Letting go of what you can’t control

Last week, I looked at the Serenity prayer and focused with an example on some things we can control when stressors come. Today, I want to help by giving tips for the flipside, what about the things we cannot control?

Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

In this prayer, there is an element of faith, of a God . There is an element of change and an element of acceptance. Some things we cannot change, while other things we can. So regarding the things that we cannot change, what are we left to do?

Being able to accept things that we cannot change does involve faith. In faith circles, the term is to “let go” of things, of stress and worry for example. But this idea of “letting go” is a difficult thing to define. Especially for people who do not believe in God, letting go is still not an easy task. The definition means to “giving permission or opportunity.” In the sense of how it is used to “let go” of worry, is really like “letting go” if a girlfriend after a break-up. It is giving permission to be free. So when we talk about accepting things that we cannot change, we are able to let them go from our worrying minds. Our minds can be free of these worries!

One last thing  that is really helpful when those fleeting thoughts do come back to us is the use of relaxation techniques. Many of my clients find this simple muscle relaxation technique to be
extremely effective, especially before going to bed:

Begin by finding a comfortable position sitting, standing, or lying down. First focus on breathing. Breathe in forcefully and deeply, and hold this breath. You should be able to count to 5 or even 6 (in your head) as the oxygen enters and and then again as it exits. Let all the air go out slowly, with
it release all the tension. You should see your chest expand and feel it collapse. After about five deep, long breathes we focus on each individual muscle groups but we want to continue this breathing pattern through-out the exercise.

Start with the muscles on your two feet. Tighten all the muscles of your feet. Count to five while holding this tension. Do a final squeeze! Then relax. Let all the tension go. Feel the muscles in your feet go limp, loose, and relaxed. Your feet are not heavy. Notice how relaxed the muscles feel now. Feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Enjoy the pleasant feeling of relaxation in your feet.

I have my clients do their feet first then move up the body, all the way to their head/face. We follow the same basic instructions just instead of “feet,” I say “legs” or “arms.” Throughout the exercise, I stop and remind the client to continue to focus again on their breathing. They need to have slow, even, regular breaths.

This is a simple trick but it really does work and focusing on breathing is scientifically proven to lower heart-rate. sometimes I add things to this technique if the client or I am feeling tired of this same technique. A simple addition is to add another relaxed meditation to it. I like to tell the
clients that they are on a cloud and explain how everything is soft, peaceful, solace and comfortable. There are many similar setting and scenarios that can enable relaxation.

Scary statistics

Some upsetting statistics from my Seminary Evangelism class. I do not recall the exact source but I believe these numbers are from Barna Research Group and the Southern Baptist Convention :

USA total population increased 11% in last ten years; church membership declined 9.5%

Church attendance is declining 10% over the past 7 years

Evangelical Church failed to gain additional 2% of population in the past 50 years.

No county in America has a greater percentage of churched people since a decade ago.

Half of all churches in America last year did not add one new member via conversion.

Churches are closing their doors….

1900 -27 churches for every 10,000

1950- 17 to 10,000

2004- 11 for every 10,000

We lose 72 churches per week or 10.27 per day

Gain 24 churches a week, 3.4 a day

Net loss of 48 week and 6.85/ day

USA is the Largest post-Christian nation.

It is the 3rd largest unchurched nation.

USA Lead world in all crime categories

North America is only continent where Christianity is not growing, in fact other Countries have sent Christian missionaries to us, when we once sent Christian missionaries to them!

13th (some ranked us even as high as 4th) highest receptor of missions nation

Fastest growing affiliation is “not religious”

(Canada + US) is only 3 t o5% truly evangelical

Bill Easum-estimates that in American churches 60% median age of 60 or higher

Macro-evolutionits will…

1. claim that there are millions of transitional forms

2. admit there are absolutely no transitional fossils available for proof

3. discover that evidence concurs, there really are not any transitional fossils

4. say that this “evolution” happens so slowly that we will never see it…(this makes some of them feel better)

5. others claim that billions of years have past

6. and yet still they cannot find the transitional fossils from say, the last million years…(realizing this they…)

a. some will say erosion…sure erosion is a decent excuse, but they also say evolution is always happening so eventually one should find a no-eroded fossil or perhaps a living creature whom is in the process of “evolution”

b. others dis-claim everything they have already claimed and place all their emphasis on punctuated evolution…but to do this one must discredit everything they just learned (with something else that has no evidence)….

problems of a privatized faith

Our world has become “Secular vs sacred.” The Christian faith has become compartmentalized. Being “religious” is just another sector or part of life. It is personal, private and separate from all other things in life. The individual Christian is left to his own feelings about the faith. They are alone, by themselves and basing faith on “how they feel.” To make matters worse, the are not engaging their faith with their minds.
It is strange too. Think the secular world encourages a man to us his reason and mind when buying a house, when choosing a vocation, or learning to use a computer. Man engages his mind in accomplishing secular task, it is not necessarily how he feels that matters.
But in the “sacred world” man is basing faith on feelings. This has many downfalls. Sermons and Sunday schools are addressing the heart but not the cultivating the mind. Anti-intellectualism in the church is a major problem.
If we are not engaging our minds in our faith then we are not fully understanding God completely. We are going deep in study. We are not getting deep in our knowledge of God.
This is sad.
Also when the Christian faith is privatized, Christians more often chose not to go to church. This is a major problem because fellowship is an essential purpose of our faith. We need to be meeting together on a regular basis in order to encourage each other and help each other grow in our faiths!

The Miracle

Hume a philosopher has a simple syllogism agianst miracles:
(1) Laws of nature are exceptionally regular.
(2) A miracle is a violation of a law of nature.
(3) Miracles do not exist in nature.

This is a valid syllogism. But are the facts true?

Spinoza has a similar theory:

1. Miracles are violations of natural laws.
2. Natural laws are immutable.
3. It is impossible for immutable laws to be violated.
4. Therefore, miracles are impossible.

Kant also had things to say about miracles:
Kant’s argument can be summarized as follows:
1. Everything in our experience (the world to us) is determined by practical reason.
2. Practical reason operates according to universal laws.
3. Miracles occur either (1) daily, (2) seldom, or (3) never.
4. But what occurs daily is not a miracle since it occurs regularly according to natural laws.
5.And what occurs seldom is not determined by any law.
6. But all scientific knowledge must be determined by practical reason which operates on universal laws.
7. Therefore, it is rationally necessary for us to conclude that miracles never occur.

Flew’s argument against miracles can be summarized this way:

1. Miracles are by nature particular and unrepeatable.
2. Natural events are by nature general and repeatable.
3. Now, in practice, the evidence for the general and repeatable is always greater than that for the particular and unrepeatable.
4. Therefore, in practice, the evidence will always be greater against miracles than for them.

Alastair McKinnon’s argument can be summarized as follows:

1. A scientific law is a generalization based on observation.
2. Any exception to a scientific law invalidates that law as such and calls for a revision of it.
3. A miracle is an exception to a scientific law.
4. Therefore, a “miracle” would call for a revision of a law and the recognition of a broader law (which thereby explains the “miracle” as a natural event)

Even in this admittedly unsuccessful anti-supernatural argument is hidden the premise of an apparently successful one, namely the evidence for the regular and repeatable is always greater than that for the irregular and singular. Science is based on uniform experience, not anomalies. Regularity is the basis of a scientific understanding. Therefore, science as such can never accept the miraculous. Thus the principle of regularity seems to be the common thread of the anti- supernatural arguments.

A Christian response:

1. The only cause repeatedly observed to be adequate to produce information is intelligence.
2. Now the information in the first single cell which emerged on earth would fill a whole volume of an encyclopedia.
3. But observation of regularities are the scientific basis for understanding singularities.
4. Hence, there is a scientific basis (in repeated observation) for believing that first life was caused by some intelligence beyond the natural world.
5. But since this kind of singularity produced by a supernatural intelligent being would be a miracle by definition, then we have a firm scientific basis for believing in miracles.

In short, repetition in the present does give us a firm scientific basis for believing in an intelligent intervention into the natural world. To borrow Hume’s term, we have “uniform experience” on which to base our belief in the miraculous origin of life. For we never observe an encyclopedia resulting from an explosion in a printing shop. We never observe a fan blowing on alphabet cereal produce a scientific research paper. No one would conclude Mount Rushmore resulted from wind or rain erosion. Why? Our uniform experience teaches us that the kind of information conveyed on Mount Rushmore never results from natural laws but only from intelligent intervention.

Since the rise of modern science anti-supernatural arguments have stressed the principle of uniformity. They have argued that:

1. Scientific understanding is always based on constant repetition of events.
2. Miracles are not constantly repeated.
3. Therefore, there is no scientific way to understand miracles.

Two things should be noted about this argument. First, this form of the argument does not deny that unusual events like miracles may occur, any more than it denies a hole-in-one may occur. It simply says that scientific law is based on regularities. And until one can establish a constant conjunction between antecedent and consequent factors there is no scientific basis for assuming a causal connection between them.

Second, neither does this argument deny that there is any scientific way to analyze singularities, such as the origin of the universe, or the origin of life, or receiving one message from outer space. It simply says that observed regularities must be the basis for analyzing singularities. For example, if we observe over and over again that a certain kind of effect regularly results from a certain kind of cause then when we discover even a singular case of this kind of effect (whether from the past or present), we have a scientific basis for assuming it had the same kind of cause too. This same assumption is behind the naturalists’ search for a chemical basis for the origins of life and an evolutionary basis for the origin of species. In both cases repeatable observations in the present are used as a basis for understanding the singularity of origin in the past. Without this principle of uniformity there would be no way of getting at singularities in either the past or the present.

Certainly we must grant that this is a legitimate procedure to base all scientific understanding in the principle of regularity. However, the question is this: Does such a procedure eliminate a scientific understanding of miracles? In order to better understand our answer to this question let us reformulate the naturalist argument in the light of the two qualifications noted above.

1) Scientific understanding is always based on constant repetition of events.

la) This repetition need not be a repetition of the event we are analyzing but only of other similar events.

2) Miracles are not constantly repeated events.

3b) Therefore, miracles need not be eliminated from the realm of scientific understanding.

Once the argument is put in this form we can see that all one needs to do to establish a basis for singularities such as miracles is to find some constantly repeated process as a basis for understanding them. This we believe can be done by adding these premises:

4) Constant repetition informs us that wherever complex information is conveyed there was an intelligent cause.

5) There are some scientific singularities (such as the origin of first life) where complex information is conveyed.

6) Therefore, there is a scientific basis for positing an intelligent non-natural cause for the origin of first life.

In short:
There is a way things typically go and we do not normally expect any different but
within that “typical” behavior there is room for exceptions. There is an intelligent being, God, in charge who is deciding when these exceptions occur. And these exception are miracles.

An example:
I am a dark coffee man. You can ask my friend Tom, every morning I get dark coffee and he gets a Latte. ask Tom, he says, “Alex ALWAYS gets a dark coffee.”
One day I say, “Tom call me crazy, but I want to try something new.” I intelligently choose to get a Latte. Tom thinks this is a miracle. He says “Alex, you surprised me, you ALWAYS get a dark coffee but today you chose to get a latte, this is a miracle.”

Where does reason come from?

Reason relies on faith. Reason requires faith. “Reason Alone!” A defense of reason by reason is circular argument and worthless.

When it comes down to it reason came from one of two places:

A. Preexisting intelligence by faith

B. mindless matter by faith

Why by faith?

Materialism as we have seen cannot contradicts all scientific observation. You cannot give what you haven’t got. Yet Darwinists believe that dead, unintelligent matter has produced intelligent life.

It makes much more sense to believe that human minds were created by The Great Mind- God. Materialism is not sufficient. Cannot explain reason. Materialism is not reasonable.

Darwinism on trial , the heart of the problem…

the worldview philosophy behind Darwinism is materialism or naturalism. Science is dominated by philosophy. For example think about the word, ‘chance.’ It is just a word. It is not a cause. It is actually nothing. It has no power in itself/ on its own. You see, science is a slave to philosophy.

Good science is based on good philosophy.
Science cannot be done without philosophy. There is no way around it. Philosophical assumptions are utilized in the search for causes. They cannot prove the tools of science by running scientific tests. These assumptions are are not the results of the testing. They are already assumed to be true in order to run the tests in the first place!

These philosophical assumptions can drastically change the conclusions of experiments. This one is easy to understand. Every true scientists knows that when you come into an experiment assuming something/desiring to see something than you are biased. You are not open minded enough to even consider evidence that might not be what you are looking for and this is a bad thing. Assumptions can lead to bad science. Be open minded to both intelligent and natural causes and go to where the evidence leads.

Finally science does not speak. It does not say a word, but scientists do. When assumptions are in the way, scientist interpret the evidence in the way that they want to see it. In the way that their worldview and philosophy is leading them. Again, here be open minded and let the evidence lead you.

What is the worldview of a Darwinist (materialism and naturalism)?

Naturalism implies that “nature is all there is and all basic truths are truths of nature.” (1)
The philosophy of materialism holds that the only thing that can be truly proven to exist is matter, and is considered a form of physicalism. Fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions; therefore, matter is the only substance. (2)

Where does Naturalism go wrong?

Think about these five things that cannot be proven by science alone and matter alone:
1. mathematics and logic
2. metaphysical truths
3. ethical judgments
4. ascetic judgments
5. science itself.

Where does Materialism go wrong?

1. specified complexity cannot be explained materially.

2. human thoughts and theories are more than just materials. Chemicals are involved in the human thought process, but they cannot explain all human thoughts.
The theory of materialism isn’t made of molecules.

3. If life were nothing more than materials, then we would be able to take all the materials of life and make a living being. We would have all the resources available to make life. Both a living body and a dead body are made up of the same chemicals, what is the difference? What accounts for consciousness?

4. If materialism was true, then everyone in all of human history who has ever had a a spiritual experience has been completely mistaken. Some of the world’s most rational, scientific, logical, and critical mind who have ever lived have been greatly mistaken or crazy. This seems highly unlikely. Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Kepler, Newton, Pascal, and Jesus Christ ( to name a few!)

5. If materialism is true then reason itself is impossible. For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe anything is true. (Including the theory of materialism.) Chemicals cannot evaluate whether something is true or not. Chemicals do not reason, they react.

The irony is that even when Darwinists get something right, their worldview prevents us and them from believing themselves, because reason itself is impossible in a world ruled by chemicals.

When Darwinists assert that they rely on reason alone there is a problem already, because this statement cannot be justified by their own worldview.

Reason relies on faith. Reason requires faith. “Reason Alone!” A defense of reason by reason is circular argument and worthless.

When Naturalism/Materialism fail, so does Darwinism. More posts to come…

1. “Naturalism”, in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan, 1996 Supplement, 372-373.
2. Wikipedia the term “Materialism”

Main reference: I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist by Norman Geisler