Outliers

outliers

We have all been hit by OUTLIERS.  In school, when the teacher grades on a curve, outliers are the death of our grade. Everyone bombs a test, but because one kid gets a 90 it knocks down everyone else’s grade.

The phenomenon of OUTLIERS is an important topic to discuss in life. Is it so bad to be different?

My question crept up last April when I reread a very interesting report with a theory built on reasonable evidence, about Roswell and the Operation Paperclip connection.

Why is it that people who make connections like this are called wackos,

but people who say that the world created itself out of nothing are called deep thinkers?

–To find the problem with something out of nothing, you need to spend time thinking about what you mean by Nothing. If your Nothing is really nothing, how can anything happen at all, and if it’s not nothing, you’ve contradicted yourself and have to create a new theory.–

1. Why are there outliers?
2. How important is it to NOT be an outlier?
3. Why do people try to make us conform? or call us quacks if we do not?

Case One: Astroturf

Case Two: Aliens and Poltergeists

Is it so wrong to ask questions about aliens and poltergeists? It is a common dividing line to say that those who TALK ABOUT aliens are wackos and those who DON’T are normal. But why do we not ask? Who is it making the rule that says asking makes you an outlier. It is important to know. NOT asking should be suspect.

As an historian, I must ask about the testimonies. All the people who have spoken about alien-contact saw something. Even if a few hallucinated or made up their stories, the changed lives testify that SOMETHING happened.

I happen to know what actually occurred. Without a doubt.  I have done my historical and sociological research. My reasons are defended by common sense, intelligence, reason and loads of facts. But my problem is not what IS going on. I know the truth.

My problem is that PEOPLE WANT US TO NOT ASK.  Why is the topic taboo?

Case Three: Christian Clubs on Campus

When I was in high school, I was in a start-up Christian Club. We called it Agape Club. I found peace and meaning in my relationship with Christ, in my knowledge of God. But I was an OUTLIER.  Classmates usually do not want to associate with outliers. Outliers certainly do not pick up the guys, and being associated with them taints your reputation.

But what if the status quo is part of a great big conspiracy? Like the conspiracy of the drug companies and their use of the media and Wikipedia? What if I am the whistle-blower? What if I am the one without the blindfold? The one ‘unplugged’ from the Matrix?

Who is it claiming us unreasonable if we determine the world has clear evidence of design? I say denying that is not using common sense.

Who is it claiming us unreasonable if we determine that people have seen something on those dark roads? I say denying it is plugging your ears to a very loud message.

Who is it claiming us unreasonable if we go against the Status Quo? If you depend on reason, and pursue it to the very end without compromise, there is only one conclusion you can come to and be honest. Bending to the status quo can cost your very life.

I know who it is claiming these things and I know why.

What is truth? Do you really care?

I appeal to John Gerstner, and his Lecture Series on Handout Apologetics. He shows why it is normal and reasonable to be the way I am, and how the lemmings and the outliers are those who deny the Reasonableness of the evidence.

ANY COMMENTS?

Pi: Meaning or Message?

What is Pi? Is there a pattern?

I came across this interesting page where the author tried to turn Pi into an image using binary. Here is the 2D version.

And the 3D version:

(download here: pi_turn_movie)

Is it a Fractal of sorts?

It looks amazingly like a 9th itineration fractal…

(Elementary School Champions! Third grade students in Ms. Renner’s class at Alief ISD’s Chambers Elementary in Houston, TX made this this 9th iteration Jurassic Park Fractal.)

Is it a Message?

The connection to 9th iteration begs the question, what about the 99 Sequences in Pi and the other patterns it holds?Some people have been trying to decipher pi, as if it is a cypher from God.

  1. The Pi Code
  2. Cracking the Pi Code
  3. Flying Spaghetti Monster (from Binary Pi)

Not only do people look for meaning in English, because of COURSE God would make his cypher in English–but Hebrew scholars look for meaning in Mathematical constants.

  1. Pi in Hebrew
  2. In another search for meaning, here is Phi (the Golden Ratio) in the Tetragrammaton

Why do we search for meaning in Pi? For the simple reason that we expect intelligence at the base level of life. In a way, the hope that Pi contains a message or a pattern comes from our understanding that God is the author of Reason and Math. Galileo Galilei said that the Universe is written in the language of Mathematics.

Most likely, the future holds some more secrets about Pi. Meanwhile, continue to pursue Math and Meaning in your pursuit of Truth.

slide1sources:

http://www.befria.nu/elias/pi

http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/frac/MVC-004S.JPG

http://wallpaperbackgrounds.com/Content/wallpapers/pattern/fractal/

Athiest Claims to See Hell

Can a changed life provide evidence that
a proported event has happened?

In the case below, this college professor on his death-bed experiences some of the pains of what he says was hell.  The change in his life shows that SOMETHING happened. What would a scientist say to these claims? How would the scientist explain this experience?

Part One

Part Two

It’s science week. How do we approach this from a scientific perspective? A scientist sets up the observation. Looks at the evidence. Considers the laws at work, and looks for the best explanation. Then the scientist tests their theory.

Looking at the Evidence

We have watched the videos. The man says he was an athiest. He got sick and died/almost died. During this time he had a horrifying experience which he called hell. His experience in “hell” changed when he called out,

“Jesus, please help me!”  

Then positive things happened, resulting in his coming back to this life and being healed by the doctors.

Considering the Laws at Work
& Looking for the Best Explanation

This is an issue in the mental-psychological realm

Either he saw something. (Truth-teller)

Or thought he saw something. (Self-deceived/delusional)

Or did not see anything, but said he saw something. (Liar)

From the change in his life we can probably rule out the Liar option, since many years passed between the experience and the recording, yet he did not change his story. It appears he obviously believes in his own story. So either he is delusional or telling the truth.

How can science help us know if he is telling the truth or not? Do we need to determine our boundaries?

Reductive Naturalism

…would say that the answer has to lie in the physical world. It could not be true that he experienced something in the supernatural. It was in his mind, and something he saw flipped his view of reality. So he would be delusional, somehow. They would run a battery of tests to find out what kind of psychological problems he has. Simple.

A Theistic Explanation

…would not automatically reduce the possibilities to physical world, so the option of super-nature is still on the table. He might have seen something, and that something might be supernatural.

Testing the Theory

How can we test if he is telling the truth about what he said?

We could test for delusional psychology. Test how he interacts outside of this recording. Is his lifestyle consistent with his profession of faith in God? (Or does he speak on contrary topics elsewhere, for example). We’d need to check his life. To see if he is a habitual liar, or if his actions reflect someone who is not in touch with reality.

If his lifestyle is consistent with his profession of faith in God, we could test if he speaks in accordance with theistic laws.

When I listened to him, I was keenly aware of each point he said, and compared it with what the Bible says. Why the Bible? Because through other reasoning I have come to the confidence in the reliability of the Bible in matters of supernature.

I measured his words against the Bible. It didn’t seem to contradict…

It seems simplistic, because by the same measure we would also have to say that those who see aliens could possibly be telling the truth. And those who are in non-Christian religions who have similar experiences have to be taken at face-value.

I am prepared to consider their cases in the same way. And in the same way, I would measure their words against the Bible’s presentation of the supernatural/natural world connection.

Case in point–

 “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”

This best seller about a boy who “saw heaven” had a lot of rubbish, inaccurate according to the Bible. It came out later that the boy and his father were lying. The boy fessed up, but the father keeps reaping the royalties.

Afterlife Travelogues

Unfortunately, the “afterlife travelogue” presented above is firstly questionable because it has dangerous implications. If we believe he went to actual hell, he would be disproving the existence of hell.

What I mean is, we understand hell, and the power of the name of Jesus, from Scripture.

The Bible says,“man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Heb 9:27

If his experience was actually hell,
one man’s experience would be disproving the book of Hebrews.

And if he disproves Hebrews, all of Scripture is suspect. And if Scripture is suspect, his being saved by the name of Jesus is suspect. Meaning that if he were actually in the hell Christ spoke of, he was not where he thought he was, and he could not have been rescued by the one he thought rescued him. It’s self-contradicting.

Experience must bow to Scripture. If your experience tells you something contrary to the Bible, your INTERPRETATION of your experience is wrong.

It [the afterlife-story phenomena] is not harmless. It denigrates the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It confounds faith with superstition. It subtly elevates human experience to a higher level than the Word of God. It purports to reveal things about God and the heavenly realm that are not taught in Scripture. And it repeatedly insinuates that the testimony of someone who has been mystically enlightened can be a more effective stimulant to faith than Scripture alone…

Thus says John MacArthur. He continues…

This is just one example of a large and growing subgenre of afterlife travelogues popular today—a genre that includes at least two mega-best-selling titles from evangelical publishers. The authors of these stories—and evi­dently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authori­tative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible.

In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dan­gerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come.

Conclusions

So my final conclusion (after testing his life/mental state) might be that he saw something. Maybe a dream or something dream-like. But he did see something.

But he did not go to hell.

Because his life changed drastically, 180*, I know a frightening experience happened to him. He had a supernatural, near-death experience that shook his foundations. But according to Scripture, he did not die and he did not go to hell. He got a chance to make things right. Good for him.

Comments: What do you think?

John Gerstner and the Reasoning Mind

When I get to heaven, one of the big things on my list is to find John Gerstner. What a jewel. I just want to meet him.

I was introduced to him last year through a Ligonier video series he did in the 90’s called Handout Apologetics.

The kids and I just finished watching the series again as part of this year’s Apologetics course, and again I remember my plans to find his mansion when I get there.

I want to thank him. You might have noticed that the Sola series I have on my blog has a broken link for the Sola Fides section. This is due to John Gerstner. The picture I have on there is from Indiana Jones stepping out over the chasm in The Last Crusade. After the Apologetics course last year I rethought everything I believed about faith. So consequently until I redo that webpage I have taken it offline.

[update 1/5/16- Sola Fides ONLINE now!]

Faith is not what I thought it was.

So I would like to recommend the same
Handout Apologetics that changed my life.

You can watch the series for free on Ligonier.org. (click the picture below).

More on Apologetics later. Meanwhile, enjoy your visit with my (someday) friend, John Gerstner:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 5.04.00 PM

The first four lessons are REASONS AGAINST REASON that Christians tend to use. Wow! God bless you in your pursuit of FAITH.

COMMENTS:  What about you? Do you think faith requires reasons? OR is faith an end in itself?


Update July 2017: In their discussion on Natural Theology, or evidence of God through the natural world and philosophy, White Horse Inn Podcast gave a significant hat-tip to dear John Gerstner. Please listen to this episode:

WHI 1372 | DOES FAITH CONFLICT WITH SCIENCE?

Beginnings

http://edgeofphysics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Lagoona-Nebula1.jpg

IN THE BEGINNING…

God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.  And God said, “Let there be Light.” Gen 1:1

Was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was Life and that Life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:1

This is a beginning of a new phase in my life, a time when a dream of mine is close to fulfillment. Becoming an author of historical fiction books.  I have always had a love relationship with history, most particular ancient history. I know the exact moment I fell in love.

Second grade.  Teacher’s name escapes me (I’m sorry!) but she used to call me “darling Darlene” on my papers.  We learned Ben Franklin’s proverbs that year, we kept a daily diary and there was a boy named Dustin and a boy named Brian in the class. We had a class bunny, and I loved playing with Playschool people outside after school with my neighbor named Kirk.  The feelings of freedom, of play, of innocence, of joy at life.  I was in America again, after growing up in Japan. I could understand people and was finally learning to read.

Then the teacher read to us the story of Pompeii.  It was my first time time-traveling.

She read to us of the daily life of the people of Heraculum and Pompeii.  Of the earthquakes and the steaming volcano. Of the eruption of smoke, and the overflow of lava. Of the people running to the sea.  Of the ash that covered the people.  Then, she read of the archaeologists and anthropologists who uncovered those people.  Of how the ash had solidified around the poor people who could not escape Nature.  Of how they used plaster to fill in the cavities, and the faces of those people came to light again.

The awe at science, at history, at new knowledge started in me that day and has continued without ceasing.

Saint Augustine saidCredo ut intelligam.  This means, “I believe in order that I may understand.”  Knowledge is inextricably tied to faith.  Faith is the recognition that our senses do not completely tell us everything there is to know about the world.

QUESTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

First of all, the whole question of consciousness is a mystery that no one has yet explained.  It is simply jumped to in explanations of how the mind works.

ConsciousnessFromNeurons

(Consciousness from Neurons)

Reason can explain to us three things related to this.

1) Creation  We look at creation, and common sense shows us that such an amazing variety and complexity had to originate from laws and rules. In our world, we would not think an iPad could appear out of nothing without reasons for its existence, so it takes less faith to believe in Creator than a random assemblage of molecules creating trees and planets and bacteria and DNA.

2) The Cause  The second thing reason explains to us is that either the Cause is personal or impersonal. If the Cause is personal, and we matter, it would communicate with us, since we have a consciousness of that dilemma in the first place.

3) Perfection  Reason also leads us to recognize that if there is a Cause and Creator, “IT” would have to be the SOURCE of perfection.  Logically “IT” could not be both good and evil, both truth and falsehood, both powerful and weak.  So is “IT” all evil, all falsehood, all weak?  Or is “IT” all good, all truth, all powerful?  We have in us the ideal that strives for the good, the value written into our human consciousness, REGARDLESS OF OUR CULTURE OR RELIGION, is that there is such a thing as PERFECT GOOD.  Of course, we strive for it with different standards and rules, but it is a commonly shared part of human consciousness.  We commend those who are “good” and shun those who are “evil.”

Without creation, we would see no cause, without the cause we could consider no perfection.

Big Questions:  So do we matter?  Has the Cause communicated?  Is the Cause personal? Is “IT” a “HE”?

QUESTION OF PERCEPTION

The second question to consider, is: can our senses be trusted to guide us into all knowledge?

Watch this video, which shows us just how amazingly accurate our senses are (not)

Back to St. Augustine’s saying, “I believe in order that I may understand.”  If we limit ourselves to our own perception of the world, we limit our ability to understand the world of unseen things.

ANSWERS

If this CAUSE is personal, if mankind MATTERS, the Creator Cause would communicate to us in a way that defines Himself with all the perfection that Reason proves he must be.  So, is there such a communication?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  In the beginning was the Word.  The Word became flesh.

Yes.

By what name does HE call Himself?  This in itself shows us that He encompasses all of what reason says He must be.

I AM.    Exodus 3:14

So complete, so thorough, so infinite, any other attributive would diminish him.

This is my philosophy of reason, knowledge and faith. This is my philosophy behind all of my books and stories.  May the words I write strengthen your belief and your understanding.  Soli Deo Gloria.