Sunday, 21 March 2010

God the Judge?

I was recently on the CSE (Creation Science Evangelism) website and took the “Are You a Good Person” test (perhaps I am a masochist). One thing in particular stuck in my head. They emphasised God as being a judge and then pointed out that any judge that let criminals off the hook would be deemed corrupt; corruption is not a character trait of a just God. This got me wondering whether or not we are stretching analogies too far when applying the human occupation of a Judge to God, and whether being a judge takes on different meaning when eternity is at stake.

In the human penal system there appears to be a potential threefold gain from imprisoning offenders (capital punishment shall be ignored for the time being). Incarceration acts as a punishment and deterrent; it can potentially rehabilitate prisoners; and it can increase the safety of citizens by putting bars between them and the offenders.

The concept of Hell gained easy support in past civilisations as most of us desire oppressors to be punished. A just God having the last word can be comforting in times of woe. The same can be true of prison; a murderer getting their comeuppance is the way we think the world should be (though no murderers at all would naturally be preferred). The difference between the two is that prison is finite and except for those who die in prison it is temporary; Hell on the other hand is eternal. Is any crime really worth eternal damnation?

Eternal damnation for any crime can naturally be seen as unjust, but it gets worse when we look at which sins are punished. Unbelief, particularly to conservative Christians (such as CSE), is seen as a sin. As all sins are equal in the eyes of God then eternal punishment awaits those who simply have not experienced or seen reason to believe in God (or even those who have misconceptions about Him). The only way to make this repugnant act seem just is to accept the creationist paradigm in which God is readily observed in nature, for everything was made in 6 days 6,000 years ago. Such an ostentatious mode of creation is seen as obvious in nature so that those that deny Him are without excuse. When unbelief is synonymous with denial God is excused of tyranny for an atheist is an active sinner, not an oblivious, passive sinner; yet another issue with the creationist world-view.

If the punishment aspect is not in line with the human role of judge, is rehabilitation? A temporary punishment would undoubtedly be more loving than eternal torment and this view is not absent from Christianity. It is not a popular view among conservatives and so it seems to them that God’s role as judge lies only in being labelled “just” whilst Hell remains eternal.

The alternative option for rehabilitation is considered even less Biblical by conservatives. Purgatory is an afterlife possibility (or at least a state of purgation) which removes sin from those being purged and enables them to experience eternal bliss. This is a very close analogy to rehabilitation which is well within the powers of non-corrupt human judges. Alas, many conservatives seem to think it is a view perpetuated by Satan.

Here on Earth the prison bars keep those nasty criminals away from the rest of us, protecting us from their harmful ways. I see no way in which this could be analogous to the actions of God. Does Hell protect us here on Earth? Does Hell protect those in Heaven? As far as I can see eternal punishment has no protective value.

The conclusion I derive from thinking about this is that we are taking too much of an anthropomorphic view of God’s role of judge. It cannot be deemed as analogous to the human construction of a just judge when eternity is brought into the picture. Our understanding of God’s judgement must therefore be wrong, coming from our limited human minds. Surely the occurrence of judgement is an intensely spiritual event, being fully in the presence of God, which would be experienced differently by us all depending on the state of our ‘souls’. I offer no final picture here, only a step towards a potential increase in accuracy.

One last point before I finish. I refrained from discussing capital punishment as it is debateable as to whether or not it is just in itself. If we suppose that it is, for argument’s sake, then it goes to follow that God as a judge would be just in simply giving atheists that which they expect to come after life – nothing but the grave, mere non-existence. Unsurprisingly this is also rejected by the CSE bunch.I was recently on the CSE (Creation Science Evangelism) website and took the “Are You a Good Person” test (perhaps I am a masochist). One thing in particular stuck in my head. They emphasised God as being a judge and then pointed out that any judge that let criminals off the hook would be deemed corrupt; corruption is not a character trait of a just God. This got me wondering whether or not we are stretching analogies too far when applying the human occupation of a Judge to God, and whether being a judge takes on different meaning when eternity is at stake.

In the human penal system there appears to be a potential threefold gain from imprisoning offenders (capital punishment shall be ignored for the time being). Incarceration acts as a punishment and deterrent; it can potentially rehabilitate prisoners; and it can increase the safety of citizens by putting bars between them and the offenders.

The concept of Hell gained easy support in past civilisations as most of us desire oppressors to be punished. A just God having the last word can be comforting in times of woe. The same can be true of prison; a murderer getting their comeuppance is the way we think the world should be (though no murderers at all would naturally be preferred). The difference between the two is that prison is finite and except for those who die in prison it is temporary; Hell on the other hand is eternal. Is any crime really worth eternal damnation?

Eternal damnation for any crime can naturally be seen as unjust, but it gets worse when we look at which sins are punished. Unbelief, particularly to conservative Christians (such as CSE), is seen as a sin. As all sins are equal in the eyes of God then eternal punishment awaits those who simply have not experienced or seen reason to believe in God (or even those who have misconceptions about Him). The only way to make this repugnant act seem just is to accept the creationist paradigm in which God is readily observed in nature, for everything was made in 6 days 6,000 years ago. Such an ostentatious mode of creation is seen as obvious in nature so that those that deny Him are without excuse. When unbelief is synonymous with denial God is excused of tyranny for an atheist is an active sinner, not an oblivious, passive sinner; yet another issue with the creationist world-view.

If the punishment aspect is not in line with the human role of judge, is rehabilitation? A temporary punishment would undoubtedly be more loving than eternal torment and this view is not absent from Christianity. It is not a popular view among conservatives and so it seems to them that God’s role as judge lies only in being labelled “just” whilst Hell remains eternal.

The alternative option for rehabilitation is considered even less Biblical by conservatives. Purgatory is an afterlife possibility (or at least a state of purgation) which removes sin from those being purged and enables them to experience eternal bliss. This is a very close analogy to rehabilitation which is well within the powers of non-corrupt human judges. Alas, many conservatives seem to think it is a view perpetuated by Satan.

Here on Earth the prison bars keep those nasty criminals away from the rest of us, protecting us from their harmful ways. I see no way in which this could be analogous to the actions of God. Does Hell protect us here on Earth? Does Hell protect those in Heaven? As far as I can see eternal punishment has no protective value.

The conclusion I derive from thinking about this is that we are taking too much of an anthropomorphic view of God’s role of judge. It cannot be deemed as analogous to the human construction of a just judge when eternity is brought into the picture. Our understanding of God’s judgement must therefore be wrong, coming from our limited human minds. Surely the occurrence of judgement is an intensely spiritual event, being fully in the presence of God, which would be experienced differently by us all depending on the state of our ‘souls’. I offer no final picture here, only a step towards a potential increase in accuracy.

One last point before I finish. I refrained from discussing capital punishment as it is debateable as to whether or not it is just in itself. If we suppose that it is, for argument’s sake, then it goes to follow that God as a judge would be just in simply giving atheists that which they expect to come after life – nothing but the grave, mere non-existence. Unsurprisingly this is also rejected by the CSE bunch.

Friday, 12 March 2010

About Me; 2007 Stylee

I'm not sure when this was written, though I reposted it in 2007. It is an "about me" section which I originally wrote for my Bebo page (yes, I had a Bebo page, though it was honestly just to do quizzes about myself and others. I then 'upgraded' to Myspace and later to Facebook).

Born by amazing coincidence in the middle of the Mojave desert, Jason had to crawl out of his mothers rotting, swollen carcass and through the scorching hot desert whilst fending off vultures by day and the vicious cold by night whilst merely a day old.
Adopted by a small clan of travelling ninjas (all of which are now dead, leaving Jason as the only one with knowledge of their ways) Jason became an incredibly dangerous lethal weapon at the age of only 3 years old, the local government got scared of such a powerful young soul that they shipped him off to the worst place they could think of for such a youth; Doncaster.
Strategically they left him near Denaby leaving him vulnerable to theft and attack, needing all his skills to survive, had they left him at the wrong side of the craggs he would have rapidly learned new skills such as theft and would have honed them until he became the most dangerous force the Earth has ever seen. Despite that the rest of his story is too grim to tell.

More From My Past: Easter 2007

I wrote this ridiculous piece about my Easter in 2007, again, during a time when writing was not a hobby of mine:

Thought I'd add yet another blog and fill you in on my pretty average Easter.

My Easter started quite dull, I had some work to do on Saturday the 31st and was not pleased. I woke up late with some small creature jumping up and down on my head, after it had laid its furry eggs in my throat. One of the eggs cracked and filled up my stomach. This persisted throughout the day and made everything that bit more difficult. After the usual morning routine I decided it was time to work and went off to the mines as per usual, only to find that the network was closed and my tunnel could not be accessed.

This was quite distressing as I hadn't met my quota for the year so far and meant that I would have to return to the mine quite soon to finish it off. But for now I focused on the journey ahead. I was heading back to Conan's Burgh in the Shire of York, approximately 88,000 miles away, which believe me, when you have a small creature on your head banging his drums (I forgot to mention the drums, how could I ever forget?) it can be quite unbearable.

The quickest way to get there would be in the bowels of a giant grey worm I thought. Little did I know that the worms often get too full and rather 'sluggish' so to speak and so take a little longer than expected. To make it more bearable I put a tiny band in each of my ears and allowed them to serenade me whilst the giant worm ploughed onwards.

Eventually I got home to Conan's Burgh and was promptly taken to the Tick Hill (home of the famous Cock fair) to feast in honour of the 79th anniversary of the birth of my mother's mother. The feast was amazing, creamy mash, I had half a cow and a full roast pig to myself. I was offered the chance to party in old Danum that night, though I turned it down, having just gotten rid of the creature on my head (and his incessant drum banging).

The following day I remember little, except that I once more stepped inside the giant grey worm and headed back to get ready to work the next morning. It was rather similar to the previous day, though with no little creature.

Upon waking the next day, I returned to the mine and found that my tunnel was now accessible and got to work as fast as I can. I believe I met my quota, so i returned back on the worms again to Conan's Burgh, this time for a slightly longer stay.

The next two days were spent with my children, playing with them, teaching them and just having a good time. I wish I could have more time with them, but sadly they had to go.

The thursday was spent with my twin sister Naomi, and our cousin Siobhan, heading back to my place of work. Naomi is fortunate to have a nice metal chariot, which we rode back to the mine, just so I could hand in my paperwork on time. Thanks to her generosity (though I fed the horses) I treated them both to a hearty meal. I myself had the side of cow, before we headed back on what turned out to be a long, tedious journey.

Good Friday came around and I did not venture to the place of worship, nor did I visit the Tick Hill Cock Fair. Instead I met an old friend of mine, a farmer. We stood in a field and right before my eyes he created a whole landscape, with sky, trees, buildings, everything, right before my very eyes. In honour of his skills I toasted him with a drink and played my music to him with the skills which my hands posess.

The next day I ventured into Danum with my mother and proceded to pick out a lady for me to play with. I set my eyes on one sooner than I had imagined. She had beautiful curves, brunette and felt good in my hands. I felt comfortable holding her, and as I got used to handling and carressing her she made the most beautiful sounds. I knew that no other could match her, so we paid her owner and she will live with me from my 21st birthday onwards.

That evening I joined the Farmer again along with another friend in the vicarage. We drank merrily as I serenaded them, talking into the night. The Farmer once again demonstrated his skill at creating life with just his hands and then I gave it a go too. John also showed us his ability to create relationships between tiny people he created, it was all very fascinating.

The next day started rather early, and I ventured out to the castle with my friends to help erect a large marquis and some barriers. Then we relaxed in the magnificent weather, playing songs and chatting away. More friends joined us and we even jumped on a small castle which had been erected in front of the castle proper.

I then returned to my place of living and had another feast prepared by my mother whilst watching tiny people in a box perform a play to us. I then ventured out with my friend and our trusty hounds on a quest of no particular purpose except to have been somewhere.

The next 2 days were spent in the acre of Bess, creating music with my cousin and a dear friend. We ended said creative session by going out around Danum consuming fine alcohol in many establishments. the night ended for me when I decided to trek 50 miles home through many dangerous territories, due to my honed skills, I managed it unscathed.

I awoke the next morning and ventured out on more giant worms, out to a valley to live with one of my future wives. There I consumed large amounts of cheese, watched tiny men duel in a box and attempted to drink alcohol, though some dwarves managed to steal it from me. I was then introduced to a straneg creature who vomited far too much and took it upon myself to clean up his mess, by then the dwarves had taken all of my precious alcohol.

The next morning I decided to be a bit lazy and ventured out with my dear friend Lord Duncan and found a huge cliff face where we sat and watched battle commence below us.

We returned and played games until Kate made us a delectable feast and we drank merrily into the night. The next day was spent sadly leaving the house of Kate, though a long and arduous journey lay ahead for my friend and I. We first took the liberty of drinking more beer, before leaving for a place where I belive old ham is kept. This place flew the flag of the red rose, which is not one which we like to associate with, though we were hungry and needed feeding. We took our time choosing the place to eat, and although the food was good, we were heavily overcharged.

We promptly left this place and ventured on the worms all the way to our separate homes, which took a very long time. Upon returning I decided to have a few beverages in some fine establishments in the land of Conan's Burgh and ended up staying out all night. The night ended with me playing with the serpent of an old friend, before returning home, i was not fit for the trip to Jorvik the next day so I had a nice relaxing day to round off my Easter.

The End

Story for Frankie

Another which I wrote back in 2007. This was a story for my friend Frankie, likely to cheer her up or alleviate boredom. It is deliberately random and pure nonsense, but I like it:

One day Frankie and I were out walking, the sky smelt of marshmallow and there was the sound of indigo all around. We had no specific place to be so we thought we should go in search of an eatery which would sell our favourite meal. This happened to be honey coated magpie, which is a rare delicacy found on an obscure island off the cost of West Africa.

As we were nowhere near Africa we just wandered aimlessly, talking about the sound a babies eyes make and what numbers feel like. We passed many a flying toaster, but as they are so common we ignored them, singing songs about that mermaid I met last week in Tesco (she was rather obese so the songs were quite cruel) and skipping along. Skipping was rather tricky as the ground appeared to be made of chocolate and the sun was out, though we skipped on, albeit slowly.

That was when we were picked up and put in a cupboard in between the weetabix and the flour. Inside the flour, buried deep, were a few cabbages, 10 tins of beans and more weetabix (but no milk). It is rather fortunate that I carry a spade in my pocket on every third thursday of the month.

We got rather comfortable in that cupboard but sadly had to leave due to Frankie's donkey allergies. Apparently the DNA link between donkeys and weetabix is very close and when the wind is blowing in a green direction it can affect those with allergies. Frankie didn't even know this, the man with the beard told us in 3 days time, can't wait.

As we now could no longer stay in the cupboard we carried on wandering, through the forest full of houses, through the meadow full of trees, through the orchard of sand and the valley of mountains. It was a grand adventure which finally ended when we reached the lake.

The lake was packed full of ridiculous looking creatures such as ducks and swans. The water reflected the light from my shoes and lit up our armpits. Deep inside our armpits a portal was opened to another dimension. (This can happen once a month if you face south with a fish in your pocket named Joe, which I carry next to my spade).

Eagerly, we both jumped through eachother's portals, which was a tricky, well choreographed manouevre which shouldn't have worked but did. At first we had no idea where we were, there was a putrid smell emanating from the smooth, soft ground, with strange trees growing around. The ground appeared to be leaking what appeared to be water but which carried the aforementioned stench.

It was then that we realised that this dimension was in fact my own armpit inside our own dimension. We had no idea how to get back, so we simply sat on a rug and counted to ruby but both fell asleep before we got that high.

We were woken abruptly by the sound of hair and found that we were in our own beds at the foot of the castle. It was even snowing purple, or maybe green, I always muddle those two up.

From then on we have gone about our lives as though our adventure never happened.

xxxxxx

Some Old Writing

I have stumbled upon a blog I wrote back in late 2007, before my interest in writing emerged and when my knowledge of palaeontology was, shall we say, weaker. I cringed a few times reading it, partly because I consistently spelled theropod wrongly, but mostly due to my odd punctuation choices.

Here it is, my blog which was known as "Big Bad Bizarre Bloggage":

Many of you reading this will be bored very quickly, some may think I am making up names, though a select few may enjoy this blog, however it is meant for myself haha so make of it what you will.

Earlier this week I was on my way to work, it was early morning; I was thirsty and had plenty of time to enter the newsagent's near the bus stop I alight at. Upon entering I decided to buy myself a cheap bottle of water and made my way towards the counter, glancing at magazines on the way. Normally my eyes would be drawn towards a men's magazine, especially if the scantily clad cover model is to my liking, however, a vastly different magazine caught my eye. Staring out from the front cover of National Geographic magazine was an unusual looking pachycephalosaur next to the words 'BIG BAD BIZARRE DINOSAURS'. How could I resist? I did in fact have to resist as I only had enough money on me to purchase a bottle of water, though sure enough, I returned on a later date to buy the magazine.

I read the magazine on the bus home, the magazine itself is very well made, the photography is superb, not surprising as one of their wildlife photographers is Franz Lanting, a favourite of mine; this time amazing me with dynamically elegant pictures of albatrosses. But the article I bought it for I am still as yet unsure about my opinion towards. I will not comment on the writing as it is not my domain of interest (unless grammar and spelling are deplorable). It was the choice of dinosaurs that got my attention, which is what I will talk about here (brace yourselves!).

The article was titled 'EXTREME DINOSAURS', all caps so you know it is a cool article. Most of the dinosaurs' images are computer generated and very interesting to look at. The first dinosaur in the article is amargasaurus, a sauropod from the Jurassic which I had never heard of. Its neck and body are adorned with a double row of spines; the reason it is in this article. This choice did please me; it was both new and suitably bizarre. Off the top of my head no other sauropod comes to mind which is quite as bizarre, and after doing some quick research I can find no other which is more suited, the article was off to a good start.

A turn of the page to see the second dinosaur and a familiar face was staring out at me. It was none other than carnotaurus. I was not expecting to see such a well known dinosaur so early in the article, if at all. Many of you may have heard of carnotaurus as it was the main predatory dinosaur in the aptly named Disney film 'Dinosaur'. Carnotaurus features in this article due to its horns, though the accompanying text talks mostly of its tiny arms. I am a fan of carnotaurus but disagree with its appearance in this article as it is not particularly bizarre, though I am more accustomed to dinosaur appearances than the majority, I would surmise. Most large therapods have arms that are minuscule and apparently without much use, including the mighty tyrannosaurus. The arms of carnotaurus are even smaller proportionally than those of tyrannosaurus, however the only feature that really sets it apart are its bull horns from which it gets its name. I will concede that this is probably one of the best therapods choices, but purely for the fact that therapods permeate the media when the word dinosaur is thrown about, causing them to be considered quite 'normal' in appearance.

The next dinosaur to appear was yet another well known face, this time the dinosaur in question was parasaurolophus. Parasaurolophus has a trombone like crest on its head, which indeed makes it look bizarre to fresh eyes, however it has been seen in none other than the sequel to Jurassic Park; Lost World. In the film it was referred to as 'Elvis' due to its appearance and apparently difficult name, and was seen being captured to be taken to the mainland. As a child I always preferred the closely related corythosaurus, and many other lambeosaurs were endowed with head-crests, though frustratingly I must again concede that the crest atop the head of parasaurolophus is indeed the most bizarre I can find.

My interest increased as I turned the page to the next dinosaur, as covering the better half of 2 pages was a dinosaur by the name of masiakasaurus. Masiakasaurus is a small, carnivorous dinosaur from cretaceous north-western Madagascar. This agile little dinosaur is considered bizarre due to its unusual dentition; its front teeth curl out of its mouth, whilst the back teeth are serrated in the usual fashion. On first glance this dinosaur does not appear to be bizarre, though upon looking at the mouth it becomes apparent that it is indeed unique. I was pleased to have learnt of a new dinosaur, however it would be better suited to an article on 'unique' dinosaurs rather than 'bizarre'.

Another turn of the page saw a dinosaur which has become well known to the public in recent years, the now infamous spinosaurus. Spinosaurus was the main dinosaur in the third instalment of the Jurassic Park trilogy and proved its might by snapping the neck of a tyrannosaurus, the most well known carnivore in history (but not the biggest, that title belongs to giganotosaurus). I am not particularly a fan of spinosaurus; it was portrayed very inaccurately in JP3 in my opinion, which leads me to be biased against it. They made it appear larger and more ferocious by pitting it against a juvenile tyrannosaur (the one from the previous film?), when in fact it would have probably stayed well away from other large predators, perhaps frequenting watery areas and dining on fish often. Or possibly scavenging, as well as hunting smaller prey. Its close relative baryonyx was indeed a pescivore. It was also supposed to have evolved over the course of about 5 years in-between the films, which is ridiculously implausible. However it is quite well suited to this article, though a better choice may have been ouranosaurus; a duck-billed dinosaur with a proportionally large sail on its back, definitely less well known and definitely bizarre.

The next dinosaur lined up for me to read was a pleasant surprise, my favourite stegosaur tuojiangosaurus. This stegosaur from china was chosen due to the spikes on its shoulder, which are what sets it apart from other stegosaurs. Stegosaurs are well known, though they are still very bizarre and tuojiangosaurus is no exception. I had not learned a new dinosaur here, but it is one I would probably have included myself, a turn for the better it appears.

Another dinosaur I knew of appeared on the next page, though I had never fully appreciated it before, this article surprisingly brought it to the forefront of my attention. This dinosaur goes by the name of deinocheirus, aptly named due to its huge arms. If in proportion to related therapods, it would have been one of the largest therapods to have walked the earth. However, most palaeontologists appear to believe that the arms belonged to a much smaller creature with 'outlandishly long arms'. This would certainly make it a dinosaur of bizarre appearance and it is deserved of the article.

I wrongly chuckled with amusement at the name of the next dinosaur, it is called nigersaurus. I was fully aware that it was named after Nigeria, however, it still amused me to throw an extra 'g' in. On first glance I could not tell what made nigersaurus so unique, as again it was its dentition which sets it apart from other sauropods. It had a very broad, straight edged muzzle, like a hoover, ideal for 'mowing' low lying shrubbery. It had 600 teeth, tightly packed, with up to 100 in operation at any time, the rest being replacements in case of damage to others. This dinosaur is quite fascinating, especially when studying evolution, though it did on first glance appear to be an average diplodocoid.

The star of the front cover was the next dinosaur to grace the pages of the magazine, the pachycephalosaur which had drawn my attention. When I saw the front cover I was reminded of stygimoloch, though with less dome to its skull. Stygimoloch always amused my puerile mind as its name means 'horny devil'. The dinosaur in this magazine however was slightly more bizarre and is known as dracorex, which means 'dragon king' (like burger king but with larger portions). This dinosaur pleased me, despite my pretentious fastidiousness towards the article. Its head is enough to make anybody do a double take or two, as with most pachycephalosaurs, plus I learnt a new dinosaur, which is always a bonus.

The article pleased me even more with the next dinosaur, the tiny epidendrosaurus. Epidendrosaurus is considered to be the smallest dinosaur, it is another therapod, though this time it is not a huge beast that would strike fear into all; it is in fact the size of a sparrow. Some palaeontologists believe it may be an infant, though it is not its diminutive stature which makes it bizarre, it is the elongated finger it carries on each hand. Its third finger on each hand is twice as long as the other 2 digits combined, which is certainly a very bizarre sight. It is believed this finger was used to probe holes in trees for insects, like the modern aye aye lemur, which would certainly suit its small size. This dinosaur definitely sparked my interest and I would like to know more about it.

Right after I had proclaimed my love for epidendrosaurus I came across styracosaurus. Styracosaurus is a ceratopsian, and a well know one at that, which explains my disappointment. Styracosaurus was in fact one of the first dinosaurs I owned a toy of. Amusingly the manufacturers of the toy gave it the teeth of a carnivore. I sadly no longer own this toy, I have kept most dinosaur memorabilia from my youth, however I most probably consigned it to the dustbin when I was old enough to decide that any anatomically incorrect toys must be removed from the house, and serrated teeth on a herbivore are blatantly incorrect. It is indeed bizarre, but then personally I would have chosen maybe monoclonius, though probably pachyrhinosaurus, due to its bizarre nose. *Sigh* can't have everything.

Styracosaurus was the end of the article and where I end this ramble. If you have read this far please let me know, it was probably an effort for you and was certainly an effort for me, mostly done because the internet is refusing to work. There were only 2 more articles which included dinosaurs, one was about a photographer who tracked down the arms of deinocheirus to photograph, the other was a snippet about 2 programmes on the National Geographic channel, which I watched of course, guanlong is certainly an interesting dinosaur.

One final note, I was very surprised not to find therizinosaurus, probably one of the most bizarre dinosaurs to have ever walked this planet of ours. Do a search for it and see what I mean.

You stay classy San Diego.