Donny's Ramblings


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Did Jesus Exist?

Have you ever had someone challenge you as to whether or not the man we call Jesus Christ actually existed?  Have you had doubts of your own about His existence?  Today I listened to a radio broadcast on the matter with Trent Horn from from Catholic Answers Live (click here for the article about it).  In it, Trent shares information and has conversations with callers on the topic of Jesus’ existence.  If you’re a Protestant listener who has issues with certain Catholic Doctrines – as I do – don’t worry!  The information shared is not from a “Catholic” perspective, and shouldn’t conflict with your beliefs in any way.  This audio file simply shares information that you will undoubtedly find interesting and useful on the topic of Jesus’ existence.

Click here to listen:

After listening:

  • For more information on the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus on Jesus, you might find this wikipedia article interesting.
  • For more information on the writings of Roman Historian and senator Tacitus on Jesus, you might find this wikipedia article interesting.


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Thank God for Evolution

Put this on your reading list, fellow Christians:


“Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World” by Michael Dowd

This book is on my reading list, as I feel it should be for every Christian who discounts evolution or for those who, like me, believe in Theistic Evolution and would like more information to use in our discussions.

Evolution and Creation are NOT mutually exclusive, my evolution-rejecting friends.

At the beginning of this book there is a list of the “Author’s Promises”. I decided to share four of them with you:

To those of you who have rejected evolution… I promise that the secular version of evolution you have rejected is not the version of evolution presented in these pages. Indeed, if the understanding of our collective past and the vision of our common destiny outlined here do not inspire you to be more faithful in all your relationships, to find new ways to bless others and the world, and to awaken eagerly each morning to a life filled with meaning and purpose, then please continue to reject evolution!

To those who accept evolution begrudgingly (like death and taxes)… I promise that this book will provide you with an experience of science, and evolution specifically, that will fire your imagination, touch your heart, and lead you to a place of deep gratitude, awe and reverence. You will also find here effective ways to talk about evolution to any friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who are biblical literalists or young earth creationists.

To devoutly committed Christians… Whether you are Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Anabaptist, or New Thought, and whether you consider yourself conservative, moderate, or liberal, my promise to you is that the sacred evolutionary perspective offered here will enrich your faith and inspire you in ways that believers in the past could only dream of.

To agnostics, humanists, atheists ad freethinkers.. I promise that you will find nothing here that you cannot wholeheartedly embrace as being grounded in a rationally sound, mainstream scientific understanding of the Universe. I also promise that the vision of “evolutionary spirituality” presented here will benefit you and your loved ones without your needing to believe in anything otherworldly.

Other “promises” are listed, but these are the ones I wanted to include for this blog post.

You can purchase the book on amazon by clicking the image above, or you can visit the official website here.


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"Atheist" Richard Dawkins Open to Possibility Of God, Just Not the Term 'God' ?

I found the third paragraph in this article of particular interest:

And, although he resisted calling it God, he said that he believed in the possibility of a transcendent “gigantic intelligence” existing beyond the range of human experience. He added that his main target in The God Delusion was fundamentalists.

Sounds like a simple twisting of semantics to me.

In my opinion, and as I expressed in an email to Carrie in regards to this article, it doesn’t matter the label one uses, be it Allah, God, Diós, Dieu, Deus, Krishna, the Great Spirit, or something totally different… it seems to me that Richard’s problem is simply with the tendency of Christian fundamentalists to define who God is, or to assume they know what God wants, and not with the possibility of God’s existence. If that is the case, and the definition of an atheist is someone who denies the existence of god, Richard Dawkins cannot accurately be described as a true atheist.

What say you?


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“Atheist” Richard Dawkins Open to Possibility Of God, Just Not the Term ‘God’ ?

I found the third paragraph in this article of particular interest:

And, although he resisted calling it God, he said that he believed in the possibility of a transcendent “gigantic intelligence” existing beyond the range of human experience. He added that his main target in The God Delusion was fundamentalists.

Sounds like a simple twisting of semantics to me.

In my opinion, and as I expressed in an email to Carrie in regards to this article, it doesn’t matter the label one uses, be it Allah, God, Diós, Dieu, Deus, Krishna, the Great Spirit, or something totally different… it seems to me that Richard’s problem is simply with the tendency of Christian fundamentalists to define who God is, or to assume they know what God wants, and not with the possibility of God’s existence. If that is the case, and the definition of an atheist is someone who denies the existence of god, Richard Dawkins cannot accurately be described as a true atheist.

What say you?


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Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About Christianity"

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)


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Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great About Christianity”

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)


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A Little of This and a Little of That

EVIDENCE FOR GOD:
I haven’t forgotten this blog. I’ve been adding notes to a file in my Google Docs called Evidence for God. Carrie is a tough cookie, and she wants hard evidence. I’m doing my best to accommodate this request. I’m reading more. Organizing more. Making notes of references. I love a challenge, and this challenges me.

On top of what I’ve already learned, I want to read this book before completing my thoughts: The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry – I haven’t yet read it because it’s not due for release until tomorrow. Advanced readers (those who get a chance to read before the official publication date) have highly recommended it, the most notable comes from a Scientist I respect.

Note: As of August 1, 2008, I’ve decided not to write the “Evidence for God” post, and am instead recommending that readers pick up a copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity?, as the book accomplishes exactly what I’d hoped to accomplish by an “evidence” post.

EVOLUTION:
I’ve received a lot of feedback in the form of comments, private emails, and myspace messages from some of you who take issue with my belief in Theistic Evolution. If you’d like to read more on this subject I’d highly recommend this website, as it gives a great overview of this concept: http://www.theistic-evolution.com/. People, there is strong evidence for evolution, and it’s not “anti-God” to believe it. Educate yourselves. 🙂

REPERCUSSIONS AND STUFF:
Because I’ve decided to write my thoughts without worrying about possible repercussions from the organized Christian community (read my last blog entry and all the comments on it), you are experiencing my learning process. My Pastor says the kinds of questions I’ve been asking are pretty normal, but usually not made public by those asking them.

I like sharing and allowing you, my constant readers, to participate in the process. Please don’t get your panties in a bundle when you read something you may not agree with. Capiche?

APPLE CUSTOMER SERVICE ROCKS:
On another note, I’d like to give major props to Apple. My iPhone has been messing up because I dropped it a few times and thereby created a dead spot on one corner. It was functional, I just had to turn the screen for some features to work.

Two days ago I was in Sacramento to pick up my mother from the airport. I arrived a few hours early so I decided to head to the Apple Store at Arden Fair Mall. When I showed them my iPhone and explained the problems I’ve been having…. THEY REPLACED IT! Free of charge. The fault is mine, yet I received a brand new iPhone because Apple customer service kicks butt! But that was only part of it…

Apple gives free tech support at what they call a “Genius Bar” at each Apple store. Because it’s free, an appointment is necessary, usually at least one day in advance. Since only a tech can authorize a replacement phone, the rep I spoke with informed me I’d have to make an appointment. I told her I lived nearly 2 hours north, so they got me in within 5 minutes.

Also… an iPhone is pretty much a miniature computer. You can arrange it in numerous ways, settings, etc. I figured I’d have to start over setting up my iPhone the way I like it, but that wasn’t the case. When I plugged it into my laptop to sync, everything was reset to the exact same settings from my previous phone, right down to the order in which my icons are arranged on the desktop and the photos in the phone’s library.

Apple has it down, I tell ya!


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Motivated By Love

I posted this as a comment to an article I read on another blog, where the author has given up all belief in God and is instead professing “atheism”… that article, should you wish to read it, can be found here. This is definitely NOT good writing… I read an article and started typing my reply and have posted here what can out of my head, unedited.  I’m so tempted to change it around a bit, but then it wouldn’t be the way I posted it. Ah well, the basic points are evident…

Here is my comment, much of which I’ve said here in various articles before this one (please note these are MY opinions, and aren’t to be taken as gospel truth):

It’s interesting to read this article, because my journey is similar, yet opposite. Raised in the church as the son of a Pastor, I turned my back on absolutely everything I learned. I hated the hypocrites. I couldn’t stand the politics. I was infuriated by lack of answers to my questions.

For 9 years I produced pornography, and in a very weird way, that pursuit led me back to faith in God. I finally was able to “get it”… “get” the fact that God and those who claim to follow him are two different things.

And from there I asked Him what I’m supposed to do with the Bible, because it is so full of things that make no sense to me whatsoever. I told God I’d surrender my life to Him if he’d just answer those questions for me. He didn’t do so. I surrendered my life to Him anyway, trusting that my answers would someday come.

It’s been a little over a year now. I’ve lost everything I owned. Banks have repossessed cars and sparkly things. My fiancé, the girl I loved for 6 years, left. My heart was torn apart because of the grief and terror of a change of lifestyle.

But during that time I really got to know God. I leaned on him so hard. I learned not to fear the pain… and not to just NOT fear it, but to appreciate it, because it is such a beautiful part of the human healing process. I learned the nature of God.

From there I started reading. I started digging deeper. I started learning the context of scriptures, rather than just accepting what I’d been taught the scriptures meant. The more I learned, the more the Bible made sense. It came alive for me. That sounds so cliché, but I’m just reporting what happened.

Rightly interpreted, the Bible sets you free. Wrongly interpreted, it enslaves.

I learned the love of God. I learned the concept of free will. I learned the idea of consequences, rather than punishments.

What do I mean by that? I’ll give you an example of “consequences” vs “punishment”, and mix it with an example of free will….

Growing up, I was always afraid sins would result in damnation. It seemed God was some scary being awaiting any chance to doom me to eternal fire. It seemed I had to walk on eggshells and watch my every move or he’d punish me. But then I read an illustration on consequences.

The illustration asked the question, “If you stick your finger in a light socket, is the light socket punishing you when it flows through your body?”

Of course not. That painful jolt was merely the consequences of my stupid, free will action. It wasn’t a punishment. And if an innocent person walks by me as my finger is in that light socket, are they punished by the electric jolt they experience when I reach out and grab them? Of course not. They, too, are victims of my free will to put my finger in a light socket.

God doesn’t punish us either, even though we’re told that He does. It’s just that we are unable to escape the consequences of our free will.

And free will is a beautiful thing… It’s so deep. It’s so powerful. It’s so… amazing.

I recently asked someone if they’d ever want to marry a person they had to scare into loving them. The answer, of course, is a resounding NO. Who wants to force someone to love them? Isn’t it better to be loved by choice?

See, it seems to me that some choose to believe we must scare people into heaven. That is not the case. God wants us to CHOOSE to love Him… to have a relationship with Him because it’s what WE want, not because He forces us to do so or because He hangs hellfire over our heads.

The only way to guarantee that choice comes from US is to step back and let us live our lives… to let us make our own mistakes… And even if it’s painful to watch those mistakes, to intervene in life only when asked, and then in accordance with a “big picture” in mind that we may not even see.

And to illustrate what I mean by “big picture” let me give you yet another example: I have a 7 year old son. He loves candy. As a good father, I obviously can’t let him eat all the candy he wants. That would rot his teeth and he wouldn’t receive the nutrition he needs to grow and maintain a healthy life. With his 7 year old mentality, he may not understand why I say “no”. He may think I’m being mean. But someday he’ll comprehend the “big picture” and understand.

Likewise, some of those principles found in the Bible are really motivated by the same type of love that keeps me from allowing my son to eat himself into rotten teeth. Once I started seeing things that way, they made more sense… like, for example, the concept of no premarital sex: God isn’t trying to find another excuse to send us to hell, and he’s not trying to take away our fun. He’s simply telling us that he’d rather see us wait for the person He has for us down the road. If we do so, we won’t have to bring all the baggage of past relationships with us. We won’t have to worry if others before us were better in bed. We won’t have to worry if the melancholy look on our partner’s face is because they’re missing someone from their past. We won’t have to be “married” to every other physical relationship from our past or our spouse’s past. THAT, is God’s plan… and it’s motivated by not wanting our teeth to fall out. It’s motivated by love more pure than any human parent can possibly offer.

That concept, of “laws” motivated by love from a being who has a bigger picture than me… that concept set me free.

I stopped focusing on whether or not God exists and started trying to figure out who God IS… And I was happy to find those before me were oftentimes just as ignorant as I was, and therefore had no business telling me the answers to those questions. Upon seeking the answers I’ve begun finding them.

And I’ve finally discovered what a real relationship with God is all about.