Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How I lost my (atheistic) religion

My kidz [sic] have no interest in understanding or learning about the background of their parents. I mean, I hope they might have at least a passing interest in my activities, even as a fellow human being and wonder off around here.

My close friends could not believe I was once an atheist. It all happened when I was in university. Even today I still could not figure out how I winded up being accept to study at our national university, where I never paid any tuition fees. If there is one thing we really really thank the Americans for, it is that they gave us education. My university was established by them and almost all of the professors there have been trained in some American university somewhere in USA.

In my first year I was undecided if I would major in physics or mathematics or switch to engineering since my father and his brother are engineers. Since I was good in algebra, I picked on mathematics. However, in that system, you are given lots of elective subjects. So in a way, they want you to pick a major and a minor. I was becoming philosophical so I picked on philosophical subjects as my minor. It was because I was becoming sceptical about life. Life was becoming absurd and meaningless to me. This scepticism grew and I found myself being sceptical about God too, not to mention that I was reading the works of existentialist philosophers which added fuel to the fire. So I started denying God. At that time, I was in the school's philosophy club wherein there were only two kinds of people - agnostics and atheists. I was on the second group. I was like this up until in my last year.

One early morning I was waiting for my lecture so I sat outside a cafeteria where there were trees and seats. I sat under one of them. It was quiet, I remember looking on my left staring at the ground with these thoughts - "What is life? what is this for? So you are born, you grow, you go to college, get a career, get married, have children, grow old, you retire and then you die. What is up with that? What is the sense of that"?

I was also taking mathematical physics and for some reason, my prof one day decided to show us slides of the universe, the nebulas and the galaxies. They were very pretty pictures. That kinda impressed me of its beauty.

So again, one morning same scenario, seating under the trees. But this time as I waited for my class I started staring up at the trees in front of me, how they swayed with the breeze and since it was still morning, the moon was there in the background. Then these thoughts - "it can not be that these stuff just simply happened. It cannot be that they simply happened by accident of nature, it is just too suspicious to have this randomly happened. I could not believe there is no God who created these stuff".

From then I posited that there must be a God. But you know, when I said that - I became terrified, because if there is a personal God, I know for sure I do not know him and I am absolutely lost. Not knowing him is synonymous to me as being lost.

What happened to me? I guess what happened was that I became sceptical of the things I was sceptical about. I think at that point I became an honest atheist - honestly recognizing there must be God. Though I was terrified at my conclusion since I did not know who this God was, the solution for me was not to deny him so I can drown my fears of him, I felt the solution was to find him. He certainly was not the one lost, it was me instead.

So I went to the library and borrowed books about religious beliefs. I worked on reading Confucius, the Budha, and Taoism. I remember I borrowed so many books, I had stacks of them my two hands were not enough to hold them. None of these satisfied my inquiry. I can tell you why in another post. This is another story.

Here is a thought though: I would love to see Richard Dawkins debate Antony Flew.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aussie bishops head for Rome

Just an update on what is happening here. Australian bishops are taking the lead to go to Rome sweet Rome.

The RC e-apologists must be very happy.

I should like to say "think before you convert".

No, I wasn't saying this to Anglicans. I meant this to the Lutherans who get so nervous, they are left out of the party.

Anyway, I have just thought of a technique for those RCs who want to become priests but are afraid of being celibate. Why not be an Anglican priest first, then convert. You can have your wife and the ministry too. I think that should do the trick.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Broome and Cape Leveque

I am continuing to share with you my trip to the north of Western Australia, I went to Cape Leveque. You can see a more professional picture here. Google map has it here. That is the road to Cape Leveque. Dirt road all red earth. Some parts are sealed but any unsealed part is like this. Red. Also you can not go there with an ordinary vehicle. You must use a 4X4. Our guide carried with him a trailer filled with supplies and a tent. He warned us if it rained on the way back, this road is unpassable, so we would have to sleep in the bush until it gets dry. Being stranded is a possibility.

This is a view of the red cliffs from the right.

This is the view of the beach at the Cape.
Open space view of the beach.

This is on the right side of that previous picture. We were not allowed to go to this place because this is Aboriginal holy ground, a burial site where they bury their dead.

This is on top of the red cliffs.
This is my shot of the red cliffs.

Red cliffs with a bit of light exposure.
More red cliffs behind.

This is the one shot I like of the red cliffs.
Wherever you turn and watch the sunset, it is always beautiful in Northern Western Australia. God is good. I did not have to go to the theatres to get entertained.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Atheist Prophet Evangelist - Dawkins, the Fool

We interrupt our regular programming to report on the latest news in this part of the world.

Dawkins is here, telling all believers to repent for believing in God.

Read about it in The Age report here.

According to the Bible, God has a certain opinion about people like Dawkins. Read about it here.

Don't get mad at me, I am just reporting what Dawkins and God are saying.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Broome and her beach rocks

People, you should visit Australia and you should plan to see the Kimberley's. As Bob Barker used to say "Come on down". The missus has a project with the Aboriginal people of the Kimberleys and she wanted to bring me where she works. Once a month she is with them, in the desert. So a few weeks ago, I went to Broome where she stops over before she goes to Fitzroy Crossing.

Broome, is a small town north of Western Australia. The weather is quite hot and humid. I like it. You will sweat a lot.

Broome has beaches that is filled with interesting rock formation.

The above is my failed attempt to catch the camels at sundown.

You can see them in the photos here.

In one side of the town you can catch the sunset and also the sunrise.

Me and the missus.

Notice the interesting rock formation. It is quite amazing to look at. This one is a about 3 stories tall.

Another example of how the ocean has influenced the rock formations here.

This is not a very big bridge. It used to be that in Victoria, there was such a thing which was a real bridge which you could walk on. It is no longer there because it collapsed.

This one is solid rock. I could give more examples of the shots I took.

Have a look at this rock pillar. Now in this photo, yours truly happened to be a few meters in front of this rock pillar. It is about 2 stories tall.

Now what about this figure here. Now does that not remind you of something in the Middle East?

Clue. Starts with the letter "S".

Mind you, this is not a complete attraction in Broome. My eye just caught this angle. From this side, it looks like the one in Egypt.

This is the sunrise. See the colors of the sky? This is quite common in Broome. It is the colors that will captivate you. It changes as the sun rises and also as the sun goes down.

I wonder if this redness might be caused by the red earth that is so characteristic of Northern Western Australia (which by the way WA, is 1/3 of the continent).

Here is the example of the red earth I was talking about.

See how red this is? You see this all around northern WA.

BTW, this is a small plateau.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Whoever said those who can't do, teach --- must have been a guy who had no education.

I have been there and done that.

After 25+ years as a software developer/engineer I have had it. I work for myself as a consultant. The pay is good but I am now tired of programming. I mean I am really tired of it. I want to share and handover some ideas to kids out there. Teaching is a lot of fun but lots of admin work too.

I still have consulting work but I like to tone it down. I like to interact with people now, not with machines. So this semester I am teaching for two regional universities who have their presence in my city. Universities are discovering there is money to be made from foreign students. So even if they are from out of town they look for city partners which can give them access to big cities like mine, where the people are and where foreign students would rather settle. So in my classes, I kid you not, all of my students are foreigners, majority from East Asian origins.

So today I had a long day lecturing. One of my students sat in the corner. I allowed him to listen from time to time as he played with his drink bottle and some paper envelopes.

When it was time to go home the students said good bye and he passed by my desk. As he walked away - he showed me his drink bottle wrapped in envelopes. As he exited the class room, he said - "look sir, I made a bomb", then he walked off. His name is Muhammad.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Grinding my ax.

I want to go back to the Walther quote I mentioned here. To repeat, C. F. W. Walther said...

C.F.W. Walther wrote in 1868: "…you often hear pastors preach, 'You are saved if you believe.' What they should be saying is, 'You are saved so that you might believe."
The quote may be found in

My journey before coming to Wittenberg was that I considered myself a Charismaniac Calvinist (if not Calvinian) for 4 years. In those years I studied Reformed writings specially on the TULIP and I was worshiping with a wonderful group of Presbyterians near my home as I studied their confession. I was, you might say, a Christian looking for a Confession. A few things bothered me but in the end I cannot, in good conscience sign my name on the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Calvinists, by enlarge, do look at faith and their fruit to find out if they are Christians. However to me the system warps itself down because the "L" in the TULIP does not guarantee that the Atonement is yours. Then also there is no means of grace, I mean concretely delivers what is promised or concretely promises something to you, I mean what God did with Abraham when he walked in between the carcasses of dead animals through a smoke etc.

I think Walther and his mates were combating the Revivalism going on around them which taught people to look at their faith. So when people say "I am saved because I believe", Walther and Co. think that people are confessing this in the Wesleyan sense. Meaning looking at their faith, made a commitment, a decision etc. I think there is a sense that this accusation is true and I wrote about this too. However, is the accusation necessarily always true?

So now, I read blogs, listen to radio programs of Lutheran persuasion and the expositors are allergic to even mentioning faith at all.

Rev. Paul McCain says I have an ax to grind in his post here. I got in to that post because Dr. Ichabod blogged about it here, so I went there and chimed in. There was a follow up reply I made but Rev. McCain won't publish it, fair enough. It is his blog.

Do I have an ax to grind or is it my conscience saying something fishy is going on and it does not seem right ? I mean, why is it a dichotomy that being a Christian and having faith (in the Gospel) must be separated? I feel disturb about this. So I return to the Walther quote for I think it is Waltherianism to have such an attitude, and I am bothered by that attitude for many reasons:
  1. In the incident with the Philippian jailer, we see St Paul saying something differently when he was asked what must the jailer do to be saved. St Paul answered like the pastors Walther criticized, and I take it that these pastors he criticized were Lutherans too!
  2. In the ordo salutis, or order of salvation. Amazingly, Lutherans were the first to coin the phrase! Yet, Lutherans do not have a formal position on this unlike what the Calvinists have done. Their ordo affects their evangelism, apologetics and any other philosophizing and even psychologizing of justification. Look at that Walther quote again. I find Walther being Calvinistic in that quote., because in Calvinism, salvation happens first or regneration happens first before faith comes out, faith is an off shoot of regeneration. Though Walther despised Calvinists, he was quite like them in that quote.
So below is the comment I wrote to the Rev. McCain, which he won't publish, I said:

If a person is looking to Christ as his savior, i.e., the one who paid for his sins, is this not faith?

If this is not faith, then what do you call this phenomenon?

What do you think, how will you answer my question?