we need to be rescued from the destruction of judgment.

We need to be far more afraid of the Ancient of Days calling the world to judgment by the Man He has appointed—Jesus, whom He raised from the dead—than Terminators and Skynet turning WiFi against us. Our own internal programming is broken; we need to be re-coded—reborn—by the Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

 

True Happiness (Psalm 32)

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In the darkness of my sin
I confessed, came to the light;
My brittle bones bent beneath
Your hand of holy might

Let the sinner pray to You,
And the rising flood escape;
Judgment’s waters cannot reach
The one who lives by faith

My joy is Your forgiveness
My happiness, Your peace
How glad I am that You don’t count
All my sins against me!

Lord, You are my hiding place
The devil’s arm is too short:
The shouts of Your salvation
Drown out the Accuser’s hurts

The wicked are beset by pains
Their end is ruin and shame
But faithful love surrounds the one
Who trusts alone in Jesus’ name

My joy is Your forgiveness
My happiness, Your peace
How glad I am that You don’t count
All my sins against me!

3-12-2017

Mighty

…because mighty over us is His committed love,
and Yahweh’s truth is for ever (Psalm 117:2 Motyer).

[‘mighty’ is] gabhar, of the stronger force in a battle (Exodus 17:11); of flood waters dominating the earth (Genesis 7:18-20); of our transgressions (Psalm 65:3); of God’s love (Psalm 103:11) (Motyer, 327).

A fearsome warrior galloping to war:
His two-edged sword gleams, ready for the fight;
Like wind-blown chaff, all His enemies fall
He leads the vict’ry train, all robed in white

Mighty over us is His love
Mighty over us is His love
He is the truth forever
Mighty over us is His love

Flood waters rising from the falling rain
The fountains of the great deep are broken
Grace lifts the ark above the damning waves
Louder than thunder, Love’s Word is spoken

Mighty over us is His love
Mighty over us is His love
He is the truth forever
Mighty over us is His love

Until the compass point comes back around
We’ll never again run into our sins
We will never hear condemnation’s sound
The greater song of Love welcomes us in

Mighty over us is His love
Mighty over us is His love
He is the truth forever
Mighty over us is His love

9-24-2016

Help My Unbelief

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The scars from these burns have left me numb
I hack and cough up water from these lungs
The boastful healers failed
And evil still prevailed—
Until downhill at last Jesus comes

Lord, I believe! O help my unbelief!
I’m not strong enough on my own
Lord, I believe! O help my unbelief!
You’re my only hope, You alone

Left for dead, cold, lying on the ground
No rising breath, no heartbeat, no sound
Until Jesus takes my hand
He lifts me and I stand
Now in Him full freedom I have found

Lord, I believe! O help my unbelief!
I’m not strong enough on my own
Lord, I believe! O help my unbelief!
You’re my only hope, You alone

9-2-2016