Tag Archives: James

Prayer logic

4 Jan

You do not have, because you do not ask.  James 4:2c

I’ve been listening to archived John Piper sermons on prayer.  The Bible’s stunning truth about prayer hit me afresh this morning.

We don’t understand WHY the all-powerful God, the One who created every visible molecule in the universe as well as everything that is invisible, says He waits on us to ask. Only that He DOES…command that we pray, that we ask Him for what we need and want.

Note to Maria – Don’t spend any energy chewing on the bone of how come – just revel in it. The fact that He who created all things at His command should invite us to participate with Him should STUN us!

After we pick ourselves up off our face, we should then focus on the truth that James announces.

But an obvious question emerges if we try to formulate James’ truth claim into a syllogism in order to think it through. Do we apply James’ statement universally (ALL versus SOME) or as referring to a particular group of people?  Here’s what it looks like when I write it as a universal truth.

Premise 1: ALL people who lack something are people who don’t ask God for that item

Premise 2: You are a person who doesn’t have something

Conclusion:  Therefore, you are a person who doesn’t ask God

Hmm, does that logic square with how you have experienced reality so far?  Are there situations in which you have prayed to God and have yet to receive?  Or conversely, has God given you gifts for which you didn’t ask/pray?

I think all of us can attest to circumstances when despite LOTS of prayer God has not supplied the healing, the job, the baby, the money, the spouse or the resolution. As well as times when He ‘out of the blue’ graced us with a surprise blessing, both unanticipated and unasked.

In analyzing the above syllogism, we would say it is logically valid, that the premises are laid out in a correct order, but the conclusion is not true. Why?  because the subject in Premise 1 falsely includes ALL people in the world.

If we exchange the universal quantifier ‘ALL’ for the particular quantifier ‘SOME’, then we might get closer to the Truth.  Let me show you what that looks like and then we’ll talk about it:

Premise 1: Some people who lack are those who don’t ask God to provide what they need/want

Premise 2:  You are someone who doesn’t have what you want

Conclusion:  Therefore, you are someone who hasn’t asked God to provide

Again, that conclusion is not true in every situation.  To wit, I have repeatedly asked God to give me a different job.  And He hasn’t, YET……

So just using one circumstance in my life as a counter-example, I can prove that the conclusion in this second syllogism is not true.  It’s also not valid.  Why?  Because the conclusion overreaches the facts given in Premises 1. This first or major premise describes only one of two categories I’m going to call ‘LACKERS’ – those who haven’t prayed.  There is the category of ‘LACKERS’ who have indeed asked God for what they want.  So even though Premise 2 is true (you don’t have what you want) we can’t be sure which group of ‘LACKERS’ you fall into.

Bottom line?  I don’t know why God hasn’t answered my many prayers, YET.  But I do believe the Bible is authoritative.  I know that God commands us to pray.  I also know that He is good.  So there I rest AND I will continue to pray. What about you?

Julie Andrews and faulty logic

8 Jun

Nothing comes from Nothing

“Nothing comes from nothing,” sang Julie Andrews in my favorite film of all time, The Sound of Music.

And that is a true statement! If all there ever was, was nothing, then that is all that would be right now!

Here is the governess Maria’s argument:

No thing comes from no thing

Here is some thing

Therefore, some other existing thing caused this particular thing

But where the Maria character goes with her conclusion is debatable.  And as a Christian, I would assert that it is unsubstantiated and false.

Let’s think about the possible argument setups.

Truth: Nothing comes from nothing

Explicit Fact most would agree with:  Something VERY good is going on in Maria’s life – she has fallen in love with the Captain

Implicit Fact most would agree with: Falling in love and the accompanying joy is not anything that circumstances or another person can give us

Possible Causal Agents for this ‘love’:

a) the Karma principle and Maria’s conclusion – I must have done something good in my youth

b) random circumstances just fell out this way and Maria has chosen to ascribe significance to these particular molecules in motion

c) God is the source of ‘all good gifts’, one of which is ‘this something good’.

  • (James 1:17   Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens)

So which precipitating event for Maria & the Captain’s relationship are you or I going to pick?

It all depends on one’s worldview.  What is a worldview?  It is a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

I’ll leave you to work out your own conclusion.  What astonishes me is how long it took for me to grow aware of the lyrics to this song.  Throughout the numerous times I’ve watched the movie or listened to the music, I remained caught up in the happy evocative sentiments. NEVER did I consider the import of the words. It’s clear that a large portion of our world operates out of a secular worldview, whether material or immaterial.  AND, it’s a story easy to absorb and accept without thinking or questioning.

*Lyrics – [Maria:]

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/soundtracks/s/thesoundofmusiclyrics/somethinggoodlyrics.html

 

 

Logical Gal says Christianity is an evidenced-based faith system

7 May

Evidence-based faith system – does that sound like an oxymoron?

If you’re like a lot of scientific rational people, you might think so.

God apparently doesn’t think so.  He encourages us to check out the evidence and use our faculties of reason (that He, the Creator planted in us)

Reasonable Faith

 

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God encourages us with these words:

  • Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…. Chapter 18:1a

And lest you think that the ‘rules’ changed in the New Testament, Jesus himself invites His hearers to evaluate Him based on the evidence, i.e. His miracles or signs.

John, His closest friend and follower, records these words of Jesus:

  • Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  (John 14: 11)

So, where does faith come in?  Good question!

Faith is a tricky word.  May non-believers think that Christians base their beliefs on a type of ‘blind’ faith.  They would describe this as believing DESPITE the lack of evidence.

Blind faith

 

But FAITH can actually be translated by two Greek concepts.  There is PISTIS (Strongs # 4102) which refers to convictions or beliefs.

And there is HOPE.  But this concept is NOT the kind of hope that we talk about in casual conversation as in:

  • I hope I get an A
  • I hope the rain holds off for the picnic

That is called wishful thinking. 

Wishful Thinking Dino

No, HOPE  in Greek is rather the idea of ASSURANCE, EXPECTATION, FIRM FOUNDATION.  The Greek word is ELPIZO  ( Strong’s # 1679)

Here’s how I would explain a Christian’s relationship to God.  Based on a careful evaluation of evidence provided by historical documents and the recorded speech of God, open-minded seekers follow the evidence to where it leads.  They do not limit or filter their potential results through pre-existing biases.  Then when they have a ‘reasonable’ amount of evidence, they put their trust in the God of the Bible.  (And God promises to meet those who seek Him sincerely)

  • Come near to God and He will come near to you. (James 4:8)

Do you have to have 100 % certainty? Of course not.  That doesn’t exist in this life in ANY arena.  When I buy a ticket and board an airplane, I am trusting the evidence of previous flights’ safety records. I have to make a faith-based decision to get on that plane!

Boarding a plane

So don’t think you have to check your brains at the door to investigate the claims of Christianity.  This religion is easily falsifiable. All one would have had to do to sink this world view would have been to produce the body.

But the murdered prophet who claimed that

  • He was God himself (Yahweh)
  • and that  He would come back from the dead after 3 days

DID rise from the dead.  And there WAS an empty tomb.  And Jesus WAS SEEN by more than 500 people in a different but recognizable body (nail holes and all) during a period of 40 days.

And millions of people have been convinced of the truth of Jesus and His claims to put their trust in Him.

Question:  What would it take for you to trust Him today ?