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Ty Gibson asks “If God exists, and if God is good, then why is our world filled with suffering?”  See Ty’s video here.

I once visited an elderly widow named Birdie each week for over a year with some friends of mine. We would play the piano and sing for her. She was a loving and sweet woman. During that eventful year after she had lost her husband, she also lost her son, to suicide. Poor Birdie lost it. She couldn’t reject the God she loved, but she couldn’t comprehend her losses, either. Her eyes were full of such fear and pain and profound sadness that I still remember that look as clearly as if it were yesterday.  She became as a little girl, dancing and singing with us, but vacantly. She started calling me Jesus, and Lisa, Mary.  And she started to wonder out loud why God had abandoned her. It reminded me of some of Jesus’s last words, a cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

There are no facile answers to Ty’s question or to Birdie’s or even to the Savior’s, but I like Ty’s perspective on the matter expressed towards the end of his video.

There is a profound need to include the principles of love and freedom in answering these questions. Philosophically, The Book of Mormon points out the need to recognize that there must be opposites for anything to have meaning.  “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad…” (2 Nephi 2:11)  In other words, you can’t have joy without sorrow; you can’t have good without evil; and you can’t have freedom without bondage.

Thus, because God is good, he honors our freedom to choose for ourselves. If man did not possess the ability to choose evil, he would not be truly free to choose good. If he did not possess the capacity to selfishly inflict harm upon others, he could not love. And if he could not love, he could never know the good from the evil or possess joy or dwell with God.

So please think again before getting caught in the specious logic that asks if God is good, then why does he let me suffer? That begs the question. Good IS good, and therefore we suffer because God loves his children enough to give us freedom; and in our ignorance or even malice, we often choose evil.  Sometimes we suffer because of someone else’s sins; sometimes we suffer because of our own sins.

But to somehow offset the great evil of this world, God gave his only begotten son as a sacrifice to atone for the sins and evil of the world. Jesus suffered more profoundly than anyone ever has, because he not only suffered the exquisite pains of crucifixion, but by being the sacrificial Lamb of God, he suffered the spiritual pain of taking upon himself all of our sins, all of our guilt, all of our shame, and all of our pain.

Understanding these great but mysterious truths is the key to the ultimate joy that overcomes even the most profound suffering…

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Great article in the Washington Post by Michael Otterson, the lead spokesperson for my church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, specifying that members of the church – including, I presume, Glenn Beck, Harry Reid, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Orrin Hatch, Gladys Knight, Steve Young, Danny Ainge, Jimmer Fredette, the Osmonds, the Marriotts, and many other famous Mormons – are encouraged by the church to “make their voice heard,” but “they do so without any pretense of speaking for other members of their faith or for the Church itself.”

That would definitely include me – if I say something valuable, it must be inspiration. If I say something you disagree with, that must be me. :-)

Read the entire article here.

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This is a devastating condemnation of the current scientific culture that equates “science” with agnosticism and outright atheism. The genius of Stein here is that he shows that even the top scientists in the world simply cannot answer the most essential existential questions, and yet they condemn the very ideas behind intelligent design without serious inquiry because, presumably, its adherents attempt to address those same existential questions in a rational manner that doesn’t fit the prejudices of those so-called leading scientists.

In fact, Stein shows that the whole debate is in essence a religious discussion with scientists using the notion of “science” as a dogmatic weapon against the heretics – in this case, believers. How ironic is that!

Stein shows how “science” has been hijacked by atheists and agnostics to support their own Godless worldview (crystals? aliens? how is that any more scientific than God?) What’s amazing is how oblivious some of these “scientists” are to the simple fact that science is about seeking the truth, not defending any particular theory or dogma.

Anyway, brilliant movie. Stein deserves an Oscar, which will NOT be forthcoming, because he too effectively devastates the sacred cows of Hollywood and post-modernism. He takes on Darwinism, atheism, and “science” with wit and intelligence – and wins. I love how the apologists for “science” who are attacking Stein with all of the ad hominem indignant vigor of a court of Inquisition.

Remember that episode of the office where Toby can’t bring himself to enter a church and instead wanders around out in the courtyard and finally ascends the steps and addresses his issues with God alone in the chapel? That reminds me of the scientists who can’t bring themselves to even consider the possibility that there is a God, because they have unresolved childhood issues with the church, their parents, or whatever. And when they describe why they are atheists, it seems like they always tell their “conversion story” of how they came to “see the light,” so to speak, and reject the “false notions of their fathers.”

Irony upon irony.

Thanks, Ben, for a stimulating and revealing look at a disfunctional modern cult – atheists who have hijacked science.

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Golden Plates Found

Fascinating article about how Harvard’s Peobody Museum has a number of plates of gold with extensive images and Mayan hieroglyphics found by archeologist Edward Herbert Thompson in Chichén Itzá about a hundred years ago:  Ancient gold plates in Mesoamerica.

To put this in context, one of the most intriguing aspects of The Book of Mormon is Joseph Smith’s story of the Golden Plates and the Angel Moroni. In Joseph’s day, the idea of an Angel was considered almost less heretical than the idea that the writings of prophets could be found on plates made out of gold. Not to mention plates of gold buried in upstate New York.

Joseph was widely ridiculed for spreading the story of the golden plates (called by detractors “the Gold Bible”), so it’s worthwhile to ask a simple question: if Smith was such a brilliant con man, why would he make up such an elaborate and unbelievable story? Don’t con men specialize in creating believable falsehoods? He could have just as easily have said he found scrolls or a codex – after all, Nephi and Lehi were from Jerusalem, and scrolls or papyri were the standard for prophetic writings.

Nowadays, it’s forgotten that nobody had heard of writings on plates of gold when Joseph Smith told his story in 1830, almost a century before Thompson’s discovery. The existence of similar plates is fact, and the ignorant and uninformed continue to trumpet the provably false idea that there is no archaeological evidence to support The Book of Mormon. What is missing, I’ll admit, is archaeological proof – but its absence proves nothing. :-) In fact, I believe God obviously doesn’t want to give his children “signs” and “proof” for a simple reason: he honors their freedom to choose what they will believe and what they won’t. So he offers up evidence for the believers while withholding proof that might convince the unbeliever – against their will.

Which is, no doubt, the reason that the angel asked for the plates back after the translation was finished. If the plates existed, the attention of unbelievers would be turned towards nit-picking proof that Joseph’s translation was wrong, or something with just as much of a “missing the forest for the trees” aspect.

By leaving the whereabouts of the Golden Plates a mystery, the Lord by so doing invites us to focus on the words of the book itself if we want to know for ourselves whether it is truth or not.

I would invite you to do exactly that. Don’t take someone else’s word for it – read it for yourself and simply ask yourself: could any unschooled young man not yet 25 years old have written this book and then conned thousands (during his lifetime – over 15 million after his death) into believing it to be scripture – the word of God revealed to prophets?  And even you generously conclude he could have,  you should ask yourself why would he expose himself to the ridicule he suffered for telling the wild story of the plates of gold…

 

 

 

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Microsoft Moves Forward Into The Past

In researching Microsoft’s new “Desktop Optimization Pack,” I found the following very helpful explanation and perspective from Mitchell Ashley:

http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/42310?source=NWWNLE_nlt_microsoft_2009-06-02

What really caught my attention was his explanation of what it’s about:

“Here’s a summary of what MDOP is about or virtualization (there’s actually a lot more than what I’ve listed here.)

  • Apps centrally managed and delivered from the server to the desktop, a.k.a the Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop/XenServer strategy
  • Apps decoupled from the host desktop operating system
  • Apps delivered as virtual service, distributing load onto servers rather than desktops
  • Greater administrative control over the desktop, locking down and controlling apps, their installation, access and execution”

I remember when Microsoft was touting the liberating benefits of having independent desktops that didn’t rely on “mainframes” (servers) that served up applications to terminals (desktops). It took an IBMer – my friend Ed Iocobucci, to found Citrix and create the technology that lets one PC access another remotely, which technology is now being used to essentially move back to the centralized control paradigm.

I’ll bet that’s a tough pill for Ballmer to swallow, after all those years of bashing the very paradigm that market forces are now apparently forcing him to adopt.

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Wow – I just read an inspiring epistle from Christopher Hitchens, avowed atheist, at:

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/618232-message-to-american-atheists

Now, it’s obvious that this brilliant man is mocking the Apostle Paul in both form and a form of substance, but it was, nonetheless, an inspiring exhortation to his “fellow-unbelievers” at the American Atheists Conference, “via PHARYNGULA.”

Now, because it mocks Paul so brilliantly and so subtly, it’s difficult to tell just how sincere Hitchens is about anything he says. For example, when Hitchens says:

“To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need).”

the mind staggers to comprehend whether Hitchens is actually certain that God could not possibly live, and thus making the same error of closed-minded absolutism he attributes to “believers” alone, or if he is mocking the atheists he is addressing so skillfully that they don’t even know that they’re being mocked for their absolutist beliefs so brilliantly right along with Paul and all believers.

My impression, however, is that Hitchens is actually sincere in his anti-religious beliefs that ALL religious believers (every last one of us!) have no respect for critical, objective inquiry, that we have all totally closed our minds, that we are all credulous and gullible, and that we only believe because we are afraid to face the rational conclusions that anyone as intelligent as Hitchens would reach if they hadn’t blindly accepted the crutch of theistic belief somewhere along the way.

Wow. If I’m even remotely close in restating Hitchen’s core beliefs, what an amazing, staggering example of intellectual arrogance; personally, though, methinks he doth protest too much. He may simply be confused about what he KNOWS and what he DOESN’T yet know.

Just out of curiosity, I visited the site of the American Atheists, and discovered something quite surprising – they are amazingly well-organized, and these “courageous free-thinkers” are banding together, offering each other salvation through association! Athests are no longer alone – in fact, they’re doing a great imitation of proselyting. Watch the video – first we had “I’m a PC;” then “I’m a Mormon;” now we have “I’m an American Atheist!” Who knew that the passion for social proof was so compelling?

All in all, I enjoyed more than a few good laughs at the circular reasoning, intellectual snobbery, and delightful contradictions in such rich and full display in Hitchens article and at the AA web site. I’m sure they have just as much fun finding the holes in the world views of believers, especially us Mormons (I love a good Mormon joke too), so at least we’re even.

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Donald Duck and Intelligent Design

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT_Bxgah9zc&w=532&rel=0]

I have to wonder what an atheist thinks when watching this simple video where Donald learns about all of the “accidental” relationships in nature. I can’t even imagine trying to reconcile all of these mathematical interrelationships in nature with the idea that evolution somehow allowed for the “accidental” emergence of organization, beauty, and harmony from disorganization and chaos. Even existence itself begs the question of where all of these laws of nature came from in the first place.

When atheists point to the harmonic beauty that exists seemingly spontaneously in nature, they often cite natural law as being at the root of all this “random” organization (yes, I get the irony).

Us believers, whether theists or deists, on the other hand, need no such begging-the-question intellectual contortions to explain existence in all its natural beauty and awesome mystery. We embrace the mystery by accepting the existence of an intelligence immeasurably greater than our own.

Personally, I think atheism is simply a singularly arrogant form of pride – the presumption of superiority over those who accept by faith that which cannot be understood or explained by science. I thought Ben Stein’s “Expelled! No Intelligence Allowed” was an excellent treatment of the phenomenon. No wonder atheists hate it – it was singularly effective at challenging their dogmatic assumptions that led them to reject God but nonetheless accept all kinds of other wing-nut theories (crystals?) as to the origins of life and intelligence itself.

God lives. Of that, I have no doubt. Otherwise, there would be other animals besides man who understand beauty, love, and the transcendent power to be inspired and create with an awareness of the creative act itself.

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Customized Short Links

Bob Angell recently joined the CoolHotNot team, and immediately proved his enormous tech savvy by recommending that we use Bit.ly to shorten and cloak the links we use at www.coolhotnot.com .

Bit.ly has a great Pro service, and after getting approved for their beta program, they are now providing us with customized short links using our own domain, chn2.me .

The first link I created was to the John C. Dvorak / Dave Graveline / Dave Whittle video – now available at:

http://chn2.me/jcd_dg_dw

Gotta love Bit.ly!

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Little Miracles Posing as Coincidence

Yes, we each choose what we will believe, and tonight, I gratefully choose to believe in miracles, not coincidence.

We’re currently at a motel in Beaver – after a miraculous near-miss on the way home from the Nisson’s 90th birthday celebration today. There was black ice on a short stretch of northbound I-15, and at 80 mph, in the dark, I came upon a car sitting in the middle of the freeway, perpendicular, with no lights on, and swerved to barely miss it, and then swerved the other way to miss the other cars on the side of the road, and spun out on the black ice and ended up doing a 360 and barreling into the snowbound furrow dividing the interstate, facing southeast and stuck in the snow and mud. We were OK, and even the car seems to be relatively unharmed. Both seem like miracles to me.

So we’re offering up prayers of gratitude tonight.

Sister Nisson came out specifically to remind us, as we left her home, to be sure to pray for safety (without either of us knowing that there was anything amiss with the weather on the way home), so we did, of course, and I had just  barely taken over for Kathy in Cedar City when we encountered the freakish conditions near exit 95 on I-15. Both of us were glad I was driving, and was able to react with “inspired” reflexes to avoid a catastrophic accident.

I’m not going to say I’m leading a charmed life (this is the second “saved from death” accident in the last 4 years – the first being a jet-ski accident in Sept. 2007 where I was fished out of a lake near Dallas after being found floating face-down in blood-red water for who knows how long), but I’d be ungrateful if I didn’t acknowledge the Lord’s hand in preserving me twice now.

Some “coincidences” that I choose to regard as important factors preventing a disaster:

  • Sister Nisson gave me a Coke to drink before leaving her home, giving me that split-second of extra reaction time I needed. I normally don’t drink Coke.
  • Kathy had started driving, but had asked me to drive since she was already starting to get drowsy. I agreed knowing I’d had the Coke.
  • I had just switched to the middle lane. The darkened car was blocking the left lane and half of the middle lane.
  • Even though the several cars that had just stopped on the right-hand side of the road didn’t have their emergency lights flashing, they at least had their lights on which helped me avoid them and see the darkened car.
  • I’ve experienced black ice before when going much slower, so I knew how to steer the car (more like make it move while sliding around).
  • We had a Lexus with front-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes, both of which made all the difference in being able to slow down enough to avoid hitting the darkened car as I swerved to the right, and then change direction to avoid hitting the parked cars on the right as we used the dividing furrow to stop our car.
  • There was enough snow in the furrow to stop us and keep our car from suffering serious damage.
  • By the time we left the freeway, we were at just the right angle to back down into the snow and “ditch”  without rolling, which was a distinct possibility given how fast we were still going even while spinning.

I believe in the power of prayer, but I’m fully aware that a reasonable person could draw the conclusion that we’re just lucky, not blessed. The basis of my faith is that I know that our Father in Heaven have given  us each the freedom to choose what we believe as a precious birthright.

It’s safe to say I have a renewed sense of grateful purpose in life.

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