Friday, May 13, 2016

Using Math & Logic Skills To Argue God Exists & Other Classic Issues


Truth & Consequences
Ralph E. Carlson, iUniverse, Bloomington, IN, 2015

One does not have to be a metallurgist or be a Ph.D. in mathematics as the author, Ralph E. Carlson, is to understand this book. But one needs to accept how logic, “a science that deals with the rules and processes used in sound thinking and reasoning” (Merriam-Webster), works.
While the book is promoted as answering the question, “Does God Exist?”, Carlson goes much further and deeper, both to arrive at the answer (‘truth’) and to outline the ‘consequences’. And he does so using logic.
The book begins with a thorough explanation and examination of three major approaches (Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolution) typically used in answering questions like does God exist? what is the origin of life? and in particular what is the origin of human life? His basic approach to each of the questions under discussion is to turn each question into a proposition, and then to examine what are the consequences of each of the propositions if they were false and if they were true, as well as the impact of one proposition being true or false on a second, and third, etc., proposition. Finally, once he arrives at the most likely outcome, he delves into the consequences that such an outcome implies.
From there he addresses the issue of what are the consequences of there being life after death? A most interesting and valuable chapter. He next deals with the proposition that God does exist and is in fact active in the world today.
From there, the author turns to the topic of the past and present “Threats to Christianity”.  In this chapter he deals with the American Constitution and its relationship to the issue of separation of Church and State, as well as what the Supreme Court and other lower jurisdictions have been doing in that regard. This is a great historical account of many key decisions and their explanations and impacts. [A must read for anyone interested in how we got to this point in society.]
His second last chapter deals with the issue of “Is God Speaking to America?” in the form of warnings as He did to ancient Israel.  He lands, as we would expect, on the side of those who would say “yes”.  Finally, Carlson concludes with a mind- and soul-searching question for the reader. If we agree, as he has attempted to show, that an Infinite Intelligent Entity (IIE) exists, and that this IIE created life on earth, including human life; and that there is life after death; and that Jesus, the Son of God, as described in the New Testament, was a living being who came to earth – then, he asks us to consider a life-threating medical circumstance with two possible options. He asks us which one we would take? The answer for most of us would be obvious. He then asks us to consider a similar situation only this time says we have to make a decision regarding possible options where this IIE is involved at the time of our death. His point is well-made.
If I fault this book at all, it would be for the breadth of very serious and controversial topics it tackled in one relatively short volume. On the other hand, I highly recommend it as an excellent and quick read (close to 100 pages) for anyone interested in one or more of the issues the author has covered. I also would not want readers to miss the importance of what Carlson proposes to us. One way or another, the questions he deals with, have to be addressed by each of us. Ignoring them ultimately leads to default non-decision in the negative.

--   By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, May 13, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com

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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It’s A Miracle That Americans Are Living As Long As They Do

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Red Kool-Aid  Blue Kool-Aid
Leonard A. Zwelling, MD, MBA,
with Marianne L. Ehrlich,
Franklin Scribes, San Antonio, Texas, 2014



This book is many things. While the author sets out (successfully mind you) to tell us how partisan politics and greed undermined the value of ObamaCare, his greatest contribution to the reader is an inside look at how some bad laws are made and some good ones blocked, in Washington. But also hidden deep between the lines (and often not so deep) is his regret about how he and his science of medicine were treated in both his own profession and by others who very much needed to hear what he had to say. On the one hand, one can read in his words the feeling of regret and even sour grapes, and on the other, many who have been treated similarly in their own careers, could easily shout out, “Preach it brother and thank you for telling it like it is.”

Leonard A. Zwelling is not afraid of hard work and his career in medicine for some forty plus years has proven it time and again. Having risen to the position of Vice-President of Research Administration at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, circumstances caused him to move on to the position of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy fellow serving on the minority staff of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. How all that came about, what it meant to him as a person, what he learned in Washington, and why no “real” health reform will likely come to America in our generation or that of our children and grandchildren are the key themes of Red Kool-Aid Blue Kool-Aid.

Older readers will clearly relate the use of Kool-Aid in the book’s title to the Jonestown massacres of 1978 when followers of the religious cult leader, Jim Jones, committed mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in the jungles of Guyana at their leader’s command. Zwelling paints a similar picture of what goes on in Washington and especially Congress every day.

He sets out some premises: As recently identified, medical errors (most occuring in hospitals) are a top killer of Americans annually; everyone’s idea of health care ‘reform’ is the same – “I pay less!” [but if someone pays less, someone needs to make less – how well is that working for us?]; and reform’s three components being i) increased access, ii) decreased cost, and iii) increased quality (or better outcomes) – but all three are a “zero sum game”.  He points out that there is no supply and demand market curve in health care between the seller and the buyer of the services.  In fact, the ‘market’ is established by ‘surrogates’, namely, government, insurers, and payers.  Thus the impossibility of addressing the real needs of Americans.

Turning to the political side, Zwelling drives home probably what we’ve already learned from watching the networks: if the majority party sticks together, it wins; elected officials know little about anything they vote on and it’s their staff that determines their vote; groupthink sets in and creates a logjam; and elected officials and staffers from both parties, on the whole, have no regard for relevant scientific facts from experts unless those inputs agree totally with and support their own pre-selected decision on an issue.

As far as the actual ObamaCare bill itself that the Democrats rammed through goes, Zwelling (a dedicated Democrat who ended up working by chance for a Republican senator) says this: “In retrospect, it is clear that the forces blocking health care reform won, even though a bill was passed, for medicine is relatively unchanged by the 2010 ObamaCare legislation.” And, “It is far more likely that economic forces will determine the future of medicine, not legislative ones.” And, “A single payer universal system of basic health care was never in the cards.”  Zwelling believes we won’t be ready to deal effectively with real healthcare reform until we first decide whether healthcare is a right or a privilege. Not to do so will only result in our splashing around in a wading pool rather than swimming like adults further out.

There is a most interesting chapter on “If you’re right, but you’re rude, you’re wrong!” explaining how getting mad and shouting the truth will get you nowhere inside the system.  (Probably explains why Presidential hopefuls like Donald Trump needed to get outside of the system while others like Cruz and associates wanted a foot in each camp.)

Zwelling quotes a television news producer as describing Capitol Hill in a nutshell when he was asked what the key to success in TV news was. The producer is believed to have said, “Sincerity.  If you can fake that, you can fake anything.”  And there’s lots of that going around in Washington, according to the author.

He ends his book with a David Letterman-style Top Ten list of changes America could make in the system today to improve things.  That alone is worth the acquisition of Red Kool-Aid Blue Kool-Aid.

One thing I did not do enough justice to in this review is the personal agonizing that the author went through in leaving his employer and trying Washington and then having to go back to medicine. Many a professional senior citizen or baby boomer could well identify with the feelings Zwelling experienced.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in politics on either the Red or the Blue team, and from the perspective of an observer or a player. Or for someone who wonders how Americans are managing to live as long as they do.

--  By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, May 12, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Can We Talk? Otherwise We’re Not Solving The Problem


Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward
Nabeel Qureshi, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2016


 
I had read this author’s former bestseller Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and was overwhelmed with the personal price he had to pay with respect to his own family when he left the ‘faith of his fathers’ and embraced new faith. When this book came out and he was coming to my city to speak about it I made sure I was there. I also bought this book and read it.

Nabeel Qureshi’s speaking engagement in Toronto had to be moved from its original venue at the University of Toronto (at one of their religious colleges, Anglican in fact) because the faculty had been warned by administration that there could be trouble as this converted, well-educated, medical doctor would likely annoy many Muslim students.  Fortunately, a nearby church welcomed the event. Qureshi was up to dealing with all comers in his usual soft-spoken, respectful, manner, affirming each member of the audience, regardless of their religious stripes – after all it was not too long ago that he would have died for Islam.

In this book, this former Muslim attempts to clarify “both the reality of violent jihad in Islam” and the response that we should have to that. He bravely calls for a “compassionate approach to our Muslim neighbors”. That alone was enough to make me think twice about writing a review recommending Answering Jihad even though, whether we like it or not, Islam has, and continues, to change our world. But as I read, I found that Qureshi succeeded in his hopes for the book, and in the process, radically changed my own mind on the subject.

He remembers hearing a slogan at his mosque that he shared with many: “The terrorists who hijacked the planes on September 11 also hijacked Islam.” And he proceeds to show us how that happened. But while he speaks highly of the millions of peaceful Muslims who have been deceived about what is or is not the true origin and circumstances of their faith, he extends no such excuses for Islam itself.  Much of the book is spent on exposing the recorded and known behavior of the religion’s founder, Muhammad.  He does so with excellent references, almost all Islamic in origin.

His conclusion is that “as long as Islam is practiced in a way that calls Muslims to return to its foundation, violence will follow.” To counteract that, he believes that “the Christian teaching of loving one’s enemies, even in the face of death, might perhaps be the most powerful answer to jihad at our disposal today.” And then he gives his reasons.

If I were to quote here every part of the book that I underlined as a key or unique thought, no publisher would allow me to share my review of Qureshi’s book.  Suffice it to say, that he deals with the origins of jihad and jihad today in a most interesting and complete fashion. In the third part of the book, he answers some very pressing questions many of us have wanted to ask, such as: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? How Does Jihad Compare with Old Testament Warfare and the Crusades? What Does Jesus Teach About Violence? What Does Jesus Have to Do with Jihad?

He concludes with a chapter entitled “Answering Jihad” and then follows all this up with some very valuable appendices on: Timeline of Jihad in Islam; Muhammad’s Words on Jihad; What is the Caliphate?; and more, as well as an excellent glossary of terms.

You owe it to yourself to hear from a former passionate lover of Islam to learn how best to address the challenge it presents to the world today.

Answering Jihad is dedicated to the author’s sister whom he misses very much and yearns for the day that they can worship the God of Truth together.

--  By Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, May 11, 2016. www.accordconsulting.com

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

When Life Is As Shattered As The Original Two Tablets

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God’s Instructions on the Renewing of the Two Tablets

Exodus 34:1-5: Now the Lord said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. And no man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.” So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord.
You will remember that Moses broke the first set of tablets of stone, the ones written with the finger of God (Exodus 32:19). He broke them because Israel broke the covenant. What we have no record of, however, is who made the original two tablets – was it God or was it Moses?  The first time the word ‘tablets’ is mentioned is in Exodus 24:12 when God says to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.” But here in chapter 34, Moses is instructed to “Cut out for (him-)self two stone tablets like the former ones.”  Was there really a change and if so, why?
Both Matthew Henry and Robert Jamieson clearly detect the change in process. It was Israel that broke the covenant, not God. God was willing to reconcile with them but somehow, perhaps for purposes of remembrance of what they had done, it was Moses as their leader that this time had to come up with the raw material and God only had to retrace the original inscription. Henry says when the law was first, both the tablets and the writing were the work of God and intended to be written upon the heart of man. After these laws were broken and marred by sin, God used the ‘ministry of man’ to set things right. He ordered Moses to renew the tablets, but He would still write His laws on them.
As I consider this change of process this time around, I start to wonder about the implication of what God was indicating by having Moses cut out the stone tablets. I believe that even as New Testament Christians the moral law of the Old Testament (i.e. the Ten Commandments) must be adhered to. As Henry says, while we are no longer under the curse of the law, for Christ has redeemed us from it, yet we have not been freed from following what God wrote on those tablets. [Think of it this way. A father tells his son that he must obey the rules but because of his incredible love for his son, he tells him that he will not be punished for not doing so. Does that ethically free the son from following his father’s rules, especially if he confesses to love his father?]  That’s what Matthew 5:19 is all about.  In this verse Jesus, as Henry writes, “in effect renew(ed) the tables, and made them like the first, that is, reduced the law to its primitive sense and intention.” Not to what the religious rulers of the day held them to be – a curse for us as we could never hope to have kept them all perfectly.
It surprises me greatly that so many of our brothers and sisters today want to completely forget about the law – especially when Jesus talks so much about it. Henry continues,  
“That the best evidence of the pardon of sin and peace with God is the writing of the law in the heart. The first token God gave of his reconciliation to Israel was the renewing of the tables of the law; thus the first article of the new covenant is, I will write my law in their heart (Heb. 8:10), and it follows (v. 12), for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness.

Let’s get off that bandwagon of “no longer needing the Old Testament” and/or not having to pay attention or to consider the Old Testament laws, especially the Ten Commandments.

Moses did exactly as God had asked him to in cutting out the tablets he was to take to God. And we can make some inferences about them. First, they were not extremely heavy as he was able to carry them, up a mountain. The passage says he presented himself alone to God. Henry reminds us that their dimensions were less than what would fit into the ark of the covenant later.  The latter being a 1.25 yards long and 0.75 yards wide. They were not elaborate for Moses had one day to get them cut. Their beauty was to be provided the next day when God Himself would inscribe them.

As I studied this, I saw a parallel between what was going on and what God really does with, in, and for our lives. He was saying to Moses, “Look you shattered My Law which I gave you, but I will replace it for you. Do this and then let me breathe life into those stones again with My own finger.” Only for us, He does it with the life and blood of His Own Son, Jesus Christ. Can you see the parallel there?

Then God tells Moses to be ready “by morning”. Moses did not have a long time to think about it; the offer was there for him to accept and to work on right away.  The parallel continues for me as I realize that “now is the day of salvation”, not later, not on our death bed, because who knows if we will even have a chance to reflect on God’s gift “as we lie dying”.

God wants Moses to go up to the top of Mount Sinai and present himself to the Lord. While God reaches down to call us, we need to move up to Him to accept His work of salvation for us. We need to move away from the influence of the world and draw near to Him. And we are to “present” our self as one who presents him- or herself before a king. Only this is no ordinary liege; He is the Lord God Almighty, Ruler of rulers King of kings.

And did you notice what else God instructed Moses to do? He was to make this trip alone. No one, not even Aaron could go with him. In fact, God wanted no one to be even visible on the Holy Mountain when He was calling Moses to come to Him. Wait, that’s not all. God said, “I don’t even want flocks and other herds on the Mountain grazing that day.” No Moses, this is a trip that you have to make all by yourself. And so it is with us when we have to make that decision trip to accept the free gift of salvation that God offers us. There’s another parallel we can note here. When God calls a man to come up to Him, that man (or woman) does not need to go through a mediator or a priest. He/she can go directly – alone – just he/she and God.

So Moses followed God’s instructions precisely. He cut out two stone tablets, got up early and went up to Mount Sinai alone. And there God met him. He descended in the cloud and met with Moses as He had promised. And when Moses sensed that God was in the cloud and present, the text says “he called upon the name of the Lord.”

Is your life shattered? God is giving you another chance. Maybe for you it is more than the second or third or whatever number. That does not matter. God is not counting.  He wants you up the Mountain alone to present yourself to Him and accept His gift to you. And God is saying “Come now; this cannot wait, my child. You can’t go on living a shattered life any longer.”

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.