Coolest Wedding Ever

Dancing intro to a wedding… really entertaining.

Ronald Reagan on Socialized Medicine

Thanks Andy for this video. I strongly recommend listening to the entire speech, even if you disagree with it.

5 Activities for Seattle’s Summer Heat

The weather is scorching in Seattle this week and since most Seattlites lack air conditioning, we are doing anything we can to stay cool. If you are running low on ideas of how to avoid sweating in your home/sauna, check out my 5 suggestions to beat the heat:

  • If you’re an office drone, work longer hours in the air conditioned space. What’s worse, heat stroke at home or going postal at work?
  • Eat spicy Mexican food. Peppers have been shown to make people sweat more, helping to cool you off.
  • Catch up on your reading at the local library. Libraries are usually cool and always free!
  • Swim at Madison beach on Lake Washington with all the hipsters and college kids. Something to look at for everyone: cute blonde college girls and hulking tattooed freakshows.
  • Visit a hotel pool for free. Google “Seattle Hotels” for a list of hotels to visit, then check their website to make sure they have a pool. Go to the hotel and walk in like you are already a guest and go straight to their pool. Trent and I did this at the Marriott in LA and it worked like a charm.

Trip to Los Angeles

Right now is my last night in LA and I’m waiting for Jeremy to get back from dropping his lady friend off at her house, so I thought I’d post a bit of what I’ve been up to.  Jeremy made 3 posts about our trip earlier with pictures:

Last night Kenny’s friend Jenny had her birthday party at a cool club in Hollywood.  Levi, Jeremy and I went and had a great time dancing, drinking, and talking to very beautiful ladies.

Today Kenny showed me around LA a bit more.  We went shopping (I really liked the clothes at Zaras).  Ocean swimming- the day was overcast, but the water was really warm.  It’s been a pleasant trip.

The Problem Of Evil And Religion

My little brother Justin recently emailed me and started a discussion on religion and the problem of evil.  I thought my readers may find it useful or entertaining, so check it out:

7/17/09 Written @ 2:21 am

Joel,

I have been propelled to share truth with you. Because of all things a dream I had about you.

The gospel is truth The complete canon of scripture is truth. Yes, Jesus is truth. I know you know what the scripture says about His life, but I want you to know it is truth. I tell you this quite selfishly and yes with an agenda concerning you–my motivation is my love for you. If I did not love you I would not even dare to try and share with you concerning Jesus. But I must. It is now at this moment 2:21 AM and I am awake because of you and this dream I had concerning you. The dream is of importance only in that it has propelled me to share the gospel with you. Whether or not you will receive it is on you. You are responsible for yourself and your own choices. I know you hardened yourself & your heart most to God because you were most aware of what was happening when our parents abandoned us, but especially you. God is not our parents. He never wished for us to experience what happened to us & to you. Our parents are human as you & I and we must have pity on them, but you must not blame God any longer for what happened. It was not God’s fault or your fault. I doubt this will lead to your conversion but I do believe that as long as you have a breath to breathe and have not entered into eternity you still have the opportunity to turn from your ways and run to God. You are responsible for your choice, Deny Jesus & He will deny you before the Father, Accept Him and He will accept you before the Father. You have not ran to far or done too much to not be able for Jesus to forgive you or to save you. Jesus dying on the cross covers a multitude of sins, a lifetime of sin. Jesus wants to restore you, I implore you to make haste & seek truth. I dare not say this letter is God Himself speaking directly to you, but I dare say He is letting you know He got your attention and given you the opportunity for you to receive truth, to know truth, and maybe one day live truth. As you sat atop the mountain and saw the rolling hills and all that lay before you I hope you could see that all that is, was not by chance nor are u!

Joel, I love you–you are my brother–my flesh and blood is your flesh and blood. You are the first born and as much as I love you, God loves you more. Allow God/Jesus to reveal Himself to you–if you ask Him to–I pray He will. After all, what is the worst that could happen?

In Jesus & concern for you–my brother

Love. Justin

My reply to Justin’s email:

Justin,

The Problem of Evil
The Problem of Evil

Your love and concern for me are moving and much appreciated. However, you have some confusion about who I am. Mom and Dad had really nothing to do with me not being religious. The basic laws of logic, evidence, science, nature and economics did. The dogmatic mysticism of religious people does not make sense and actually heavily contradicts itself. The day I lost my fear of the threat of burning in hell was the first intellectually free day of my life. I realized that Christianity and its rules and threats and prejudices was created by hut-dwellers thousands of years ago in order to gain power over their fellow human beings. New religions continue to crop up constantly in much the same way Christianity originally did- look at the Mormons, Scientologists and other less-successful religions. If I thought Christianity had even a .01% chance of being correct, I would be a believer since the threats of eternity in hell are very scary. However, the problem of evil and many other direct theological contradictions in the Bible make it very obvious that Christianity doesn’t even have that much chance of being correct. There may be a god, but he certainly is not the Christian one.

More Problem of Evil
More Problem of Evil

You may have seen my prayer-helpers.com website and thought my knowledge in the truth was weakening, but that is not the case. That site is built to generate controversy & links so that I can promote other client websites. I do have legitimate Christians doing the praying though- I always deliver the best products to my customers and would never scam them.

Once again, thank you for your love, thought, and concern. I greatly appreciate having you as my little brother and am looking forward to meeting up with you sometime soon. I am going to take Josh camping & hiking if you want to come with us soon. I haven’t decided the exact date yet though.

Joel

Justin’s Reply:

Dear Joel,
Here are some thoughts on the problem of evil in our world from a Biblical perspective.  As you know, the Bible says that God created man in his own image.  This does not mean we are God, but it does mean we are god-like in many ways.  We are not autonomous – we owe our existence to a transcendent Being – but we are god-like in that we think, act, and have emotions AND we are free moral agents.  That is, we are sovereign over our own choices – we freely choose.  God could have created a lesser being without free moral agency and thereby eliminated the possibility of evil by only allowing man to choose good.  But we would then not be the magnificent beings we are – we would be puppets, robots, more THING than PERSON.  Imagine being in love with someone.  Of course, you want them to love you back, but that love only has meaning if it is a CHOICE.  If someone loves you back not by choice but by some pre-programmed response – then whatever that response is, it isn’t really love, is it?  Without choice it’s just a mechanism – some kind of farce or sham.
So Joel – do you see how this is why God created free moral agents when he created man?  It’s all about love between God and man.  God wanted to create a being who could experience love.  (Note: He didn’t create man because He was lonely and needed someone to love him.  God, as Trinity, is autonomous and complete, experiencing perfect love and community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)  Instead, He created man out of His bounty, grace, lovingkindness, mercy, power, etc., as a demonstration of His glory.
So it was necessary for God, in creating this magnificent creature called man, to give him real choice – otherwise we would be something far less than we are.  And of course the result of choice is the possibility of moral evil, ipso facto.  You can’t have one without the other.  If man can choose to love God (moral good), he must also be able to choose to not love God (moral evil) or there’s no real choice, and this is why evil exists in the world.
But that’s not the whole story.  The thing about the Biblical world view – whether it’s about the nature of man, evil, the cosmos, whatever – is that it is the only world view that has sufficient answers – viz. – that thoroughly and sufficiently explains reality and the dilemma of man.  Regarding man, for example, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) showed how the Biblical view of man was the only sufficient view.  Throughout history various writers have either elevated or debased human nature.  For example, the contrasting ideas of Plato and Freud.  Plato argues that the highest form of human nature is reason, and that reason works to make our passions subservient in order to reach our true end.  Freud, by contrast, argues that reason is not supreme but is the handmaiden of passions. In fact, if it were not for reason directing passion to some measure of socially acceptable expression, passion would destroy our life and inevitably unravel civilization.
This contrast is exactly Pascal’s point.  Where, other than in the Christian faith, do we find a depiction of humanity that includes both sides of our nature and then instructs us on how to rise above our nature to find meaning and purpose?  This, according to Pascal, is the genius of Biblical truth about man, and evil.  Man is a magnificent ruin – made in God’s image, but fallen because of his own evil choices.  And because of his magnificence, he is also able to perpetrate enormous evil.  The two go hand in hand.
But it gets better.  Because the other thing about evil is that although it is real, and often times terrible, it doesn’t get the last word.  Look at Joseph for example.  (Genesis 37-50)  Joseph was attacked and sold into slavery by his envious brothers, then buried and forgotten for years in prison on false charges, based on the fact that he would not act immorally with Potiphar’s wife.  He suffered severely, and for years, because of his moral uprightness.  Surely that was evil.  YET, later on, after becoming the governor of all of Egypt, he could say to his brothers concerning their betrayal of him, “You intended to do evil to me, but God meant for it to achieve good.”
(Gen.50.20)  So God, in his love and grace and mercy, takes the evil we commit, and exploits it for good.  And Joseph, by the way, as well as any other believer who knows something of the love of God, has confidence in the invariably overriding intention of God for our good, with respect to all the evil and suffering that may befall us on life’s journey.  So Joseph could have peace and joy (rather than bitterness) through his trials and ordeals.  And this is what I’m learning Joel.  I can have this same peace and joy in the midst of life’s evils, when I get in touch with Jesus’ love for me.  It allows me to be sure – confident – of God’s intention for our good, and this enables me, like Joseph, to do what I know to be right.  This is something I’m just beginning to learn – but I’m learning it in a strong way, because I’m seeing Jesus’ love for me in a strong way.  And of course, Jesus Himself is the most profound example of how God exploits evil to accomplish good.  What greater evil could man have ever done than to crucify God’s own Son, who lived a perfect life, and never did anything but good to every person he ever met – who in fact, went to the cross and died to accomplish the greatest good for those very people who were crucifying him.  And it was Jesus’ very death that made it possible for our evil to be forgiven, and for our evil lives to change direction and march toward good.  God took the greatest evil, and used it to accomplish the most profound good.  That’s who this wonderful God is who is reaching out to you and longing for you to come back to him – not with threats of hell, but with open arms of love. Joel, my beloved brother, I know this is true, because I’ve experienced it myself.

in Love & Jesus towards you

Justin

Problem of Evil Solution
Problem of Evil Solution

Justin,

Thank you for your response.  My final thoughts in magical bullet point form:

  • You cannot use the Bible as evidence in a debate over the veracity of religion.
  • Just because aspects of Christianity sound nice don’t mean they are true.
  • According to Christian theology God is all powerful, all knowing, created everything and is completely righteous & good.  If God the first three are true, free will is an impossibility.  God knew every detail about us and every action that we would ever take from the beginning of time, correct?  If he changed or did not change something, we are still 100% his responsibility.  I know it’s hard to grasp intellectually, but even without a god true “free will” does not exist.  The laws of physics, biology and nature direct everything from gravity to the style of your hair.  Just because it doesn’t “feel” that way doesn’t mean its not true.
  • So God created us not because he needed our love, but because he wanted to brag?  You said, God created us as a “Demonstration of his glory”.  Who is he demonstrating to? What is the point?  It’s like me making a Microsoft Word file that says, “Joel Rules!” 50 times.  Kind of useless.
  • Zombie Jesus Demotivational Poster
    Zombie Jesus Demotivational Poster

JUSTIN”S UPDATE:

Thank you for your response to my response. These are not my final thoughts, but beginning of a dialogue (in bullet point form):

  • One can use the Bible to affirm the veracity of religion in this sense; if the message of the Bible gives better answers to man’s dilemma than any other world view then it is worth considering. But remember this is not a debate over the veracity of religion–it is a discussion about the problem of evil.
  • Your second point is just silly, certainly you would not accuse Blaise Pascal of presenting Christianity as something that just sounds nice. He was one of the great thinkers, mathematicians, and social commentators in all of history. He is not someone who can be treated in a cavalier manner.
  • Your argument of what is known as chemical and biological determinism (that there is no free will as everything is a result of “the laws of physics, biology, and nature direct everything from gravity to the style of your hair.”) is simply not true as it isn’t borne out by experience. If it is true, it means there is no real love, no moral motions, no creativity or originality, no appreciation of beauty. Yet, most people affirm that these things are real–and no one really lives as if determinism were true. We all live as if love we’re real–you would not shoot Bestemor in the head with a .357 magnum, not because of chemical or biological determinism, but because it is morally repugnant to you since you actually love her. People who claim to believe in this point of view live by cheating: They can’t live consistent with this world view since it is not true to real life. Another way to say it is if determinism is true you are no longer there: you are only an animal or a machine…and even you Joel are not an animal even though you live like one in some ways as I have in the past. Does this makes sense to you, Joel?
  • God did not create us because He needed our love, but He created us to give us the gift of Himself. If God is truly God then by definition there is nothing greater He can do than to allow us to experience Him. Because there is nothing greater or better than Him. That is what I mean by “demonstrating His Glory.”
  • Joel, you can agree or disagree with what I believe as you do; However, to make a mockery is ungentlemanly and I hope is beneath you to do from this point on with our discussion–even if you do mock it for the sake of provoking your blog’s readers to respond. I will not and have not made a mockery of you or your beliefs but will try in love to seriously dialogue these very important issues with you. I am referring to your final point on the Jewish Zombie. One of the most fully attested facts of ancient history is the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead in real space/time. There is more evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, both Biblical and extra Biblical, than for the fact that Caesar conquered Gaul. We can discuss this at length another time, but suffice it to say that this is the pivotal truth of the christian faith. The Bible itself, puts all it’s eggs in this one basket when it says that if Jesus is not raised we Christians are of all men most to be pitied, and our faith is in vain. ( 1 Corinthians 15:14-19) But apropos of your point–it is certainly not the case that any christian or any Biblical passage views the resurrected Jesus as a zombie. The men and women who actually encountered Jesus after His resurrection saw Him vibrantly & compellingly alive and well. Further, the forgiveness of sins is not the result of some telepathic interaction with God, but rather God’s gift to all who will, by faith (TRUST) receive that gift which was made possible when Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for sin that I so completely deserve, as He died on the cross in my place. (Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray, we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.) Again, we can discuss in detail later, the moral necessity of a substitutionary propitiatory atonement, but lets begin by clearing up what the Biblical message really is, and not argue about some caricature of Christianity that you so disrespectfully and inaccurately have presented here. Again, I’m not arguing the veracity of religion. Rather I’m explaining the message of the Bible which you misunderstand & therefore misrepresent.

Metalocalypse: Funny Show

Discovered Metalocalypse last night, a funny cartoon about mythical death metal band that wreaks havoc wherever they go.  The death metal band  Dethklok is a massively popular band that in the show is the seventh largest economy on earth and actually raises giant troll demons from the sea with their awesome riffs.  If Dethklok takes too long in releasing a new album, fans commit suicide by the thousands and the stock market crashes.  Show sorta reminds me of Plato & I’s brand of creepy over-the-top humor we do sometimes.  I recommend watching it sometime if you have free time.

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AT&T’s Terrible Service Cost Me a Potential Client

AT&T’s awful phone service just cost me a potential web design client.  I called the client and after 3 quick dropped calls he had completely lost interest.  I am so unhappy I think I am going to break my contract and pay the fee so I can go to another service.  Ugh.

Google Voice Invite Received

I just received an invite for Google Voice and am testing it out now.  I think it is about to opened to the public in phases.  I’ll post back soon with my reviews.  Google Voice is a service that rings all your phones at the same time, creates transcripts of conversations and allows you to listen in while people leave voicemails.  Looks very interesting.

Above is a test conversation Plato and I had about Google Voice and its features… I am blown away by how cool this service is.  It rings all your phones, allows you to record calls, transcribes voicemails, allows you to email or embed recorded conversations… absolutely awesome.  I am excited to continue using this service.