Wednesday, March 31, 2010
(Link for the previous Section of The Brothers Karamazowsky.)
The month I spent with the Brothers Karamzowksy occurred less than four years ago, but looking back at what has happened since: all we have learned and all of our conversations; my time before that month feels like some other, distant life.
When I got back, I stayed with Jake. It took me a couple of days to share everything that had happened. Jake's response? It was strange and went something like this:
"Erik Clesia, you are a modeler. You are an artist and your tools are the tools of the mind. You handle the gems you unearth from others very carefully, and recognize their value. You will write three books presenting truth directly."
Van and I continued our work on finding the Model for God. Four months later, we were successful. All we learned about God’s Nature falls under two principles: righteousness and justice. God is always completely Right and always completely Just. We had to qualify this with always completely because of peoples' response to the Model. They were willing to admit God could be partially Right and partially Just, or completely Right and completely Just some of the time. It still amazes us the lengths some people will go to in order to ignore and avoid truth.
The first effect of this Model was God’s inability to do anything outside of His Nature. We presented this concept to Alex. We told him God could not deny volition, though God did embrace choice within His Nature.
When we explained this to others, Van and I presented the non-contradictory definition of free will: the ability to do something apart from one’s nature. God simply cannot be wrong or unfair. Ever. This cleared up a lot of confusion among those who wanted to argue about free will. That is, among those who chose to think.
This meant Jesus truly was fully man and fully God. He was able to exhibit both Models. Jesus was always completely Right and always completely Just and He could choose to do something apart from His fleshly nature in order to be always completely Right and always completely Just. Some pastors flatly stated Jesus was unable to choose to do wrong. Imagine their surprise when they found out they had contradicted one of the most well-known prophecies about Jesus!
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." (Isaiah 7:14,15)
The effects of this Model for God are infinite. The effects are His Personality. God is comprehensible, but His Personality will take an eternity to learn. Every example in the Bible of God's Personality, whether it is mercy, love, compassion, anger, etc. is guided by Righteousness and Justice, which are first causes. The ultimate effect of these causes is love.
Some people say love is in God's Nature. However, as we looked through the Bible, we saw God's love was always guided by Right and Just. Love wasn't a causeless cause like Right and Just. Love was always the effect of Right and Just. There is a reason why behind every time God loves.
Van and I did a Bible study on “The Gospel” during my month and it is one of my ten favorite Bible Studies. Ever. We learned each of the three aspects of The Gospel are mentioned separately throughout the Bible. Each with a unique attribute. Jesus' death is associated with Righteousness and Salvation, which is avoidance of punishment. Jesus' burial is associated with Justice and Reward. Jesus' resurrection is associated with eternal life in paradise. Jesus’ death without His resurrection would have only helped us avoid hell; not guarantee a home in heaven.
When we applied the four principles to the Bible, we always arrived at a non-contradictory interpretation. In fact, we found Jesus specifically spoke about each principle. The principles were God-given. Man didn't create these four principles. We cannot identify truth without using all four principles together. Every time things were wrong or unjust throughout history, regardless whether it was in religion, politics, military, medicine, science, etc., it was because at least one of the four God-given principles were violated!
It was Van who realized the uniqueness of the Bible: it is a book written with the reasons, the causes, why or how something happened and does not contradict itself. The Bible is the ultimate literature. Not only does it list principles directly, it presents the effects of these principles in story form without contradiction. This makes the Bible something more than a religious book, not less. This requires us to be more excellent when we read it.
Van took courses in hermeneutics: how to interpret the Bible. Van realized hermeneutics is a rationalization for violating the rules we use to interpret art. For example, if we watch the same movie and I interpreted the meaning of a scene in a manner contradicting something said or done within the movie, you would tell me I was wrong. You would be using the movie to interpret the movie.
This got me thinking, what would you say if I told you I couldn't care less what the rest of the movie presented as accurate, a friend of mine told me the scene meant something different and a lot of us have believed him for quite a long time, so you ought to believe him too? Would you tell me I am being closed-minded or I am blinded to the truth because I am biased?
This is exactly what is happening today when we choose to believe Martin Luther’s “unmerited favor” or John Calvin’s “sovereignty”. These men wrote these concepts five hundred years ago. These concepts contradict several passages in the Bible. When a pastor is unable to explain, without contradiction, art, or a book much simpler than the Bible, I become wary of their ability to interpret anything from the Bible accurately.
In the four years, Van has changed jobs twice. His former employers were not happy with some of his theological explanations exposing these contradictory traditional doctrines. Van and I have been working on a book to present this Model in order to continue CS Lewis' legacy. We've already shared some drafts and the responses reminded me of something Ayn Rand wrote about Romanticism in the 1960's:
"Their motive is obvious. If they actually regarded Romanticism as an 'impractical fantasy,' they would feel nothing but a friendly or indifferent amusement - not the passionate resentment and uncontrollable rage which they do feel and exhibit."
Van and I could say the same for a non-contradictory interpretation of the Bible using the Bible: if this wasn't possible, these people would be friendly or indifferent because they would believe we are wrong. Instead, there is a fear They are afraid we may be right. None of these people were willing to discuss what we had written. They hurled accusations, fired Van (twice), and on multiple occasions, encouraged others to abuse us. Their responses may be hard to believe, if their motives weren’t so clearly read.
We don't know whether to publish a book or put the information on the web. If we publish a book, people will ask us why we are trying to make money on information beneficial to all of us. If we put it on the web, people will say the information isn't important because it wasn't good enough to be published. Regardless what we do, people seem to find a reason to encourage others to ignore the information.
Alex wept when Van and I presented him the God Model. I watched as Van explained the "Doctrine Model" to Alex. The image of the two of them sitting together at the piano still brings tears to my eyes. Alex understod the more doctrine he learns, the more God is able to access in him through grace. From that moment, Alex has craved doctrine and not just for knowledge's sake. He desires to put it into practice.
During another visit, I got to help Alex with objective measures for Rose. The measure? Love. ("Love" is also another of my top ten Bible studies.) How did I figure this out? Alex and I went to the mall again. This time, when he went to get a cookie, I got to hear the exchange. The woman behind the counter thanked Alex for writing a new song. She said the song allowed her to have a great conversation with her daughter. I laughed.
Alex looked confused as to why I was laughing, which gave me an opportunity to explain to both of them what love is: giving without expecting anything in return from the person to whom you gave. Alex had given a song without expecting anything in return. Because the woman behind the counter believed in value for value, in Justice, she knew she owed Alex for the value she received and gave him a cookie without expecting anything else in return. Alex had already been using this measure in his business, rather, in his ministry.
When Alex realized his goal was to give without expecting, he proposed to Rose and she arrived the next day. I was there. I found Rose was more intentional than Alex. Since then, they worked together to create their own process for moving towards marriage and then followed it perfectly. Along the way, they shared their thoughts and experiences with me. I think the three of us are going to write a book, together, about volition and marriage! ("God's Will" and "Marriage" are two of my top ten favorite Bible studies.)
One of the things Rose and Alex taught me was Fellowship. The word "relationship" was not in the Bible. The definition of "relationship" results in giving and taking. Fellowship is only giving, which is love! Alex showed me we have Fellowship with each other only if we have Fellowship with God. What we ought to focus on is loving God. The effect is God, through grace, directing us how to love each other. Rose and Alex have a marriage constantly growing in love and it is because they encourage each other to be in Fellowship with God.
Alex also has this explanation of the Holy Spirit being a vibration, being music. When a group of us get together in Fellowship, Alex calls it music. Each person is in tune with everyone else on an individual basis. The effect feels like a symphony. Alex explained to me he sees the Holy Spirit acting as a string between each person. The two people are only in tune if there is both tension and looseness. Alex says if there is too much tension, the note is sharp. If there is too much looseness, the note is flat.
I told Alex, with his Fellowship Model he had attained the goal he set with Halley's Comet:
"It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance."
His response at my recital of Ayn's explanation was a look that was open, truthful, and vulnerable.
I've learned most people over thirty years old learn the only way they can co-exist with others is to remove all the tension. This is because they don't know how to repair. Rose passionately talks about the strength of their marriage is a direct result of their ability to repair: their ability to admit where they were wrong and repent, which is life. Rose does not see imperfections, hers or Alex’s, as limitations, but as opportunities for growth for more life.
I know my contribution to our book is how not to have a marriage. It is my responsibility to explain how the church currently presents marriage, which is how and why my marriage failed. April never repented because the church taught and encouraged her to avoid uncomfortable situations. Situations we could have taken action in. Had we handled these opportunities excellently, we would want to discuss the situation, even long after the repair had been made, because it would continually be a source of learning for us and others. Had we both done this, we would have become more attracted to each other Discussing these topics would remind us of how excellent the spouse had handled the situation. When spouses are encouraged, by the church, to avoid certain topics, they are ultimately encouraged not to share. If this pattern is not broken, the marriage collapses from the strain of wanting to share and not being able to share everything because the list of topics being avoided continues to grow each year.
Alex encourages Rose to share her art with the rest of the world. In fact, she allowed me to use her drawings to illustrate this work.
Rose took the frame and glass from the drawing in their guest room. If you ever have the opportunity to visit them, her drawing is not easy to find. The last four years have brought many artists and musicians into the guest room. With them, more pieces have been drawn on the walls. The wall is covered in flowers and instruments. Though each piece is unique, the total sum represents a seamless, cohesive mural; a breathtaking work honoring love and its ability to heal and give life.
As for Adam, I still have his copy of "A New Kind of Christian". No one knows where he is, but we pray for him everyday. He knew church wasn't being done in a Biblical fashion and that was truly his desire. I hope some day to write a book with him on what this looks like, though I believe we both would benefit from Dor's insight.
Dor and I became best friends within ten minutes of meeting each other. I spoke to him as I would speak to Van and three hours elapsed before Dor realized he didn't know my name.
It became quite clear Dor is certainly the father of these three sons. I can see clearly where each of them received their ability. Each son has taken their gift further than Dor has, but none of the sons have all three gifts. Dor is the cause.
During our first meeting, I presented the dimensional models. Instantly, he was citing scripture and presenting memorable analogies to illustrate his conclusions. He is better, at both, than anyone I've ever met. During the second dimensional discussion, he brought up several passages including the difficult ones from Hebrews six and Hebrews ten.
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Hebrews 6:4-6)
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Hebrews 10:26, 27)
Dor explained both of the verses state we must remove the sin resulting in damnation by confessing and repenting: by responding to the second dimension sin. These verses do not say the person can never chose to return to this sin and confess and repent. It made me wonder how many pastors knew the wide ranging applications of this revelation.
Dor also explained how people are able to do something good during the first dimension (what they say or do), but their own response to the good coming from this could be to credit themselves instead of the Holy Spirit. Worshipping themselves would mean their second dimension response would be pride. He quoted several Biblical passages illuminating the way to fix the first dimension response and grow towards maturity: handle the second dimension well. Grace would lead the person towards a response repairing and maturing the person resulting in less first dimensional sin.
The part giving Dor the most immediate discomfort was God seeming to not be interested in our first dimenstional sin. God is focused on our second dimensional sin. However, when he thought of the Bible verses supporting this, he realized people who confess and repent to God for the sin they have committed against other people are actually confessing and repenting to themselves. If people actually interacted with God during this confession and repentance, they would hear God tell them to confess and repent to the person. Confessing and repenting to God for sins we do against others is actually justification of self. It is idolatry.
Dor was particularly interested in what the third model presented: volition. He quoted several passages (e.g., “guard your heart”) telling us the importance of awareness. We must be aware of every stimulus, everything we take in, before it results in our first dimension response. He taught me about the Calvanistic approach: encourage rejection of the third dimensional model. The Model of which most people are unaware. He said it this way:
“Your choice not to believe volition does not make volition, as the cause, cease to exist. Your disbelief denies you the effects of volition.”
I was afraid for the people in churches after hearing this. I am terrified now.
Dor has taught me through understanding and experience, bad analogies damage the brain.
Today, Dor and I have a consulting ministry together. We help churches move to a Biblical Model. He does all the talking when it comes to making contacts and private conversations with pastors and leaders. I do all the assessments and administrating: the modeling. We both teach and speak to groups. Dor had been doing the majority of traveling. This year, the last of my kids began attending college, which allows me to travel more. I plan to do so.
We realized the biggest problem churches face is their ignorance to what they believe and why they believe it. The leadership is deceived into thinking they understand. Saying you believe something (what), without providing why you believe it or how it is lived out, is to accept deception.
One of the tests we give pastors and leaders involves making four columns on a piece of paper. The headings for each column are "Doctrine", "What", "Why", and "How". Under the first column, we list ten doctrines: faith, grace, love, life, truth, God, salvation, marriage, etc. We then ask the pastor and leaders to fill in the other three columns. Nearly every sheet of paper looks the same. Eight to ten answers in the "What" column. At best, one answer in the next two columns.
What happened to the church in America? Dor and I present the answer this way:
At the beginning of the 1960's, the influence of Nietzsche's 19th-century declaration "God is dead," was beginning to be felt because people were realizing every explanation for God was contradictory, which means He does not exist.
Deep Christian thinkers realized the importance of being able to explain God. For instance, AW Tozer wrote the following passage in "The Knowledge Of The Holy" (1961):
"Before the Christian church goes into eclipse anywhere, there must first be the corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, 'What is God like?' Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresey of the most insidious and deadly kind."
AW Tozer died in May 1963.
CS Lewis died in November 1963.
CS Lewis' last book published in 1964. He was also concerned with the Model and our need to improve our understanding of God.
On April 8, 1966, Time Magazine's cover asked: "Is God Dead?"
The title of the cover story was "Toward a Hidden God". By 1966, atheists were making a convincing argument God either never existed or didn't currently exist. Their argument was fairly simple: If God exists then why is there evil in the world?
When ANYONE attempts to give an answer to this question, he must immediately address two questions:
-If God is "all-powerful", why is there evil? Is it because God wants bad things to happen?
-What is God's Nature? If your explanation is contradictory, then God doesn't exist.
The irony is atheists were "proving" God didn't exist because the world was not Right and not Just. Basically, the events of this world are not right and fair, so God must not exist.
Think about that consciously: atheists know the Model for God.
The "believers" don't know the Model for God and didn't want to determine it, even though Tozer and Lewis were encouraging us to determine it.
So, what was the church in America's response to the 1966 declaration "God is dead"?
They took three years to respond with this: Christians will go without an orthodox understanding for God.
This was called, "The Godless Christianity Movement" and the church is still intentionally following it today!
In fact, this was the cause of the "Jesus Movement". Churches began focusing people on Jesus instead of God the Father. Remember, the critical doctrine concerning Jesus is: He is fully man and fully God, which not only still requires a Model for "God", but additionally requires a Model for "man"! Churches began talking almost exclusively about Jesus and ignoring any discussion about God the Father, which means, the church was moving "towards a hidden God"!
Recently, a book by Philip Jenkins, titled "Jesus Wars", begins with this introduction:
"Jesus once asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that I am?' They answered that all sorts of stories were circulating — that he was a prophet, perhaps Elijah or John the Baptist come back to earth. 'But,' he asked, 'Who do you say that I am?' Over the past two thousand years, Christians have formulated many different answers to this question. Yes, most believe Jesus was a human being, but at the same time he was also God, one of the three persons of the Trinity. He was both God and man."
"But when we have said that, we have raised more questions than we have answered, as the basic belief in Jesus Christ demands combining two utterly different categories of being."
"Such a transgression of boundaries puzzles and shocks believers of other faiths, especially strict monotheists such as Muslims and Jews. But even those Christians who accept the basic concept probably could not explain it with anything like the precision demanded by early church councils. By those rigorous standards, virtually all modern nonspecialists (including many clergy) would soon lapse into grave heresy."
Notice how these questions ask how Jesus could be fully God and fully man and why. If a person answers this question without the four God-given principles, he will contradict the Bible. The author went so far as to call it "grave heresy".
In fact, these four God-given principles also addressed another deception presented by McLaren. He wrote we can't tell the difference between misguided religion and authentic religion. Actually, it is pretty simple. Authentic religion gives a right what with a right how and right why, which means it is non-contradictory. Misguided religion is contradictory or it attempts to avoid contradictions by not presenting a how or why.
The saddest sight among Christian intellectuals is their insistence in violating Lewis' second rule of modeling. They believe the more complicated Model is better. Apologetics is a perfect example of this. Apologetics focuses on the effects. People who learn apologetics must memorize an enormous number of answers, which are effects. I realize this keeps people who teach apologetics in business because their customer must buy numerous books and tapes of lectures, but this is ultimately brain damage.
God meant for us to be modelers. God wants us to know the causes. Dor and I taught teenagers the four God-given principles: the causes. These teenagers were able to out-think PhD theologians when it came to the Bible and theology!
The most tragic thought for us as we work with these churches is the absurd number of people who are still ill in America. Healthcare is going to bankrupt this country if we keep focusing on the effects. We treat physical effects with physical drugs. We are not addressing the causes. The causes are our thought processes. Our unaware brain naturally models everything with the four God-given principles. This takes no effort on our part. However, this causes a gap between your unaware brain and conscious brain if you choose not to model consciously. You consciously choose to close this gap by being aware and modeling or you choose to not think consciously, which is an attempt to violate volition. Every attempt to violate volition is actually a choice to become physically ill.
Every time I hear Christians argue about healthcare, my heart sinks. God gave us the solution to our illnesses. Believers are so deceived by their own pastors they don’t realize with every argument they are expanding the existing gap between their conscious brain and their unaware brain. They are choosing to ignore the causes.
Dor and I have helped over one hundred people get well. From addiction to pornography, to depression, to anxiety, to "miraculous" healings. Everything filed away in the conscious brain is in terms of words. All of the examples where people were miraculously healed in the Bible occurred because words were used in the correct way, which is a choice to get ourselves out of the way and let God do the work.
Paul's definition of spiritual warfare specifically stated it is not physical and it is completely based on thoughts and imaginations, which are made up of words. ("Spiritual Warfare" was another of my top ten favorite Bible studies.)
When a person encourages others words don't have a definite meaning or we can't know what we mean, we only have to feel, he is encouraging people to become physically ill and sometimes to the point of death.
With recent advancements in technology, the day is fast approaching when the number of connections in a person's brain and his ability to complete the feedback loops can be quantified. When this occurs, we are going to find people who hear contradictory information (e.g., from a sermon?) have connections broken or lose some of the ability to complete their feedback loops. On that day, we will objectively know having the Bible taught incorrectly was actually damaging peoples' brains.
What is Biblical church?
The Book of Acts gave the four causes of the Acts Church; the church all of us ought to be aspiring towards. (The effects, e.g., wonders, signs, adding people daily to the church, etc. were presented in Acts 2:43-47).
"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)
The four causes are: Fellowship, Apostles' Doctrine, Breaking Bread, and Prayers.
Today, church does not do the Bible's version of Fellowship. They follow a man-made definition that is actually relationship.
Today, church does not have the Apostles' Doctrine. They can't supply the why and how. They interpret the Bible according to men and the man-made misguided doctrine is contradictory.
Unfortunately, when someone ignores these four causes, they are proving their objective is to actually get rid of the current church and not be responsible for what they are telling us ought to be done. This is what Brian McLaren did in "A New Kind of Christian", a book Christianity Today awarded. This is an attempt to violate volition: encouraging people to be unaware.
Brian McLaren rightly realized churches today state a right what (godly effects) and they have a wrong how (short-term thinking).
The issue is the how and why. The objective ought to be to determine the causes of these godly effects so we can intentionally do them. However, post-moderns' and Calvinists' solution is: no how and wrong why.
These people say they don't know the how and it is not their responsibility to search it out. For instance, Frank Viola makes the point we are doing church the best we can and we will only get better when God shows us the right way (how). Until then, we are not responsible for doing church right because God apparently isn't doing His job or doesn't want us to do church right, right now. Can you see this is contradictory and unbiblical?
The hypocritical thing is Brian McLaren used CS Lewis' last book to prove why we need to dump the current church Model. Yet, CS Lewis wrote you should only discard a Model when you have a specific Model you are going towards. Brian McLaren wrote we should immediately dump the current Model and not have a Model we are going towards, as if this gets us off the hook. We are not responsible for how and why we currently do church. We can't be judged and no one can go to hell.
Why would anyone who believed this actively try to find out how and why God wants us to do church? This is massive deception people just accept.
As for the why, post-moderns and Calvinists believe in thinking less!
Calvinists want you to think while they explain their position and then they want you to stop thinking when they can't explain away a contradiction. If your strategy is to not think, then you can't teach, preach, or write about it. Is our generation so brain damaged we willingly accept this massive hypocritical and contradictory belief?
The post-modern and Calvinist strategy (how/why) is hypocritical and contradictory. It is not based in the Bible at all.
Now, if you know me, you know I don't believe a person can prove they are right by proving someone else wrong. That would just be a justification of self, which is idolatry. I want you to stress my Model. Everyone has a Model: a worldview. People prove whom they actually worship when they respond to people stressing their Model.
What is the right how and why for church?
Dor and I (and Brian McLaren) have identified the right what (effects). What do you believe is the cause (why) of these effects? That question is the key to everything.
I believe the cause (why) is the First Command: love the Lord thy God. This is what Alex taught us. This requires thinking more, not less!
The current church thinks short-term. We all agree with this!
The right answer is not "don't think". This is hypocritical and contradictory. This is why people are leaving the church in greater numbers.
Brian McLaren thought the Modern Model was wrong because it employed/required thinking.
Post-modernism is hypocritical because it uses thinking to tell us to stop thinking.
I believe the Modern Model didn't use thinking enough.
The right answer is "think more" or "think Long Term". How do we do this? We need to intentionally improve our Model. How do we do this? How do we model?
The four God-given principles CS Lewis tried to point us towards, which are:
-Think according to causality
-Be contrastive: try to prove ourselves wrong
The more doctrine and understanding the individual has, the more God can access and act through the individual in grace. Ultimately, all we do is hinder God. The better one is at modeling and the more doctrine one has, the less the individual hinders God.
It turns out our unaware brain models perfectly according to all four God-given principles without effort.
Our conscious brain follows two principles: non-contradiction and causality. Alex taught this when he covered the feedback loops. However, he also taught the feedback loops follow the opposite of the other two principles when we build a full thought: we are comparative and focused on comfort.
It turns out our salvation is determined in our conscious brain and the effect is we either intentionally move towards all four principles (salvation) or we intentionally move to the opposite of all four principles (damnation). Recent research shows people can rewire their brains to not check for contradiction and reward themselves as if they had. People can choose to pursue effects as causes.
God starts us out with half the principles in our conscious brain and we prove with our willful words and deeds which way we want to go.
"The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge MD sheds even more light on this perspective. He wrote every day the brain re-evaluates the allocation of real estate in the brain. If the person spends the day reinforcing their beliefs, the brain decreases the ability to learn new things and spreads out the current understanding over more territory in the brain.
However, if the person spends the day pursuing growth by learning something making them uncomfortable, the brain allocates more real estate for learning more new things and the brain focuses the current beliefs so they take up less area.
This is exactly what Ayn Rand and CS Lewis wrote.
Ayn Rand wrote every day is judgment day and the blank-outs are the worst choices a person can make.
CS Lewis wrote there are two rules to modeling. Now we see the brain follows both of these rules. If you do the first rule by pursing growth and being contrastive to cover more effects, the brain responds by doing the second rule: simplifying what you already know.
When you pursue comfort and look comparatively today, you are making it easier to damage your brain tomorrow.
When you pursue growth and look contrastively today, you are making it easier to improve your brain tomorrow.
Dr. Doidge also wrote pre-adolescents have 50% more synapses than adults. However, when they reach adolescence, the brain prunes back everything in the brain that is not being used. This is how and why adolescents go through personality changes and seemingly intelligent kids turn into destructive teenagers.
Ayn Rand wrote about this critical period over forty years ago.
I have no doubt reading this novella made you uncomfortable. However, I also have physiological proof those who chose to continue reading it are more intelligent and healthier than those who stopped reading it because it made them uncomfortable.
Alex asked me if church overlapped with art or science.
Science is a tool for determining truth. Science is essentially the four God-given principles.
Art is the indirect presentation of truth.
The Bible was written in the form of art and religion is an indirect presentation of truth.
Religion fails when it is used to determine truth.
Science fails when it is used in the place of truth, when it becomes the belief itself.
Science is the tool for determining the amount of truth art is presenting.
Science ought to be the tool to determine the amount of truth the church is presenting and experiencing because church overlaps with art.
Whenever I want to determine truth, I speak to Dor as I would speak to Van.
Whenever I want to experience truth, I speak to Dor as I would speak to Alex.
I have found being a better modeler makes me a better artist and becoming a better artist makes me a better modeler.
All of us ought to be modelers. We ought to be able to intentionally determine truth.
All of us are artists. We are able to present and experience truth because of our uniqueness and the ultimate expression of this truth is love.
The scientist in me wants to present principles directly so people understand them consciously. Salvation is similar: either your are saved or you are eternally damned, but it is objective and in your control. You are responsible for working out your own salvation. There is a perfect way to present truth directly that is predetermined. The interaction is between you and perfection, the Divine. All we can do is limit how much we fall short. We can never do more than what God is doing.
The artist in me wants to present principles indirectly so people experience them subconsciously. Reward is similar: you can experience it at different levels and in different ways. It is subjective and not entirely in your control because it always involves someone else. There is no perfect way to present truth indirectly. The art does not exist until it is created and shared with at least one other person. The value of the exchange is completely dependent on the people involved.
We ought to be able to do both.
We ought to be able to present truth indirectly and we ought to be able to present truth directly.
CS Lewis and Ayn Rand both wrote as recent as the 1960's, artists were unable to present truth directly because they didn't objectively know the principles. Dor and his sons have changed this.
Dor and his sons are giants to me. Once again, I must paraphrase Ayn Rand to express my feelings. These men have "minds that I respect and achievements that I admire". They are better than me and they are able to make me better.
I contacted almost one hundred ministries in the past four years to share this information. A lot of them are well-known. None of them were interested. None of them met with me to discuss this revelation.
I was told the son of a famous minister even stayed at Brian McLaren's house and offered to get him the information. I was told he declined.
There are those who fear something new, whether word or deed, if it requires them to become more excellent or more responsible. God is justified.
Brian McLaren wrote about a ‘new’ kind of Christian. He won awards and gained acceptance because this ‘new’ model allowed people to become less excellent and less responsible. The individual is justified.
I should know. I was once afraid of a word. But, I've come to accept we are all choosing to be something less when we choose to be unaware of the causes.
I, Erik Clesia, am a modeler. So are you.
Return to Novella Introduction and Table of Contents
Continue Matthew Series
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
(Link for the previous Section of The Brothers Karamazowsky.)
I spent an entire week modeling "The Discarded Image". With each day, Van's expectations rose and my willingness to share decreased. Upon reading CS Lewis' last book for the fourth time, I realized there was nothing more to be understood. It was then I knew I had to share my model with Van.
Van turned my presentation into a production. He unlocked a small lecture hall and sat in the audience. He had wanted to invite a couple of associates, but thought better of it when he glanced at my notes. Van said he wanted the truth and his actions proved it. However, Van had made his peace with the fact while most of his colleagues also said they wanted the truth, their emotional reaction spoke otherwise.
I approached the occasion with as much reverence as Van. It was to be the unveiling of one great map of the mind. A map including the overlapping of some of the greatest minds in the history of human knowledge. Looking back on that moment, I am eternally grateful for our solemnity.
"I have four major conclusions. The first is Alex wasn't wrong to reference 'The Romantic Manifesto'. 'The Discarded Image' was also written in the 1960's and covered a lot of the same ground...especially when it came to the value of art, specifically literature."
Van looked surprised. He had brought several books as reference material. None of his books were as small as "The Romantic Manifesto".
"Lewis covered a lot of the same ground as Ayn when it came to modeling morality, knowledge, and understanding."
I read the following passages from "The Discarded Image":
"Yet nearly all moralists before the eighteenth century regarded Reason as the organ of morality." (Page 158)
"The explanation is that nearly all of them believed the fundamental moral maxims were intellectually grasped." (Page 158)
"On that level Reason means Rational Soul. Moral imperatives therefore were uttered by Reason, though, in the stricter terminology, reasoning about moral questions doubtless received all her premises from Intellect - just as geometry is an affair of Reason, though it depends on axioms which cannot be reached by reasoning." (Page 159)
"The eighteenth century witnessed a revolt against the doctrine that moral judgments are wholly, or primarily, or at all, rational." (Page 159)
"The belief that to recognise a duty was to perceive a truth - not because you had a good heart but because you were an intellectual being - had roots in antiquity. Plato preserved the Socratic idea that morality was an affair of knowledge; bad men were bad because they did not know what was good." (Page 160)
I interjected, "From my research, it appears the idea morality and beliefs are emotionally based is a relatively new one. As Ayn wrote, morality was something one could logically grasp. In fact, Lewis began to sound more and more like Rand as he got near the end of his book." I read from page 174, "On this view the differentia of Christian historiography ought to be what I call Historicism; the belief that by studying the past we can learn not only historical but meta-historical or transcendental truth."
Van was writing with a wry smile...
"Lewis defined 'Historicism' as a combination of Naturalism, that is, looking to the past, and Romanticism, that is, the ability to affect your future through truth. Lewis' book was about the worldview of the Middle Ages. On page one-eighty-two, he described their stories like this, The chronicles, like the legends, are about individuals; their valour or villainy, their memorable sayings, their good or bad luck. Lewis sounds like he wrote the Middle Ages were Naturalistic...and then he confirmed it."
I read from page 184, "The nearest we get to a widespread 'philosophy of history' in the Middle Ages is, as I have said, the frequent assertion that things were once better than they are now."
"Lewis did not say he was Naturalistic. He stated the literature of the Middle Ages was Naturalistic. Then, Lewis got even more specific and sounded even more like Rand. Listen to his version of the three dimensional model."
I read the following:
"We may call it the love of the labyrinthine; the tendency to offer to the mind or the eye something that cannot be taken at a glance, something that at first looks planless though all is planned." (Page 194)
"Every particular fact and story became more interesting and more pleasurable if, by being properly fitted in, it carried one's mind back to the Model as a whole." (Page 203)
"Clearly, Lewis understood, like Rand, there was a cause underneath the effects we observed whether we knew the cause or not. He also realized art did distract our conscious brain so our unaware brain could fully experience it. In fact, he expressed his frustration we didn't have a Model to explain these observed effects!" I read from page 165, "No Model yet devised has made a satisfactory unity between our actual experience of sensation or thought or emotion and any available account of the corporeal processes which they are held to involve."
"Jackpot!", Van yelled as he underlined this last sentence. "We have this today! We have a Model for the unaware brain, conscious brain, first feedback loop, and second feedback loop! Do you realize what this means?"
"Yes", I said, my excitement growing to match Van's, "CS Lewis realized it, too. In fact, he wrote the same thing Ayn wrote: since they were not able to identify principles directly, the best explanation of truth available during their time was through art...through the unaware brain of the artist communicating with the unaware brain of the audience. Lewis identified the first requirement was to identify principles directly: a Model for how our brains actually take in information."
"In the Old Testament, God presented truth directly...when did we lose the ability to receive truth in this way?" Van asked, his confident, low voice made it difficult to tell if his words were a question or a command.
"During Jesus' time. Look at Matthew. In Matthew chapters five through seven, Jesus presented principles directly during the Sermon on the Mount. To the point you taught me last week, the best understanding of Jesus' Nature was seen almost immediately upon Jesus' introduction. In Matthew chapter eleven, Jesus stated cities from the Old Testament would have received Jesus' words and works...but His current generation could not. By Matthew chapter twelve, the Pharisees got worse as Jesus taught principles directly. Look at Matthew chapter thirteen, it stated from that time, Jesus only spoke in parables...in stories. Jesus intentionally chose to speak truth indirectly because speaking principles directly caused the leaders to get seven times worse! Jesus even said those who got the spiritual truths supporting the stories were believers...it was given to believers to know the mysteries of the kingdom."
"This is incredible, Erik. If we weren't in a lecture hall, I'd be yelling 'Preach it, brother!' Keep teaching..." He said, scribbling frantically in a worn notebook, the reference books he had brought piled high on either side of him.
I took a sip of water and waited for him to finish writing, before I continued.
"To summarize, Jesus presented stories that distracted the conscious brain, so the unaware brian could take in the causes. If the person's conscious brain was reconciled to their unaware brain, they were believers. To put this situation into Rand's words, the artist, Jesus, knew the causes and chose to hide the causes in order to reach the public's sense of life. Now let's jump to the 1960's..."
"When Ayn wrote about her time, she stated the artists didn't know enough of the causes. So, the artist created from their sense of life...in hopes the excellent people in the public responded with their sense of life. Rand stated in the 1960's, the artists did not know the causes well enough to explain them directly. She concluded her book by saying the best she could do in explaining her principles was 'Atlas Shrugged'...by presenting them indirectly!"
Van was clearly enjoying the presentation and I was still on my first point!
"Now look at what CS Lewis stated about his time which was also the 1960's." I read from page 218:
"And this, if I understand the situation, is just what has now happened as regards the physical sciences. The mathematics are now the nearest to the reality we can get. Anything imaginable, even anything that can be manipulated by ordinary (that is, non-mathematical) conceptions, far from being a further truth to which mathematics were the avenue, is a mere analogy, a concession to our weakness. Without a parable modern physics speaks not to the multitudes. Even among themselves, when they attempt to verbalise their findings, the scientists begin to speak of this as making 'models'. It is from them that I have borrowed the word. But these 'models' are not, like model ships, small-scale replicas of the reality. Sometimes they illustrate this or that aspect of it by analogy. Sometimes, they do not illustrate but merely suggest, like the sayings of the mystics. An expression such as 'the curvature of space' is strictly comparable to the old definition of God as 'a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere'. Both succeed in suggesting; each does so by offering what is, on the level of our ordinary thinking, nonsense. By accepting the 'curvature of space' we are not 'knowing' or enjoying 'truth' in the fashion that was once thought to be possible."
"Lewis recognized even science couldn't present principles directly and needed to use parables. Lewis recognized the ultimate way to communicate directly was with Models, yet he stated the Models of his time sounded like nonsense. The example he gave was an explanation of God's Nature...and it consisted of nonsensical effects! Alex would completely agree with this. Lewis' final sentence pointed to the fact we ought to know and enjoy truth through Models and we have given up the hope we are going to understand the causes directly...because we don't have a good enough Model."
"Remember, Van. Jesus knew the principles directly and chose to speak in story form because the people of his time could not handle truth directly. Lewis and Rand both stated by the 1960's, artists did not know the principles directly and could only speak in story form...and hope they were presenting truth and hope the audience understood the indirect presentation."
"Speaking of hoping to present truth, this brings me to my second conclusion: McLaren manipulated the passages from 'The Discarded Image.' So, the fact CS Lewis' book existed was not fiction. However, McLaren's interpretation of CS Lewis' intent was pure fiction. Alex was right about McLaren."
Van nodded solemnly in agreement as he wrote.
"I realize it is burdensome to quote long passages from another work. However, whether it is the Bible or a contemporary author, I believe the quoted passage ought to be supported by the greater context and/or several sentences. Lewis attempted to intentionally understand more. McLaren used Lewis' quotes to encourage people to understand less. Lewis stated the Middle Ages Model gave way to the Modern Model. McLaren attempts to link the way we do church today to the Middle Ages Model so that Lewis looked like he was stating what we have now was flawed beyond repair."
"This leads to my third point: There are two huge passages from Lewis completely undercutting McLaren's premise. I wish McLaren had shared these two points. In fact, Lewis covered several post-Jesus influences on our current belief system. Listen to this and tell me who this reminds you of:"
"On page eighty-eight, Lewis wrote about Boethius who lived from 480-524 AD: If, as its doctrine of Providence implies, God sees all things that are, were, or will be, uno mentis in ictu, in a single act of mind, and thus foreknows my actions, how am I free to act otherwise than He has foreseen? Lewis showed the man-made predestination doctrine came from someone who lived five hundred years after Christ."
"On page seventy, Lewis wrote about Pseudo-Dionysius who 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. The man-made doctrine that God was incomprehensible was created more than eight hundred years after Christ."
"It sounds like Alex was right...twice more", Van muttered.
"McLaren actually preached the doctrine that God was incomprehensible. He even preached we can't define The Gospel!"
Van scrambled for his Bible while he said, "It makes me wonder if McLaren is naive or intentionally destructive. The Gospel was plainly defined by Paul. Here it is, I Corinthians fifteen: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures... Actually, I'd love to study all three parts of The Gospel with you Erik! Christ's death, burial, and resurrection..."
"There are a lot of interesting points at the beginning of that passage involving the conscious brain!" I said, "Brian McLaren is proof teaching the Bible wrong is probably the most damaging thing a person can do. Alex was right again."
"It seems Alex may have a more excellent worldview than you thought. Are you going to prove he was wrong in your last point?" Van blinked a few times, a look composed of curiosity and confidence spread across his face. I could not determine if it was a look of confidence in Alex or in myself.
When I hesitated, Van threw up his hands in surrender, but I said it all the same, "Actually, the final point is Alex's coronation and my confession and acceptance of the fact...I am a modeler...a conscious modeler."
Van mimed he was choking, but I just continued, "Considering McLaren's solution was to be completely unintentional, to discard the current Model for church without identifying a better Model, it is interesting to see what Lewis wrote in his Preface: My hope was that if a tolerable (though very incomplete) outfit were acquired beforehand and taken along with one, it might lead in. To be always looking at the map when there is a fine prospect before you shatters the 'wise passiveness' in which landscape ought to be enjoyed. But to consult a map before we set out has no such ill effect. Indeed it will lead us to many prospects; including some we might never have found by following our noses. Lewis stated the purpose for writing this book was to present a model leading us into truth. McLaren's purpose was to advocate having no intentional path into truth."
"On page one, Lewis literally began his book explaining how 'savage beliefs' come about: Savage beliefs are thought to be the spontaneous response of a human group to its environment, a response made principally by the imagination. They exemplify what some writers call pre-logical thinking. We now know he wrote about the unaware brain and effects from a cause not known...but existing."
"On the same page, CS Lewis then wrote about how these savage beliefs mature: Sometimes, when a community is comparatively homogeneous and comparatively undisturbed over a long period, such a system of belief can continue, of course with development, long after material culture has progressed far beyond the level of savagery. It may then begin to turn into something more ethical, more philosophical, even more scientific; but there will be uninterrupted continuity between this and its savage beginnings. Notice, the highest level of mature belief was equated with scientific..."
"On page five, Lewis wrote about the unaware brain's role: In a savage community you absorb your culture, in part unconsciously, from participation in the immemorial pattern of behaviour, and in part by word of mouth, from the old men of the tribe. In our own society most knowledge depends, in the last resort, on observation. But the Middle Ages depended predominantly on books. Remember, CS Lewis presented the Medieval Model in this book. He wanted to show most people model from experience. He contrasted this with the fact the Medievals were not big on experience. They did most of their learning through understanding...through books."
"Here is more on the medieval man from page ten: At his most characteristic, medieval man was not a dreamer nor a wanderer. He was an organiser, a codifier, a builder of systems. He wanted 'a place for everything and everything in the right place'. Distinction, definition, tabulation were his delight. and This impulse is equally at work in what seem to us their silliest pedantries and in their most sublime achievements. In the latter we see the tranquil, indefatigable, exultant energy of passionately systematic minds bringing huge masses of heterogeneous material into unity. Sound like modelers...don't they?"
Van's underlining reminded me of how I must of looked to Alex when he taught me.
"CS Lewis explained most medieval works were either organized or overly crowded with information. Then, he wrote about a third characteristic on page eleven: But there is a third work which we can, I think, set beside the two. This is the medieval synthesis itself, the whole organisation of their theology, science, and history into a single, complex, harmonious mental Model of the Universe. The building of this Model is conditioned by two factors I have already mentioned: the essentially bookish character of their culture, and their intense love of system. CS Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature. He loved this time period. Now we find out these people were Model builders. These people were the first to attempt to put everything together in one Model. CS Lewis even referred to this Universal Model with a capital M."
"Erik, its a good thing you already admitted to being a modeler..."
"Here's the best part. Remember, this was early in the book, pages ten through twelve. Lewis gave us two rules for building a Model!"
Van's eyes grew wide as he looked up from his notes.
I read from page 11:
"All apparent contradictions must be harmonised. A Model must be built which will get everything in without a clash; and it can do this only by becoming intricate, by mediating its unity through a great, and finely ordered, multiplicity."
"Lewis called the first rule of modeling: 'getting everything in'. The Model must account for all the observed effects. There were a couple more qualifiers for this first rule."
"On page twelve, In speaking of the perfected Model as a work to be set beside the Summa and the Comedy, I meant that it is capable of giving a similar satisfaction to the mind, and for some of the same reasons. Like them it is vast in scale, but limited and intelligible. Its sublimity is not the sort that depends on anything vague or obscure. The Model must be made up of specific causes. Nothing vague or obscure. We must know our defintions."
"On page fourteen, The business of the natural philosopher is to construct theories which will 'save appearances'. Remember, natural philosopher means scientist. The term 'scientist' wasn't used until the 1800's. Before that, these people were referred to as natural philosophers because they thought about nature. They observed the effects from Nature and attempted to determine the causes. Many theologians were natural philosophers because they continued determining the causes until they got back to God. Scientists are the optimal modelers."
"Also on page fourteen, A scientific theory must 'save' or 'preserve' the appearances, the phenomena, it deals with, in the sense of getting them all in, doing justice to them. If there is a contradiction...even one...you don't have a Model!"
"On page eighteen, Every Model is a construct of answered questions. I would say we learned last week, this means the causes are the why/how to the questions."
"Wait...let me see if I understand what CS Lewis really wrote. The Model must be made up of causes...how something happened and why it happened...and can account for all of the effects...what actually happened? The what, how and why of a situation? For example, our studies of Pharaoh?"
"Exactly, Van. Also, when we studied Adam and Eve, you asked me why God wanted to know if Adam and Eve ate of the tree. God asking was an effect...it was a what. Whenever we use the word why, we are looking for causes. We are modeling. The first cause we considered was God didn't know if Adam and Eve ate of the tree. You then projected this cause into a powerful conclusion: God is not omniscient...which led to another effect: God is not God. When we realized the observed effect contradicted the rest of the Bible, we had to look for another cause. However, people still cling to their beliefs in the face of contradictions and attempt to justify themselves by saying it is a mystery. In the case of the Pharaoh study, we saw how people who believe in predestination do the same thing...and prove they don't have a valid belief system."
"By the way, there was a point on page fourteen Alex would love: In every period the Model of the Universe which is accepted by the great thinkers helps to provide what we may call a backcloth for the arts. The Model is the cause because it states principles directly...and the effect is art, a method of stating truth indirectly!"
"The second rule CS Lewis gave when modeling is on page fifteen: But if we demanded no more than that from theory, science would be impossible, for a lively inventive faculty could devise a good many different supposals which would equally save the phenomena. We have therefore had to supplement the canon of saving the phenomena by another canon - first, perhaps, formulated with full clairity by Occam. According to this second canon we must accept (provisionally) not any theory which saves the phenomena but that theory which does so with the fewest possible assumptions. Van, do you understand this?"
"I think he said if more than one Model accounts for all the observed effects, then we must embrace the simpler Model. Did I miss anything?"
My jaw dropped. Gathering the notes that had slipped from my fingers in the second it took for Van to utter his instant conclusion, I stammered, "I had to reread that sentence three times before I...and you just...how could...." I cleared my throat and remembered I had a third point to conclude: "On page sixteen, Lewis wrote there were two ways to determine if a Model should be 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. Basically, if the Model violated the first rule, can't cover all the observed effects, or lost under the second rule: a simpler Model fulfilling the first rule is discovered; the Model must be discarded for a better one."
"Erik, this is why you are the one modeling this..."
"Lewis applied all of this to other areas. Check out page seventeen! Yet I get the impression that when the poets use motives from the Model, they are not aware, as Aquinas was, of its modest epistemological status. He also realized the multi-dimensional effects of the Model...while still aligning very closely to Rand's beliefs."
"Now, for those who think this book has nothing to do with religion: There was no direct 'conflict between religion and science' of the nineteenth-century type; but there was an incompatibility of temperament. Lewis wrote the conflict between religion and science was a relatively recent occurrence. That was on page nineteen."
"Hold on, let me make sure I'm hearing this right...Lewis stated he wanted us to model everything? Including God?"
"...and he felt a scientist ought to be the one who would develop this Model...even though it is a Model for God...for religion?"
"Lewis thought the scientist could not only provide the tools, but would also be the expert at using the tools: the principles for modeling."
Van took a moment to let that last comment sink in. Then, I continued.
"That is the perfect summary to set up the conclusion of 'The Discarded Image'...the last pages of the book. First, Lewis began back at the Medieval Model to get us to understand what is going to happen with our current Model: Again, such a statement would suggest that the old Model gave way simply under the pressure of newly discovered phenomena - as a detective's original theory of the crime might yield to the discovery that his first suspect had an unassailable alibi. This was failure of the first rule: can't cover everything."
"The next passage is used by McLaren: How far by endless tinkerings, it could have kept up with them till even now, I do not know. But the human mind will not long endure such every-increasing complications if once it has seen that some simpler conception can 'save the appearances'. Neither theological prejudice nor vested interests can permanently keep in favour a Model which is seen to be grossly uneconomical. This is failure of the second rule: not simple enough. Notice, Lewis says a Model shouldn't be abandoned until a better Model is identified. Better means it takes in all the observed effects. McLaren used these passages to justify dropping the old Model without identifying a better Model!"
My voice was almost a yell. I closed my eyes, sucking the stale air of the auditorium in through my nostrils. My shoulders dropped and I let out a long sigh.
My thoughts turned to the CS Lewis Institute. How could they allow people like Brian McLaren to misrepresent Lewis to such an absurd degree? Perhaps they didn't understand Lewis either.
I looked up at Van. Something about the way he was looking at me sparked my tired mind back to life. I continued reading, "The new astronomy triumphed not because the case for the old became desperate, but because the new was a better tool; once this was grasped, our ingrained conviction that Nature herself is thrifty did the rest. When our Model is in its turn abandoned, this conviction will no doubt be at work again."
"Erik, Lewis sounded pretty optimistic. I don't think current pastors will embrace what we're discovering even if it does make more sense...even if it is a better tool. McLaren literally used these words to prove the opposite point."
I hoped he was wrong. I was quickly losing hope in all of those people I had once looked up to, as if the pillars I had put them on were made, not of marble, but of dust. I remembered how I had hoped to prove Alex wrong too and now I couldn't seem to find a single flaw in what he had said.
"Van, here is the conclusion to Lewis' book: The demand for a developing world - a demand obviously in harmony both with the revolutionary and the romantic temper - grows up first; when it is full grown the scientists go to work and discover evidence on which our belief in that sort of universe would now be held to rest. There is no question here of the old Model's being shattered by the inrush of new phenomena. The truth would seem to be the reverse; that when changes in the human mind produce a sufficient disrelish of the old Model and a sufficient hankering for some new one, phenomena to support that new one will obediently turn up. I do not at all mean that these new phenomena are illusory. Nature has all sorts of phenomena in stock and can suit many different tastes. Lewis stated Nature has an abundance of information leading us a number of ways. Lewis wrote the old Model will crumble from the data...from the contradictions. This will come from scientists!"
Van nodded his head. I continued reading, "I hope no one will think that I am recommending a return to the Medieval Model. I am only suggesting considerations that may induce us to regard all Models in the right way, respecting each and idolising none. We are all, very properly, familiar with the idea that in every age the human mind is deeply influenced by the accepted Model of the universe. But there is a two-way traffic; the Model is also influenced by the prevailing temper of the mind. We must recognise that what has been called 'a taste in universes' is not only pardonable but inevitable. We can no longer dismiss the change of Models as a simple progress from error to truth. No Model is a catalogue of ultimate realities, and none is mere fantasy. Each is a serious attempt to get in all the phenomena known at a given period, and each succeeds in getting in a great many. But also, no less surely, each reflects the prevalent psychology of an age almost as much as it reflects the state of that age's knowledge."
"Erik, Lewis wrote we ought to realize no Model is the final answer because we will never know everything. However, Nature will continue to provide us more information, perhaps to prove to us we don't know everything. We will be modeling for the rest of eternity...but we ought to continue to model. He seemed to believe it will take several Models to account for all the observed effects because...we weren't good modelers?...we didn't have the right tools? Regardless, his quest was the same as Alex's: to model our beliefs...to model God!"
"Van, you have named my overall conclusion: Alex was right about everything. This is the last paragraph in the last book CS Lewis wrote:
"It is not impossible that our own Model will die a violent death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts - unprovoked as the nova of 1572. But I think it is more likely to change when, and because, far-reaching changes in the mental temper of our descendants demand that it should. The new Model will not be set up without evidence, but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes sufficiently great. It will be true evidence. But nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her. Here, as in the courts, the character of the evidence depends on the shape of the examination, and a good cross-examiner can do wonders. He will not indeed elicit falsehoods from an honest witness. But, in relation to the total truth in the witness's mind, the structure of the examination is like a stencil. It determines how much of that total truth will appear and what pattern it will suggest."
"He concluded by saying our ability to get total, complete truth depends on the questions we ask! Truth is found with the tools we have: the ability to ask questions and receive answers. We can model God! We have the tools to shape the examination to get more total truth than ever before and get closer to the pattern organizing truth."
"What made me realize I was a modeler was something I said to Alex. I told him artists were lucky while scientists knew what they were doing. On my job, we had two groups working on each product. One group focused on making the product better...like the first rule of modeling. The other group worked on making the same product cheaper...like the second rule of modeling. I was already doing what Lewis wrote about...however, we had a twist."
Van was leaning back in his chair. At this, he leaned forward as if he was going to pull the answer out of me.
"Lewis made it sound like you explain the observed effects...and do nothing. I realize he wrote we ought to always be modeling, but it is because he didn't believe we could cover all the effects. We did cover all the effects on my job...but that wasn't enough for me. We had to be ahead of the competition. We would do market research to find out what the customer wanted us to cover next. Then the first rule group would make the product cover this additional effect without losing everything else. I now realize I was intentionally looking for effects we didn't cover. I was intentionally stressing the Model to see if it would hold up under the new information."
"Did it work?"
"If it didn't, we had to work on a new Model."
"And when it did?"
"Our product became the market leader within six months!"
"What do we have as tools...as principles? Finding causes for the observed effects: 'cause and effect'. Making sure these effects are covered without contradiction and now this. what did you call it? Intentionally stressing the Model?"
"Yes! We ought to be asking ourselves how the Model could be wrong. How we could be wrong. This is uncomfortable, but it is an intentional discomfort because we want to consider we are wrong. We are striving for humility."
We spent the next two weeks continuing this conversation. What we found led us to the start of our Model...for God.
Again, Alex was right. Everything else would be an effect of this Model.
One of the things we realized is a definition ought to be in terms of causes. Then you can intentionally do the definition and the effects of the definition won't contradict.
If a definition is in terms of effects, you can't intentionally do the definition and the effects of the definition will contradict. If a person has a definition in terms of effects, or no definition, they can easily be disproven. The contradictions present themselves.
As my time with Van came to a close, we found the four principles were the only tools we needed.
We referred to the first two Lewis tools as "causality" and "non-contradiction" because of Ayn Rand. She consistently used these two terms throughout "Atlas Shrugged".
We referred to the uncomfortable tool as "growth" because of "Mere Christianity". In that book, Lewis wrote everyone is either pursuing comfort or growth. Besides, "growth" sounds better than "uncomfortableness".
As for the final tool, its name changed several times and was still changing. We had referred to it as "looking to be wrong", "considering being wrong", "humility", "deconfirmatory thinking", etc.
I had spent a month with the Brothers Karamazowsky. My kids were getting back from Oregon. By the time I returned to my hometown, Van and I had the four tools necessary to determine the Model for God.
Monday, March 29, 2010
(Link for the previous Section of The Brothers Karamazowsky.)
During the third morning of my time at Van's house, we discussed the third dimension: volition.
Van was able to answer every question I had with a corresponding verse from the Bible. I decided to ask him the one question I still hadn’t gotten answered.
“Alex was unwilling to discuss a question about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. With everything we have covered, how is it possible for God to do this? It sounds Deterministic.”
Van reached for his Bible and said, "Exodus five. Go ahead and read it out loud."
I read, "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. And Pharaoh..."
"Wait...", interrupted Van.
I stopped reading, glancing over what I had just read. I knew what was coming next: questions.
"Israel.", Van smiled and then in a higher pitched voice that was supposed to be an impersonation of me, "What? Why? How?" He was terrible at impersonations. It did not sound anything like me.
"Remember, I'm the one who came up with that."
"Trust me, I'm not going to let you forget it", he said ominously.
In our last two days, I had come up with a "trick" for how to better understand each verse Van asked me about. The Bible was written in a way that included every cause and the consequential effects. The trick was to determine in what order these elements were presented. If you interpreted the effects of an event as the cause of the event, you could end up missing out on the meaning and completely misunderstand the purpose of it being written in the first place. The effect is the what in a situation: what actually happened. The cause is how the effect happened and why it happened. Van liked this trick and, I could tell, much more than he let on.
"Israel's what was going into the desert to sacrifice to God. The why was so God wouldn't bring a plague. The how was getting Pharaoh's permission."
Van was actually marking in his Bible after each sentence I spoke!
"Pharaoh's what was Israel getting back to work. The why was Moses asking for three days off. The how was not letting them go."
Now, I waited for the question. Van and I had a rhythm to our studying, whether he realized it or not. He would ask me to apply the trick to each side (there were always at least two sides in every passage), then he would ask me to compute who was ahead or behind from the exchange.
Van was still writing when he asked, "Who is ahead and who is behind?"
I looked at the passage and couldn't see anything had changed, so I replied, "Tie. Neither side gained or lost."
"Now you can read the next verse."
I read, "And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God."
I smiled and looked up, "I can break this down right now!"
Van leaned in.
“This one is easy”, I smiled and looked up to see Van’s eyes widen, “Pharaoh's what was punishment for Israel. The why was he believed they were idle. The how was to not give them straw and require the same number of bricks."
This was getting easy for me because I was becoming an expert at identifying the why, which is the key. I found its easy with the Bible: just look for the words for, that, because, and sometimes which. The last sentence of this passage blatantly stated "for they be idle", so that was the why, the cause. Then it was immediately followed with therefore which indicated an effect, a what, was coming.
"How did Israel get even?", Van asked.
I read the rest of the chapter out loud. Israel didn't get even. In fact, the people essentially pronounced a curse onto Moses in verse 21. The last two verses of the chapter showed Moses asked God why he was sent if Pharaoh was not going to obey him.
Van read the next chapter out loud. God stated He will do great works on their behalf, but there was still no retaliation by Israel or God. It was my turn to read the next chapter.
"Chapter seven", I said. "And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children out of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they. And Moses..."
“Wait a minute. What did God do? How did He do this and why?”
I reread the passage.
"The what was God will bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. The why was so the Egyptians, and the Israelites, would know He is the Lord. The how was by hardening Pharaoh's heart...which is the issue I have with this passage."
Van said, "Are you sure there wasn't more to the how? What if the how was seen as a what?"
"So, the what becomes: God was hardening Pharaoh's heart. The why was so God could bring forth the children of Israel by great judgments. The how was...the how of the how?"
Van knew this was my cry for 'help!'. It seemed like he would lead me to details, but the more specific the information, the harder it was for me to attain it.
Van smiled, "The why included 'by great judgments'. That part was a how. If I asked you to break it down even further, you would find the next how was 'through justice'...in your words", then in a higher voice, "Judgment is an effect of justice."
I got it!
"Pharaoh and Moses interacted. Neither gained or loss. There was no need for justice to be equaled out. Then Pharaoh took from Israel. This was the second dimension response! It was Pharaoh's response to how Pharaoh interacted with Moses!"
Van smiled and began to write.
I continued, "However, Pharaoh thought he was actually evening out justice! So, Pharaoh thought everything was tied, yet God knew Pharaoh actually won and Israel lost. God knew He got to even it out if Israel chose not to. Look at the passage. God got Moses and Aaron to agree up front they would only do what God told them to do and only say what God told them to say...and God didn't do anything at this point. Was God the next one to do something?"
Van read the rest of the chapter. God had Moses even out justice and Pharaoh got madder. However, I still had a question, "It looks like God was hardening Pharaoh's heart as an effect of the second dimension response; not as a cause. God explained His plan to Moses and it was based on Pharaoh not only not confessing and repenting, but Pharaoh actually getting more unjust. How did God know for sure Pharaoh would continue to get more unjust?"
Van replied, "That looks like the future already happened and God knew it. However, if the causes were in place, God could predict the future...and God had the cause. Imagine I accidentally bumped into a man walking down the street and his reaction was to punch me. How do you think he would respond if I punched him? Relative to our accidental collision, would his reaction be kind, neutral, or more cruel?”
“Simple! If he was upset over you unintentionally bumping into him, he would be furious if you intentionally hit him!”
Van smirked as he asked, "Then why do you think God did anything more than you just did when He told Moses about Pharaoh's future actions?"
"Van. Do you know how many people I've met that base their entire belief in Calvinism on this story...and it turns out it was probably one of the least impressive things God did?"
We were pleased our interactions seemed to continually get better. Van had some emails to respond to and I decided to escape the confines of the house and stretch my legs. I had energy needing an outlet.
I stood on Van's porch and looked at the tree-lined street. The first word that came to mind was "life". The squirrels were running up the trees, chasing each other, scattering as I walked down the sidewalk towards campus. I was waving to people as they sat on their porches. Activity was everywhere...
Why did I feel so much life with Van?
Van and I had taken CS Lewis' definition for life as "the ability to repair" and looked at every Biblical usage of the word life. Lewis' definition fit them all without contradiction. In fact, it made some passages revelatory...
The Bible said the life is in the blood. It is physiologically true. The body's ability to repair is in the blood.
Jesus came that we might have life and life more abundantly; that we might have the ultimate ability to repair. What specifically would give us the ultimate ability to repair? The ultimate blood: which is Jesus' Blood.
The ability to repair is the same ability needed for growth and I felt like I grew with every exchange with Van. Why? What was it about Van that brought out the best in me? How would I describe him to someone else? How had he been described to me?
As I left the shade of the trees and headed across an empty student parking lot, the brightness of the direct sun caused me to stop and shield my eyes. I thought of Alex. How had Alex described Van? He called Van "the operator of a coal mine". I smirked and said it out loud, "Van the coal miner". Then it happened...
As I walked, oblivious to the stone buildings and concrete campus walkways, I saw Van covered in black dust. The scientist in me thought about how coal is just decomposed creatures. Chemicals that once had life being reduced to their essential building blocks: carbon atoms.
When people speak of organic, they are talking about natural and living things. To a scientist, organic means one thing: carbon. Actually, carbon to carbon bonds.
Why did I get so much life from Van? The most obvious reason was what he was able to do with the Bible: he was able to make it come alive to me. He was able to reduce it to its building blocks and supply it to me in raw form: as a series of bonded carbon atoms.
I tried to enter the campus library, but it was locked.
When I thought of the Bible, I thought of what the disciples handled during their "Bible studies". They didn't have books. They had parchment, which was dried mammal skins. On these dry mammal skins they had words that were physically made of ink, which is just carbon suspended in liquid. Dried liquid on dried skins. Van was able to make the carbon itself come alive again.
Physically, it was just written words. However, the ancients valued written words. They believed these physical words carried a life force able to accomplish the will of the author.
After a walk around the campus I felt overheated. The sun felt heavy on my skin and there was no shade to be found on campus. I headed back to Van's house realizing something. I was getting energy from Van’s ability to get this life force out of words, as if he was able to exert an unfathomable amount of pressure on these words until they put forth the entirety of their value. I saw the words as lumps of coal, the books as heaps of coal, and Van’s pressure produced the diamonds we were able to share.
Turning the corner, my eyes met the trees lining the side of the street. I laughed out loud. I remembered the overwhelming majority of the weight of a tree is made up of carbon! We humans have life because we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. However, the trees inhale carbon dioxde and exhale oxygen. The only difference is the carbon atom. The tree keeps the carbon atom and adds it to its structure. It literally grows by acquiring carbon from us.
I was sure I had to go to the guest room. However, when I was halfway down the hall, I couldn't remember the reason why. Everything I needed for studying was on the dining room table.
As I stood in the hallway determining my purpose, I looked up. The wall was covered with photos. Old ones. New ones. Black and white. Sepia. Color. Digital. I looked for photos of Adam and Alex.
Eventually, Van came out of the bedroom he had converted to his office.
"Van, what's the story behind this photo of Alex?"
"That's my dad."
"Is there a more current photo of your dad?"
Van pointed to a picture of him and his dad on campus. His dad had Adam's smile. He had his arm around Van and looked proud.
"Where does your dad live?"
Van hesitated, took in a deep breath, and tried to answer in an even tone, but failed, "He lives about thirty miles from you."
I looked at Van and arched my eyebrows out of curiousity. Van tried to keep a straight face, but he busted out laughing. It surprised and scared me.
"What's so funny?", I asked.
“I was waiting for the right time to tell you this: you two would get along very well. You both have been through a lot of painful experiences. If you think I know the Bible, you should talk to him He has been studying it for longer than I’ve been alive!”
We spent over an hour standing in the hallway. Me asking for the story behind a photo. Van filling in the details solely affiliated with the photo. The information was not in chronological order. However, I was beginning to fill in the missing pieces of these three brothers' lives.
Dor Karamazowsky came from a long line of pastors. However, the last thing Dor wanted was to be confined to the indoors. He was an athlete, outdoorsman, and amateur film maker. People were drawn to him and he loved the attention. When it came time for Dor to leave for college, he found out his girlfriend was pregnant with Adam. His plans changed He got a job to support the family he was now responsible for. This, however, did not stop people from being drawn to him, especially women.
Dor was charismatic and lived for the moment. He eventually found himself with another son on the way. This time with Van's mother. Dor divorced his first wife and left when Adam was nine. By the time Alex was born, Adam was thirteen.
When the right causes are in place, the effects are easy to predict. Dor left his second wife and took Alex with him, and left Van to grow up without a father.
Dor hit bottom. He went bankrupt and lost everything except for Alex. He took it as a sign he had lost his battle with God. So he started a church. Between his good looks, charisma, and intelligence, people were drawn to him now more than ever. Within a year, he had a staff of seven and over eight hundred in his congregation. Two building programs later, he had the largest church within one hundred miles.
During this time, he poured everything into Alex in order to make Alex the pastor he knew he ought to be. Alex left home for good when he was seventeen. He toured with a band. Four years and three bands later, he founded Halley's Comet.
Around the time of Alex's third band, Dor walked into the church office and handed in his letter of resignation. He hasn't set foot in a church since. He moved back to Texas to be closer to Adam. He did attend Adam's church one time, but didn't consider it church since it was in a bar.
Van said Dor still studied his Bible, but he just goes in circles. That is why he thought Dor would like me. Apparently Van was enjoying our time together as much as I was.
When we went downstairs to the living room, I asked Van about Alex.
"So, Alex feels like his dad damaged him by teaching him the Bible incorrectly?"
"Alex feels like he gave seventeen years of his life to God and has nothing to show for it except confusion. He says he deserves seventeen years his way before he will discuss the Bible again."
"Have you been to Alex's cabin?"
"In his guest room, there is a drawing under glass. I was wondering..."
Van interrupted, "Rose drew it. She's Alex's one true love. You've actually benefited from some of her work."
"I have? Did she create the dimensional drawings?"
"Yes. All the artwork at Alex's is from her. She's obviously quite talented..." Van went into the kitchen.
"Then, you know where she is...I mean, you have a drawing from her", I called after him.
"Yes." Van came back and put some cookies on the dining room table.
"So, she and Alex...are they still in love?"
"Absolutely." Van sat in front of the piano.
"Then why aren't they together? Does she live far away?"
"Alex is afraid of losing her. He says he doesn't have an objective measure to know when they ought to be together. An objective measure he can intentionally grow with her in so he doesn't disappoint her too. Alex is doing everything he knows to do. He is a lot like dad that way."
I got up to get a couple of cookies while I thought about my next comment.
"Alex is tough to figure out. On the one hand he is an artist and seems to go completely by feel. On the other hand, he is very quick intellectually: he can get to the end of a discussion quicker than anyone I've ever met. Yet, when it comes to sharing his feelings with others, he seems to be a child."
"I think I have an explanation, but I'm interested to get your opinion", Van said as he began to play in a very rigid and stilted fashion. "Alex gave me this piano. I'm just beginning to learn how to play it. Right now, I know three chords. Do you know how many songs are made up of only these three chords?"
"About a dozen in this songbook. When I learn the next chord, do you know how many songs I will be able to play?"
"Well, I'm pretty good at math, so I know it isn't one third more. It will be more like fifty."
"Close enough. However, more importantly, do you know how much more listenable the songs get? It will feel like the difference between a nursery rhyme and a folk song...and it gets much better with each chord."
I stared at Van expectantly because I wasn't understanding the point. He stopped playing.
"Alex can play everything in these books because he knows all the chords and he can read music. However, Alex can create his own songs because he knows how to let the chords flow in new and different patterns; but he would only be able to create music at a complexity in line with the number of chords he knows. When it comes to God", Van began to play another song from his book, "Alex knows at best three chords correctly, yet he is meant to, and has the desire to, play symphonies. He doesn't know enough chords...and he doesn't want to learn any more until he knows for sure they are right."
"When it comes to God, what are 'the chords'?"
Van stopped playing and looked at me, "Doctrine".
"Yeah, he told me he would admit he was wrong when I gave him a non-contradictory model for God. That is probably the ultimate doctrine."
"Alex believes you are able to do it. I was skeptical, but after the last three days, I agree with Alex. You are a modeler."
"I know...I know. Everyone's unaware brain models perfectly without effort. We are all modelers."
"Erik, I'm talking about consciously modeling. I have never met anyone like you. You create a system for everything I share."
"Van, I think you are the gifted one. You have a way of giving me the exact piece of information I need. I don't know how you do it."
"I get tiles, Erik. Nothing more...nothing less. My dad is even better than me. We can't take the massive amount of information we have stored and put a system to it. You are able to create a mosaic out of my tiles. When you went for a walk, I looked at the notes you took. Do you realize how much doctrine you have identified during the last three days?"
We had determined a lot of doctrine, but I wasn't convinced, "I don't know".
"Erik, you do this with everything. You modeled Frank Lloyd Wright's principles...his doctrine...and then you created something new! Alex showed you how Ayn's principles were present in 'Atlas Shrugged'. I'm seeing you actually use her principles when you model the Bible."
"I don't know if I'm ready to model the Bible..."
"I won't ask you to model a complex book like the Bible...yet...", Van chuckled and pulled a book from his bookshelf and held it up, "However, I would be curious to see you model this one."
"Who wrote it?"
"CS Lewis. You have already modeled his principles, haven't you?"
"Is it 'Mere Christianity'? I can explain that to you right now."
"No. This is the last book CS Lewis wrote. It was published months after his death. It's called, 'The Discarded Image'. Have you heard of it?"
"Yes. Brain McLaren quoted from it in the book Adam lent me. I didn't think it existed."
"Are you interested?", he asked as he extended it to me.
My answer was completely involuntary, "Absolutely".
Van looked like a man who had finally reached the top of Mt. Everest.
When I reached for the book, I felt like I was home.