Thursday, 29 January 2009

Life and Suffering

The issue of animal suffering was recently front and center among comments on this blog. Now without in any way condoning or being unsympathetic to the issue, I do want to say that I believe there is a difference between humans and the rest of the animal kindgom. And I believe it to be a difference in kind, rather than in degree. In other words, I don't see human beings as merely an animal similar to all others, simply further developed, but an entirely different kind of animal, the one who alone was created in God's image.

It should be obvious to anyone with eyes to see that there is a vast gulf between the human race and any other species. This includes our abilities to create and appreciate art, music, literature, beauty, architecture, airplanes and classic cars (I had the Barrett-Jackson auction on in the background as I wrote this). One may argue that some higher species have a great deal of intelligence, but who made this discovery? Who devised the tests to determine intelligence? Humans. Not dolphins or great apes. As Chesterton wrote, a bird may construct the most elaborate nest, but that is all it can do. It cannot build a front porch or put curtains in windows. That may sound flippant, but it really does reflect a deeper truth -- that it cannot even imagine them. That is the difference between humans ans any other animal.

All that is to say that there are two ways of looking at the issue of life and suffering. If one is of the opinion that all life is descended from a single source -- a first microscopic cell that somehow formed out of some primordial soup, then one has no real objective basis for thinking any particular life is more valuable than any other. Any heirarchy or relative value one might assign can only be arbitrary and subjective. Now most of us would consider murder or assault or torture of other humans to be wrong. Others extend that sense of protection to animals, to some extent or other; the great apes, chimpanzees, whales and dolphins, their pets, or to some other extent down the chain. But any one of these people have probably swatted a mosquito without considering it an act of evil, for instance. What, must be asked, is the difference between killing a bug and killing anything else, according to the purely naturalistic worldview? There is no objective difference -- only an individual opinion.

I don't mean to devalue life itself in all its many forms, but if all life has equal value, then it is also equally valueless.

Take Care

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Funniest Templar

I haven't posted much lately, but this one I couldn't resist. I spent (wasted) a couple of hours each of the last two nights watching the NBC movie, "The Last Templar," based, apparently on the, "best selling novel." I don't know about the novel, but the movie was an amateurish joke. The whole thing was a knock off on the silly "DaVinci Code" genre, but the funniest moment was when some ancient Templar knights made their escape from Jerusalem by boat and stood on the deck of their ship in the Mediterranean watching the city burn(!!!)

You would have thought that someone involved would have done at least enough research to see that Jerusalem is miles inland and neither visible or accessable from the sea.

Take Care

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Amazing Grace

There was a time during this morning's service when I felt a strong urge to leap up and pray something. To my shame, or to the congregation's relief, I didn't. Such things just aren't done, are they? I mean, it just isn't my place to do so, is it?

And maybe it was just me -- something that just leapt up within me, but my heart swelled when I heard it. Pastor Terry, in prayer himself, acknowledged that God, through Jesus Christ, has, using the phrase from the hymn, "saved a wretch like me...". For some reason I found that an amazing thing for him to say, and I prayed a little prayer of blessing there in my seat, when what I wanted to do was jump to my feet and pray out loud before the whole congregation.

But it struck me that when he referred to himself as a wretch, as much as that term may indeed reflect his own condition (nothing personal Terry), he is neither a greater wretch nor a lesser one than any one of us. And so it struck me that, as much as we realize our own wretchedness, the phrase is not only a reflection of our own condition, which is a given, but an even greater acknowledgment of God's grace, by which He saw fit to save us in spite of it. The are two key words in that phrase; one is, "wretch," but the other is, "saved." I think that we often see only our own condition when we hear it, but this morning it drew my heart upward in an acknowledgment of God's greatness and grace. As much as it speaks of our own poverty, it shouts even more loudly of His greatness and love.

Our wretchedness apart from God may be great, but His grace is greater still.

Take Care

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

It Wasn't My Fault... Honest!

Actual (alleged) excerpts from UK insurance claims:
"I started to slow down, but the traffic was more stationary than I thought."

Q: Could either driver have done anything to avoid the accident?
A: Travelled by bus.

On a claim by a motorist who hit a cow:
Q: What warning was given by you?
A: My horn.
Q What warning was given by the other party?
A: A moo.

"Approaching the trraffic lights, the car ahead of me suddenly broke."

"I didn't think the speed limit applied after midnight."

"I knew the dog was possessive about the car but I wouldn't have asked her to drive if I thought there was any risk."

"Windscreen broken, cause unknown. Probably voodoo."

"The car in front hit the pedestrian but he got up so I hit him again."

"The pedestrian hit me and went under my car."

"I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident."

"To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front I struck the pedestrian."

"An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished."

"I was thrown from the car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows."

Take Care