Sunday, December 31, 2006

Worshipping the Bronze Snake

I picked up a copy of the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible" (Tom Head, Que Publishing, 2006) from the local library the other day. All sorts of fascinating little tidbits.

Remember the bronze snake that Moses made in Deuteronomy 21:4-9? It eventually found its way to the Temple, where it became an object of veneration for the Israelites. During King Hezekiah's reforms, he smashed up this idol:
In YHWH's opinion [Hezekiah] was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David. He got rid of the local fertility shrines, smashed the phallic stone monuments, and cut down the sex-and-religion Asherah groves. As a final stroke he pulverized the ancient bronze serpent that Moses had made; at that time the Israelites had taken up the practice of sacrificing to it—they had even dignified it with a name, Nehushtan (The Old Serpent).
2 Kings 18:3-4

Was Isaiah Familiar with the ancient Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh?

I picked up a copy of the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible" (Tom Head, Que Publishing, 2006) from the local library the other day. All sorts of fascinating little tidbits.

Apparently (I say "apparently" because I realize there might be other factors at work here than how the book presents things) God expected Isaiah to be familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh. You've likely heard at least a passing reference to this ancient Babylonian tale, which essentially is the Babylonian version of Creation and the Flood, etc, written, according to this book, about 2000 B.C. (but I'm always suspicious of dates prior to about 500 B.C. -- too much guesswork and assumptions needed in most cases).

According to page 56, the Epic of Gilgamesh says this:
Inanna tended the tree carefully and lovingly
she hoped to have a throne and a bed
made for herself from its wood.
After ten years, the tree had matured.
But in the meantime...
the demon Lilith had built her house in the middle.
But Gilgamesh, who had heard of Inanna's plight,
came to her rescue...
[and] Lilith, petrified with fear,
tore down her house and fled into the wilderness.

Isaiah 34:14 (The Message) says this:
Wildcats and hyenas will hunt together,
demons and devils dance through the night.
The night-demon Lilith, evil and rapacious,
will establish permanent quarters.

(It seems that most translations hide this "Lilith" as "night bird" or similar, but some offer the margin note of the literal Hebrew being "Lilith".)

Samson the Vow-Breaker

I picked up a copy of the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible" (Tom Head, Que Publishing, 2006) from the local library the other day. All sorts of fascinating little tidbits.

Samson, you'll recall, was dedicated at birth ...
to God as a nazirite, which means he must be kept away from unclean animals, corpses, fermented food and drink, and that his hair must never be cut. He violates most of his vows -- most notably in [Judges] 14:8-9, where he eats fermented honey from the corpse of an unclean animal....
(pg 104)

The Tanakh

I picked up a copy of the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible" from the local library the other day. All sorts of fascinating little tidbits.

One of the things I found interesting: you're probably familiar with the way the folks of Jesus' day referred to the Old Testament, as "The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings". In Hebrew, the "Law" would be "Torah", the "Prophets" would be "Nevi'im", and the "Writings" would be "Kethuvim". Taking the first letter of each word, you get "T.N.K.", and adding in some vowels, you get "Tanakh". This is the word used by adherents of Judaism to refer to what we call the Old Testament.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You Have Rocks in Your Head


Rocks in the Head are Good for Balance 10/10/2003
Next time someone says you have rocks in your head, it might be a compliment, depending on where and how big. You have rocks in your inner ears that keep you from falling over. No kidding. Fish, birds, and mammals have tiny crystals of calcite, called otoliths, that are a key ingredient in the sense of balance. This means that we all have tiny chunks of limestone in our heads.
  • How They Work: Because rocks have inertia, they resist motion when moving forward, and they fall in a gravitational field. The otoliths rest against tiny hair cells in a part of the inner ear called the utricle (in mammals, just below the semicircular canals). When you move or turn over, the hair cells sense the shearing motion of the otoliths, and report the information to the brain. This sense works in conjunction with the eyes to help you know which way is up, how fast you are moving, and which direction you are turning. A good explanation, with illustrations, can be found on the website of a clinical otolaryngologist,
  • Dr. Timothy C. Hain.
  • What They Look Like: Otoliths are microscopic. Fish have one large oblong otolith resting on a bed of hair cells in the macula (the gravity-sensing organ), whereas mammals have many smaller, irregular ones, called otoconia, surrounded by hair cells. Sometimes referred to as “ear dust,” the otoconia are too small, 30 microns or shorter, to be seen without a microscope. They are made up of calcium carbonate in a protein matrix. They form early in the embryo and are maintained throughout life. Some of the vertigo that ails seniors is due to shortage or accumulation of otoconia. Normally, debris is thought to be reabsorbed and new otoconia regenerated, but there is much still to be discovered about this sensory mechanism. In fish, the otoliths are also part of their sense of sound.
  • What’s New: Scientists just found an enzyme essential for proper otolith development. In the Oct. 10 issue of Science1, Sollner et al. found a gene they named Starmaker that when mutated, causes zebrafish to produce irregular stones with sharp edges instead of the smooth, oblong otoliths produced in normal development. This is partly because it switches the biomineralization process to produce aragonite instead of calcite, a different crystal form of calcium carbonate. (Some animals, like amphibians, actually use aragonite in their otoliths.)
    Donna Fekete, in a review of this paper in the same issue,2 has illustrations of these little rocks in the utricle and describes how they work. She says that the discovery may lead to improved medical treatments for vertigo and more: “In humans, mutations of a related protein have been linked to congenital deafness and defects in tooth mineralization,” she notes. In other words, the proteins that guide otolith development are also essential for hearing, and are involved in producing the other gemstones in our head – tooth enamel.

    1Christian Sollner et al., “Control of Crystal Size and Lattice Formation by Starmaker in Otolith Biomineralization,” Science Magazine 25 June 2003; 10.1126/science.1088443.
    2Donna M. Fekete, “Rocks That Roll Zebrafish,” Science Magazine 25 June 2003; 10.1126/science.1091171.
    Did you know this? Did you know that you have limestone in your ears? Did you know it is essential for you to stand and walk? This is amazing stuff. Consider that it is not just dust collected from a cave or wherever, but it is carefully manufactured by proteins and enzymes, that are in turn directed by the DNA code. The result are beautiful hexagonal crystals of calcium carbonate: little gems in your head. They reside in a fluid in your inner ear, enmeshed in a forest of hair cells that can sense every move they make. Then there are the lovely crystals in your teeth – that’s another amazing story, for another time.
    Everywhere they look, scientists find complex systems of interrelated parts. Slight mutations often cause complete loss of function, sometimes in several apparently unrelated systems. Without these rocks in your head, you would wobble dizzily like a drunken sailor and have a hard time just standing up. When they work, as they usually do, they work very, very well.
    The rocks are actually the simplest part of the system. The sensory apparatus that reports each movement, and the brain software that continually monitors and interprets the signals and sends the necessary messages to the appropriate muscles for rapid response, is mind boggling in sophistication. How could such things evolve without intelligent design? Get real! Whether it’s in a fish darting in the water, or an eagle dive-bombing on its prey, or a cheetah in pursuit of a gazelle, the hardware and software to accomplish such things surely overwhelms any man-made imitations, and yet we get all excited when Sony builds a robot that can walk upstairs (slowly) without falling over (sometimes). It’s time to give credit where credit is due.
    Think about these tiny gemstones the next time you watch the Olympics, and see a champion gymnast do a complex routine on the balance beam. When she nails that double-twisting dismount, stand up and cheer – not just for her, but for the Creator who thought of a good use for rocks in the head.
  • Wednesday, December 27, 2006

    New Pyramids and report that new pyramids, twice the size of the Great Pyramid at Giza, have been found in Europe.

    And The Register says, "Nope".

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    A Message to Religious Leaders

    Jeremiah 23:
    "Doom to the shepherd-leaders who butcher and scatter my sheep!" YHWH's Decree. "So here is what I, YHWH, Israel's God, say to the shepherd-leaders who misled my people: 'You've scattered my sheep. You've driven them off. You haven't kept your eye on them.'"
    "I know what they're saying, all these prophets who preach lies using me as their text, saying 'I had this dream! I had this dream!' How long do I have to put up with this?"
    "But don't go around pretending to know it all, saying 'God told me this...God told me that....' I don't want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my Message gets twisted, the Message of the living YHWH-of-the-Angel-Armies."
    I'm telling you: Quit the 'God told me this...God told me that...' kind of talk.

    A Message to Political Leaders

    Jeremiah 22:2ff:
    Listen to what YHWH says, O King of Judah, you who sit on David's throne—you and your officials and all the people who go in and out of these palace gates. This is YHWH's Message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don't take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!

    To Know God

    Jeremiah 22:16
    He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
    and so all went well.
    Is that not what it means to know me?"
    declares YHWH.

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    You Make Me Hate My Brother

    Joel Turtel has an interesting article over at American Daily that concisely contrasts arguments for Big Government with those against. Here's one of the arguments:

    [The government says] "You must pay 50 percent of your salary in state and Federal income taxes to support all our entitlement programs. You are morally responsible to help the poor, unwed mothers, college students, corporations who want tax breaks, big farmers who want farm subsidies, and Mexican illegal aliens who insist on free medical care."

    "By what right," I replied, "do you force me to be my brother's keeper at the point of a gun? Why do you think you have the right to rob me to give unearned handouts to people who will vote for you? You turn compassion into compulsion and make me hate my brother."
    This is so spot-on, that "forced compassion" leads to ill-feelings toward those recipients of that compassion. I found that very interesting.

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    Hydroplate Theory

    UPDATE: I've just now noticed that most of my images have disappeared (my mistake), so rather than recollect/restore them I'll just suggest you look at the pix on this page in the original:
    /End of UPDATE

    There's an online book (, from which all illustrations below have been taken (apologies that the right-side of the pix are chopped off; go see the originals at the link above)) that presents a "Hydroplate Theory" for the current structure of the earth's surface. I find it fascinating, and although not everyone will want to read the whole book, you might find looking at a few pictures to be interesting.

    The basic jist is that prior to the Flood there was a vast underground reservoir about 10 miles below the surface of the earth, and about half a mile deep. There were pillar-like supports dividing this reservoir into interconnected chambers and providing support for the crust above it. During the 1656 years between the Creation and the Flood, tidal forces (from the moon acting on these underground water chambers, just as it acts on today's oceans) caused daily stretching/compressing cycles on these pillars that built up heat and pressure, and that caused partial melting of these pillars allowing iron and nickel to sink to their bottoms while quartz remained nearer the top.

    Eventually, in Noah's day, the pressure got so great that some micro-fractures opened up on the surface of the earth. These micro-fractures rapidly spread around the globe (in a matter of hour), causing the beginning of the world-encircling mid-oceanic ridge.
    Break-Up of Crust

    Ocean Floor

    Continental Margin

    The sudden release of this pressurized water was even stronger than you'd think, because of some interesting physics that take place with water under certain pressures and temperatures, and when the fountains of the deep blew, they blew catastrophically.

    Rupture of Crust

    Water jets

    The rift quickly eroded, and the eroded portions of the crust formed huge deposits of sediments that quickly buried many organisms, later to become fossils, and that got blown into space to become our modern-day asteroid belt,asteroids, meteoroids (composed largely of iron and nickel), and comets (, and that blasted craters in nearby planets and moons.

    As the heavy overlying crust was eroded away, the underlying pressure forced the remaining crustal plates up; the continents sitting on those plates, lubricated by a still-remaining water layer, slid down the slopes thus created, away from the upraised ridge.

    Continental Drift

    They traveled rapidly, and then came to a rather abrupt slowdown at the end of their trip, causing all sorts of continental crunching and folding and uplifting, giving form to our modern-day folded and up-turned mountain ranges.
    Birth of Mid-Atlantic Ridge

    The newly exposed thin crustal plates now allowed all sorts of incredible volcanism to burst forth, spewing forth millions of cubic kilometers of lava, giving rise to the vast volcanic deposits we see on the Earth's surface today.

    As the continents were compressed by their sudden stop, they thickened (trading thickness for breadth), and rose up out of the flood waters while sinking down to the newly-evacuated underground chambers, choking off further flood-waters. Water rushed off the newly-exposed land into the newly widened space between continents, creating vast sheet-erosion of freshly-laid sediments at first, and then slowing down to a vast "trickle" carving canyons and valleys. Trapped lakes later breached natural dams, causing further erosion (such as the Grand Canyon by the sudden drainage of two vast lakes East of the canyon), or died a slow death of evaporation, leaving great salt flats such as the Salt Flats of Nevada and the Great Salt Lake of Utah.

    In the early years after the flood, sea level was much lower than at present, creating land bridges for humans and animals to cross into islands and continents now separated by water barriers. As the continents sank into the underground chambers over the course of several centuries, sea level "rose" to its present level, drowning those land bridges.

    The incredible amounts of warm water, leading to high rates of evaporation, combined with the cold atmosphere from all the volcanism and debris and re-radiation of solar heat from so much water reflecting it, and cloud cover preventing solar heat, would have caused centuries of heavy snow, resulting in an "ice age".

    All-in-all, a rather fascinating theory that accounts for a lot of observations.

    And You Thought Abe Lincoln was a Good Guy...

    As a kid I considered Abraham Lincoln to be my favorite U.S. president. I know many such folks consider him likewise. Over the past few years however I've begun to realize that ol' Honest Abe was actually one of the worst things that could have happened to these United States of America.

    This article at provides a quick overview that might entice you to rethink your position regarding Lincoln. Here's a snippet to get you started:
    Boritt does not deny that Lincoln was a non-believer. "He would not join a church, could not embrace the Christian conception of sin and redemption, kept mostly silent about Jesus, and showed no inclination to build a personal relationship with God," he writes in Newsweek. He "rejected, even ridiculed" the Calvinism of his parents. But Lincoln was a master politician, once defined by Murray Rothbard as one who is "a masterful liar, conniver, and manipulator." There has never been anyone better at it than Lincoln.
    Nearly every one of Lincoln’s major claims in the Gettysburg Address is not only false, but exactly the opposite of the truth.
    Lincoln of course did not believe in equality of the races at all. He clearly stated his opposition to it many times, spent his entire adult life advocating "colonization" or deportation of blacks; and supported the Illinois Black Codes and other laws that would deny blacks any semblance of citizenship. He also was behind the "Corwin Amendment" to the Constitution that would have enshrined slavery in the Constitution forever.
    The article also points out that our current understanding of a nation known as the United States of America is totally foreign to the founding fathers' understandings, which was that of a collective of several states in America, united. Some good reading, that only takes five or ten minutes to read. I suggest it.

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    The Attack of the Killer Snow Dog

    It was the first snow of 2006, and when I hunkered closer to the ground to snap a picture of 'Reo, he thought that meant I wanted him to jump into my arms. Just as I snapped, he left the ground, and it turned out to look like a vicious attack.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    God's Social Justice Scheme

    Much of my life I've heard, particularly from non-believers, that the God of the Old Testament is angry and jealous and vengeful and cruel, whereas the God of the New Testament is merciful and loving and forgiving.

    Of course, most believers, myself included, find that to be an inaccurate claim.

    This time 'round of reading the Old Testament (and I'm really beginning to not like that phrase to refer to that section of the Bible) I have been stunned to realize just how much of God's emphasis in it is on social justice. This snippet from Isaiah 58 is a great example:

    The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit.
    You drive your employees much too hard.
    You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
    You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
    The kind of fasting you do
    won't get your prayers off the ground.

    This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.

    What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.

    The Ethiopian Eunuch

    You may remember the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8.

    In the very earliest days of the church, Philip, the evangelist, met with an eunuch who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship. The eunuch was heading back to Ethiopia, Africa, reading from the book of Isaiah. He must have been self-consciously aware that as an eunuch he was not "good enough" to serve as a priest (Leviticus 21:20). He also probably felt pretty much like a societal outcast anyway because of the stigma attached to being an eunuch. But the eunuch wasn't thinking of these things at the time he was reading from Isaiah, as the passage he was reading was this passage:
    He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
    In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.
    According to Acts,
    Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
    What I discovered last night, is that if they read just three more chapters from this passage in Isaiah 53, the eunuch would have found this little gem in chapter 56:
    Do what's right and do it in the right way,
    For salvation is just around the corner,


    Make sure no outsider who now follows God
    ever has occasion to say, 'God put me in second-class.
    I don't really belong.'
    And make sure no physically mutilated person
    is ever made to think, 'I'm damaged goods.
    I don't really belong.'

    for God says:

    "To the mutilated who keep my Sabbaths
    and choose what delights me
    and keep a firm grip on my covenant,
    I'll provide them an honored place
    in my family and within my city,
    even more honored than that of sons and daughters.
    I'll confer permanent honors on them
    that will never be revoked."

    Here comes Philip saying, "that time is at hand; no need for you to worry anymore about being an eunuch. You are just as acceptable to God as any uber-priest, because of what Jesus has done."

    No wonder the eunuch "went on his way rejoicing".

    A Message to Jews

    To my fellow sons and daughters of Adam, chosen by God:

    Take note of your holy scripture, from these snippets starting in Isaiah 48 (The Message):
    And now listen to this, family of Jacob,
    you who are called by the name Israel:
    God is talking to you.
    you who use God's name to back up your promises
    and pray to the God of Israel?
    But do you mean it?
    Do you live like it?
    And He wants you to live as a God-fearer, not just act like one.
    I know you're a bunch of hardheads,
    obstinate and flint-faced,
    So I got a running start and began telling you
    what was going on before it even happened.
    He wants you to be able to see His work in the world, so He's telling you beforehand what it will look like.
    This isn't a variation on the same old thing.
    This is new, brand-new,
    something you'd never guess or dream up.
    And it's unique.
    You've never been good listeners to me.
    You have a history of ignoring me,
    But He still expects you to miss the significance of it.
    Get out of Babylon! Run from the Babylonians!
    Shout the news. Broadcast it.
    Let the world know, the whole world.
    Tell them, "God redeemed his dear servant Jacob!"
    First off, He's going to get you out of Babylonian Captivity, which He has already done.
    God put me to work from the day I was born.
    The moment I entered the world he named me.
    He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate.
    He kept his hand on me to protect me.
    He made me his straight arrow
    and hid me in his quiver.
    He said to me, "You're my dear servant,
    Israel, through whom I'll shine."
    Next, He's going to use you as a mirror of His glory.
    this God who took me in hand
    from the moment of birth to be his servant,
    To bring Jacob back home to him,
    to set a reunion for Israel—
    And He will raise up a specific Servant to bring you back to His good graces.

    But, here's the new thing He mentioned earlier:
    He says, "But that's not a big enough job for my servant—
    just to recover the tribes of Jacob,
    merely to round up the strays of Israel.
    I'm setting you up as a light for the nations
    so that my salvation becomes global!"
    Wow. God's Servant will not merely save you; he'll save the Goyim also!
    But Zion said, "I don't get it. God has left me.
    My Master has forgotten I even exist."
    But when it happens, you still won't "get it".
    But even if mothers forget,
    I'd never forget you—never.
    Look, I've written your names on the backs of my hands.
    The walls you're rebuilding are never out of my sight.
    But God remains faithful to you.
    Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God.
    Ponder the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were dug.
    Yes, ponder Abraham, your father,
    and Sarah, who bore you.
    Think of it! One solitary man when I called him,
    but once I blessed him, he multiplied.
    Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion,
    comfort all her mounds of ruins.
    Abraham was but one man, but from him came an entire nation.

    Israel is but one nation, but from her comes an entire world of salvation.
    Pay attention, my people.
    Listen to me, nations.
    Revelation flows from me.
    My decisions light up the world.
    My deliverance arrives on the run,
    my salvation right on time.
    I'll bring justice to the peoples.
    Even faraway islands will look to me
    and take hope in my saving power.
    Again, God's salvation is not for the Jews only, but also for the Gentiles. And it will come through his Servant:
    Just watch my servant blossom!
    Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd!
    But he didn't begin that way.
    At first everyone was appalled.
    He didn't even look human—
    a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.
    Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback,
    kings shocked into silence when they see him.
    For what was unheard of they'll see with their own eyes,
    what was unthinkable they'll have right before them."
    You've been watching for a Servant who is tall and exalted; you've failed to watch for one that has a ruined face and is disfigured. And what happens will be unthinkable (which should be a warning that you'll resist believing in it).
    Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?
    God's salvation won't be what you expect.

    The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
    There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
    He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
    One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
    But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
    We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.

    You won't recognize God's Servant, because he won't look like what you expect. And when God's Servant suffers, you'll think it's his own fault.

    But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
    He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
    We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
    We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
    And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
    on him, on him.

    But this Servant will function as an atoning sacrifice. I daresay few modern Jews today understand this aspect of the Messiah, since burnt sacrifices seem to be more of an historical oddity than a modern reality (but I'm speaking as a Gentile here; I may not know what I'm talking about).

    He was beaten, he was tortured,
    but he didn't say a word.
    Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
    and like a sheep being sheared,
    he took it all in silence.
    Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
    and did anyone really know what was happening?
    He died without a thought for his own welfare,
    beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
    They buried him with the wicked,
    threw him in a grave with a rich man,
    Even though he'd never hurt a soul
    or said one word that wasn't true.

    Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
    The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.

    This suffering servant will die. He'll be buried. But yet ....

    Out of that terrible travail of soul,
    he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
    Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
    will make many "righteous ones,"
    as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
    Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
    the best of everything, the highest honors—
    Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
    because he embraced the company of the lowest.
    He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
    he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

    This sacrifice will result in a great salvation, and the dead servant will see it.

    This sounds to me very much like something new, like something unexpected.

    Question: Have you ever been taught that your Messiah would be un-recognized and die a horrible death? Because if not, your teaching has not been scriptural, according to Isaiah.

    Have you ever considered the possibility that you've been taught wrong about the Messiah, and therefore may have missed him?

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Jehovah? Yahweh? LORD? What?!

    In the comments to a previous post, I mentioned that the term "Jehovah" is a man-made term and we have no business using it. I was directed to an article that convinced me to retract that claim, at least temporarily, until further evidence swayed me one way or the other. The following is my (slightly edited) reply to that exchange.

    Well, I've done further research, and my conclusion is that "Jehovah" is indeed a man-made term.

    The clinching evidence is that the Tetragrammaton is not always marked in the Hebrew text with the vowels for "Lord". When it is in conjunction with the actual word "Lord", the Tetragrammaton is marked with the vowels for "God", so that the audio reader would render the phrase "Lord God" rather than "Lord Lord". If the Name was truly "Jehovah", the reader could simply read the text as written, "Lord Jehovah", and there would be no need to use the vowel markings for "God".

    An interesting side note is that I had a dialog with a Jewish scholar who assured me that "Jehovah" is not the correct term. He claimed that a few of the Jewish elite, himself included, such as the members of the Sanhedrin, know the actual pronunciation of the Name, but are forbidden from revealing it to the world at large. (Yeah, whatever.) He also assured me that "Yahweh" was not the correct pronunciation either.

    In talking to him I found it fascinating that I have more respect for his written scriptures than he does, as he has more respect for the interpretation of those scriptures as given by the Oral Law, as delivered by the Sanhedrin, regardless of all the warnings in the Torah against adding to or taking from the written word. His only substantial argument was to appeal to something Jesus said (ironic, ain't it, as he's no Jesus-follower?). He pointed out that Jesus said in Matt 23:2 that because the "Sanhedrin" sits in the Seat of Moses we should obey them. But it seems pretty clear to me from the context that whatever Jesus meant by this statement, he did not mean for us to elevate the traditions of the Sanhedrin over the written word of God.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    The Efficacy of Prayer?

    Today was a half-day at work, being as everyone was allowed off the afternoon to begin the Thanksgiving Holidays.

    I hate being sick on Holidays! If I'm gonna be sick, why must it be on a day I already have off? Arg!

    Just before leaving work to go home, I started wondering if that uneasy feeling in my gut was a portent of something worse. As I drove home, I actually thought about praying to God that I don't get sick, but I didn't want to treat God like Santa Claus, so I intentionally did not.

    By the time I got home, I was not feeling well at all. I went straight to bed, and slept fitfully for a couple of hours, then spent the next six hours in very much pain. I was absolutely miserable. But Jesus went through much worse; what's a bit of discomfort in light of his sufferings?

    But finally, I broke down and started crying out to Jesus and to YHWH for pain relief. I cried out and whimpered and begged and cried. All day long, the problem in my gut had just settled mid-range, and would go neither up nor down. I had no sensation of nausea or bathroom needs; I just had some blockage in my gut that was near intolerable. Within about ten minutes of my crying out to Jesus, all of a sudden I needed a vomit bucket. I hate vomiting, mostly 'cause it takes thirty minutes of nasty feeling to get the process started, and then there's the burning throat and nose, and the bad taste, etc. But this time, the need came on suddenly, and within two minutes I was hurling, Baby, yeah! And it was relatively easy, quick, and no burn or bad taste!

    A couple of minutes after that, I felt so much better. I'm not well, but I feel so much better. I have to give credit to Jesus / YHWH for my relief; I was miserable for hours until I prayed, and then shortly after starting to pray, God granted me much relief.

    So often, prayer seems to not work for me, but this event helps to re-emphasize that Jesus does hear and act on our prayers.

    I want to use this venue to publicly praise Jesus and give him credit for my improvement. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you YHWH! Thank you Spirit!

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    The Fruit of the Spirit

    A wise friend of mine wrote in regard to Gal. 5:22-23:
    "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.

    This is a description of a Christian’s character. This is not about Sunday and Wednesday. This is about how we behave and respond and think every day. At home, at work, at the grocery store, even in traffic.

    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    This Appeals to Me Greatly

    For some time now I've been pulled toward the idea of switching careers, to take up the study of the inner workings of microbiology. I'm fascinated by the machinery, by the incredible design of the workings in living cells. This article points up the fact that so much of modern-day "science" is wasted on trying to prove we're just random accidents of nature, when with a re-focusing of our efforts, we could be harnessing sophisticated designs already in existence for solving world hunger and poverty. If you're at all interested, take a quick look-see:

    I'm Trying to Build a House, but the City Regs Keep Getting in the Way

    Solomon puts it in an interesting way, according to the New American Standard Bible:
    Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor,
    But it is swept away by injustice.
    Prov. 13:23

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Textorize Me

    I plugged the address of this picture

    from this blog into this web page:

    and got this result, made from text:


    The Basics of Life

    The answer's simple:
    Live right,
    speak the truth,
    despise exploitation,
    refuse bribes,
    reject violence,
    avoid evil amusements.
    This is how you raise your standard of living!
    A safe and stable way to live.
    A nourishing, satisfying way to live.

    Isaiah 33:15-16 "The Message"

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Giving Thanks at Meals

    You know how it's common practice to give thanks before a meal? I found it interesting that Deuteronomy 8:10 indicates that the thanks should be after the meal:
    When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise YHWH your God for the good land he has given you.

    Ever noticed how often someone is asked to give thanks for a meal, and they pray about everything under the sun, and never actually get around to thanking God for the meal?


    Ever noticed how it's common courtesy to say "thank you" to someone who holds open the door for you, but it would be bordering on insanity to stand there and thank the door-holder for being a good citizen and holding a job to support his family and refraining from theft and telling him how nicely dressed he is and how you'd like it if everyone were as courteous as he and would it be possible for him to hold open the door for the little old lady coming down the street, and and and. This is kind of the way I view giving thanks for a meal. Why can't we just say, "Thanks, God, for this meal; we appreciate it", instead of turning it into a long-winded cover-all-the-bases prayer?

    Just some thoughts....

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

    It's not exactly the Lord's name, and I don't reckon I'd actually say it's "in vain", but my mind can't help but be drawn to the concept when I listen to some prayers.

    This past Sunday, I counted the number of "Father"s in two different prayers, as in "Dear Father ... blah blah blah, and, Father, yada yada yada...".

    One prayer had twenty-one "Father"s, and the other had twenty.

    If I'm in a three-minute conversation with a friend, I most assuredly don't say that friend's name twenty times. To do so would seem, well, mocking, or something. Definitely odd.

    So why do it when we pray?

    Just curious. Comments are welcome.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Eula Myrtle (McElroy) West

    30 Jan 1903 -- 4 Nov 2006

    Born in Godley, Johnson County, Texas (USA) on 30 January 1903, to Jefferson Davis McElroy and Marnevia Delilah ("Minerva Della") Gilliland McElroy.

    Married William Earl West 27 December 1921 in Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas.

    James Ray West (deceased, Tennessee).
    Oleta (West) Jackson (Abilene, Taylor County, Texas).
    Emmet Aldon West (Abilene, Taylor County, Texas).
    Roger Lynn West (Richland Hills, Tarrant County, Texas)

    Died at age 103, 4 Nov 2006, in Richland Hills, Tarrant County, Texas.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Some Geek Humour

    For Geeks Only (well, geeks will be the only ones to get the humour).

    On the Debian GNU/Linux mailing list recently, Jochen wrote:
    [I need a non-geek way to do a computer-related function because ...] I have a non-geek girlfriend using my computer from time to time. But maybe that fact disqualifies me as a Real Geek[tm] a priori. ;-)
    Ron replied with:
    I'd say there's a higher probability of creating new geeks if existing geeks reproduce.
    To which Kent replied:
    What is this "reproduce" of which you speak? Is that a new utility similar to "cp"?
    Douglas chimed in with:
    More like "fork".
    Florian finished up with:
    I was also confused by this sub-thread, so I tried to research the "girlfriend" issue:

    $ apt-cache search girlfriend

    psad - The Port Scan Attack Detector

    $ apt-cache show psad | grep -i girlfriend

    * various backdoor programs (e.g. EvilFTP, GirlFriend, SubSeven)

    My preliminary conclusion is that with a girlfriend you are essentially "pwned".

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    If a tool breaks in your hand while using it ...

    I found this passage from Isaiah 10 interesting.
    Doom to Assyria, weapon of my anger.
    My wrath is a cudgel in his hands!
    I send him against a godless nation,
    against the people I'm angry with.
    I command him to strip them clean, rob them blind,
    and then push their faces in the mud and leave them.
    But Assyria has another agenda;
    he has something else in mind.
    He's out to destroy utterly,
    to stamp out as many nations as he can.
    Assyria says, 'Aren't my commanders all kings?
    Can't they do whatever they like?
    Didn't I destroy Calno as well as Carchemish?
    Hamath as well as Arpad? Level Samaria as I did Damascus?
    I've eliminated kingdoms full of gods
    far more impressive than anything in Jerusalem and Samaria.
    So what's to keep me from destroying Jerusalem
    in the same way I destroyed Samaria and all her god-idols?'"

    When the Master has finished dealing with Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he'll say, "Now it's Assyria's turn. I'll punish the bragging arrogance of the king of Assyria, his high and mighty posturing,

    Evil Rulers

    In recent years I've learned that very much of the Bible is focused on treating people properly. From Isaiah 10:
    Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims— Laws that make misery for the poor,
    that rob my destitute people of dignity,
    Exploiting defenseless widows,
    taking advantage of homeless children.
    What will you have to say on Judgment Day,
    when Doomsday arrives out of the blue?
    Who will you get to help you?
    What good will your money do you?
    A sorry sight you'll be then, huddled with the prisoners,
    or just some corpses stacked in the street.
    Even after all this, God is still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.


    The wolf will romp with the lamb,
    the leopard sleep with the kid.
    Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
    and a little child will tend them.
    Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
    their calves and cubs grow up together,
    and the lion eat straw like the ox.
    The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
    the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
    Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
    on my holy mountain.
    The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
    a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.

    Isaiah 11

    Unto Us a Child is Born

    For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
    He'll take over
    the running of the world.
    His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
    Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
    His ruling authority will grow,
    and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
    He'll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
    He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
    With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
    The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

    Isaiah 9

    Seeking out a Spiritist

    Years ago, when I was teaching High School ( -- and I'll just make a quick note to say that our public school system is broken -- ), I had a young girl student who seemed to be enamored of "gray-area" spiritualism: astrology, tarot, and the like. I was reminded of her when I read this passage from Isaiah 8:
    When people tell you, "Try out the fortunetellers.
    Consult the spiritualists.
    Why not tap into the spirit-world,
    get in touch with the dead?"
    Tell them, "No, we're going to study the Scriptures."
    People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end!
    Frustrated and famished,
    they try one thing after another.
    When nothing works out they get angry,
    cursing first this god and then that one,
    Looking this way and that,
    up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing,
    A blank wall, an empty hole.
    They end up in the dark with nothing.
    I've always wondered what ever happened to her, and if she ever grew up.

    Wonderful Word

    I was reading an article by Illana Mercer ( and came across this little phrase, in relation to the "wisdom" spouted by our mass-media outlets:
    Our Delphic oracles are the pundits and assorted self-styled presstitutes.
    I love that word, "presstitutes".

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    I Love a Peaceful Argument

    Doug writes, and I find it to be a wise statement:
    There are times when people of good character need to disagree. If they simply agree to disagree then no progress toward truth is made. Argument is the only way to progress. There are no times when it is appropriate for people of any character to be disrespectful. I love a peaceful argument.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Doom! It's Doomsday!

    Anyone who has read my blog over the past three weeks or so will be aware that I had a personal crisis of self-faith recently. I'm mostly over it now (praise to God), but last night I read this passage from Isaiah 6:

    In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,

    Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
    His bright glory fills the whole earth.
    The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said,

    "Doom! It's Doomsday!
    I'm as good as dead!
    Every word I've ever spoken is tainted—
    blasphemous even!
    And the people I live with talk the same way,
    using words that corrupt and desecrate.
    And here I've looked God in the face!
    The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!"

    When I read the phrase "every word I've ever spoken is tainted", I empathized with the guy; that's how I felt during my crisis. And then he goes on to say that everyone around him is in the same boat.

    As I ponder this, I wonder if we're all filthy rotten in our very cores, but we have such thick, pretty shells which we present to ourselves and the world around us that we believe our shells are "us", until that rare occasion when our shell gets broken and we get a good look at our insides.

    I begin to believe that we truly are two people, our internal person which is corrupt and worthy of destruction, and our external person which is, for most people, wanting to be good and decent and holy. Praise be to Jesus the Christ who's salvation applies even to our internal rotten human. Glory to Jesus for saving us even when we're filthy.

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    What if Adam had not believed God, but had obeyed?

    In recent months I had become convinced that the whole reason our Cosmos is spiraling toward death is because Adam believed the serpent's lie rather than the creator's statement.

    The serpent had told Eve that eating the forbidden fruit would not cause them to die, but rather that it would allow her to have forbidden knowledge, making her like God. He implied that God didn't want this to happen because God didn't want to share the top spot.

    Adam and Eve believed the lie, and ate of the fruit, and the rest is history (literally).

    The problem, looking at it from this standpoint, is one of faith. Faith in God's word would have saved us; instead, faith in something other than his word destroyed us.

    While reading a Jehovah's Witness[1] publication a while ago, another thought came into my head. What if Adam and Eve believed the Serpent (just like they did), but obeyed anyway, submitting to God's authority even though they believed he was lying to them?

    It seems to me that Adam and Eve would still be living today in paradise if that had been the case. They were not told to believe God; they were told to obey Him.

    So, in a sense, faith is the basis of our salvation. In a different sense, submission to God, regardless of faith, is the basis of our salvation. I think it's healthy to keep in mind, when reading the scriptures, that it's legitimate to claim that "faith saves us" and that "faith without works is dead". So often we make it an either-or situation, when I suspect the truth of the matter is more a question of nuance.

    1. The term "Jehovah" is a man-made term, and has no business being used in reference to the God of the Bible. Google is your friend.

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Isaiah Predicts the Kingdom of God

    I started reading Isaiah the other night, and came across this passage in chapter two:
    The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem: There's a day coming when the mountain of God's House
    Will be The Mountain—
    solid, towering over all mountains.
    All nations will river toward it,
    people from all over set out for it.
    They'll say, "Come,
    let's climb God's Mountain,
    go to the House of the God of Jacob.
    He'll show us the way he works
    so we can live the way we're made."
    Zion's the source of the revelation.
    God's Message comes from Jerusalem.
    He'll settle things fairly between nations.
    He'll make things right between many peoples.
    They'll turn their swords into shovels,
    their spears into hoes.
    No more will nation fight nation;
    they won't play war anymore.
    Come, family of Jacob,
    let's live in the light of God.
    What struck me about this passage is the last few lines. Over the past few years I've been getting a vision that the Kingdom of God is not just a religious, "church" entity. It's a way of life, a mental state, that replaces political and national affiliations. This passage from Isaiah emphasizes the nature of that mental state. Once the Christian paradigm reigns over all the earth (by convincing, not by force, unlike some religious movements *cough Islam cough*), there will be no reason for American to quarrel with Iranian, or for North Korean to quarrel with South Korean. Things will be fair and right between people all over the world, not because we happen to get along because we're politically aligned, but because we have the same mindset of deferring one to another and living in peace with one another.

    Notice that this paradigm is diametrically opposed to the "dog eat dog, only the fittest survive" mentality of evolution-based thinking. In such thinking, there's no reason to take care of the sick or to share my wages with a poor person.

    It's all about mindset.

    May God's Kingdom come, His will be done, on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

    So be it.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Just As I Am

    Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me,
    And that thou bidd's't me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come. I come.

    Beautiful. Poetic. Majestic. How can anyone find fault with this first line of the beloved hymn "Just As I Am"?

    Well, I can. Because I'm a male.

    You may recall from my last blog that males become brain-damaged while in the womb. This brain damage shows itself in two ways:

    1) a man has to think relatively slowly, step-by-step, compared to a woman who can think through an issue intuitively with a speed bordering on instantaneous, and

    2) a man can only think of one thing at a time, whereas a woman can juggle dozens of thoughts in her head at once.

    (Please be aware these are generalizations only; individual men and women may very well "cross over" to the other's "domain" without it meaning they're any less male or female than the others of their sex.)

    So, what does this have to do with the song "Just As I Am"?

    You may recall that the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:19 that "... in the church [he] would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." His whole theme in this passage is that the Corinthian Christians are just wasting time with their emphasis on "speaking in tongues". He doesn't discount that there's a time and a place for this practice, but that it's for the conversion of unbelievers, not for general use in church assemblies, where it actually gets in the way instead of being helpful. The principle that Paul is teaching is that the message needs to be easy to understand so that it can teach and build up other Christians.

    I have been singing this verse of "Just As I Am" all of my life. However, as beautiful and majestic as it is, it's too complicated for my puny male brain to wrap around its meaning without some serious effort on my part, every time I sing it. (I don't retain the meaning from one singing to another.) Someone might argue that it's the Christian singer's duty to put serious effort into his worship, and I would not discount that argument, except to say, it is also the Christian song-writer's duty to teach in an easy-to-understand way rather than an elegant-but-convoluted way.

    I can, with enough effort, wrap my brain around the meaning of this beautiful verse. However, because I can only think of one thing at a time, I can't think about the meaning of the passage and remember the words of the song and get the tune of the song correct and follow the song leader's lead and contemplate if I have any needs to compel me to "go forward" and maintain my balance while standing during the invitation song. Any simplification of this process is beneficial to me. (And this same line of thinking has caused me to consider if the monotonous, repetitive chants of former days and more recently of "Praise Worship" might not be the better model as opposed to the more complex teaching songs I grew up with in conservative churches of Christ.)

    So in simple even-a-male-can-understand-it English, here's the first stanza of "Just As I Am":

    Oh Lamb of God, I come to you, just as I am, without any claim except that the reason you died was for me, and that you have asked me to come to you.

    Not as pretty, is it? But at least I understand it.

    Elizabethan, Shakespearean, majestic Olde Englishe may have its value and worth, but in the 21st Century, it violates the inspired principle of making church communications easy to comprehend, at least for me, this male.

    Men Are Dain-Bramaged

    As I once heard it explained by a guest speaker on Dr. Dobson's radio program, "Focus on the Family":

    During development in the womb, a male's brain is exposed to a chemical that causes the connections between the two halves of his brain to shrivel up, leaving him with relatively very little communication ability between the two lobes. A female's brain, on the other hand, retains the ability to have a high rate of data exchange between the two halves of her brain. In essence, boys become brain-damaged during gestation.

    This results in a male's step-by-step, one-thing-at-a-time, logical ability to think through a problem and arrive at a solution. After he's thought it out, he can then explain to the rest of the world the step-by-step solution to this problem he has solved.

    A female, on the other hand, can look at a problem and instantaneously, with her "greater firepower" in her brain, come to an immediate solution. However, if you were to ask her how she knows the solution, all she can do is shrug her shoulders and guess, "Intuition, maybe?"

    So next time the female in your life offers a solution based on her "intuition", it might be well to recall that she came to her solution using more brain power than was used by the "logical" male thinker in the group.

    Whereas Dr. Dobson's guest stopped at that point, I have concluded that this same brain difference also allows for another fundamental difference between men and women.

    As a man, I can ponder the task of changing the oil in the car, or I can ponder the task of planning Junior's birthday party, but I can't do both at the same time.

    As I understand it, a woman on the other hand, can ponder what to make for supper, how much cloth will be needed for the costume for Junior to wear in his school play and what it will take to make that costume, the route she needs to take to pick up all the kids riding in the car pool to school, what this month's budget looks like and what adjustments need to be made, the story line behind last night's movie and how it is a commentary on modern life, and a half-dozen other topics, all at the same time! Women are amazing!

    Now, hold these two thoughts in your brain; I'll touch on them briefly in my next blog.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    How Should Church Giving Be Earmarked?

    Tom Snyder, at, writes:

    God presents us with three general ways in the Bible to take care of the poor and needy: 1) through the family; 2) through the church; and 3) through individual charity. The applicable passages for these three ways are Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, Numbers 18:24, Matthew 6:1-4 and 1 Timothy 5:3-16.

    Now, the first two ways are pretty clear. People's first obligation is to the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned in their own families. Only after they do this do they have any obligation to help the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned through their local church organization. God established the pattern for this kind of church giving in Numbers 18:24 and Deuteronomy 14:28, 29. As David Chilton points out in his great book "Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators," the bulk of Christian giving to the local church should be geared toward financing professional theologians, experts in biblical law and church discipline, teachers of God's word and leaders skilled in worship. It was only every third year that all the giving was set aside to help the needy, poor, widowed and orphaned. Even then, the money was not given just to anyone who showed up. Those able to work but don't do not qualify for help. Also, those who have families to take care of them don't qualify, nor do widows under age 60 qualify, according to the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 5:3-16.

    Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, talks about the third way in Matthew 6. He tells His listeners that they should give individual charity. He also says they should give such charity secretly: "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

    I found this interesting. One-third to the needy, huh, and two-thirds to preachers, teachers, etc? Gotta chew on this a bit.

    What do you folks think about this?

    Can You Design Human Lips?

    Sometimes I get fascinated by the intricacies of the human body, and am astounded that anyone could think they just developed by random mistakes over millions of years.

    Things like:

    - paper cuts that heal themselves. Can you imagine how valuable a car would be that could heal its body of a malevolent keying or of an accidental grocery-cart bumping?

    - the waste-disposal process of the latter parts of the alimentary canal. Why would Evolution choose to develop a complicated system of muscles and portals to control the outflow, rather than doing something more simple like simply letting the waste fall out the open end of the tube? Ah yes, of course - [cue 'just-so story' now! - but where's the evidence?].

    - human lips. I woke up this morning and at some point in the waking process pursed my lips. Then I focused on that and realized what an awesome portal the human mouth is. What would it take for human engineers to design something similar? The lips can form a water-tight, air-tight barrier, or reshape themselves with deftness to allow air to flow through in various ways in order to whistle a tune. They can wrap around and form air-tight seals around variously shaped objects, such as a round straw, or a host of other shapes. They can be stretched wide into a smile, still retaining their air-tightness, or scrunched into a tightly-wadded pucker. They also have sensors that detect touch, and temperature, and pressure, and moisture.

    And the failures? Where in the fossil record, or better yet, where in our everyday experience, are the failures? Surely, if we're constantly evolving, trying out new mutations, why don't we see a world filled with monstrosities, covering the entire range of possibilities from no-lipped, one-eyed, winged dog-cats to four-eyed, eight-legged cat-spiders, to "normal" humans? Instead, we see a world full of variety, but variety that's limited around a relatively few sets of norms. We see all sorts of different types of cats varying around the cat norm, and all sorts of dog types varying around the dog norm, but we don't see that same sort of diversity between the two norms. "Oh well," goes the theory, "those forms became extinct." Okay, fine. But where are the fossils, and not just the piddly onesies-twosies generally dredged up? There should be vastly more intermediate "failures" than there are evolved successes, but I don't see these vast numbers of failures in the fossil record, or walking about the streets. The fossil record, everyday life, and lab research testifies to "limited variation on a theme", not to "infinite imperceptible diversity" as per theory.

    Something's wrong with a theory that doesn't match observation, and can't explain the "undesigned" development of lips which brainy human engineers can't begin to duplicate.

    Can you design human lips?

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Who I Am.

    Because of a stupid mistake I made a few weeks ago, I have had hammered home to me that I'm not the man I thought I was.

    This mistake led to my realization that:

    1. I am unwise.
    2. I am selfish.
    3. I do not seek Truth.
    4. I am untrustworthy.

    Having believed, for the most part, just the opposite about myself for years, these realizations came to me as a shock; it rattled me to my core.

    1. Of course, I knew that I wasn't the wisest man to ever live, or even in the top 30%, probably, but still, I figured I had some wisdom within me. Realizing what a horribly unwise thing I did removed any confidence in this belief.

    2. I had had brief hints that in my deepest parts I'm really a selfish man; I tried to talk to a friend or two about it, but they just blew me off and assured me that I'm really a great guy.

    3. I thought I sought Truth. I thought I revered Truth. My cell phone even, when it powers up, has the question "But is it True" on the splash screen. This is also on one of my standard email signatures. But I found that I've been deceived by myself as to who I am, what I believe, what I feel.... I discovered that I don't know the Truth even about myself; how can I know other Truth?

    4. I broke my word to a dear friend and hurt her considerably. I broke her trust. Further, I discovered that I can not even trust myself, because, as mentioned in 3 above, I deceive myself, and don't even know it most of the time. How can I trust myself if I lie to myself?

    It's been a very hard week.

    But the Lord has given me time to heal somewhat, and to make new revelations.

    1. I am not a wise man. But I do have some wisdom. Failing to exercise wisdom in one area of my life does not mean I am completely devoid of wisdom. However, this certainly drives home the point of retaining humility. "Pride goeth before a fall," and all that. I need to remember to not trust my so-called wisdom. I can share what I discover, what I believe, but I need to never rely on my own understandings; I'm simply not that smart. In many ways this leaves me in intellectual limbo; I may forever be questioning my own judgments. For now, I'll trust Yhwh to hold me up while I don't have the legs to stand on my own two feet.

    2. I am still a selfish man, way down deep, and I fear I will always be so. I have no real solution to this failure of mine at the moment. I'm going to set it aside for now, but resolve to remember it. Being aware is the first step....

    3. Even though I lie to myself, that does not invalidate the pursuit of Truth; it does not invalidate the ideal of being a Truth-Seeker. I just need to remember that I'm a self-deceiver, and that no matter how much I believe I love the Truth, I may very well be lying to myself.

    4. I broke a trust. I learned I can not trust myself. Still, again, the ideal of seeking to be trustworthy is a noble goal. I will aim to be trustworthy, but I now recognize that I am prone to failure more than I would have ever expected. Recognizing the potential to be untrustworthy is a good first-step toward relearning who I am.

    Earth, from Saturn

    Here's an amazing picture of Saturn from the backside; Earth is visible in this picture. The original is from

    There's a good short commentary at

    Who Am I?

    Feelings are irrelevant. What matters is Who you are.

    Who am I?

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006


    It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to share with others one's discoveries, insights, thoughts.

    Once that confidence has been swept away by the realization that one is a liar (to himself more than anyone else), untrustworthy, immature, and unwise, it's hard to justify trying to pass off one's thoughts as anything but prattle, whereas before he might have thought there was at least some wisdom or other value in those thoughts. It's easy in such times to be Empty.

    I know of about six friends who are traumatized in one way or another this week. I also have confidence that all will survive, and heal.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Solomon's My Hero

    So much wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes. His descriptions of a fool hit home.

    Dead flies in perfume make it stink, And a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom.

    The words of a wise person are gracious.
    The talk of a fool self-destructs—
    He starts out talking nonsense
    And ends up spouting insanity and evil.

    Fools talk way too much,
    Chattering stuff they know nothing about.


    It's all vanity.


    I've recently learned that I'm about as stupid as they come. For all my thinking, I'm an incredibly unwise man.

    Yet, the writer of Ecclesiastes had great wisdom. I'm thankful he has shared some of that with us. From Chapter Five:

    Watch your step when you enter God's house.
    Enter to learn. That's far better than mindlessly offering
    a sacrifice,
    Doing more harm than good.

    When you tell God you'll do something, do it—now.
    God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble. Vow it, then do it.
    Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.

    Don't let your mouth make a total sinner of you.
    When called to account, you won't get by with
    "Sorry, I didn't mean it."
    Why risk provoking God to angry retaliation?

    ("I'm sorry, I didn't mean it" didn't help me a bit. I know what Solomon speaks of.)

    The following is from Chapter Seven (yes, I skipped Six; it's too deep; it needs to be read in the context of the whole book):

    Don't always be asking, "Where are the good old days?"
    Wise folks don't ask questions like that.

    On a good day, enjoy yourself;
    On a bad day, examine your conscience.
    God arranges for both kinds of days
    So that we won't take anything for granted.

    It's best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.

    (Now-w-w he tells me....)

    There is not a righteous man on earth
    who does what is right and never sins.

    Don't eavesdrop on the conversation of others.
    What if the gossip's about you and you'd rather not hear it?
    You've done that a few times, haven't you—said things
    Behind someone's back you wouldn't say to his face?

    God made men and women true and upright; we're the ones who've made a mess of things.

    Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I'm still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a "good" life.

    When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you'll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you're not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won't get to the bottom of it.

    Ecclesiastes is a good book when you're dejected; it's comforting somehow.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Hard Day

    The saying of "Goodbye" to a chunk of my heart came a day early.

    And it was much harder than I expected.

    And it was of an unexpected flavor.

    And I know now that I'm not the man I thought I was yesterday. My world was rocked, you might say.

    I wonder who I will be over the next few days, weeks, years.

    Thank you, C. Goodbye, C. But not forever.

    Thank you, God.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    A Sad Day Coming

    Sunday I say "Goodbye" to a chunk of my heart.

    The parting is necessary, but it is still painful. It helps to know that God is pulling the strings, rather than me just being bandied about by "Fate". For I know that since He's behind things, I'll find later that it was better this way. I don't intuitively understand Delayed Gratification, but I do sort of understand it on an academic level, and I'm copacetic with this. Praise be to Yhwh! Yhwh be praised!

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Proverbs 19 is Good, Too

    Better to be poor and honest than a rich person no one can trust.

    Young people, listen to that one.

    Ignorant zeal is worthless;
    haste makes waste.

    This brings to mind some religious types who have plenty of zeal it seems, but also without much knowledge, it seems. ("Balance" keeps coming to mind when I think of "spirit vs truth", as in "spirit AND truth".) (Of course, I think "my side" could use a little more zeal....)

    People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
    so why does Yhwh always get blamed?

    Ag! That rings a bell. (I'm just recently learning to "credit" God rather than "blame" him, because even when I mess up because of my own stupidity, vs 21 kicks in:)

    We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
    but Yhwh's purpose prevails.

    Where I am right now, is because that's where God has purposed me to be. Which means I can rejoice even in tragedy, or poverty, or disease, because I'm fulfilling the purpose of the Creator of the Universe.

    When you're down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
    yes, even your best friends wish you'd get lost.
    If they see you coming, they look the other way—
    out of sight, out of mind.

    I am so guilty of this. How many technical details about Christianity must I get right to make up for an unhelping attitude? Oh, getting all the details right doesn't quite do the job? Bummer.

    House and land are handed down from parents,
    but a congenial spouse comes straight from God.

    Being single, I just found that one interesting. I've always thought a good spouse was a gift of God. I want to conclude, that by not granting me that spouse, God must be using me in some other way to fulfill his purposes, but when I'm honest with myself, I find I really wonder if God just doesn't care enough about me to grant me that gift of completion. So I try to walk by faith and not by sight, yet find I'm pretty lousy at this, being so incredibly self-focused. Wow, I need the grace of God to cover my faults.

    Keep the rules and keep your life;
    careless living kills.

    This is one that needs to be taught to young people.

    Mercy to the needy is a loan to Yhwh,
    and Yhwh pays back those loans in full.

    I'm continually amazed at how much of God's concern is toward helping the needy. Yet that's very little of the focus of Christian teaching (at least in my experience). And most of the church budget is spent on "Other" than the needy. I can't help but suspect we're doing things wrong.

    It's only human to want to make a buck,
    but it's better to be poor than a liar.

    No comment.

    If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
    you'll soon be out of your depth.

    No comment.

    Tasty Morsels from Proverbs 18

    The other night I read Proverbs 18. Here are some morsels from that chapter:

    Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy;
    do you really want junk like that in your belly?

    I've always thought it wrong to spread gossip, but this challenges me on even listening to it in the first place.

    Slack habits and sloppy work
    are as bad as vandalism.

    Oh, wow. That cuts me. Although I don't believe my work is sloppy, I am rather lazy. The older I get, the more I become aware of how much I need God's grace.

    Answering before listening
    is both stupid and rude.


    A healthy spirit conquers adversity,
    but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?

    Who of us hasn't had a crushed spirit at one time or another?

    You may have to draw straws
    when faced with a tough decision.

    And the Apostles did just that when looking for a replacement for Judas. This strikes me as deeply interesting, in a sort of mysterious deeper-than-the-surface-reading would justify, but trying to explain it would probably nullify it, so I'll not try.

    Do a favor and win a friend forever;
    nothing can untie that bond.

    I'm reminded that these are proverbs, general rules-of-thumb, and not hard-and-fast rules. I suspect I've broken a friendship recently with my stupidity. Still waiting to find out for sure. [Update, five and a half years later: Nope, that friendship is stronger than it was before. Praise Yah!]

    Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;
    good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.

    I remember years ago my Dad chiding me for wanting to have a good library nearby, saying something to the effect of life not consisting of reading. (He was not denigrating reading at all; he was just implying that there's more to life than books, which he was correct about.) This passage recalls that memory. It also reminds me of Jesus saying that we don't live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

    Of course, I think the context of this verse is referring more to human interaction rather than to words in a book, but still....

    Words kill, words give life;
    they're either poison or fruit—you choose.


    I have great responsibility. How often have I poisoned others with my carelessness or meanness? How needful I am of God's grace!

    Find a good spouse, you find a good life—
    and even more: the favor of Yhwh!

    HA HAA HA HA ha ha - huh? Oh, wait, that wasn't supposed to be funny?

    Friends come and friends go,
    but a true friend sticks by you like family.

    Even when he screws up royally.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Three-Years Worth of Growth

    I've recently had an emotional blow that was three years in the making. But amazingly, I have a different attitude toward it than I would have three years ago. As I wrote to a friend:
    It's also rather interesting to me that I am "giving credit" to God for this whole three years. The person I was three years ago probably would have blamed God for the way these three years have turned out. Now, I want to praise him for the exact same events I would formerly have blamed him for. I want to shout it from the housetops that God was active in my life, pulling strings, leading gently, slapping me upside the head. I can't however point to any objective evidence and say "See what a great thing God has done", and yet, there's a nebulous sensation in my spirit telling me that's exactly what has happened. It doesn't cut the hurt of the "loss" any ... but it makes the hurt worth it.
    God is alive and well on Planet Earth.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    BankOfAmerica is Anti-God

    The title might be a bit inflammatory, but over the past few months I've really come to believe that God is very concerned with issues of fairness, especially as this relates to how the Have's treat the Have Not's.

    I was driving back from Houston (Hi Christa! :-) bye christa.. :'( ) earlier this week and tuned into the Clark Howard radio talk show. Here I learned the story of Matthew Shinnick. I'll let Clark tell the story (
    How the Bank of America blunder went down
    By now, you’ve probably heard the story of the San Francisco man who was arrested and jailed when he tried to verify the validity of a check at Bank of America branch. Clark found out about this story and talked with the man, Matthew Shinnick, who has spent about $14,000 in legal fees to clear his name. It all started when Shinnick posted two bicycles for sale on Cragislist and received a check from a man for more than the cost of the bicycles. He went into his bank to see if the check was legitimate and verify that there was money in the person’s account. He was told it was a valid account and so he cashed the check. At that point, BOA employees called the police and Shinnick was arrested on fraud charges because the check was actually a phony. He had no idea that the real criminal had used the name of a legitimate company to fake a check. So, Matthew sat in the bank branch for hours while police figured out what to do and then spent the night in jail. Once he got out, he wanted to clear his name legally so the arrest would not come back to haunt him. He had to hire attorneys to do this and it cost him nearly $14,000. He then went to Bank of America and asked that the bank cover his fees because it was the bank’s error. But so far BOA has refused. This kind of treatment sends the message that banks only care about their bottom line and nothing about their customers. It's unacceptable and it's time to fight back.
    Apparently some of Clark's listeners took up the challenge. According to, $14 million has been pulled out of the bank by former BoA customers. If I were a customer, I myself would close my account.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Creation Corner

    I found some of my old floppy disks of the 5.25" variety (which should indicate the age of these things). Apparently even way back then I was interested in informing others of creation-oriented information. Although I'd modify the following somewhat now, it is interesting to me to see what I was writing then.

    Creation Corner
    Almost everyone has heard at one time or another that "Evolution is a fact." What may be surprising is that creationists agree with that statement, provided that a clear definition of "evolution" has been made.

    There are two types of evolution: macroevolution and microevolution. Macroevolution is what is generally meant when someone mentions evolution. It is the idea that a single cell evolved over millions of years into the many different forms of complex life we see today, including humans. This is also known as vertical evolution, for it involves an upward change from the simple to the complex.

    Microevolution is the variation that we see within a basic kind. For example, some basic dog kind, a mutt if you will, has evolved over the years into the wolf, the coyote, the dingo, the huge St. Bernard, and the tiny Chihuahua. Another example is the basic human kind which was personified in Adam and which has evolved into Blacks, Whites, Reds, Yellows, Shorts, Talls, etc. This is also known as horizontal evolution, for it involves great variation all around the basic kind without any upward change from the simple to the complex.

    Microevolution is a fact. It is demonstrated again and again in both the field and the science lab. Creationists have no problem accepting microevolution as fact. They do however object to the idea that macroevolution is fact. Many high school textbooks proclaim that (macro) evolution is fact and then trot out examples of microevolution to prove it. Most students are familiar with the textbook examples of the evolution of the black and white moths, or of the horse. But both of these are examples of microevolution. It is bad science to make a leap of faith from factual microevolution to theoretical macroevolution.

    For thousands of years animal breeders have been trying to produce stronger, healthier, better animals, whether that means fatter cows or faster horses, and what has been demonstrated time and time again is that there are limits to how much change an animal type can undergo. Over the past 50 years or so, scientists in the lab have been breeding fruitflies to see how far evolution can go, and again, although they get all sorts of variations on the basic fruitfly, they all remain fruitflies. There are definite limits to biological change.

    The textbooks may claim that there are no limits to variation, so that new species can evolve from current ones, but the actual scientific data indicates otherwise.

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Grab for it All! (Not)

    When you grab all you can get, that's what happens:
    the more you get, the less you are.
    -- Proverbs 1:19

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    The Side You've Never Heard

    In the Creation-Intelligent Design-Evolution controversy, all you ever hear from the mass media is a pro-evo slant or a strawman caricature of the creation/design view. In order to balance the view (and thereby make you more educated than the average Joe on the street about these issues), take a look-see at these sites:
    Telic Thoughts
    ID: The Future
    Evolution News

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    You Are Who You Are

    Ken Archer summarizes an insight of Pope John Paul II:
    You are who you are, not what you would be if the system was different.
    "[Archer's mentor] Willard says the intersection between his philosophical and devotional work can be found in the simple question: Who are you going to become?"

    "If I were richer, I'd be more giving...".
    "If I had more time, I'd exercise...".
    "I'd always be in a better mood if my job wasn't so terrible...".

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Governance by Sex

    I was reading an article the other day about the city of London "disciplining" some London firemen who refused to hand out flyers at a Gay parade. Someone commenting on the story, a Stewart Cowan of Stranraer, made a comment that struck me as a sharp observation. He wrote:
    When a man’s conscience can be overruled by the sexual whims of another man, we are all in deep, deep trouble.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Buttered Bread

    I was just in a conversation in which the old joke came up about strapping a piece of buttered bread to the back of your cat so that you can create a perpetual motion machine.

    Then I got to wondering how anybody ever thought of the idea of buttered bread always landing on the buttered side when it falls. I mean, once the bread falls to a dirty floor, does it really matter which side of the bread lands? Were you planning on eating the bread anyway?

    I suppose you might, if you're an adherent of the 5-second rule. But I also suppose that whoever thought up the idea of the bread landing buttered-side down must believe that the butter somehow decreases the 5-second rule to a short enough time span that you can't recover the bread in time for eating it.

    Which I guess is why, for insurance sake, you should always strap your bread to the back of a cat before buttering it.

    Bible Literacy

    As I think about the lack of Bible knowledge in this country, I realize that even the education children do get, perhaps at Sunday School, etc, tends to be choppy and disjointed. The big picture is seldom presented.

    So here's the big picture in a nutshell.

    God (named "Yhwh", which seems to be related to the verb "being" and might be thought of as "essence", or as Yhwh and Y'shua put it, "I AM [THAT I AM]"), created the cosmos, in six literal days, about 6000 years ago (as per clocks on the surface of the Earth; as per a clock on the outer reaches of the universe, perhaps billions of years ago, even though those edges are younger than the 6000-year old earth - gravity-time-dilation effects can be fun!).

    The original creation was perfect; no death, no disease, no killing. Lions played with lambs. Dinosaurs frolicked with humans. Mosquitoes didn't suck blood. Weeds didn't produce painful grass-burrs.

    But God allowed humans the choice to believe Him, or not to believe him. The first human pair, Adam and Eve, chose not to believe Yhwh, and acted against his one and only commandment, not to eat the fruit of a certain tree. (It's highly unlikely that fruit was an apple; it was probably a type of fruit that is now extinct.)

    When they chose to not have faith in what God had said, and ate that fruit, the cosmos was thrown into a death spiral, and ever since then things have been broken and heading for ruin. This is why Grandma has cancer, and your baby brother has Multiple Sclerosis, and your dog just died of old age, and a stingray stabbed Steve Erwin in the chest and killed him.

    God was essentially driven out of close contact with this cosmos because it had become poisonous to him. But he wasn't totally absent; he made appearances here and there. After about 16 and a half centuries of the world getting uglier and uglier, he "rebooted" the Earth with a global flood, which essentially turned the Earth inside out, burying billions and billions of plants and animals and turning many of them into fossils (largely buried in order according to their ecological zone: sea-bottom dwellers first, then fish, then edge-of-the-water critters, then slower moving land-dwellers, then faster and larger land-dwellers, followed by the most agile and/or smartest and/or flying beings). (Evolutionists interpret this fossil record as billions of years of "change" from sea-bottom dwellers to smart beings, because they refuse to consider the possibility of this Great Flood.)

    But God warned Noah of the coming flood, and Noah, along with his wife, his three sons, and their wives, built a floating box, big enough to take on representatives of the air-breathing land-dwelling animals. He didn't take a sabre-toothed tiger and a puma and a tiger and a lion and a house cat; he just took a couple of "cats" (or perhaps seven cats or seven pairs of cats, depending on if cats are "clean" animals or not). After the flood, these cats had enough genetic variety in them to breed small cats and big cats and medium cats and mountain-loving cats and long-toothed cats and etc. (Evolutionists today see this variation-on-a-theme and assume that the variation does not have any limits, so they figure that a cat could eventually vary into a totally different, non-cat, type of creature. Of course, thousands of years of animal breeding have not demonstrated this; decades of lab research have not been able to accomplish this; the fossil record does not support this; the Bible teaches limited variation, but only within a "kind"; genetic studies indicate that variation is limited; but these evolutionists don't let the data stop them from insisting that their view is true and that any other view is unscientific and anyone who even questions evolution must be some sort of stupid, flat-earth-believing rube from back-woods Hicksville.)

    So the population of Earth, both human and animal, survived the Flood. But conditions were vastly different. Before the flood, the environment was such that rain and rainbows did not occur. People (and other organisms) lived to long ages. Dragonflies grew to have meter-wide wingspans. Etc. Now, after the flood, lifespans of people gradually dropped to about a tenth of what it was before. The hydrologic cycle changed. Seasons changed. Dinosaurs no longer could thrive in the environment, and basically became extinct (except for the occasional Komodo "dragon" today or mythical dragons reported from all cultures).

    After the flood, Noah's descendents failed to spread out like God had told them to do, and started maturing their technology at a faster pace than their culture could absorb. So God broke up their tech-fest by suddenly confusing their language in the city of Babel. All of a sudden, different people could no longer talk to each other, so people started grouping together with others they could understand, and moved off into their own little niche. In this way, the human population spread out from Babel, and different people-groups started to form. And just like the cats who had long-toothed children and short-toothed children, the humans had tall children and short children. Some of the short children got together and married (yes, in those earliest days after the creation and again after the Flood, brother married sister, cousin married cousin; the genetic damage had not gotten bad enough yet in our DNA to cause problems from close-kin marriages). Some of the darker-skinned kids got together and married. Some of the more book-learning-minded kids got together and married. Some of the more sports-minded kids got together and married. And some of their kids wandered to other family groups, and learned their language, and married into those groups, thereby spreading the short/dark/sports-minded/whatever genes around some, but mostly over time the short group lost the genetic information for tallness, and the blue-eyed group lost the genetic information for brown eyes, etc. (Evolutionists point to this variation among humans as "evolution", but notice that new genetic information has not arisen out of nothing; instead existing genetic information has been lost out of the group's gene pool. This is just the opposite of what evolution needs.)

    Yhwh then picked a man named Abram, and promised to bless the Earth through his descendents. Later Abram's name was changed to Abraham, and he was the father of the Israelite nation. (Israel was the name of Abraham's grandson. Jacob was originally the grandson's name, but later in life his name was changed, just as his grandfather's name had been changed years earlier.)

    Israel had twelve sons, each of whom became the ancestor of an Israeli "tribe".

    Generations later, a man named David, of the Israeli tribe of Judah (Judah was one of the sons of Israel), became King. He's the King David you hear about so much from the Bible.

    Generations later still, in the town of Bethlehem, a descendant of David was born named Yeshua. (In our culture we would normally pronounce this name as "Joshua", but we tend to pronounce it as "Jesus", as our culture adopted the Greek pronunciation which is more like "Yaysoos".) This baby was unique, in that he inherited the biological cell of humanity from his mother, along with her half of the DNA programming that runs that cell, but he got the other half of his DNA from Ywhw himself. Thus, Baby Jesus was human, yet also God. Somehow, in this way, he did not inherit the damage, the "sin" if you will, that the rest of us inherit from Adam. Jesus was free from the Curse. (Note that "sin" is used in two ways in the Bible; one way means "imperfection" or "broken-ness"; the other means "action or inaction that leads to guilt". Babies are born with the first type of "sin" and thus need saving from death, but not the second, and thus do not need "saving from sin". Thus they don't need to be baptized until they reach the mental stage where they can actually choose to "sin".)

    At approximately the age of 33, Jesus stirred the pot sufficiently among the religious leaders that they deemed it necessary to put him to death. Not having the political ability to do so themselves, they pressured the Romans into doing it for them, and the Romans dealt out death in a very cruel way; crucifixion on a cross.

    Jesus could have sidestepped this death, as he, as mentioned, is God, and had the power to do so. But the whole reason he came to Earth was to die. In some way, his death undoes the curse that Adam brought into the cosmos. When Jesus allowed himself to die on that cross, he purchased back the cosmos from certain death. (And by choosing to do so in a cruel way, he demonstrated that we are valuable enough to him to go through the worst kind of torture for us. Many people would take a bullet for someone they loved; but would they take extreme torture, especially if they had the ability to end the torture with just a thought, at the cost of that loved one?)

    Then three days later, Jesus rose up from Death. He had conquered Death completely, and promises to all of us who believe in him to free us from the death-grip that is currently on this cosmos. In the meanwhile he has returned to his heaven, away from the poison of this fallen world. He's not quite ready to redeem it and us just yet.

    We still live in the broken world. It has been purchased, but it has not yet been redeemed. We, and the cosmos around us, are groaning in anticipation of the redemption promised by Jesus. Even though our bodies wither and grow old and diseased and die (at which time our spirits go to live with Jesus), one day Jesus will return, bringing us in our spirit form with him. Then our spirits will be reunited with a raised, renewed, like-new-before-the-Curse body, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Those believers still alive will have their bodies changed instantly, so that they also will be like-new-before-the-Curse bodies.

    The Earth will be consumed in fire, just as it had earlier been consumed by the Flood. After that, the details get hazy, but there seems to be some sort of new Cosmos to replace this broken one, probably similar to how we get new bodies to replace our broken ones.

    And I don't know what life will be like there and then, except to say it'll be awesome. Beyond imagination (and I'm sure you can imagine a lot; I know I can).

    And that's the gist of the Bible.

    While we're waiting on the return of Jesus, we need to be transforming our culture into one that gets along with each other, and looks out for each others' benefit rather than just looking out for "Number One". This is what God wants; he wants peace on Earth; good will toward humanity; love, one for another, helping each other with our burdens, feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, eradicating poverty. God wants his house-rules to be in effect here on Earth; he wants his reign to extend over all nations; he wants the Kingdom of God to absorb all humans, but not in a political way, but rather in a heart-mind philosophy-led way. He wants his will to be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.

    If you want to be part of the eternity-long paradise, and want to be free eventually of disease and blindness and baldness and stinky armpits, and want to make the world into a peaceful community of one-another-ness, you can join the movement.

    You've heard the basic story; if you believe it (and are willing to stand up for this belief publically), and are willing to steer your life away from selfish pursuits that hurt others (such as alcoholism or cheating on your spouse or stealing or even the more innocuous playing of the lottery (which has as its basic, underlying goal the making of many small losers out of your fellow humans in order for you to gain)), then you can admit to this belief and decide to make this life change, and begin your new life by being immersed in water ("baptized"), which is essentially the "official signing of the contract" to become a Christian. (Many Christians would downplay this contractual event, but the conversions and teachings in the Biblical book of Acts demonstrate its integral role in conversion).

    That's the story; I'd love to have you consider it seriously, and act on it to become a fellow believer.