Friday, January 27, 2012

Capacity Focus, 33: Tesla -- let us breeze our heads out on the tragic side of genius, by thinking about Nikola Tesla, electrical genius

Nikola Tesla is probably most commonly mentioned in our day by the unit of magnetic induction named for him; though there is a bit of a lunatic fringe fascinated by his work with high frequency electricity and wireless power. 

But, regardless of how he came to die in poverty and is at best dimly remembered, he is a genius of Electricity who opened doors for global electrification:

(A second video focuses on some of his breakthroughs. Online bio, here.)

Here, we see the need to properly treasure and nurture genius and giftedness. If, we want breakthroughs.

In short, our region now has to learn to spot and nurture -- not exploit or abuse -- talent. 

Let us call this, paying the price to appreciate and invest in the future. 

In this case, in a man a half century before his time. END

Capacity Focus, 32b: Akiane -- let us breeze our heads out by listening to Akiane Kramarik, an inspired artistic genius

Here is a third astonishing case, Akiane Kramarik:

(Interview here.)

Wikipedia's stub article is almost as impressive for what it cannot gainsay, as for what it says:
Akiane Kramarik was born in Mount Morris, Illinois to a Lithuanian mother and an American father. She is homeschooled.[1]
She is primarily a self-taught painter. However, she states that God has given her the visions and abilities to create her artwork, which is unusual for her family, considering both her parents were atheist at the time (they later converted to Christianity on account of Kramarik's paintings and visions). Kramarik started drawing at the age of four, advancing to painting at six, and writing poetry at seven. Her first completed self-portrait sold for US$10,000.[2] A portion of the money generated from sales is donated by Kramarik to charities.[3] According to Kramarik, her art is inspired by her visions of heaven, and her personal connection with God. Kramarik's art depicts life, landscape, and people.
At the age of 10, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and at the age of 12, on CNN.
God is moving, moving like a wind; we know not whence his anointing comes, or why, but we can see it from its effects of blessing. So, let us heed Paul's sound counsel on inspiration:

1 Thess 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
So, we must be open to respect and receive, but also to discern. (Not all that is talented, gifted or inspired is of God.)

Let us therefore prepare our hearts to receive the blessings that God so graciously and freely gives through gifted people, and let us be more sensitive and responsive to his leading so we, too, can be vehicles of blessing. END

Friday, January 20, 2012

Capacity Focus, 32: Bluejay -- let us breeze our heads out on what genius can do, by watching a once- in- 200- years musical prodigy in action

"Bluejay"  (Jay Greenberg, now about 20 years old) at the time of this video was a twelve year old musical prodigy in New York:

Let us reflect on genuine God-given giftedness and blessing, and on how we must open our hearts and minds to it, so we can build on it. 

If, we want breakthrough progress. END

HT: BA 77, over at UD.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Capacity Focus, 31: " Insanely great . . . " -- to breeze out our minds on how things can get done, let us watch the Macintosh story

Just to help us think out of the box all over again . . . and to help us remember what Steve Jobs was:

So, now, can we re-invent the Caribbean? Education? business? Government & politics? Policymaking? Planning? Business? The way we do new things as a people? 

As a church?
So, again, let us ask: why not now, why not here, why not us? END

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia's protest

Today, Wikipedia in English is blacked out, to protest proposed legislation against "piracy," etc.:

I am of course on the whole in agreement with UD News on Wikipedia, generally and on this subject:
Regular readers will know that we do not recommend Wikipedia as a resource for any ID-related topic, and news staff scrupulously avoid it wherever possible on any other topic. [NB: I will use it as a point of reference on neutral topics, and often as testifying against interest.]

That said, government interference (US bills SOPA, PIPA) would only make things much worse. That’s not just falsehood or prejudice, that’s falsehood and prejudice with force to back it up. The appeal is not only to laziness in the reader, but to fear for personal safety.
We warned about this earlier. Briefly, governments that can’t balance their budgets or control crime and disorder would be happy to focus attention on controlling opinion instead. Historically, that’s one of the things they have usually done. And it is easiest to stop in its earliest stages.
See also: Think politicians don’t want control of the Internet? Read this.
Wales, a founder of the controversial online encyclopedia -- on BBC this morning, said, correctly, that if cars are invented, and we find some being abused to rob banks, we deal with the abuse, not restricting the general use unduly. 

Some cures are worse than the disease. END

Monday, January 16, 2012

1 Chron 12:32 report (New Series) 101: The Parable of the Prodigal Son -- a message to atheists and others who would willfully turn away from God; and to those who must help them find their way back,and welcome them home

Our civilisation today is haunted by an aggressive "new atheism" that sees its adherents as the "brights," and typically views those who would  take the triune Creator-redeemer God of the Bible, the gospel and the scriptures seriously as "ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked." 

Some advocates go so far as to outright declare that to try to raise children under God in home and church is "child abuse." 

So intense is the hate of others, that -- in the teeth of easily accessible evidence to the contrary -- they would plaster the one generally accepted manifestation of evil in our civilisation, Hitler, at the feet of the Christian faith. Some have even tried to say that Stalin et al of the overtly atheistical Communist party, were "religious" in their attitude and behaviour.

And so forth.

Perhaps the most infamous announcement of this extremist agenda is found in Richard Dawkins' NYT bestseller, The God Delusion, where this is how he begins his case against what he derides as "the God Hypothesis":
Dawkins, The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament [= The God of Israel . . . ] is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully . . . ” [Cf. Lennox- Dawkins debate, here. For a quick initial response to this sort of rhetoric, cf. CARM here and JPH of Tektonics here, here, here and here. Also cf. Vox Day's short book length critique of the new Atheists in a free to download format here. (Available from Amazon here.)]
Such patently angry stridency needs to be answered and corrected on the merits of fact, logic and worldview level comparative difficulties, and I suggest as a start-point:
1] The NCSTS Unit 2, on worldview choice and the general warrant for theism and for biblical Christian faith, with a pause at the JTS Intro Phil course, Unit 2 on a phil toolkit for worldview level thinking and warrant.

2] The NCSTS Unit 9, on the sins (real and imagined) of Christendom, and in response to the well-poisoning rhetoric we just saw, with a pause at the recent Matt 24 watch 150 KF blog post on Hitler, and a look at the Nuremberg investigatory documents on the Nazi agenda for the Churches, to help clear the air of a poisonous and polarising cloud of new atheist talking points. (The KF Reference web page sections on government under God and on the roots of and rise of modern liberty and democracy will help as well, on matters connected to government under just judgement, and on the balance of freedom and liberty required to maintain the civil peace of justice.)

3] The NCSTS Unit 1 on the foundational warrant for the gospel, and the JTS Intro Phil unit on modern theology, to reaffirm confidence in the gospel, the scriptures and the enduring validity of the discipleship call to turn to Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

4] The IOSE Introduction and Survey, to survey and address the origins myth of "scientific" atheism, evolutionary materialism.

5] The IOSE unit on key ideas and worldview alternatives connected to views on origins, to clarify worldview choice.

6] The IOSE Units on origin of mind, man and morality, and on origins science in society (i.e. ethics and related policy issues), to address the ethical issues implied by adopting as a dominant worldview in a culture a view -- evolutionary materialism -- that has in it no foundational IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT.

7] Vox Day's The Irrational Atheist (online here, print book here), as a specific rebuttal to the claims and talking points of several of the major new atheists, whose writings seem to be the engine driving much of what we are seeing on the ground or in the media and on the Internet. (The KF reference web page on selective hyperskepticism will help to deal with an underlying intellectual problem, especially the note on the closed, often angry, ideologised mind.)
However, there is another side to the story, one that is in the end a pastoral and prophetic one; requiring an answer from the Word of God. Traditionally, that has come from Rom 1:18 - 32 and to a lesser extent from something like Acts 17:16 - 34 and 1 Cor 1:17 - 29, which speak thematically to a lot of the issues raised by atheists. 

They are still relevant, but I think something more is needed, something that uses the awesome prophetic power of a world-class story tied to an ever so familiar reality, exposing the secrets of our hearts and calling us to turn back to our Eternal, ever-loving Father and God. 

So, now, let us listen afresh to the story of the lost- and- found son, often called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, from Luke 15:11 - 32:

Video, much as it may have been originally given:



The Prodigal is welcomed home
(Pompeo Batoni, 1773, Wiki)
>>  11 And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ [--> That is, he said in effect, I wish you were dead, and I wish to treat you as one dead; going my own way and doing as I please with what you have given to me . . . e.g., especially in its more overtly anger-driven forms, atheism is often little more than "rationalised" anti-authority teenager rebellion and willfulness projected against the ultimate Father, God . . . ] And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. [--> For which, he had the "help" of those who sought to profit from his folly, and who (for their own ends and advantage) encouraged him in the path of ill-advised wrong]  14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to  one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.[--> So, he was now under the domination, exploitation and oppression of the unjust, learning the hard way, the difference between the government of his Father, and the misrule of those who seek their advantage at the expense of others, indeed, this is a picture of satanic misrule and its destructive effects. Entire countries can suffer a fate like this.]

 17 “But when he came to himself [--> Having been humbled, and having been broken from arrogant pride and dismissal of his father, he begins to repent and reflects on the habitual kindness that he once took for granted; he is motivated to change by the painful results of folly, when he can no longer blame others, and is destitute and desperate] , he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. [--> His father had been looking out for him, and humbled himself, to reach out to and embrace him; how utterly different is this picture of God from the slanders of professor Dawkins! So, whose report will we believe, that of the crucified and risen Christ, or the angry professor Dawkins?]  21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’3  22 But the father said to his servants,4  ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” [--> We, too, must have the heart of God the Father who welcomes back the prodigal]  >>

So, now, let us reflect on our attitude to our Father who has given us as a gift every good thing, and who has given us a world that speaks to us so eloquently of his loving care:
Rom 1:19 . . .  what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. [ESV]
Now, of course, that we would rebel against the evident truth -- so evident (never mind our willful, wishful denials!) that we are without excuse -- in ingratitude and allow ourselves to be enmeshed in a world of evil and deception merits a tearful, but strict Divine frown, but let us read down a little further in Romans, to see God's fatherly attitude:
Rom 2: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking  and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil . . . 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good . . .  11 For God shows no partiality. [ESV]
In short, given that we are all finite, fallible, fallen and too often ill-willed, God welcomes the penitent who seek to walk towards him, however haltingly and stumblingly. Precisely what happened with the prodigal son in the story. But, if we refuse the truth we know or should know, and seek evil instead [think here, of those who exploited and abused the prodigal], he will have no choice in all justice, but to frown.

So, now, we have a choice, and a choice with the attitudes, thoughts and intents of our hearts laid bare.

What, then, will we now do with the truth and the right we know, or should know? Why?  END

Monday, January 09, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 150: Visually exposing the Anti-Christ spirit of Nazism (and correcting the New Atheist "Hitler was a Christian" smear often used in retort to exposing* the Social Darwinist history of ideas roots of Hitler's thought)

(NB: Response to Dr L Moran et al is at F/N 2, below)

One of the things that astonishes me, is the increasingly commonly encountered New Atheist Internet talking point that "Hitler was a Christian"; an attempt to taint the Christian Faith with the horrors of Nazism.

In initial reply, we may immediately observe that Hitler was the main advocate of the Big Lie propaganda technique of telling huge whoppers that tickle itching ears with what they want to hear and won't -- even, "can't" -- believe that so "credible" a source is lying through their teeth about so important a matter

 The United States Office of Strategic Services aptly summed up Hitler's rhetorical and propaganda methods:
[Hitler's] primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. [Hitler as His Associates Know Him (OSS report, p.51), courtesy Wiki. Resemblance to the web stalking and Internet vandalism  techniques exposed here and here, are NOT coincidental.]

So, if we hear anything from Hitler in public that lines up with the likely sentiments of his audience -- here, largely the German people (reportedly then about 90% "Christian") -- we should be on notice. For more details, we may  cf. responsible replies here and here , with a cluster of useful quotes here. [NB: The irresponsible site Evil Bible that is linked to substantiate the New Atheist smear talking point, is rebutted in general here.]

But all of this requires a fair amount of reading and reasonably balanced thought, precisely what the likes of those inclined to swallow the sort of talking point above are disinclined to do.

We need something far more direct.

Courtesy a Life photo-essay on Nazi era posters [under fair use], we can however see direct, visual positive proof of the actual Anti-christ, demonic, counterfeiting spirit of both Hitler and nazism.

This is immediately obvious, through the following blasphemous echo of the descent of the Spirit as a dove on Jesus and the announcement of the Father that Jesus was the Approved Son, at his baptism in the Jordan:

In the image we see an aura of radiant glory and a descending bat-like, predatory, demonic bird; most certainly not the Holy and peaceful Dove of the Holy Spirit. 

Hitler, here, is plainly being presented as an idolatrous political messiah, a deliberate and demonically twisted echo of Jesus.

Complete with a flag carrying that twisted, broken cross known as the Swastika.

Itself, a highly visible warning. 

{Added Jan 18:} Whatever the Swastika once may have been in our civilisation (and with all due respect to those of other cultures and creeds where it may still have a positive meaning), it is now forever tainted by the Nazi abuse, and the horrible meaning and history of their flag:
In Mein Kampf, Hitler described the Nazis' new flag: "In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic." (pg. 496-497)

Because of the Nazis' flag, the swastika soon became a symbol of hate, antisemitism, violence, death, and murder . . . 
 To that list, we must plainly add, also, that it is a symbol of occultic anti-christian sentiment: a twisted, broken cross just as Heine warned against ever so long ago. 

(And, in case some would abuse the Cross itself, this would be an act of misusing a symbol that stands for the name and cause of the loving, essentially good, Creator-God; as such, this would be blasphemy and sacrilege. So, let us be very very careful indeed of how our flags are made into lies by our misbehaviour, whether they use the t-cross or the X-cross -- also a hint of the first letter of Christ in Greek, Chi -- or any other symbol of our call to live under God. Jamaica, in case you do not hear me clearly, this means us in particular. That golden cross of St Andrew across our flag says that here is indeed a "sun" that shineth in our land: The Son of God. So, let us have the humility to repent, seek his grace and heed the second stanza of our glorious prayer-anthem: Teach us true respect for all, Stir response to duty's call, Strengthen us the weak to cherish, Give us vision lest we perish, Knowledge send us heavenly Father, Grant true Wisdom from above, Justice, Truth be ours forever, Jamaica Land we love.)

Pardon a moment from the heart . . . 

Okay, hearts cleansed, let us now turn to another video.

So, let us contrast the baptism scene from the movie, Jesus of Nazareth:

And, a "typical" stained glass image of the scene:

Jesus' Baptism, Tiffany; Brown Memorial Presbyterian,
Baltimore, MD, USA. Courtesy, James G Howes, Wiki

Anyone with even a modicum of spiritual discernment should have instantly spotted these things, on seeing the horribly blasphemous Nazi poster. One look at such sacrilege should have told us all we needed to know about this man to know that we should shun him; and, all we needed to know about the destructive, deceitful nature of the movement that so blindly followed him to ruin.

This is a case where a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

It is therefore no wonder that we can see here the plan for subverting and destroying the Christian Churches that was exposed through an investigatory document for the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

So, now, let us again hear Heinrich Heine's grimly prophetic warning from the 1830's on what was even then slowly brewing in Germany:
Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [--> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [--> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [--> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns]  will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831.]
After this, let no one even dare to begin to suggest that Hitler was anything more or less than a plainly demonic false political messiah who led his deluded followers into unspeakable evil. END

 *F/N, Jan 10: For those who need documentation on the key Social Darwinism roots of Hitler's thought, I suggest that such examine the Weikart lecture and a discussion of a key clip from Mein Kampf that demonstrated the Darwinist-Haeckelian frame of thought, that beyond reasonable doubt strongly shaped Hitler’s thinking, speech and behaviour. 

Let me embed the lecture

In addition, such may wish to look at a previous post in this blog, here, that ties in remarks by Darwin in his The Descent of man, chs 5 - 7 [yes, Darwin, too, was demonstrably a Social Darwinist . . . ], and highlights H G Wells' warnings in his popular novel, War of the Worlds, 1897. In short, the danger should have been recognised and averted generations before the Holocaust, and -- given known turnabout tactic New Atheist talking points here -- no, this does not constitute putting "all the world's ills" on Darwinist shoulders. A fairer understanding of the Christian gospel would recognise that the Christian Faith has always held that our ills largely stem from our common challenge that we are all finite, fallible, morally fallen and too often ill-willed, walking in rebellious alienation from our common Father, that then leads to alienation within our hearts and quarreling, abuse, oppression and worse between us and our brothers, sisters and cousins who were equally made in God's image with us. Hence the gospel highlights our common need for recognition of our moral plight, repentance, forgiveness and moral-spiritual transformation through the Christ of God; which, far too often, includes those of us who name the name of Jesus on our lips but fail to walk -- however stumblingly -- in his way of discipleship and loving service. (Those needing documentation on Hitler’s actual attitude to and intentions for the Christian Churches, can look at the recently released Nuremberg investigatory documents here. If after seeing these documents and the like, someone still insists on trying to claim Hitler was a Christian etc etc, s/he is delusional and/or willfully deceitful.) 

F/N 2, Jan 11:  I see I need to make a few for record comments, given a rather nastily personal attack at Sandwalk, by Dr Moran; who seems to be of the "if you disagree with the evolutionary materialist or broader darwinist view or point out some of its less happy moments in history, you must be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked" school of thought: 

a --> Evolutionary materialism and macroevolution are at best explanatory constructs, not facts in themselves. This is elementary: scientific theories and models are explanations, not facts, and that is perforce redoubled when one sets out to explain the unobserved, unobservable deep past of the origins of the world of life. (Cf. also, here.)

b --> The purpose of the post above is indeed obvious [and openly stated above], given that EvilBible etc are assiduously trying to mislead the public to believe that Hitler was a Christian acting out of his Christian faith. So, since all too many are unable or unwilling to wade through the sort of documentation that is linked above, a visual example of the demonic, Anti-christ, counterfeit spirit of Hitler and his twisted- broken-cross Nazi party -- it is that obvious! -- is in order. 
[U/D, Jan 12: And, that, sadly -- and in defiance of scripture -- some Christians (including leading voices in Germany like Luther) have been intemperate and anti-Semitic  neither means that we can then dismiss or ignore the evidence as to Hitler's actual deceptive Anti-christ spirit and blasphemously idolatrous political messianism [as we can see above], nor that we can then pretend that the links from Darwin and Haeckel through social darwinism and eugenics etc to Hitler and co. are not historically well-documented. Let's not forget, either, that H G Wells -- a student of "Darwin's bulldog," Huxley -- wrote a series of well-known novels on the moral hazards of modern science, including the warning in the opening chapter of War of the Worlds that I have highlighted here. Before all of this, as we can see above: by 1830, Heine was prophetically warning on the dangers implicit in the wave of academics who were already progressively dismissing God and Christ in Germany; as, Heine knew that the inherently good Creator God is the only serious worldview foundational IS who can ground OUGHT. Nations and civilisations that willfully forget God in the teeth of the evidence and reasoning that point so clearly to him, as Paul warned, walk a path to moral chaos and self-destruction.]
 c --> Indeed, we may directly and simply see above where Hitler's propagandists did not hesitate to blasphemously twist the NT account of the descent of the Spirit at Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, to present Hitler as a political messiah. And thus, they inadvertently exposed him as a demonic counterfeit, an idolatrous false Christ. This directly and beyond reasonable doubt implies that  Nazism was and is Antichristian, not Christian. (Something that those who actually read the relevant historical documentation without ideological blinkers would easily enough confirm. Why not start with the Barmen Declaration of 1934, by Barth, Boenhoffer, Niemoller et al, here? Could anything be clearer than this in reply to the Nazi-led so-called German Christian movement: ". . . In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed . . . Try the spirits whether they are of God!," etc, etc?)

d --> Further to all of this, it can be quite easily and objectively shown (as the footnote just above this one does) that Hitler's thought and behaviour were in fact strongly shaped by the stream in the history of ideas that stemmed from the Social Darwinism that so gripped Germany in the decades after 1859, especially through the impact of Haeckel, who indelibly linked "scientific" evolution to racism and the devaluation and dehumanisation of the perceived inferiors. Let me clip, for convenience:
 For those who need documentation on the key Social Darwinism roots of Hitler's thought, I suggest that such examine the Weikart lecture and a discussion of a key clip from Mein Kampf that demonstrated the Darwinist-Haeckelian frame of thought, that beyond reasonable doubt strongly shaped Hitler’s thinking, speech and behaviour. In addition, such may wish to look at a previous post in this blog, here, that ties in remarks by Darwin in his The Descent of man, chs 5 - 7 [yes, Darwin, too, was demonstrably a Social Darwinist . . . ], and highlights H G Wells' warnings in his popular novel, War of the Worlds, 1897. In short, the danger should have been recognised and averted generations before the Holocaust . . .
 e --> As I noted above, Hitler was plainly an extreme. But, sadly, there was a far broader movement of "scientific" Eugenics, founded by Darwin's cousin Galton, and founded based on his and others' extension of Darwin's thought to the question of the evolution of man. As the logo for the Second International Congress I used in my notice about a case of cyberstalking and web vandalism at Uncommon Descent identified, this was unquestionably rooted in Darwinist soil, even going so far as to define Eugenics as "the self-direction of human evolution":

The "tree" of Eugenics, c 1921 (Logo of 2nd International Congress on Eugenics)

f --> An examination of the roots of eugenics will show many biologically relevant scientific fields, i.e. as was self-announced by this movement that swept the elites of the world at the turn of C20 and shaped law and policy from North Carolina, California and Canada to Japan and Germany, it saw itself as an applied science by which humanity would now master the course of evolution.

g --> We need not elaborate the litany of horrors that stemmed from that as eugenics led to many indefensible actions, and was tied in to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia movements, ending up in genocide in Germany. Instead of giving a long list of details, we may simply note that as the already linked  NWE article observed:
The scope and coercion involved in the German eugenics programs along with a strong use of the rhetoric of eugenics and so-called "racial science" throughout the regime created an indelible cultural association between eugenics and the Third Reich in the postwar years . . . . In reaction to Nazi abuses, eugenics became almost universally reviled in many of the nations where it had once been popular (however, some eugenics programs, including sterilization, continued quietly for decades). Many pre-war eugenicists engaged in what they later labeled "crypto-eugenics," purposefully taking their eugenic beliefs "underground" and becoming respected anthropologists, biologists, and geneticists in the postwar world (including Robert Yerkes in the U.S. and Otmar von Verschuer in Germany) . . . . High school and college textbooks from the 1920s through the 1940s often had chapters touting the scientific progress to be had from applying eugenic principles to the population. Many early scientific journals devoted to heredity in general were run by eugenicists and featured eugenics articles alongside studies of heredity in nonhuman organisms. After eugenics fell out of scientific favor, most references to eugenics were removed from textbooks and subsequent editions of relevant journals . . . . Notable members of the American Eugenics Society (1922–94) during the second half of the twentieth century included Joseph Fletcher, originator of Situational ethics; Dr. Clarence Gamble of the Procter & Gamble fortune; and Garrett Hardin, a population control advocate and author of The Tragedy of the Commons. Despite the changed postwar attitude towards eugenics in the U.S. and some European countries, a few nations, notably, Canada and Sweden, maintained large-scale eugenics programs, including forced sterilization of mentally handicapped individuals, as well as other practices, until the 1970s. In the United States, sterilizations capped off in the 1960s, though the eugenics movement had largely lost most popular and political support by the end of the 1930s . . .
h --> So, I am also highlighting an underlying challenge of evolutionary materialistic thought that becomes vital when we reflect on science, and worldviews often tied to science in society, its radical relativism and amorality, with sidelights from all too tellingly relevant history. An amorality that the well-known professor William Provine inadvertently exposed for us to ponder in his well-known 1998 University of Tennessee Darwin Day address:
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . .
i --> If we are not significantly free, we are not and cannot be morally responsible. Similarly, if there is no objective foundation for ethics, then we are left with radical relativism and the nihilism of "might makes 'right' . . . ," as Plato pointed out in no uncertain terms 2350 years ago in his The Laws, Bk X.

j --> Or, as Will Hawthorne so powerfully summed up:
Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can't infer an 'ought' from an 'is' [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces].  (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)
Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an 'ought'. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there's no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.
Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it's not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it's permissible to perform that action. If you'd like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan 'if atheism is true, all things are permitted'.
For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don't like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.
Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.
Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can't infer 'ought' from [[a material] 'is'. [[Emphases and paragraphing added.]
k --> Such issues and concerns are obviously painful, but if we are to be responsible about the issues of science in society, we must face them fair and square. For, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. 

Matt 24 watch, 149: A revealing moment -- at a Tea Party rally as a Marine sings "O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand . . . "

A longstanding friend, reader of this blog and colleague shared an email with me overnight, in which at a Tea Party -- yes, this is the Tea Party --  rally in the USA, a former Marine, answered as to how he would educate the upcoming generation on the godly heritage of the USA.

He did so, by singing the FOURTH stanza of the US National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, which begins "O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand . . ."

The revelation, however, is not in the song, but in what happened to those sitting around, who at first were utterly unaware of just what was being sung (but who -- in stunned, dawning awareness -- then rose in respect, one by one . . . ), as we may now see

 Let us observe: we have people, plainly up to their sixties, who simply did not know the fourth stanza of their national anthem. 

This speaks volumes, utterly revealing volumes, about what has not been happening with basic education and in the wider community at public occasions and times of historical remembrance, for decades. For at least a full generation, and probably two or more.

And, once we see what the fourth  -- not the second (even the Marine got this wrong!) -- stanza composed by Francis Scott Key in 1814 at the long but ultimately unsuccessful bombardment of an American Fort by the Royal Navy actually says, the saddening reason suggests itself with all too sickening clarity:
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust;"

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
For, this sentiment and testimony, written down in living memory of the founding of the American Republic as a poem and then transformed into a wildly popular patriotic song, then finally recognised after generations as the national anthem, bespeaks the heart of a God-fearing land shaped by the Christian gospel and scriptures. 

 Indeed, in the stanza is a direct echo of the call to solemn prayer and penitence of May 1776, issued by the same Congress that then made the Declaration of Independence just two months later:
May 1776 [over the name of John Hancock, first signer of the US Declaration of Indpependence]:
In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity. . . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.[Cf. Library of Congress page on this.]
Much the same understanding, in fact, as can be discerned from a careful reading of both the US Declaration of Independence (1776) and the structure of the US Constitution (1787):

US DOI, 1776:

When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions [Cf. Judges 11:27 and discussion in Locke], do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
US Constitution's "Grand Statement" structure, 1787:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty [--> in such a solemn context, a covenantal term, not primarily a legal one] to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I - VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven [--> Implies an acknowledgement of Jesus as risen Lord, cf. Rom 1:1 - 5] and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. [--> Acknowledges the historic and legal context of the Declaration of Independence] In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].
This is of course, the same sentiment, Scripture-based covenantal Government under God frame of thought and history that can be seen in Benjamin Franklin Morris' classic Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia, PA: George W. Childs, 1864; Google Books facsimile of Sen Charles Sumner's -- yes, that same Sen Sumner --  copy, here), and which is now ever so plainly being deliberately -- it CANNOT be accidental -- erased from living memory.

So now, let us first pause to see a summary on the history of the Anthem:

And, to put on record, the full Anthem as originally composed (there was a fifth stanza used during the Civil War era):


The original manuscript
O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust;"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And, now, finally, let us ponder, on what has been done to take from us -- not just Americans, taken from our whole civilisation -- our living, conscious, ingrained understanding of our God-fearing, Judaeo-Christian, Scripture-based heritage and our knowledge of how that heritage (for all our sins) has made so great a contribution to the rise of modern Liberty and its many blessings.
Then, let us recognise and turn from the wrong, and restore and renew our living heritage as a civilisation under God. END

Matt 24 watch, 148b: But, the Trinity doctrine does not make sense, any more than 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, and was an imposition by Constantine, etc . . .

Last time, we looked at a warning from an ex muslim, which raised the issue of the reasonableness of the Triune Christian view of God. 

Let us address this further, based on some work in the in-progress NCSTS course, first pausing to examine the key texts that provide the Scriptural imperative, here on, in context.


Clip 1a, on the gap between what is indeed logically coherent and what is actually coherent but conceptually difficult to "me," an important first pause for opening our minds:


>> if we overlook the possibility for complex unity [as comes out of the significance of Echad, the word for "one" in Deut 6:4], we may easily "see" a contradiction in the doctrine that God is triune, where none in fact exists.

A further example will help clarify how our failure to grasp a concept may make us perceive a contradiction when the real problem is our lack of adequate concepts. Let us ask: is it possible to stand at just one place on the Earth and be due north of London, England, Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingston, Jamaica?

At first, this seems to be impossible, but if we remember that the earth is round [not flat like most maps are], we can go stand at the North Pole:

This concept of God as triune, embracing unity and diversity, can be further visualised in the famous Triquetra, which builds on the concept of the shamrock. (The interlacing three-lobed loop below is the triquetra proper, and each lobe is a vesica piscis, a fish-like shape made from two intersecting circles):

The Shield of the Trinity then captures the classic conception of God as triune more specifically, as we may see from a surprisingly good definition at Wiki (which simplifies the underlying Athanasian creed):

The Shield of Faith, C13
The definition, excerpted:
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, one of the most important in the Christian faith, teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons (Greek: hypostases)[1] in one divine Being (Greek: Ousia), called the Godhead.[2]

Saying that God exists as three persons but is one God means that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have exactly the same nature or being as God the Father in every way. Whatever attributes and power God the Father has, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have as well. "Thus, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are also eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, infinitely loving, omniscient."[3]  . . . .
Personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of "person" as used in the English language—it does not imply an "individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity."[9]

To the ancients, personhood "was in some sense individual, but always in community as well."[9]:p.186 In the Trinity doctrine, each person is understood as having the same identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.
The doctrine, of course transcends our ability to fully understand. But, in a quantum physics world, that is getting increasingly familiar. An electron or a photon have properties of BOTH waves and particles, and depending on how you interact, you will see one or the other sets of properties.

Sometimes, we say they are wavicles, or speak of a "duality."

But, waves rolling up unto a beach and tiny cricket balls do not exactly seem to be closely similar or easily reconcilable concepts! Be that as it may, on the best physical theory we have, and on a great many experimental results, we are indeed forced to see such things as -- yes, we must echo the Athanasian Creed here: incomprehensible -- wavicles: waves and particles that have a unified identity.

Indeed, we may be bold enough to say that that unity in diversity is a signature characteristic of the cosmos, reflecting its Triune Author.

Clip 1b: on how Patrick is said to have addressed the claimed incoherence of the Christian view of God, laying out the Shamrock Principle of mysterious but nevertheless undeniably real tri-unity:

>> we may begin to see how 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 can make sense: in the case of complex unity, the whole is distinct from the parts or facets of that whole, so there is no logical contradiction here.

That is, the matter is much as the famous (but probably apocryphal) story of what happened when the pagan Irish challenged Patrick:
As a missionary in Ireland, St Patrick was challenged by the pagans to explain the concept of the Trinity. Being a former slave-shepherd in that same country, he did the unexpected -- he reached down and plucked a shamrock, a three-lobed leaf.

Standing back up, he then asked:
"How many leaves are there here? If but one, then why are there three lobes? If three, then why is there but one stem? If you cannot explain the mystery of the shamrock leaf, why then do you expect me to explain the far more profound one of the Trinity?"
And that, according to the story, is how the shamrock leaf became the symbol of Christian Ireland.

Whether or not the story is true, it goes to the heart of the issue of the concept of the Trinity: that the mystery of the One and the Many lies at the core of being, and that we will find this pattern as a signature of the Godhead in many aspects of the cosmos, including in our own lives and thought-world.

In particular, it at once lays to rest the jibe that Christians are fools who believe that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, for, the shamrock leaf is both three and one at the same time, but not in the same sense, i.e. the question of logical contradiction strictly does not arise. 

For, the essence of a real contradiction is that contradictory statements or implications affirm and deny the same thing in the same sense.  

Thus, the Christian understanding that the unity of the Godhead is complex, not simple -- the one God is manifest in three persons who share a common Divine nature -- cannot be a contradiction, as the one-ness and the three-ness refer to quite distinct things.

Instead, what is being affirmed is that the oneness of God is complex rather than simple, just as the cosmos made by that same Triune God is a unified whole that embraces the vast diversity we see around us; e.g. water manifests itself as solid, liquid and gas, but it is the one and the same substance H-O-H all along. 

We may now elaborate through a diagram that builds on the Shamrock mystery and the Fish symbol used as an early symbol of the Christian faith in Jesus as Son of God and Saviour. For, the Greek word for "fish," Ichthus, can be used as an acrostic for, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour:

The triune view of God as Complex Unity

This complex unity view of God is quite significant, as it means that the Bible-based, Christian, redemptive triune view of God, the ground of reality, offers probably the only serious solution to the vexed worldview problem of the one and the many: a world of diversity that is also one. 

Clip 2, amplifies on the associated philosophical dilemma of the one and the many:


>> This complex unity view of God is quite significant, as it means that the Bible-based, Christian, redemptive triune view of God, the ground of reality, offers probably the only serious solution to the vexed worldview problem of the one and the many: a world of diversity that is also one.

A Probe Ministores article aptly summarises the issue:

When it comes to discussing worldviews the starting point is the question, Why is there something rather than nothing?{6} As you may already know, there are three basic answers to this question. The pantheist would generally answer that all is one, all is god, and this "god with a small g" has always existed. Second, the naturalist would say that something, namely matter [in some form], has always existed. Third, the theist holds that a personal, Creator-God is eternal and out of nothing He created all that there is . . . .

When we look around at what exists, we see an amazing collection of seemingly disparate elements such as gasses, liquids, and solids, planets and stars, horses, flowers, rocks, and trees. And seeing all of these things we notice that they all exist in some sort of equilibrium or unity. How is it that such diversity exists in such apparent unity? And are we as human beings any more important than gasses or ants? . . . .

The pantheist's commitment to an all-inclusive oneness leaves no room for the real world in which people live, where I am not you and neither of us is one with a tree or a mountain.
The naturalist has no problem accepting the reality of the physical world and the diversity present in it. However, there is no solid ground for understanding why it is all held together. In short, [as Francis Schaeffer often noted] there is no infinite reference point so we are left with the circular argument: everything holds together because everything holds together; if it didn't, we wouldn't be here to see it. What a coincidence! In fact, coincidence, or chance, is the only basis for anything. As a result human beings are left with an absurd existence . . . .

Trinitarian theism
is the only option that contains within itself an explanation of both the one and the many while saying that people are important. In the Trinity, God has revealed Himself as the eternal, infinite reference point for His creation. Moreover, the Trinity provides the only adequate basis for understanding the problem of unity and diversity since God has revealed Himself to be one God who exists in a plural unity. Ultimately then, as Horrell concludes, "Every thing and every person has real significance because each is created by and finally exists in relationship to the Triune God." [Article, What Difference Does the Trinity Make?, emphases, links and parentheses added.]
But, if we overlook the possibility for complex unity, we may easily "see" a contradiction in the doctrine that God is triune, where none in fact exists.>>

Clip 3, on answers to typical objections:


>> In our day, there are of course a great many objections to the scripturally derived view of God as Triune, and to Jesus as Son of God and Christ.  There have always been.

That is why it is so important to begin from the warrant for Christ, "shown to be Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead." And, then on the strength of those scriptures that have been authenticated through fulfilled prophecy of the Messiah and Lamb of God slain and risen as Lord, we can seek a coherent understanding of the Godhead. As as we have seen, the Shamrock principle provides as good a framing as any.

In that context, we may then answer (in brief) a cluster of typical objections:

OBJ 1: The Trinity is logically incoherent and nonsensical, of the order of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1.

ANS 1: As the Shamrock principle highlights, unity may be complex, and no incoherence occurs if the oneness and the three-ness involved refer to distinct facets or aspects of a unity, as they do here. The Scutum Fidei we have already seen depicts this in a traditional theological diagram, that in the medieval period was actually held to be the heraldic Arms of the Triune God:
The Scutum Fide dates to C13 and by C15 was seen as the heraldic Arms of God,
being actually used in visual representations of spiritual warfare per Eph 6

OBJ 2: How could God be One and yet three distinct persons?

ANS 2: How could matter at microscopic level -- e.g. light and electrons -- be both particles [like tiny cricket balls] AND waves [like those headed for a beach], depending on how one interacts with it? We may not fully understand how these things can be about electrons and photons, etc, but we have good reason to accept them as so, hence the whimsical term: wavicle. Similarly, if we have good reason, per the resurrection in fulfillment of prophecy to accept the NT teachings, then even if we do not fully understand, we can see enough to know that this is not nonsense and is not the sort of thing we would make up. Why should we be surprised to learn that God is beyond our full ability to comprehend?

OBJ 3: How could God be the Creator of the cosmos and yet have a mother, brothers, and sisters? Did God demean himself and commit fornication with Mary?

ANS 3: We must not confuse two different understandings of God, simple vs complex unity. Once we can see that God may be Triune, that God the Son should be miraculously incarnate as a virgin-born human child (no act of sexual intercourse was involved . . . ) and then grow up as a man among men, is perhaps an astonishing act of willing humbling of oneself in love, to bring redemption to those who don't deserve it (and too often reject or dismiss it),  but it is not absurd. Not for the God who as to his essential nature is Love Himself.

OBJ 4: The Doctrine of the Trinity was cooked up by Constantine and the Council of Nicea, it has no genuine roots in original Christianity. The Gospels that would tell us better were ordered burned, but a few survived and so we know that traditional Christianity is a Constantine cook-up.

ANS 4: On the contrary, as we have seen above, the Nicene Creed is a faithful summary of the C1 NT. It would also be astonishing that the same church and leaders who stood the fire and sword of Diocletian and others, would now suddenly cave to the notions of a new Emperor in 325 AD, or his heirs over the next fifty years to the point where the creed was re-affirmed and expanded in 381 AD; to make sure that various distortions that had been debated over the intervening generation were rebutted.  It is the Gnostic documents that are being trumpeted on Cable TV or in speculative books and movies etc. that are demonstrably from C2 - 4, and present a syncretism of the deeply hebraic vision of the C1 NT with then current C2 - 4 Hellenistic ideas tracing to vulgarised Platonic thought, mysticism, magic, etc.  Besides, e.g. The Gospel of Thomas cites Diatessaron's harmony of the four Gospels, which was made c 170. Those who have allowed themselves to be misled by Dan Brown's "Fact" declaration at the beginning of his novel, the Da Vinci Code, or the like, are being naive, or are dealing in wishful, poorly researched thinking.

OBJ 5: Isn't the trinity just a thinly disguised pagan doctrine improperly imposed on the true insight that there is only one God?

ANS 5: Pagans simply did not teach the doctrine of a triune all-Holy Living God, Father, Son and Spirit, co-eternal, co-equal, omnipotent and the same essential nature, the God who is Lord, Creator, Goodness Himself, Love Himself, and Reason Himself. Nor, did it teach that God the Son, fulfilling the prophecies of Messiah, would come among us as virgin-born Saviour, dying and rising in fulfillment of the Hebrew prophetic Scriptures, and coming again as our Lord and Judge in the Last Day. Polytheism (as we saw in Unit 3 above) taught myths of many gods and goddesses, which in many cases were more or less magic-working, scandalously immoral and irresponsible super-men projected into the sky or to natural objects and phenomena of various kinds. In direct contrast -- as is tabulated here and as can be seen above -- we can reasonably and responsibly derive from the Bible text precisely the understanding of God that is found in the creeds. Indeed, we can responsibly argue that that is the understanding that is required by the cumulative witness of the texts.

OBJ 6: But, the words "trinity" and "triune" do not appear even once in the Bible, and 1 John 5:7 - 8 is a verse that does not belong in the Bible.

ANS 6: Does the word "monotheism" appear in the text of the Bible? Not at all. Does that therefore mean that the Bible does not teach that there is but one true and ever-living God? Obviously not. In short, the argument is a red herring distractor from the real issue: what is the cumulative witness of the Scriptures, responsibly understood, as to the nature of God? And, while the so-called Comma Johanneum in 1 Jn 5:7b - 8a seems to be a marginal note (perhaps dating to the C3 - 4) that was somehow copied into the main text of the Vulgate (some time in the middle ages), that does not mean that what it says -- "
there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth . . . " [KJV] -- is false; nor, does it mean that the NT does not ground the triune understanding of God. More modern translations, once the history of the text was traced, therefore exclude the remarks. Moreover, when the triune understanding of God was formulated in the creeds, this was based on the major texts such as are cited above, i.e. the triune view of God has no need for the unfortunately incorporated marginal note. As well, we should note the way that key passages often speak jointly and tellingly of the Father, Son and Spirit, e.g.:
  1. Matt. 3:16-17, "And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, 17and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." [NASB]
  2. Matt. 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," Note that there is one name and three persons." [NASB]
  3. 2 Cor. 13:14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."[NASB]
OBJ 7: But, three persons cannot be one person; that's like saying 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Why do Christians insist on turning prophets sent by God into partners to set alongside God as though they were equal to God? Is that not gross disrespect for God, idolatry and paganism?

ANS 7: This objection pivots on misunderstandings. The triune understanding -- as defined in the key historic creeds such as the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed in light of responsible study of the Scriptures -- is NOT asserting that there are three persons who are somehow just one person, nor that there are three gods, nor that prophets have been set up to be partners with the one true God, etc. Indeed, the latter creed -- spelling it out, step by step, after decades of back and forth debates that brought out the points most apt to be confused -- in part reads:
". . . the catholic [i.e. universal Christian] faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal . . . The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated . . .  The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal . . .  So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord. For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding . . . "
That is, the scripturally rooted, historic Christian understanding is that there is but one God, who is manifest in three co-equal, co-eternal, uncreated persons, who are not three gods, nor somehow just one person. Similarly, we understand that Jesus -- God, the only begotten and eternal Son -- humbled himself in loving concern and was incarnate among us at a particular place and time in a particular family, in order to redeem us, thus partaking of full humanity as well as being God in essential nature. Then, in willing submission to his Father, he drew into himself the full depth of the venom of sin, tasting the dregs of death for us; giving us eternal life in exchange and crushing the head of the Serpent. Then he seized the keys of death and of Hades, rising as triumphant Lord. This is not at all to be equated  with trying to mistakenly turn a hero or a prophet or even an angel into a god. That is a gross, ignorant or irresponsible and even venomous misunderstanding. One may disagree with it, but in so disagreeing s/he is responsible to correctly acknowledge what Christians believe today and historically have believed, on what basis.
So, let us instead again look at the Scutum Fidei (an apt visual summary that brings together some pretty hard to understand text in one powerful diagram), noting that -- hard as it may be to understand -- the proper sense in which the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God is such that we must be fully able to talk of God, the Father, and of God, the Son and of God, the Spirit, while distinguishing Father, Son and Spirit as persons:
The Shield of Faith, summarising the creedal, Biblically based triune
understanding of God in a diagram tracing to C12
OBJ 8: Jesus cannot be the eternal God because he was born at a given time, did not know all things, slept, grew in wisdom, said the Father is greater than I, etc. He slept, ate, thirsted, drank, and even died. How could an unchanging, eternal God be like that?

ANS 8:
This pivots on overlooking a key aspect of the incarnation. Jesus was not half-god, half-man, a demigod or something like that. He was fully God, incarnate as fully man. As a man, he could be born into a family, grow up, eat, drink, sleep etc., and even die. But also, as he was a united person, his death had an eternal, and divine significance: he died as our sinless Saviour and substitute who tasted death for all of us, so that we may have the opportunity to receive eternal life from him. Slick, at CARM, has a useful summary:
 This type of statement is perhaps the most commonly raised attack.  Unfortunately, it fails to take into consideration the Hypostatic Union which states that Jesus had two natures: divine and human.  As a man, Jesus cooperated with the limitations of His humanity, was made lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9), talked about position, and was under the Law (Gal. 4:4), signifying Him being under legal obligations.  Therefore, Jesus would sleep, grow in wisdom, and say the Father was greater than He.  But, these do not negate that Jesus was divine since they reference His humanity and not His divinity. 

There are other verses which reflect His divinity, such as when He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM," (
John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14).  He was called God by God in Heb. 1:8, "But of the Son He says,'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,'" and John 1:1,14 says that He is "...the Word was God...and became flesh..." This means that Jesus is both divine and human and as a man he would grow, sleep, and learn.  It means that Jesus had a human nature, not that the had no divine nature . . . .

Jesus died.  But, we know that God cannot die.  So, if the divine nature did not die, how can it be said that Jesus' sacrifice was divine in nature?  The answer is that the attributes of divinity, as well as humanity, were ascribed to the person Jesus.  Therefore, since the person of Jesus died, His death was of infinite value because the properties of divinity were ascribed to the person in His death.  This is called the
Communicatio Idiomatum

OBJ 9:
Paul distorted the original teachings of Jesus and created a new Christianity -- which should be called "Paulianity" instead. As a part of that distortion, he invented the doctrine of Jesus as Son of God.

ANS 9:
And the C1 historical evidence for such a distortion is? Ans: nil. In fact, from the record in Acts and elsewhere, Paul persecuted the early Christians precisely becaue they were teaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah and end of days Son of Man of Daniel 7:9 - 14 who would sit at the Right Hand of God, and would be given Authority as Judge and ruler of the eternal Kingdom of God.  It is noteworthy, therefore, that at the trial, the first Christian martyr, Stephen:
 Ac 7:55 . . .  [Stephen,] full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together  at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
This is of course exactly the claim that had led the High Priest to tear his robes in declaration of blasphemy and led the controlling faction of the Sanhedrin to conclude that Jesus was thus worthy of death. The resurrection, therefore -- just as Paul asserts in Rom 1:1 - 5 -- is thus a direct Divine response to that accusation, a vindication of Jesus' claim to be the Son of Man.

But, there is more.

It is the ascended Christ who arrests Paul on the road to Damascus in Ac 9, and who tutors him in Arabia for three years. Then, when Paul had returned from his first Missionary Journey, a challenge was made to how he did not compel Gentiles to become Jews in order to become Christians. So, in
Ac 15, the assembled apostles and elders in the First Jerusalem Council did not rebuke Paul for distorting the message of Jesus, but received, approved and commended him.

Going further back, when we look in
Mark 2:1 - 12, we see where Jesus claims a Divine prerogative, the power to forgive sins, and backs it up by healing the paralytic man who had been let down through the roof.  Among many other things, such as declaring in Jn "before Abraham was, I AM."

Then, as both Peter and Paul faced martyrdom in Rome in the 60's, Peter's final epistle, 2 Peter 3:16, speaks of Paul's writings as being subject to being wrenched by the unstable and unlearned, just as is so with "the other Scriptures."

In short, the "Paulianity" claim is
little more than wishfully dismissive thinking.

OBJ 10:
The leading Christian Theologians themselves tell us -- including in bestsellers! -- that we need not listen to fundamentalist, Bible-thumping claptrap and proof texts. The Bible as we have it is not trustworthy, or a serious source of knowledge about God, much less the absurd, incomprehensible doctrine of a Trinity. The only sensible approach is to glean from the wreckage what reasonable insisghts and advice we can, then dismiss the rest as outdated anti-scientific, unreliable supernaturalistic myths and speculation.

ANS 10: This objection turns on an indirect attack against the scriptures and the associated Christian worldview. The main response is thus to point to the historic foundations of the Christian faith, and to the worldview foundations of same. However, in summary, there is no good reason (dismissive prejudices and anti-supernaturalistic question-begging do not count) to dismiss the basic accuracy of the NT as history, or to brush aside the fact of predictive prophecy, especially in Isa 52:13 - 53:12. On the strength of that, we have good grounds to take the Scriptures and their teachings seriously, as well as the testimony and experience of the millions of Christians over the centuries who have met God for themselves in the face of Christ, through trusting those same Scriptures.

As for the modernist theologians, perhaps Eta Linnemann -- a former Bultmannian who discarded her own publications in the rubbish on coming to actually meet and be transformed by Jesus -- has most directly
set the record straight:
Theology as it is taught in universities all over the world . . . is based on the historical-critical method . . . . [which] is not just the foundation for the exegetical disciplines. It also decides what the systematician can say . . . It determines procedure in Christian education, homiletics and ethics . . . .

Research is conducted ut si Deus non daretur (“as if there were no God”). That means the reality of God is excluded from consideration from the start . . . Statements in Scripture regarding place, time, sequences of events and persons are accepted only insofar as they fit in with established assumptions and theories . . . . 

Since other religions have their scriptures, one cannot assume the Bible is somehow unique and superior to them . . . . It is taken for granted that the words of the Bible and God’s word are not identical . . . the New Testament is pitted against the Old Testament, assuming that the God of the New Testament is different from that of the Old, since Jesus is said to have introduced a new concept of God . . . .

Since the inspiration of Scripture is not accepted, neither can it be assumed that the individual books of Scripture complement each other
. Using this procedure one finds in the Bible only a handful of unrelated literary creations . . . . Since the content of biblical writings is seen as merely the creation of theological writers, any given verse is nothing more than a non-binding, human theological utterance.

For historical-critical theology, critical reason decides what is reality in the Bible and what cannot be reality; and this decision is made on the basis of the everyday experience accessible to every person [i.e. the miraculous aspect of Scripture, and modern reports of miracles -- regardless of claimed attestation -- are dismissed as essentially impossible to verify and/or as merely “popular religious drivel”]  . . . .

Due to the presuppositions that are adopted, critical reason loses sight of the fact that the Lord, our God, the Almighty, reigns. [
Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1993), pp. 83 – 88 as excerpted. Emphases in original; parenthetical notes in square brackets.]
OBJ 11:"Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with him; but He forgiveth anything, else to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed." With: "Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: glory be to him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son . . . " [Quran, An Nisa, Surah 4:48 & 171, Yousuf Ali]. And also: "Allah will say "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, `worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah"? He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden." [Q, 5:116]

ANS 11:
This is clearly predicated on a misunderstanding of the Trinity. Jesus is not the biological son of God, but the Eternal Son who was incarnate by a miracle. he is not to be worshipped as a god, but acknowledged as the Living Lord, risen from the dead by God's power, in vindication of that Sonship. And, while Mary is indeed a fellow human being who in the Magnificat speaks of God as her Saviour, there simply  is no orthodox Christian Creed that has ever held that she is to be regarded as a god[dess] alongside the Creator of all Worlds. It is unfortunate that there has been in some quarters an excessive reverence for her, which does in some cases look far too close to idolatry to be proper, but that error has been staunchly corrected for many hundreds of years. Those who persist in such activities, should reflect soberly on the consequences, including as was just cited.

OBJ 12:
". . .  they uttered against Mary a grave false charge. (156) That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";― but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.― (157) Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (158)." [Q, 4:156 - 158.]
ANS 12: This is of course a direct denial of the consensus historical record of C1, across the Christians, Jews and Romans, that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was crucified, and died as a consequence of being so executed. The onward implication, of course is that the core substance of the gospel in 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 -- recorded c 55 AD -- is denied and dismissed, and that on the blanket claim that the reciter of the Quran was a prophet of God. It is enough to contrast the recorded testimony of the over 500 eyewitnesses, most of whom were alive when the record was made:
1 Cor 15: 3 . . .  I [Paul] delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. [ESV]
So, in sum, it is indeed possible to object to and even dismiss the Christian teaching of the triune God, but it is not possible to responsibly dismiss this as not being historically rooted in the C1 Christian witness, testimony, life, worship, thought and experience.

And, in particular, as Paul records from an early Creedal hymn, we are counselled:

Phil 2: 5 Have this mind among yourselves, 
which is yours in Christ Jesus,  
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
7 but made himself nothing, 
taking the form of a servant,
2  being born in the likeness of men. 

8 And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father.  [ESV]>>

It is hoped that his will be a useful initial exposure to this topic. 

I suggest my more specific discussion of the Shamrock Principle here, CARM's tableau here on the biblical framework, here on an explanation for Muslims, here to address claims often made by the Watchtower Society aka Jehovah's Witnesses, here for a historically flavoured overview by the same author, and here for a survey from the Catholic Encyclopedia. END

F/N: For an introduction to Islam and its challenge to the Christian faith, cf here, and also the declaration here.  For  a more detailed, wider response to the Islamic challenge to the Christian faith, cf the McDowell/Gilchrist- Deedat debate here, and Nehls and Eric's three volumes: 1, 2, 3. The Answering-Islam site is here.