Friday, August 26, 2011

Five Attributes of Fully Actualized Christians

What does it mean to be a Christian? When I use the word 'Christian,' I like to attribute it to the original definition. This was a title given to people who spent time with Jesus while he was alive on Earth and the people they taught. At that time, calling someone a Christian was to say that they were “like Christ.”

As I've gone through life, I have found a few traits that were common in people who had fully manifested Jesus' teachings. This isn't to say that all Christians exhibit these traits, but that, as people become fully Christ-like, these traits seem to develop within them. As I became closer and closer to God, these attributes began to manifest within me, as well. I was affirmed of these traits again when I read them in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and I now present them to you here: Five attributes of fully actualized Christians; What C.S Lewis called: "The New Men".

  1. They Err on the Sides of Strength and Happiness
Christians believe there is value in misfortune and they hunt for that value. The most obvious of this is in death, when they are finally reunited with God, but there are many others, too. The natural assumption for a Christian is that a bad outcome has happened for a reason. That reason may be a lesson for us to learn or it could be a prerequisite for something better to happen later. Christians search for and trust in these things and use them to move forward confidently in life. Because of this, Christians are often less frightened by the unknown and are more comfortable with the future.

  1. They Dislike “Religious People”
The term “religious” has come to mean a great deal of things. Many of them are negative. For some it means: Someone who has forsaken facts in favor of superstition. For others it means: Someone who believes them self to be superior to or favored over others. Some people who fit into the latter definition go so far as to believe they are allowed to do things others are not, like lie. True Christians denounce these practices. Christians understand that fact and faith are compatible and are not frightened in the face of evidence. They may believe that they have strengths over you, but they're just as quick to entertain that you have strengths over them. Often, they will even seek out those strengths as opportunities for them to learn and grow. The common definition of “religious” does not apply to these people.

  1. They Do Not Draw Attention to Themselves
Christians feel no need to be the center of attention. They have no strong desire to be liked, even though they strive to be likable people. For the most part, they are even comfortable being disliked. Christians are confident with themselves and accept and enjoy how they are. Often, they can seem alone, but rarely will they seem lonely. Fitting into society is not a high priority for them. That said, Christians do seek opportunities to contribute to society. At peace with themselves, Christians focus on the problems outside of themselves. They can and do enjoy the attention they receive for their contributions, but often try to pass the credit on to others.

  1. They Love More, but Need Less
Christians search for the best in people, loving them despite their flaws. They have high expectations of themselves, but expect little from others. A Christian is the type of person who would help you in your time of need as if they were duty bound to do so. When the tables are turned, however, they will seek to overcome their strife on their own, but will show tremendous gratitude to anyone willing to give them aid.

  1. They are Unusually Efficient
Christians seem to have a lot of time. This can manifest in two ways. First, a Christian may seem to have an abundance of free time, with which they enjoy their lives. Second, a Christian may have almost no free time, but get much more done in a day than most others do. Much of this is easily attributed to God himself, but some of it also comes from item number one above: Christians have more drive because they don't let things get them down. Furthermore, Christians are motivated by continual growth and live each moment to the fullest.

As you may have gathered from this, fully actualized Christians are an extremely rare breed. This is not surprising, as it was foretold around the time of Christ's life. From Matthew 7:13-14 “...wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” A fully actualized Christian is someone who has found the narrow gate and embraced life to the maximum degree. As difficult as these people are to find, once you cross paths with one, they're easy to recognize.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Atheistic Witnessing

As a Christian I have several good reasons to spread Christianity. Imagine Hell as the edge of a cliff that humanity is blindly rushing towards. God and other Christians plead for men to stop and choose another path, but like lemmings, mankind continues forward towards doom. As a witness to others, I am one more opportunity for someone to turn away from the cliff. That is why I attempt to spread Christianity.

I have spent much time trying to understand our world from the point of atheism and had little success. Above all, I can't understand why some atheists so fervently try to spread their lack of religion. I'm not talking about the people who have a belief system that includes atheism and try to witness the values of their beliefs. I'm talking about people who encounter or actively search for religious and try to inform them that their beliefs are incorrect and should be abandoned. If you truly believe that these brief few years of existence is all you have, can you not find a better way to use your time?

I understand that the world contains people who do terrible things in the name of religion. People have done terrible things in the name of science as well. People have done terrible things in the name of love, in the name of fun, and in the name of family. There is no call to eliminate love or science from our world, however, as there is with religion. None of the concepts listed above are inherently evil. People can exercise love, science, or religion in non-evil or even good ways. Anything, taken to an extreme, can become evil.

Most of the religious people I know treat other people more respectfully because their religion gives them incentive to be better people. If everyone was a Christian, for example, would the world be a better or worse place than it is today? Christians* do not lie, do not steal, do not murder, and they love unconditionally. If everyone practiced those behaviors, the world would be a fantastically more friendly place to live. If you encounter one who calls them self a Christian, but looks down on or mistreats other people, you would probably have faster and longer lasting results by trying to help them become better Christians than by try to strip their Christianity from them.

Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who studied what it took for people to become what he called "Self-Actualized", which is to say, "reached their full potential." Maslow called out the need for a religion or religion-surrogate in order to achieve this. This raises several doubts in my mind about the lack of intentional design in our humanity. More relevant to this discussion, however, it highlights an important issue: We have a real, psychological need to fill the role of God in our lives. We need this as a system to live by. Without it, we are ill-defined. If someone uses religion, in a non-evil way, to fill this gap, why take it away from them?

Again, I have many reasons to spread religion to everyone I can find who's willing to listen. People are healthier spiritually, mentally, and socially by believing in a god as long as they keep an open mind and use religion moderately as opposed to stretching it to the extreme and embracing zealotry. To spread atheism is to take spiritual security and replace it with fearful mortality, to take social unity and replace it with evolutionary selfishness, and to take mental stability and replace it with unguided ambiguity. By taking God away from man you fill his life with gaps which he must find new surrogates to fill. What good reason do you have to spread atheism?

*I am defining Christian as "One who is like Christ". Not to be confused with "Any person who calls himself a Christian"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

God vs the Universe

A lot has changed since the original assertion that God exists. We have learned many things about our universe. As we have learned, conflicts have arisen between those who believe in the supernatural and those who do not. For the scientifically minded, there's a number of issues with believing that science is true and that God exists. How does he exist? Is he able to break the scientific rules? If so, why do scientific experiments not tend to break more often? On the other side of the coin, it is not uncommon to see someone who does believe in God disregard science or refute it entirely, but this is foolish. We cannot honestly ignore science. If God exists, there has to be a definition of God that is compatible with science.

I want you to imagine what life would be like in a computer program. Imagine how you might look. You could look just as you do right now or you could look completely different. Imagine what physics might be like. The physics of the computer world could also be like the physics of our world. In fact, the computer world could be just like our world in every way. Possibly, you might not even know that you lived in a computer world, but let's assume you did.

With this knowledge, there's a fact that you cannot escape: Your definition of reality is incomplete. It's probably incomplete anyway, but it's especially incomplete if you live in a world embedded in another world. Not only that, but there might be other worlds in the computer in addition to your world. Where is the line between your world and the others? Where is the line between the computer world and the outside world?

The computer world has to have a boundary or a wall that divides it from the other worlds and the outside world. If the computer world is very simple, it could be a literal wall or an invisible wall in three dimension space. If the world is accurately like the world we know today, the wall could be wrapped outside the third or fourth dimension. Or possibly the eleventh if there are so many. Possibly, the boundary could even be at the edge of traversable space. Somewhere, the boundary has to exist to protect the computer world and the people in it from the outside world. If someone ever found a way to cross that boundary and passed to the outside world, they would probably cease to exist.

In the computer world, you are a person with a body and a mind. In the outside world you're nothing but a bunch of electrons and magnetized metal. If those components were removed from the computer, your sentience would cease. The electrons would be absorbed by nearby particles and the magnetized metal would be nothing more than magnetized metal. The computer world would have completely forgotten about you and the outside world has never known you. You are gone.

It's conceivable that embedded worlds could exist where this is not the case. The computer world has a creator or, more likely, several creators in the outside world. We call them “programmers.” From the outside world, the programmers, if sufficiently skilled, could create yet another world inside their computer world. If they did so, they could make those worlds compatible so that people in the “inner” computer world could be moved to the “outer” computer world and vise versa. If extra careful, the programmers could even make it possible to move people from one computer world to another. They can do this by making the way people are stored in the outside world similar. Then by moving the electrons and magnetized patterns in the outside world in the correct way, they would move people between the various computer worlds and the worlds nested within them, but still, they could never move to the outside world.

All of this details how we can create worlds within our world and how they can be made to interact. What about the other direction, though? How can we know that our universe isn't embedded in yet another universe? It's certainly possible. We can create as many embedded universes as we have time to make. Why would we live in the one universe at the top of the chain? On top of the simple “chance” that another system houses our universe, we already know of things that could be the boundary between our universe and the next. Quantum physics and M-theory believe that there was a point in our universe's history where time did not exist. This is a boundary of our universe. Some theories say that space itself has boundaries. Super string theory states that additional dimensions exist that are outside of our access. All these, or any of them, could be the wall that protects us from a universe we where we may not be able to exist.

Along with the possibility that an encapsulating universe exists come the possibility that people or some kind of sentient entities exist in the outside universe. If so, those people may be able to interact with our world in the same way the programmer could interact with the computer world. Possibly, these “programmers” of our outside universe exist in a universe two, three, or a hundred layers up. Any entity that could interact with our universe from an encapsulating universe could cause miraculous events to occur in our universe, if they so chose. They don't even need to have created our universe. Though, given how our embedded universes required creators, it seems likely that one or more of them would have. Our computer world could have “users” or people who alter the state of the program. With the right tool, users can create lightning or life in the computer world. In the same way, the programmers or users of our universe can act upon it to create or destroy.

If this is the case, there's an unlimited amount of power these entities could have. Perhaps they are one or many. Perhaps there is one master and many helpers. Perhaps they can fast-forward and rewind time to try different actions to perform their work and cover their tracks. Given enough tools to operate on our universe, they would have omnipotence within the context of our universe, even if they are not omnipotent within their own. To us, it or they are gods.