I was approached by the head of research for SC Johnson and asked which area I would like to work in. I chose fragrances because they are so subjective and I wanted to take my modeling into an area that involved as little math as possible.
The project concerned Plug-Ins: the air freshener that plugs into an electrical outlet and works for 45 days. Consumers complained the product only worked for 21 days. The reason had to do with adaptation and habituation.
When you encounter a new smell and stay in its presence, the strength of that odor disappears after about 20 minutes. This is called adaptation. Habituation is the inability to experience an odor at all after repeated contact for approximately 21 days.
For example, imagine you came over my house and my wife was cooking cinnamon buns. Odor molecules from my house and the cinnamon buns would go up your nose and trigger your olfactory nerve. Two signals would be sent to your brain because of the smells and you would experience both smells.
However, at the same time, odor molecules from my house and the cinnamon buns would go up my nose and trigger my olfactory nerve. Two signals would be sent to my brain, but I would only experience the cinnamon smell. My brain would block the smell of my house. Why does this happen? What is the model for the brain and nose connection?
Every resource I read said our sense of smell evolved for two reasons: find a mate and detect a predator. However, this evolutionary model doesn’t explain why humans experience adaptation and habituation. I needed a better model.
During this time I had been reading “Mere Christianity” every month. There are 33 chapters and I’d read at least one chapter each day. I was also reading my Bible every year. I had been doing both of these things for two years. Basically, I was applying the four problem solving principles I had used throughout my career to these two books and both books seemed to make more sense as I got better at applying the principles.
At this point, I decided to put the Bible to the test. If our brain and nose connection was created by God, then He would be the perfect person to look to for an explanation. I did a study on the root words for each one of our senses. I also found there are two fragrances mentioned in the Bible. Both of them are mentioned in Exodus.
Taking all of this information together, it appeared the Bible says our sense of smell is closely tied to emotion, memory, and location. It took over a dozen models to come to the following conclusion.
The first time a person experiences a smell, the profile of the smell is filed away with the emotion that was being experience AND the location it was experienced. When the person came back to the location and experienced the smell, the profile was compared to the fragrance profile that was filed away in the memory bank for that location. If the profile matched, the brain lessened the impact that the person was allowed to experience and over time it would disappear completely. If the profile didn’t match exactly, the profile was updated and the person was allowed to experience the smell.
Two more points. First, the emotion was also updated. If the emotion was consistent, then the tie to this emotion became stronger. If the emotion was different, the tie to the emotion became weaker. Second, during the first five or so encounters, the brain was learning the fragrance and it would actually appear to get stronger. This is because the brain was getting a more focused experience. Once this learning period ended, the fragrance would appear to decrease.
The final model was able to not only explain what was happening in peoples’ houses, it also explained some of the strange things that consumers told us they did with the Plug-Ins to make them last longer. The model also identified why we weren’t able to replicate the success of our best Plug-In and how to modify the test method to make it more predictive of sales and less costly.
The Ultimate Model
It was at this point that I decided to completely focus on the biggest modeling challenge that existed: God.
I accepted Jesus as Lord in 1981. For the first ten years, I read just about everything I could get my hands on to understand Christianity. I got heavily involved in my local church. No one seemed to be able to explain Christianity, but I just figured I was too new. Then I read "Mere Christianity" by CS Lewis. Suddenly I realized we were supposed to be able to understand what we believe. We were supposed to know the WHY. It became more obvious that people did not know the WHY behind what they believed to the same extent as they did in other areas of their lives. I also notice that this book written in the 1940's was different than the books written since then: "Mere Christianity" DIDN'T say God and the meaning of life is a mystery. He tried to explain the WHY in an objective manner.
As you've seen my professional job was to understand how people thought, communicated, measured, and valued their experiences, expectations, and desires. EVERYONE has a model for EVERYTHING...whether they are aware of it or not is a different story. I found myself applying this perspective when I talked to people from all walks of life about their beliefs. I found out very quickly that people did not know the WHY, lived with contradictions, and focused on thinking less over time when it came to their beliefs...yet they still had a model for their beliefs. The problem is their model is flawed.
About the same time, I began reading through my Bible cover-to-cover every year and reading "Mere Christianity" cover-to-cover every month. After about three years of this, I found the CAUSE of the problem: everyone's faith was based on tradition...on man-made theology. When I asked a person how the Bible supported a specific belief that they stated, this reliance on man-made theology became apparent in three ways.
1. Misinterpretation - People would quote the Bible verse wrong
2. Misunderstanding - People would draw a wrong conclusion from the Bible verse
3. Projection - People would project events and intents that are not presented in the Bible
They and I would ALWAYS find out that an error had been made in one of these three areas.
I also noticed that people tended to reference certain KEY words when explaining their beliefs...yet when I asked for a definition they couldn't (or wouldn't) provide one.
It was at this point that a HUGE revelation hit me: the process currently being used to teach and explain Christianity is flawed because we are actually embracing tradition in the place of God's Word AND we are ACTUALLY encouraging people not to intentionally think. The second part of that revelation became obvious when people ended their explanation with the statement that we can't know or aren't supposed to know these definitions and explanations. THIS is the ONLY response one can have when they have stated a contradictory explanation AND they are trying to feel right.
Christians have contradictory beliefs where they have included man-made tradition in place of the Word of God. This is what caused the shifting in beliefs that we have seen. For instance, "mercy" and "justice" have slowly shifted over time until one day we wake up and preachers are teaching there is no hell. How did that happen? It happens so slightly and in various areas, that the shifting isn't noticeable to us until they all collide in a major doctrine. This shifting in belief wouldn't occur if we know the WHY behind our beliefs and stick with the Word of God instead of tradition. How do we determine the WHY behind our beliefs?
It was about this time I created the model for my secular job by asking God for revelation on how HE created our brain and our nose. God directed me to the Bible and opened up passages that led to understanding that was beyond the scientific community. This caused me to ask God for revelation on the process HE wanted us to use to determine the WHY behind our beliefs.
In general, God gave me revelation and I would check the Bible, concordances, history, etc. and ask others. I would look at EVERY usage of the KEY word in the Bible...then I would go back to God. This has been a fourteen year process. I have read the Bible cover-to-cover fourteen times.
The result was a non-contradictory worldview that is Christian! The result is the same general abstract belief as what Christians profess, however the WHY is different. The WHY is based on the Bible, not man-made tradition. This fourteen year process made me realize people ACTUALLY believe in Christianity because of tradition and have convinced themselves these traditional beliefs are in the Bible or that they don't need to be explained...they can just be "felt".
There is A LOT of material from this fourteen year process. I didn't want to overwhelm people AND I didn't want to point an accusatory finger at Christians. I began to meet with pastors to explain the most pressing issues. I found out very quickly that some pastors have a different perspective on the purpose of church. For instance, when I showed them the work on "grace", the response was that while they could see that Biblical grace was NOT "unmerited favor", they weren't going to tell their congregation about "charis". Why? Because they didn't want people asking them why they were wrong for 10 and 12 years! They told me that they didn't have to worry about it because no one would listen to me anyway...I don't have a church...or a ministry...or a book.
God gave me a vision of an old pastor and a young pastor in a coffee shop talking about a woman who just walked in. The woman was a member of the young pastor's congregation and she was suffering. The young pastor talks to her and returns to sit with the old pastor. The young pastor says that he wishes he knew exactly what God wants him to say in that situation. The old pastor agrees and says that he would give anything to completely understand the Bible. Then God opens both of their eyes so they can completely understand the Bible. The young pastor is excited, but notices the old pastor is depressed. It turns out the old pastor didn't realize that completely understanding the Bible would ALSO mean he would learn where he had been wrong...for years. The old pastor walks by the woman dejected and leaves the coffee shop. The young pastor goes to help the woman...
It was at that point I believe God told me to write "Modeling God" to give the WHY behind the most fundamental beliefs: God and Salvation...AND encourage people away from tradition. "Modeling God" presents less than a third of the work that has been done over the last fourteen years.
It took three years and fifteen drafts before "Modeling God" was fit to be published. During the earlier drafts, people told me that I needed to be bolder when stating the purpose of this book. They realized this was the revelation people claim they want: an objective explanation of the Christian worldview that gives the WHY. I was told that it would be MY fault if I didn't blatantly state that this is the ONLY explanation for God and salvation that is non-contradictory because people need to know this is what they have been looking for. I realize these statements can appear to be egotistical, but I'm just making sure that I don't get judged like the watchman on the wall who didn't let people know what was coming. Again, if you have a non-contradictory explanation other than what is presented in "Modeling God" please share it with me. If you see something in "Modeling God" that is contradictory, please tell me. Be careful about projecting an intent or attitude onto me without talking to me. The reason there were fifteen drafts is because people pointed out flaws and I truly appreciated their correction.
The specifics surrounding the model for God are:
God is always completely Right and always completely Just. Every other characteristic of God is dependent on Right and Just. God cannot act apart from Right and Just.
I applied this model for God and the four principles to various religions and religious books. What I realized was that EVERY religion believes in the God model. However, the religion itself is an explanation for how the God model can be true even though it doesn’t appear to be. EVERY explanation was contradictory and THAT is the problem with religion.
When the principles are applied to these religious books and the religion itself, the flaws are instantly exposed. However, this was NOT the case with one religious book: the Bible. When the God model and the principles were applied to the Bible, it instantly gave the WHY behind the verses. This was eye opening stuff!
What I realized is these four principles were created by God! There are examples throughout the Bible where God, Jesus, Paul, etc. use these principles to convey to us understanding about God! In fact, the Bible shows that doing the opposite of these four God-given principles are what is referred to as "the flesh". I hadn't invented these four principles...I had discovered them. God invented them and it takes an expression of our will to choose to do these God-given principles.
I then used the Bible to determine how all the other characteristics of God were an effect of the God model. This led to non-contradictory definitions for a lot of key words Christians use to explain their beliefs. It also showed that most Christians don’t really know what they believe and can’t explain it because their beliefs are based on tradition...not the Word of God.
There were four topics I loved to discuss in order to illustrate that last point. There were: faith, righteous, truth, and life. I would ask people:
-how I could have more faith in the next five minutes.
-how I could be more righteous in the next five minutes.
-how the Bible could be truth if Satan quoted it and Jesus said in Satan there is no truth at all.
-what eternal life meant if people who don’t go to heaven were going to exist forever.
The most interesting discussions occurred when I would ask one of these questions of a pastor in front of a group of people. I could answer every question and the pastor could not. The pastors knew I was right and didn't appreciate the lesson. However, immediately after the encounter, I would get requests from sub 30 year olds to write down what I had just presented. They wanted to confront other people to prove them wrong.
I continued to confront all types of people (pastors, theologians, Christians, atheists, teachers, etc.) in order to stress the model in other areas and find out where it is wrong. I got a lot of great input and modified the model immediately after having flaws pointed out.
I started sharing all of this information with pastors in order to help them help others. I was floored by the response. Pastors would look me in the eye and admit what they were teaching about grace (for example) was wrong and even though what I presented was right, they still wouldn’t teach it. They would say they don’t want their congregation wondering why they had been preaching the wrong thing for 10+ years. They also said they didn’t have to deal with this because their congregation would never know about this. I hadn’t written a book.
So, I began formally writing this book on January 1, 2004. I had the beginning with the principles and the model for God. I had the middle with the discussions with the pastors. I wrote through these two points until I reached a logical conclusion. The first draft was completed on July 11, 2004 and the logical conclusion was “the meaning of life”.
I immediately wrote a second draft and gave it to eight people. The feedback was harsh, but I asked for it. I wrote a third draft and sent it to twelve people. Again, great feedback! I wrote a fourth draft and sent it to an agent in April of 2005. The agent spent 2005 trying to sell it to large publishing houses. None of them were interested in upsetting their current stable of authors.
In 2006, I began teaching people with the latest draft of the book. THAT is when everything came into focus. People really did a great job hammering out the smallest details and bringing the model into focus in order to make it practical and easy to understand. The book went through about a dozen more drafts during this period.
However, the book divided people into two groups. Those who read it and forgave people quicker and helped people more…and those who said the book was wrong AND wouldn’t explain how it was wrong AND wouldn’t read it.
Think about it…if they knew it was wrong and I was actively looking for people to disprove it, why wouldn’t they tell me what was wrong? Why wouldn’t they read it to prove what was wrong?
In late 2006, VMI reviewed the latest manuscript and told me they wanted to publish the book. During this process, people who have had the material for over a year are still growing in their understanding of God and are more motivated to talk about God. They don’t have to work themselves up to think about or talk about God. They want to read their Bible more and improve their ability to hear from God because it is making a real difference in their lives. They also want to surround themselves with people who help them operate in the purpose God gave them.
It wasn't until later that I found out that CS Lewis in his last book ("The Discarded Image") was focused on modeling. He even refers to the model that incorporates everything we know as the Model! In his last book, CS Lewis presents two rules for Modeling:
LEWIS' FIRST RULE OF MODELING: The Model must be made up of specific causes that account for ALL the observed effects without contradiction.
LEWIS' SECOND RULE OF MODELING: If more than one Model accounts for ALL the observed effects without contradiction, then we must embrace the simpler Model.
The Model for God (God is ALWAYS completely Right and ALWAYS completely Just) meets BOTH of Lewis' Rules for Modeling. This Model accounts for ALL the observed effects of God without contradiction AND it is the simplest Model.
Lewis explains how a Model is discarded:
"It will have to be abandoned if a more ingenious person thinks of a supposal which would 'save' the observed phenomena with still fewer assumptions, or if we discover new phenomena which it cannot save at all." (Page 16)
Basically, if the Model violates the First Rule (can't cover all the observed effects) or loses under the Second Rule (a simpler Model that fulfills the First Rule is discovered).
Lewis also explains that the idea that God is incomprehensible is a man-made conception that occurred 800 years AFTER Christ!
Lewis on Pseudo-Dionysius (died 870 AD):
"His writings are usually regarded as the main channel by which a certain kind of Theology entered the Western tradition. It is the 'negative Theology' of those who take in a more rigid sense, and emphasise more persistently than others, the incomprehensibility of God." (Page 70)
Lewis knew we needed to have this Model. Tozer warned us that not having this Model would cause the church to lose her way. Both of these men died in the early 1960's. By the mid-1960's, people were claiming God was dead because no one could give a non-contradictory explanation for God. The church in America responded in 1969 with the Godless Christianity Movement and the Jesus Movement.
Basically, the church in America said they would "go without an orthodox explanation for God" AND because they couldn't explain God they focused everyone on Jesus...who is actually HARDER to explain because He was fully man and Fully God. In order to understand Jesus, you STILL need a Model for God AND NOW you ALSO need a Model for man!
In April 2009, Newsweek ran a cover story, "The Death of Christian America" in which they trace the cause of the church's problems to the decision to create the Godless Christianity Movement! WHY do people STILL fight the need to have a Model for God? Isn't this obviously a spiritual issue?
The problem is that Modeling God presents principles directly. Most people CANNOT handle principles directly. They need stories. They need parables. We see the same thing in Matthew 12. Jesus had been teaching principles directly and it upset the Pharisees. It actually made them worse. Beginning in Matthew 13, Jesus teaches ONLY by parables BECAUSE the masses could NOT handle principles directly. Jesus even states in Matthew 11 that people of the past COULD handle principles directly and would have responded to His teaching with repentance! However, Jesus still taught His disciples directly with principles.
Modeling God ought to come with a WARNING: If you cannot handle principles directly, do NOT read this book. If you need principles to be presented indirectly through stories or parables, do NOT read this book.
If you are able to handle principles directly, the result of reading this book will be that you will know who God created you to be and how to operate in this purpose. You will not achieve a greater feeling on earth once you are able to do this…but it all starts with knowing who God is.