Human-animal hybrids

Just last year, the lungs of Travis S, a brother in our congregation, failed and only a lung transplant could save him. It was a joyful day when we heard a transplant became available. We held his hand by his bedside, comforted his wife and prayed. Unfortunately, his body rejected the transplant after a few weeks and I had the heart-breaking task of preaching his funeral beside his shattered wife. The question of donor organs, how to find suitable organs and the possibility science may discover how to grow genetically cloned human organs inside animal hosts (xenotransplantation) is an issue close to my heart.

It is also an issue directly related to abortion, IVF embryonic stem cell research and human cloning experiments. The issues of “what is a human being,” “when is a human actually a human” can be seen in a different light when considering the issue of xenotransplantation.

There are thousands of people waiting for needed life-saving organ transplants but only a small fraction will get organs in time. These statistics provide an emotionally compelling justification to find a way to manufacture genetically superior organs through animal or even human clone hosts, but this technology will require gene editing chromosome manipulation; thus, the resulting organism, it may be argued, could be like the Greek chimera monster – a gross amalgamation of human and animal parts.

The moral lines concerning human-animal chimeras are no longer the stuff of science fiction because, as Dr. Tad Pacholczyk points out, there are humans who now have animal tissues such as pig heart valves and “are already themselves a type of human/animal chimera” (Pacholcyzyk, 1). So how should one approach the morality of human-animal chimeras considering the need for donated organs they might provide?

This moral question hinges on the definition of “chimera.” This is so because the subject of a moral question changes the nature of any morality response. For example, environmental responsibility and deforestation is a different moral question than the morality of abortion because there is a vast difference between the essence of a tree and an unborn human.

The definition of a chimera is, according to dictionary.com, a “mythological, fire-breathing monster” or “a similar grotesque monster” or “an unreal creature of the imagination.” Using the term chimera for a person who has a pig heart valve is a far cry from a “grotesque monster.” Adding an animal part into the body may make a difference in the efficacy of the heart but this difference is nothing like a total difference. A woman with a pig heart valve still has, by nature of her whole being, a full human essence. She is not a true chimera because her human essence is that of a rational animal, a condition that does not disappear with the addition of non-human parts because humans and animals are kinds of creatures, each possessing the essence of what it means to be what they are.

Failure to recognize a true essence for both humans and animals introduces the purely subjective notion that animals should be afforded “human rights” as if there is a univocal relationship between the ethical treatment of animals and of humans. Organizations such as PETA certainly believe this and even in the President’s Council on Bioethics there is some confusion on these moral demarcations. For example, Schuab compares human-animal Chimeras to transgender persons and confuses true Chimera’s with wolf-dog hybrids (President’s Council Transcript, 2-3). This notion fails to see that transgender persons are in fact still full human beings, not “mythological, fire-breathing monsters” and wolf-dog hybrids are merely a variation on the dog kind – fully capable of natural genetic reproduction and not “an unreal creature of the imagination.”

From a strict definition of chimera, it follows that an animal genetically modified to grow a human organ would still be, as a whole essence, an animal. This is so because the essence of a being is not the sum of its parts and we know this because while all animals are composed of eukaryotic cells, not all animals are the same thing. Klusendorf, for example, makes this point when he says that human embryos are a specific kind of organism that has stem cells, not a being that comes from or is merely a bundle of stem cells and he concludes, “embryos are not mere eggs” (Klusendorf, 3). Therefore, unless or until the genetic manipulation of such an animal produces an animal whose whole essence is something other than either an animal or a human – a true chimera – it is, in fact, merely a host. As such, from a moral point of view, a host animal should be ethically treated as an animal. For this reason, I would not object on moral grounds to animals being used to grow human organs.

Nevertheless, caution is necessary because the distinction between an animal acting as a host for a human organ and a human embryo or human clone acting as a factory for organs must be maintained. This is because devaluing humans into commodities is morally wrong. The procedure of cloning, for example, is inefficient (Bioethics, 151) resulting in dozens or even hundreds of embryos either expiring or being killed. This is unacceptable because all humans, even embryos and clones have dignity by virtue of the kind of being they are in essence, not by virtue of any sum of any parts. To reduce humanity to its parts means that human dignity must come in greater or lesser degrees, the implications of which are to possibly devalue humans into “disposable organ banks for morally depraved elites” (New Atlantis, 35).

Finally, devaluing human beings to produce organs or stem cells also ignores the many health dangers to both IVF embryos, any clones produced and the women who provide eggs because the process of retrieve the eggs would “subject millions of women to the dangers of egg harvesting” (Focus, 36). Thus, while animals used as hosts for organ manufacture is morally acceptable, using human clones and IVF embryos for the same purpose is not morally acceptable.

Father Tad Pacholczyk, Making Sense of Bioethics: Human Organs from pigs – is it Kosher? (February, 2016, www.ncbcenter.org)

President’s Council on Bioethics – Human-Animal Chimeras (http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles5/PCOBHumanAnimal.php)

Scott Klusendorf, Betting the Farm: What Cloning Advocates Really Want. Christian Research Journal, Vol 29, #4 (2006, http://www.equip.org)

The New Atlantis: The Case Against Cloning-to-Produce-Children (www.TheNewAtlantis.com)

  1. Ben Mitchell et al. Christian Bioethics. B & H Publishing Group: Nashville, TN, 2014.

Focus on the Family. Sanctity of Human Life Guide. 2014.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Human Being vs Human Person

Some argue that while a human embryo may be genetically identifiable as human it is not yet a human person, who by possessing “personhood” ought to be afforded a right to life. This functionalist perspective divides human form or kind of being from some greater property which somehow conveys personhood. Philosophers Patrick Lee and Robert George call this “a status-conferring intrinsic property” (Lee & George, Talking Point, 305) but point out how determining this supposed status conferring property is rationally arbitrary. One scientist may argue that self-consciousness is the personhood property while another may argue for intelligence quotient, but to select self-consciousness over any other property is arbitrary since self-consciousness is not the only property individual humans possess and might not even be detectable in infants, people in comas or even people simply asleep. Why therefore, should not another scientist select eye color, or a specific brain wave pattern or any other accidental feature of a human being as the personhood property? This arbitrary selection is irrational.

Michael Sandel of Harvard believes that the human embryo is not fully human until such a time that enough cells are added to the developing organism to make it a true human being. Just like adding grains of sands together will eventually produce a heap of sand, to deny that adding grains of sands will eventually produce something different than just individual grains would be a mistake in reasoning (the Sorites Fallacy). But Lee and George point out that the Sorites fallacy does not apply concerning the human embryo because the fallacy is based on the arbitrary demarcation of “what is a heap of sand” in the first place. One can argue that three grains of sand is a heap – or 3 million, so the number cannot be the issue. In the same way, what makes an embryo human is not the number of cells at any given stage of development but the KIND of cells that make up the embryo.

If human essence is determined by any combination of accidental properties (such as consciousness, mental capacity, size, shape or number of cells), then humans are merely a sum of their individual parts. If, however, human essence has no substantial form or real kind, then it follows that humans who lack some cells (such as amputees) or have some genetic difference (such as Down syndrome humans) would ‘not all (be) members of the same strict natural kind’ 1  because each has a different cellular or genetic makeup. But this does not follow because a kind, or a form “permeates the entirety of the substance that possesses it” (Oderberg, 70) just as we would not say a man is less of a person because he is missing legs or more of a person if he is born with extra fingers. If acquired properties or properties that come in greater or lesser quantities such as cell count give any greater value to a human being over and above the kind of organism a human is, then it follows that human rights must also vary in degree. To follow this logic, couldn’t one argue that a smaller human has less rights than a larger one? Or a human with greater intelligence? (Klusendorf, 3)

Human beings are indeed in a constant state of relentless cellular development from fertilization to infant, to child, to adolescent, to mature adult and into the elderly stage. Each stage does have cellular differences until death, but the kind of organism remains the same regardless of developmental stage. This is so because the addition or deletion of any number of cells does not change the kind of organism. It therefore follows that to destroy a human embryo is to kill a human being in an early stage of development.

Some functionalists, even agreeing that a human embryo is human and maybe even conceding that to destroy an embryo is to destroy a true human person, still argue that an embryo is not yet self-aware and able to feel pain; thus, the potential medical benefits to the human race as a whole that might be discovered from studying them – since it is argued that embryonic stem cells are “the equivalent of the elixir of life” (C. Ben Mitchell, Christian Bioethics, 157) – justifies killing embryos to harvest embryonic stem cells for research purposes. But if potential medical advances are ethically more valuable than human rights, then “one can hardly condemn Hitler” (Klusendorf, 2). Besides, as we just proved, human beings are a kind, not a process or an arbitrary collection of parts or properties; thus, to kill a human being – at any stage of development from conception to extreme age, simply to harvest body parts or even just to obtain knowledge, is immoral (Mitchell, 157). This is true even disregarding the fact that all embryonic stem cell research thus far has shown no success at all (Lozier, 4).

Finally, Patrick Lee, in a video titled “The Ethics of Stem Cell Research,” reiterated the point that dismembering a human being to save other human beings is immoral because we are valuable by virtue of the kind of being we are alone. To arbitrarily demarcate embryos as less valuable because of cell count is to open Pandora’s box regarding the worth and dignity of all human beings.

David S. Oderberg, Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, vol. 11, Real Essentialism (New York: Routledge, 2007), 13.

Robert P. George & Patrick Lee, Embryonic human persons. European Molecular Biology Organization, Vol. 10, No. 4. 2009.

http://www.stemcellresearchfacts.org/adult-stem-cell-overview/

Scott Lusendorf, Is Embryonic Stem Cell Research Morally Complex? https://prolifetraining.com/resources/five-minute-2/

C. Ben Mitchell, PhD & D. Joy Riley, MD, Christian Bioethics (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2014)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brett Kavanaugh, Presumed Innocent?

The moment I post the word “Kavanaugh” there will be a fair number of people who may judge what I’m about to say – before I even say it. In my experience, it is assumed by many that since I’m a conservative, a born-again Christian, I voted for Donald Trump, (this is the really scary part) I’m a white male heterosexual AND the pastor of an evangelical Christian church…Wow…therefore…I’m automatically guilty of being bigoted, anti-woman and just seething with hate.

Cue the protestors…

And that, my friends, is exactly the point I’m trying to make. My identity as a person is an automatic branding, a stereotype I’m wedded to without any consent and rather than hearing out my voice it needs to be drowned out by shouts of fury and denunciations of guilt and shame thrown my direction before I can even finish a sentence.

But what if I told you that I AM a victim of sexual abuse too?

Did you read that? I’M ALSO A VICTIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE! Read it again to let it sink in…

Now – keep in mind I am a white, male heterosexual who voted for Donald Trump. Keep in mind that I’ve told maybe three or four folks about my experience since it happened – in 1983. And yes, I remember the year, the place, the person…everything…

So, based on that – why am I guilty of bigotry and being anti-woman for thinking that Kavanaugh should be presumed innocent until proven guilty (not assumed guilty – PROVEN) by evidence evaluated by a non-partisan jury of his peers?

Well – one argument is that victims of sexual abuse ought to be believed and to not believe them is to shame them into silence. (Cue Kinono – we males need to “just shut up and do the right thing for once”). I can certainly feel the emotion behind this statement. As I said – I know for a fact that I am a victim of sexual abuse – and I also know that I have no evidence that I can bring to prove she is guilty of taking advantage of me. I didn’t file a legal complaint back then (I was 15) because I had no evidence, no witnesses and while I did tell my father about what happened, his testimony would have been just hearsay. So, I’m not going to reveal her name because I can’t prove anything (and yes, I remember her name very, very clearly) – I’ll just call her “F” in this article (relax, it stands for female). It’s just my word against hers. Besides all that – I would be making an accusation as a white male and we all know, at least from the standards being applied to Brett Kavanaugh, that white males are simply not to be believed! So – I guess the teacher who took advantage of me (yes, she was a she) is really the victim. Us boys – always the aggressors, always the potential rapists, always the victimizers. I can’t be a victim – it’s SIMPLY NOT ALLOWED.

You know – I must admit I have tears in my eyes as I type this.

I was victimized by a woman – who’s going to believe me??? Believe me (and I chose that word ironically) – she lied about it! Yes – girls can and do lie about sexual abuse. I know it from very personal experience.

I’m not saying Dr. Ford is lying. I’m saying that believing her just because she’s a woman is faulty logic. I’m saying that assuming she IS a victim, just as I know I am one, she may be in the same position I’m in – no evidence, no witnesses, just “he said, she said.” And I’m also telling you that I know from first hand experience that a woman can lie about a sexual situation.

So, I think the word “believe” is key. I think, based not only on the American Constitution but based on the natural law that all human beings have certain, inalienable rights endowed to them by their Creator simply because they are human beings – rights that can only be taken away in an unjust and totalitarian way – that the statement should read “those accusing others of sexual abuse ought to be heard and to not hear them is to shame them into silence”…Changing the word from “believe” into “hear” keeps us from the logical fallacy of “begging the question”. Begging the question is assuming as true what you’re trying to prove. Keep in mind that a logical fallacy is faulty reasoning – it is unreasonable, irrational and arbitrary.

You might think as a victim that no one will believe, that I would side with Dr. Ford. But keep in mind the woman who took advantage of me certainly lied. For me it’s not about “women should always be believed” – if that were so, why don’t we believe the woman (Ford’s best friend in high school) saying she was not at the party Dr. Ford says they were at? Why don’t we believe Kavanaugh’s wife about his character – she’s a woman. Why not believe the dozens and dozens of women who swear about his character being above reproach – they’re all girls too! And if women are always to be believed then my abuser gets the advantage! She wins against me just because she’s a she…bummer for me…

Keep in mind I didn’t ask to be born white or male. It just happened that way…

You might think as a victim of sexual exploitation who was shamed and guilted into silence, that I would assume the accuser is telling the truth. I don’t. If anything, I’m angry as…well…as angry as a very warm place…that Brett Kavanaugh is assumed to be guilty just because he’s a white male with some sort of connection to Donald Trump. When I think that I won’t be believed just because I’m a white male who voted for Trump…that really fires me up.

I’ve avoided talking about politics on Facebook etc. but this one really lit my fire – for very personal reasons.

Truth is that thing which corresponds to the facts. Without correspondence to facts you only have accusation. If the facts don’t add up (there is no legal complaint filed in the time or jurisdiction of the incident, no witnesses to corroborate the accusation, not even hearsay witnesses in that time period – nothing but her word against his) – then presume the man innocent.

I am not lying about what happened to me just because I’m white, male, conservative and voted for Trump! But I don’t have any evidence to bring to bear. So, that teacher must (AND SHOULD) BE PRESUMED INNOCENT even though I know she isn’t. Our system isn’t perfect, but it protects the truly innocent from being found guilty by accusation alone even if some people do “get away with it.”

So, I do stand with Dr. Ford – she was heard! Now I’ve been heard…

But I also stand with Brett Kavanaugh. He should not be presumed guilty just because he was accused, he’s white and he’s male. It just does not logically, legally or ethically follow.

I’m white, male and voted for Trump. Now you’ve heard my testimony about being sexually abused by a female teacher when I was a teenager. Should you disbelieve me just because of my gender and the amount of melanin in my skin cells? And even if you do believe me – without any evidence should we burn “F” at the stake of public opinion? Should I reveal her name…???

Well…I’m the victim here – and I say no. Let “F” alone. She can live with the truth in her own conscience. I’m moving on. I moved on a long time ago. I just don’t want to see a man accused and assumed guilty just because of his gender and skin color. Let’s let EVIDENCE, real evidence – not character assassination, rule the day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Physician assisted death

Derek Humphry, one of the founders of the original Hemlock society and advocate for Euthanasia, explains why he believes in voluntary Euthanasia – a form of assisted suicide he calls “self-deliverance.” Humphry believes voluntary Euthanasia (whether physician or family assisted) is morally justifiable because suicide in and of itself is no longer considered a crime “in the English-speaking world.” In his view, the hopelessly sick people should be afforded the right to ask for help with suicide because of unbearable pain, a loss of life quality and a fear of being a burden to others. While he says he believes life is precious, he thinks a hopeless, agonizing fight for life is pointless such that “in a spirit of compassion for all” people should be allowed to die at a time and in a way based on their personal choice. 1

The author is certainly not immune to this emotional tug. In June 2017, I experienced a massive heart attack. I had to decide, while writhing in agony on a hospital bed, if I was going to sign a “do not resuscitate” order. I was also informed that should I survive this event I might suffer a stroke and be permanently physically or mentally disabled. Should I have refused care or, in fear of being disabled, or asked them to simply snuff me out? Fortunately, I not only survived, I thrived without any complications; thus, the emotions of the moment, however terrifying, should not have been the measure of the decisions that needed to be made. Likewise, Humphry’s view is based on unstable emotions which can be an irrational foundation.

The idea that voluntary Euthanasia should be allowed because suicide itself is no longer considered a crime is irrelevant to the ethical / moral questions about voluntary Euthanasia because community laws can be arbitrarily selected, inconsistently enforced, founded on irrationally conceived foundations and arbitrarily changed. For example, it was illegal in Puritan America to practice witchcraft – a crime punishable by death. This anti-witchcraft law enacted in 1642 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony and enforced by the execution of twenty people in 1692 is no longer a law in the western world because over time we have concluded the Old Testament foundation for this law will no longer be used as a foundation for making and enforcing such laws.2 Nevertheless, it is not because there are no longer any people practicing witchcraft or any people who object to its practice today that the law changed. Instead, a shift in the foundation for such laws in society is what changed. In the same way, while it is true as Humphry points out, that suicide was considered illegal in most western nations for much the same biblically based reason as anti-witchcraft laws, the change in suicide laws does not mean there are no longer people who commit suicide or people who object to its practice; thus, the existence or non-existence of any such laws has no bearing on the moral justification for the action that is the object of such laws.

It is natural law that human beings did not ask to be born. Life is simply what actualized our existence as rational, sentient beings. Our life-force and what makes us uniquely human is intrinsic to our actual being and while alive our life-force is in a continual process of development from conception to final cessation. So, just as we did not ask to be born because our life-force is intrinsic to our actualized being, so the cessation of our life-force is not for us to determine. But even if one argues that free-will manifested in a human during its life-force progression provides a means and a will to determine one’s physical end, it does not follow that just because one “can” do a thing that one “should.” In short, not all ends are justified by any means. By ignoring the unasked-for life-force within us, a suicidal person (whether using physician assisted suicide or not) “overlooks the intrinsic value” of human life as a whole. 3 Dr. Daniel P. Sulmasy explains that society must not confuse the difference between the dignity of a human as an essence of being and human interests. To confuse the two is a utilitarian slippery slope – but not a FALLACY of the slippery slope. It is a logical conclusion that if human beings are reduced solely to their interests it follows that a loss of interests or ability to pursue interests equals a loss of humanity. It is an erosion of true, intrinsic human dignity to rest human worth on human interests instead of “the value of the person whose interest they are.”4

Thus, while it is emotionally compelling to argue for voluntary Euthanasia for supposedly compassionate reasons, to allow for it degrades the value of humanity as a whole. Real evidence supports this conclusion. The Netherlands did not prosecute voluntary physician assisted euthanasia in the 1980’s and later legalized it only to find that by the 90’s more than 50% of euthanasia actions were not voluntary. In fact, the Netherlands slipped further down the slope legalizing euthanasia of children using the so-called Groningen Protocol such that recent studies have shown around 21% of child euthanasia actions “occurred without request or consent of parents.”

It is possible to reduce suffering to an essentially non-existent state with modern drugs and hospice care. It is possible to elevate the dignity of the terminally ill by demonstrating their worth in giving them care rather than insinuating their lack of worth because of the care needed to comfort them in their final hours. And from a biblical point of view, we have a built-in dignity based on “God’s image and likeness”6 and it is God who declared the absolute dignity and value of human life (Genesis 9:5).

  1. Humphry, Derek. “Liberty and Death: A Manifesto Concerning an Individual’s Right to Choose to Die.” World Laws on Assisted Suicide, http://www.finalexit.org/liberty_and_death_manifesto_right_to_die_by_derek_humphry.html.
  2. Louise-Jacque, Lynonette. “Law News from the D’Angelo Law Library.” The University of Chicago Library News, news.lib.uchicago.edu/blog/2012/10/29/the-salem-witch-trials-a-legal-bibliography-for-halloween/
  3. Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1989), 162.
  4. Sulmasy, Daniel P., John M. Travaline, Louis A. Mitchell, E. Wesley Ely, “Non-Faith-based arguments against physical-assisted suicide and euthanasia.” The Linacre Quarterly, (83 (3) 2016), 248.
  5. ibid, 251.
  6. Miguel A. Endara, “Euthanasia and Dignity.” Bioethics Review, (Scholl Institute of Bioethics, Vol 11, No. 1), 1.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trolls

Bullies are eternal.

I am the victim of some rather intense bullying when I was in elementary and jr. high school. Yes – I know that was a long, long, long time ago (I’m in my 50’s – get over it already) – and some folks are quick to say “please – that was Jr. high school.” Well – I am “over” it in one sense – I don’t let those taunts and torture from the past affect my ability in the now. But that doesn’t mean that in the “then” I wasn’t shamed and hurt and belittled and traumatized. It doesn’t mean I can’t remember what that felt like. It doesn’t mean that if I dwell on it today I can’t recall those feelings with all the warmth and pungency I might experience from smelling fresh garbage moldering in the Phoenix summer heat today.

In fact – I have! (both the garbage and the memory)

I spent about a year making short videos on YouTube but I was trolled so badly that YouTube discontinued all advertising on my channel – no appeal, no chance to change it either (so, who is the bully – the trolls or YouTube)? I also realized that the impact I wanted to make with the videos wasn’t happening in that format – I was just getting roundly mocked. I wasn’t reaching an audience so far as I could see with anything of value – so I decided to go a different direction. I quit making the videos – but not because the trolls won. I’ve taken the videos and put them on our new website and I’m making a whole different set for a whole different audience. I’ve taken what I’ve learned and fashioned it into gain.

So – I’m not ashamed of what I produced. Despite the trolls, it was a learning experience. I’m not a victim either – because my videos were a direct challenge to false beliefs and a direct voice about what I believe is true. If you’re going to stand up like that, someone is going to do their best to knock you down. It’s the nature of being honest with what you believe. Jesus said “The servant is not above the master” and if they hated Him – and He was without flaw – then there will be people who hate and mock His servants also. Therefore – not a victim, not something I’m whining or grumbling or complaining about either. I’m writing about it more from an analytical point of view.

What I mean is – after those experiences in the past and these experiences in the present, what can I learn? What can I take away from it other than some sort of emotional bruise? What can I offer you if you’re feeling trolled and bullied and mocked? I mean, maybe (like me) you just put out a tweet about how excited you were and thankful to God because you  had a break through of some kind – and the trolls slobbered their unmitigated gall all over you that you would thank God for anything! You were honestly thankful, they want to stab your gratitude in the heart with their self-absorbed superiority – they don’t thank God for anything because intelligent people know whatever we get in life we only owe to ourselves!

Okay – if you want to believe that, you go ahead. Why do you have to belittle others?

Because in belittling, the bully tries to elevate him or herself. They have such a deep insecurity about their own worth they feel desperate to feel superior, to feel in control because deep down they know they are neither superior nor in control. And what I’ve learned is that any response is like “throwing pearl in front of swine” as the Bible puts it. This is so because bullies and trolls are not making a rational argument. They are smearing as a means of taking revenge on the whole of humanity because they don’t have an inner sense of dignity and worth. I like how the characters of Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) and Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russel) put it in tombstone…”what make a man like Ringo Doc? What makes him do the things he does?”…”A man like Ringo, has a great empty hole right through the middle of him. He can never kill enough or steal enough or inflict enough pain to ever fill it”…”What does he need?”…”Revenge!”…”For what?”…”Being born!”

Revenge for being born! That’s not just a great movie quote – I’m willing to bet the screenwriter was bullied in sixth grade because the bullies don’t make sense, they don’t have a reason you can really pin down. They just hurt people but it’s really because they are hurting themselves with a great empty hole right through the middle of them that they cannot fill.

So – when you’re the target, don’t be the victim. Recognize that worth does not come extrinsically. It is intrinsic. It must flow from within – and only God can give you the inner sense of worth and value the bully is trying to keep you from seeing. They do this so maybe you can be as miserable as they really are in their hearts. Don’t buy it. Don’t accept their pain as your own. Find your worth in the fact that you are made in the image of the living God – you have value because of the kind of being you are. The bully is also – but is blind to it. If we can find that worth…own it…believe in it…accept it as true because God says it is true…then we don’t have to be forever burdened with the assault. We can flower and grow in the worth God gives us – and maybe perhaps in that health we can be a witness to the poor, hurting souls who fall prey to being the bullies. Maybe we can reach them by refusing to be victims. Maybe that’s what love is – to not react, not lash back, not return evil with evil. And in doing so we confirm our worth with a witness that might one day shake the bully into seeing the truth.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crash: A Novel

The following is a SHORT synopsis (only 637 words) of my novel “Crash”…

Kyle Reynolds is a seventeen-year-old senior at St. Mark’s Academy in Seattle, Washington. Kyle grew up on the mission field and after his parents are killed in a plane crash, he is sent to live with his relatives. Kyle struggles with his loss and the fact that he can’t seem to get Misty Woods to notice him. It doesn’t help that Misty is the daughter of Governor Woods, the soon-to-be Vice President of the United States and the only senior at St. Mark’s who has a personal Secret Service bodyguard.

Seated at the back of an airliner on a return trip to Seattle from Anchorage with the rest of the school jazz band, Kyle’s thoughts are all put out of his mind when terrorists, under the command of a man Kyle comes to call “Mr. Tan Jacket”, hijack the plane. The terrorists ditch the plane into a lake, deep within the wilds of western Canada. Somehow, both Kyle and the airliner survive the crash.

As the terrorists evacuate the passengers into emergency rafts, it clicks in Kyle’s mind that Misty is the perfect star for a terror video. In a panic, he convinces her to bail out of the raft and escape with him into the woods where they pass a long, shivering night huddled together under a fallen tree. The next morning they barely escape down a cliff face, spend a second night in a lean-to and only just escape a terrorist after a hand-to-hand battle. Misty seriously twists her ankle so Kyle ends up nearly carrying her until they are forced to thread their way over top of a deep ravine on a log bridge. On the other side, Kyle manages to shake the log enough to throw one of their pursuers off the log and Mr. Tan Jacket is wounded when he slams into an exposed branch on the log.

Mr. Tan Jacket is seriously injured, but he manages to catch up with them. Since he is injured and Misty has a broken ankle, he forces Kyle to carry Misty back to his camp where another terrorist knocks Misty out with chloroform and Mr. Tan Jacket clubs Kyle in the head. Almost unconsciousness, Kyle overhears the terrorist’s plan to infect Misty and half of the passengers with a biological weapon.

A doctor injects Misty but Mr. Tan Jacket betrays him. There is a firefight, the doctor is mortally wounded and Mr. Tan Jacket barely escapes. Since the doctor is dying, he tells Kyle about information hidden in a storage locker Kyle can use to get even with the terrorists. He then forces Kyle at gunpoint to abandon Misty and slip out the back of the tent. He also tells Kyle, “Don’t trust Woods”.

Kyle is sick with guilt. He knows no one will suspect a biological weapon if half, but not all, of a group of hostages get sick after spending some wet days in the woods. The election is in less than three weeks and if the new President gets sick and dies after visiting poor Governor’s Woods daughter in the hospital…then Woods becomes President! Kyle is the only witness and no one is going to believe his conspiracy theory – especially if Governor Woods is behind it all.

Just as Kyle figures this out, camouflaged soldiers begin their assault on the camp. After the assault, someone from the American embassy confronts Kyle. He explains that Misty has already been evacuated and he wants to know what Kyle overheard.

But Kyle can’t trust anyone. He knows he’s in love with Misty and there’s a storage locker that has some answers in it. Kyle makes up his mind that nothing will keep him from getting there. He left Misty behind once before because he had no choice – but not this time.

End of Book One

Crash is available on Amazon Kindle in digital and print format at…

https://goo.gl/yE6T5F

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Nothing isn’t something

So many people today get emotional…well – very emotional….okay, sometimes irrationally enraged…whenever the subject of the existence of God comes up. You have to wonder why! I mean, it should be common sense that God exists (and if you’ll read to the END of this little blog I’ll explain why). But to recognize that means asking all sorts of uncomfortable questions like: okay, what is God like? How does His existence affect my life? And if He exists, why do penguins have such ridiculously short legs and what was He thinking when He invented hormones? Come on God – this is a BIG question that pretty much half the human population on this planet thinks about at least once every 28 days!

But the one question people REALLY don’t want to answer – if God exists, then does that give God any right to tell me what to do?

I think that that’s the big one. Folks want to do whatever they want to do and they don’t want anybody – even God – to have anything to say about it. Okay, okay, okay, I get it – no one wants human religious leaders who are themselves flawed (and that includes me) to have any power over their lives (and FYI, as a religious leader – I don’t want any power over your life. Some do, I don’t).

But God isn’t human – He’s God, the Creator, the Maker and we little humans still want what we want when we want it. We bristle and fuss and protest over even the hint that whatever lifestyle we are pursuing, whatever selfishness we are indulging in, is in any way – unacceptable. How dare anyone suggest that I am not the captain of my soul? How dare anyone imply that I am not the chief judge of what is good or acceptable?

So – it’s so much more convenient to grasp at straws about the existence of God (even in California where the secret straw police are likely currently planning raids on underground kindergarten apple juice sipping societies). It’s so much easier to throw up the hands in frustration – “there are so many religions, so none of them are right (but that’s arbitrary – they can’t all be right because they contradict but since truth is that thing which corresponds to what is real, then there can be one that corresponds – that’s at least possible)…No, no, no…there are so many unanswered questions so there can be no conclusions (but making this statement is, in itself, a conclusion so asserting it is self-defeating)…and besides, there’s not enough compelling evidence to believe in the existence of God.

Oh really?

Look, we can skip the arguments about someone’s scientific opinion of the bible, the Qur’an, the Vedas, or UFO’ology or whatever. We can ignore side issues like how old the earth is too. The bottom line – right at the very beginning, right down to the last dregs of rational discussion – is that you CAN’T GET SOMETHING FROM NOTHING.

This is the most proven, most obvious, most intuitive logical law of science known to humankind. More evidence supports this conclusion than for any other scientific law. Nothing cannot DO anything. Nothing cannot PRODUCE anything. Nothing cannot EXPLODE into something in a great Big Bang for no reason – and explosions do not produce order and complexity and specified, purposeful information and programming and planning and people. Explosions produce chaos…period…

No…the truth is = Nothing is nothing. No space, no time, no matter, no energy, no laws of physics, no laws of gravity or electromagnetism. No quantum dust, no uncertainty principles – NOTHING. Nothing at all. And from this state you can only get…wait for it…nothing. And that’s all you’ll ever get. If there was ever a state of true nothingness then all could only ever be…nothing. No…things (things are something)…

So how did we get everything? Physicists, astronomers, mathematicians…the conclusions are overwhelming and all actual evidence in the universe points backwards to a time when there was…nothing.

That means we either accept the idea that the most proven law understood in human thought – that nothing cannot produce anything – is somehow, someway, some inexplicably unobservable way – UNTRUE…or there is something (or someone) who is eternal – somone’s whose Necessary existence is beyond matter itself. The material universe cannot be eternal because it is breaking down, running out of steam, losing energy (the 2nd law of thermodynamics shows this)…

But someone eternal! Someone who does not owe His existence to anything or anyone. Someone truly eternal. From Him, everything can be formed, everything can be sustained. Such a Being would, by definition, be able to create it all. That makes sense.

And it’s common sense too.

I mean – if you hold a book in your hand (and this is Ray Comfort’s point) you would think it silly to imagine that all the colors simply fell from nowhere into the patterns you recognize as pictures. It would be ridiculous to think that random sprays of ink just happened to fall into coherent words (not to mention figuring out where the colors and the ink and the paper came from in the first place). You would think it stupid to imagine that all the elements simply fell into place – the pages, the binding, the words, the pictures…but the complexity of DNA and life is a trillion or more times more complicated than any book every written in any language. Even our most sophisticated computers cannot begin to devise the complex interaction of specified, purposeful information that interacts within DNA and between DNA and the epigenetic information encoded elsewhere in the cell to code for ants and apes and armadillos and aardvarks and antelope and…you!

Nothing cannot DO anything…YOU are anything except nothing…there is more information in your DNA than can be found in half a million pages of small print, a code more than three billion letters long all organized and perfectly folded and necessary for you to even have had a pimple when you were a teen.

So – yes…it’s common sense…common knowledge that you can’t get something from nothing…common sense to acknowledge that God exists.

We can talk about who He is…what He had to say, and how to know if He really said it on some other day. Just start at the beginning…

He exists…He just does…and you’re not an intellectual ninny to nod your head and say “it’s true”. You would be believing nonsense otherwise, believing that nothing can do everything…let’s just start there. We’ll get to Jesus by the by…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment