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Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Tough Learning Curve.

His boyhood environment could not have been more English in gentility. At a predominantly wealthy, middle-class southern county of Kent, sometimes known as the Garden of England; young Adrian Elms was the only dark-skinned student at an otherwise all-white Huntley School for Boys in Tunbridge Wells, a prosperous town close to the border with Sussex. He was bright, did well in class, and on the field he was a very talented footballer. He made every effort to be popular among other students. He was a source of good humour, attended reggae dance nights and enjoyed life to the full. He was often referred to as "black Ade" as it is said that all the other pupils at the school had never seen a black child before coming from Tunbridge Wells.

Despite his extroverted exterior, I have wondered what effect all of this had on the boy. Perhaps rather like an exhibit in a museum, he attracted attention, and so put in an extra effort in both academic and sport alike to equal them in their acceptance. But the mild racism he felt was a victim of, slowly ate into his soul. Because no matter how well he did at school, no matter how high a standard he managed to achieve, somehow he felt that he wasn't really one of them. He looked different, he felt different, and as such he was convinced that he was different. And within his subconscious, he was aware that he was not fully equal to them. A bright and clever academic? Therefore he might well have been aware of the history of prejudice shown to non-whites by the "noble" Caucasian. Centuries of Negro slavery in the New World, the presence of the Ku-Klux-Klan in the USA, Apartheid in South Africa, decades of white aggression by the Far-Right at English football stands, and various other acts of discrimination, including the murder of Stephen Lawrence by a gang of white racists in South London in April 1993. Such discrimination is present to this day - the latest being the aggressive xenophobia which has experienced a surge straight after the Brexit referendum. And that niggling feeling that being dark-skinned has made him trail behind his white-skinned colleagues on the Darwinian evolutionary scale, seeing himself as still closer to the ape than the more-advanced Homo Sapiens he shared the classroom with.

Little wonder that he was viewed with a level of suspicion by everyone else in the school, so he believed.

And throughout his school days, he had no interest in religion, especially Christianity. He might have been repulsed by the idea of a white, unloving English God, whose Son might well have indeed "walked upon England's mountains green, and on England's pleasant pastures seen" - despite this Son of God being Jewish, and therefore a potential, could-have-been victim of Adolf Hitler's pogrom to "solve the Jewish problem". And no doubt, a boy's school such as Huntley had based its entire curriculum on Church of England liturgy to be a good British subject of Her Majesty the Queen and of her entire white-skinned Government. So little wonder, some years after leaving school, whilst drinking in a pub, he responded to a racist snide with violence, slashing the perpetrator's face with a knife.

And so led up to the events of the past few days. A terrorist attack in the heart of Westminster in the name of Allah, taking the lives of four victims and injuring many others before he himself was shot dead by the Police. 

In the name of Allah? Or is it more to do with his rage against the British establishment, from which he had always felt some kind of exclusion, simply because of the colour of his skin? And using the name of Allah as a cover or excuse. Adrian Elms, or should I say Khalid Masood, never loved Allah - at least not in the same way as a Christian believer loves his Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, for the terrorist, Allah was a power source for hatred, disguised under a "holy" name of Jihad. To love the Lord Jesus is intertwined with loving both believers and unbelievers, and doing good to all, even to God's enemies as Jesus instructed in his hillside sermon (Matthew 5:38-48). The vivid contrast of attitude and behaviour between a devout Christian and a radical Muslim seem to enforce the idea that all religions leading to God cannot possibly be true.

And the hysteria which ensued after the London incident. As one English patriotic newspaper journalist wrote: "We as a nation is lost. Loss of hope, loss of the spirit to fight." And yet let's face it. The London attack was a minor issue - a tragic one, sure - but still comparatively minor. Yet I can't help sense a national panic on a giant scale. Day after day, the aftermath of the incident makes for headline news on both television and newspapers. A comparatively minor incident? In the London attack, only four people died, five including the terrorist. On 13 November 2015, 130 people died when a terrorist struck a nightclub in Paris. Then on 22 March 2016, 35 died when a bomb went off at Brussels Airport. But those two European attacks are minuscule when compared with the combined Twin Towers and the Pentagon attack on 11 September 2001, when up to 2,996 lives were taken. All three of these incidents were carried out by radical Muslims. Now imagine what state our nation will get into if a plane piloted by an Islamic terrorist was to slam into the Shard, Britain's tallest skyscraper, or into the Gherkin, a prominent building in the City, or for that matter, into the National Westminster Bank tower, also in the City? Imagine the giant plume of black smoke rising heavenward for hours on end. Indeed, how would our media react? And how long would it go on for? Food for thought, perhaps?

Not that I wish any of these things of course! But I cannot help the feeling of deep curiosity for the national reaction and aftermath of such a catastrophe - if our media goes into panic mode after just five deaths. As the aforementioned journalist, Daily Mail writer Katie Hopkins wrote,
Because all the while those forgiving fools in Brussels stood with their stupid hands raised in hearts to the sky, another mischief was in the making. More death was in the entire city of monkeys. Blind. Deaf. And dumb.
She then criticised Islamic London Mayor Sadiq Khan for being the son of a bus driver and called him a fool for praising the efforts of the Police, Ambulance and Medical staff for ensuring the safety of the surviving victims.    

I find such an article incredulous, but it has won support from many in the comments forum which follows. London, a city of monkeys? Or was she referring to Brussels? I think she was referring to both cities. Blind monkeys! Deaf monkeys! Dumb monkeys! And if it was London she had in mind, then the whole city of the blind is led by a one-eyed king, and tragically the one-eyed king is a son of a bus driver. Maybe if his father was an influential banker, a magistrate, or even a royal escort, she might have seen him in a different light. Who knows. But a city of monkeys? Oh yes, of course. The majority of Londoners are Remainers. And also very cosmopolitan. Blame the liberals for allowing large crowds of immigrants into our country and through multiculturalism, practically destroying it. 

Except - that this London terrorist was not an immigrant. He wasn't even born Muslim. Instead he was born right here in England, I believe from Christian parents, as far back as 1964. So this perpetrator was properly British, and not an immigrant. He had the same national status as I have. My parents were both Italian. So biologically speaking, I'm a full-blood Italian. But I was born here in England. In Westminster to be more precise. Both of us were home-born, and therefore having nothing to do with our entry into the European Common Market in 1973. We were both already here before then, and I was even old enough to vote In. Yet I have always been legally British. I hold a British passport, I'm registered as a legitimate British citizen. I worked for nearly half a century here in the UK and contributed towards the good of society which included paying of taxes and National Insurance. Both the English Lake District and the Dorset coast I consider as favourite natural beauty spots, along with being impressed with both Roman and Medieval history. And I have explored the UK from John O'Groats to Lands End, and Wales too. But according to Hopkins, because I voted Remain, I'm a liberal, a fool, a blind, deaf and dumb monkey, lost somewhere on Darwin's evolutionary scale. Indeed, her attitude is an insult to every Londoner and to every Remain voter across the country.

The opposing contrast between this female patriotic and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth could not be more dynamic! God loves all mankind enough to give his precious Son to suffer a cruel death to atone for all, Muslims included. If it takes immigration of Islamic people into this or any other western country to heighten the chance to hear the Christian Gospel and believe, then I'm all for it. I long to see Muslims come to Jesus for salvation. It is so easy. The only requirement for the Muslim is to change his mind (repent) and believe in his heart that this Jesus of Nazareth is the risen Christ. Resurrected physically from the dead. That what makes the Christian faith so unique. Jesus is risen! Risen from the dead. This cannot be said about Mohammed, nor of any other religious founder or leader. Jesus is the risen Christ. And by believing, eternal life is given, and is saved from an eternity in Hell, separated from God. Only faith in Christ can change the world, not patriotism. If every single Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, European, American - both North and South - the British Commonwealth - if everyone repented and has a heart-faith in the risen Christ of Nazareth - only then there will be a big political and social improvement throughout the whole world.

Instead, Hopkins preaches hate - as much hate as the Muslims hate westerners. Really, in a sense she has become as one of them. She has even admitted that in her younger days she would have gladly picked up a gun and shoot. Really, I can well ask: Is there any difference at all between a patriotic Englishman (or ~woman) and a radical Islamic?

Such hate on both sides will not solve anything. Instead, hate will only bring death, and Hell will follow. This is a very serious matter. Eternity is a very long time indeed, and if God has already provided a way of escaping eternal separation, then it would be tragic for one to step into a lost eternity out of patriotism or religious extremism, when one can simply believe in the risen Christ and be eternally safe - not just from eternal punishment but into a loving relationship with the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, with flawless love flowing between every redeemed saint residing in a glorious new world!  The same offer of salvation applies both to the English and to Muslims, along with all other nationals and hate groups.

Just in case I may have appeared as glib over those five deaths in London (including that of the terrorist), I mourn for them. It was a needless tragedy. But what makes it a tragedy is that all these deaths were premature - each life cut short. It is equally tragic to have happened in London as it did in Paris, Brussels, and in New York. But the truth is that we will all die. Everyone of us. It is a matter of sooner or later. As the Bible testifies:

It is appointed for all men to die once, after this the judgement...(Hebrews 9:27).

But this is so unnecessary. God promises eternal life as a free gift to every believer. Why not take his offer and be eternally acquitted? It's far, far greater in value than patriotism.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

An Open Letter to an Atheist.

Dear Atheist,

There is a growing number of websites on the Internet which looks to be pouring ridicule on intelligent people like myself who have a firm belief on a Young-Earth Creationism, along with the conviction that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Websites such as Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense, which at present has 78,283 Facebook likes, is just one of several sites of the same theme which in between them have hundreds of thousands of views, likes, and subscribers. Another Facebook website is Going to Hell in every Religion, with currently 120,368 likes. Then there is also Atheists Republic, with 1,556,910 likes. On You-Tube, one example of atheism is a seventeen-year-old rising video star, Cosmic Skeptic, whose real name is Alexander O'Connor. With currently 80,000 subscribers, one of his videos, Flat Earth Debunked, is at present credited with 333,230 views, and rising. The video is specifically aimed at Creationists who are seen as taking the Bible word-for-word in a literal sense, and in turn advocate a flat Earth, covered by a solid glass-like dome which the Bible refers to as the Firmament, and within this dome both the Sun and Moon hover at a fixed plane several thousand miles above the Earth's flat surface. In turn, other videos supporting the flat-Earth view includes Death to the Globe - 238,842 views; Flat Water - 439,336 views; and V Sauce: Is Earth Actually Flat? - 13,223,252 views - and all constantly rising, and most if not all of flat-Earth supporters are in favour of Biblical Creationism.

All this, any many more, has provided me with quite a fascinating research on how atheists, agnostics, and Christians feel about Creationism and Darwinism, a flat Earth or a spherical Earth. And within this line of thought, may I write what could be classed as an apologetic defence of the faith, which included Creationism and the historicity of Holy Scripture.

Photo from a Facebook Website.

Certainly, the book of Genesis opens with the six literal days of Creation. But I have never had a problem with applying the concept of a spherical Earth to the Biblical narration. Over forty years as a Christian believer, never once had I ever doubted that our home planet is round like a ball, which itself is orbiting a much larger fiery ball we call the Sun, which is our nearest star. In turn, our Sun is orbiting the nucleus of our Galaxy, which is itself one of many specks in a vast Universe. The narration of a six literal days of Creation, with the seventh day taken as a day of rest and inactivity does tell me something, and it's this: The forces of Creationism at work throughout those six days are not in operation now. In other words, there is no form of positive creation taking place at the present day. Rather all I can see is the opposite effect of entropy at work - the decline from highly organised to disorganised, a downward spiral. But do you want proof of Divine Creationism above Evolution without the existence of any superior intelligence? Then all you need to do is look at the mirror!

The Book of Genesis endorsing the truth of entropy? As seen from the lifespans of the early patriarchs, which averaged 912 years of age (with Methuselah living up to 969 years), what I can see is the shortening of longevity down to Joseph son of Jacob, the last character whose death is recorded in Genesis, as reaching only 110 years of age. Such a testimony does not bode well for Charles Darwin, who advocated an upward evolutionary spiral from apes to Homo Sapiens with an increasing lifespan. Rather, the narration found in the fifth chapter of Genesis seems to give credit to the scientific principle of entropy.

Yet as I look in the mirror every morning, there is something incredibly unique - life. To be alive, to be conscious, and have the ability to make decisions. Considering that everything I see and touch is made up of molecules, itself an arrangement of atoms, with each atom consisting of a twofold nucleus of protons and neutrons, with the electron orbiting the nucleus, rather like a microscopic Solar System. The type of matter discerned by how many protons, neutrons and electrons in each atom, and how the molecule is made up on what these atoms are and how they are arranged, whether the matter at hand is a solid, a liquid, or gas. Yet as I perceive living things, including myself, what is it between lifeless bedrock, a boulder, sand on a beach, or for that matter, the metal of which a rotating cog of a functioning engine consists. And these have no life in themselves, yet I perceive three kinds of solid matter under the Sun - inanimate objects, plants - including trees, and all fauna. The type of thinking which I find rather striking. I feel pain, I am concious of the world around me - as with most, if not all other animals. Yet all Homo Sapiens like myself, I have emotions which is stimulated by both my thoughts and by my environment - what I can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell - these can all have an effect on my feelings. On top of this, I can read, write, and solve difficult mathematical problems. These three seem to be unique to us humans alone, with not even our "closest relatives" of the Primate can achieve.

Yet what about the wooden trunk and branches of a tree? It is inanimate, the wood can be cut and from it, items such as furniture can be made. When cut, the wood feels no pain, it does not protest like I would if and when threatened. It cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell, neither does it feel any emotion. The wood of the tree looks to be just as inanimate as a stone or a lump of iron. Yet at just the right time of the year the tree buds and puts out leaves and flowers, has the knowledge of pollination, and able to reproduce. And so the sapling, like a baby, puppy, or kitten, starts small and grows on its own accord. Although the baby, kitten, and puppy all need feeding by the mother, the sapling grows into a tree without any assistance, as if a higher I.Q. is credited to the tree through total and complete independence.

Yet everything consist of atoms. Everything! From the simple atom of the hydrogen gas to the fiendishly complexity of the DNA molecule found within every living cell - all consisting of atoms - a nucleus orbited by electrons with quite a volume of empty space between the orbiting electrons and the nucleus. If all the atoms making up my body were to collapse within themselves, with every electron actually touching the nucleus, then I would be reduced to the size of a grain of table salt! I, like everything else in the entire Universe, consist mostly of empty space!

Yet I have life. Every animal are lifeforms of its own kind, whether on land, in the water or in the air, all having an awareness of its own environment. So how can it be that one group of atoms can cause a lump of rock or metal to exist in its lifeless form, whilst another group of atoms makes up a living organism? What is life anyway? What is the real difference between me, who can express myself to others through writing, and that of the computer which will publish my work with a single click of the mouse? No matter how sophisticated robots of a future age might be, artificial intelligence will never match real intelligence, as robots don't have a soul as we all do, both human and animal alike. And what is the soul anyway? How can one mass of atoms possess a soul, whilst another doesn't? And when an animal dies, the rapid decay which follows - what would be the actual change of the atoms taking place within the corpse?

I am fully aware how much you dislike the Bible anyway. And there are parts which even I at first have found rather disturbing. Take the stoning of a man to death for collecting sticks on the Sabbath. It is found in Numbers 15:32-36. For many years I took in this situation as someone who simply placed his needs above the law of the land. Or to someone who has forgotten what day it was. Now I realise neither were the case. It was the final fruit of years of willing rebellion. This man hated God and hated his laws, maybe because he knew that he was unable to keep them. Throughout his life he must have been warned over and over again. First by his parents, then later by his colleagues. Then one day he decided to put God to the test. And he faced the consequences. But why such a harsh punishment? And I have to admit to myself that the penalty was harsh.

If he had gotten away with it, the rebellion would have rapidly spread across the whole nation, and the Sabbath would have been eventually forgotten throughout Israel. What I find amazing is that because the Sabbath was instituted in Israel by God himself, we enjoy the weekend to this present day. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Sunday began to be observed as the day of worship. But Sunday was never the Sabbath. The Sabbath was for Israel only, who were told to stay at home to rest, and not to go out to worship. But as our Saturdays were meant to prepare us for Sunday, by the time Jesus was around, the Jews had the Day of Preparation which always preceded their Sabbaths. It was on a Day of Preparation when Jesus was crucified, but this preparation day was to precede the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Jewish Passover was also eaten. It was a special Sabbath, or "a high day" - John 19:31.

Which brings us why God gave the Sabbath to the Israelites in the first place. To commemorate the rest from six days of Creation. Since God himself rested and so to speak, was refreshed, so he wanted his own people to rest and be refreshed from their daily work. So each weekend, most of us are actually acknowledging God's Creation week. Then again, are you married? If so, then you are acknowledging the truthfulness of the Bible and its historicity, when God created Eve to be a helpmate and companion to Adam, both whom God declared as husband and wife. This event was endorsed as history by Jesus Christ himself, from whom salvation comes (Matthew 19:6, Genesis 2:21-25). Also Paul the Apostle acknowledged Adam as a historic figure (Romans 5:14) - and he was later imprisoned and executed for his faith in Jesus Christ, who he called, "the Second Adam" - Romans 5:12:21. One very important fact emerges here. If Adam and Eve had never existed, then the whole of the Christian faith can be discredited, because without Adam's fall into sin, the crucifixion of Christ could not have happened. The same fallacy applies to Theistic Evolution. If death existed among Adam's parents and throughout all of his ancestry, then the Resurrection of Christ would have been meaningless, and leading to the reason that it couldn't have ever happened.

The same as with the Fall itself. Adam and Eve made aprons out of fig leaves sawn together, a way of reconciling themselves to God by self effort, that is, by religion. God had totally disregarded their aprons and had an innocent beast slain in order to clothe them with its skin. Our need for clothing is not due to an inadequacy in human evolution, but a verification of the need of an innocent substitute to atone for our fall from innocence. Even animistic African and jungle tribes who go about topless in the tropics always wore some form of belt to cover their groin. Does it look as though our unwillingness to go out absolutely naked, even on a hot summer's day, is an exact parallel to the shame our first parents had immediately after their Fall, and had to hide behind a bush when God appeared, apparently physically? (Genesis 3:6-10).

These are the three issues we take for granted each day of our present lives: Weekends, Marriage, and Clothing - all three had their origins in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. And wary or not, we acknowledge the truthfulness and historicity of Holy Scripture every day in our lives through these three issues. Yet you insist that the Bible is nothing more than a book of myths.

I am aware how repulsive the Old Testament can look to be. Here a nation is led by God to invade Canaan and slaughter all the indigenous inhabitants. Dreadful, isn't it? Until I came to understand that the Canaanites were sacrificing their babies and toddlers to their pagan idols every day. Just imagine for a moment. A newborn is taken from its mother's breast by the priest, who is standing in front of a statue of a beast, probably a cow or some other animal, or some demon-like entity. In front of the image is a brazier of burning coals. He places the child, completely naked, onto the glowing embers. For a few moments, perhaps up to twenty or thirty seconds, the baby screams. Then it falls unconscious and dies, and the flames chars its body. And then imagine this taking place up and down the land every day. Then I begin to understand what an abomination to God such a practice really was, and had to be stopped. There was also the grave danger of the Israelites adopting such a practice, and during the days of Elijah, for example, child sacrifices were made to Baal by the Israelites, a sin which led to their exile to Assyria and to Babylon. On top of such abominations, many of the Canaanites were giants by comparison to the Israelites, and posed a threat of eliminating the Jewish nation from the Earth altogether. If that had happened, then Jesus Christ wouldn't have been able to come, for he could only come after the Covenant made by God himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Then finally, the bit which frustrates a great many church-goes, especially Roman Catholics, is how a sinner can be saved. If the word could be so misunderstood, it has to be the word Repent. In the original Greek, with which the whole of the New Testament is written, the word is Metaneo - to change your mind. What the Bible is asking you to do is to change your mind from thinking that this Jesus of Nazareth was an imposter, a mere good man or moral teacher - to a heart-belief that this Jesus is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, risen physically from the dead, and by his death on the cross, atoned for all our sins, and by his Resurrection, had defeated death, and eternal life is given to everyone who believes. It is that simple. But around 386 AD St. Jerome, when translating the Bible into the Latin Vulgate, instead inserted another word for Repent, which means Do Penance. This changes everything, turning simple faith into religion - a system of infused grace through human merit and good works, and such grace being lost by committing a mortal sin - unless an act of penance is carried out by the believer.

I can understand what a sheer frustration all this is, and believe me, I was an atheist myself during my teenage years. I have found out by experience that any works added to faith is soul-destroying heresy. And that included the need to turn from sin in order to be saved instead of just believing that this Jesus from Nazareth is the risen Christ.

We may say that we have sinned against God, which is true of course, but very few realise that we, through Adam, were also sinned against. The serpent lied to Eve, and she was deceived. And Adam was taken in by the deception. I guess that's why God has made every effort to redeem us, but made no attempt to redeem the Devil or his hordes. The Old Testament is a demonstration of a fierce battle taking place between God and the invisible evil forces in the air. These forces had tried to do everything in their attempt to thwart the coming of Christ to make atonement for us. And these forces were defeated by his Resurrection. But they are still blinding everyone who refuse to believe, and trying to convince them, through Science or otherwise, that the Atonement made by Jesus Christ had never occurred.

But Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was born of a virgin, and was crucified, died, was buried, and three days later rose physically from the dead. And since God has done it all, all that remains is for you to believe in your heart.

Yours Faithfully,

Frank E. Blasi. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Reincarnation Of Nimrod.

The RMS Titanic was the greatest cruise ship that was ever built in British maritime history, which was launched on 31 May 1911. At 269 metres, it was the longest of three Olympic ships which were built at the same time, the other two were RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic, all three owned by Star Line. Built in Belfast and registered at the port of Liverpool, it set off on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912 for New York harbour.

The Titanic was no doubt the apex in epitome of the great British Empire. With First, Second, and Third Class passengers, a rather dynamic encapsulation of our national culture, with first class bathed in luxury and looked on with special favour by the crew, whilst third class accommodation was more plain and lacking of that special attention from crew members with which all first class passengers enjoyed. It was also boasted that the structure of the liner was so sound, particularly of the main hull, that not even God was able to sink it. The attitudes of sheer pride, optimism and self assurance were incorporated into its design was also the epitome on how the British felt about their homeland and Empire. Perhaps even on how it looks from the outside counted high in importance as well, as the fourth funnel was non-functional, so I read once. Instead it was added to enhance the ship's status and majesty. Indeed, the unsinkable Titanic was the perfect encapsulation of the indestructible British Empire.  

Of course, we all know what happened during the early hours of April 14, 1912. A solid mass of frozen water happened to drift far further south from the Arctic than most other icebergs. The bow of the ship was heading at full speed towards it, and had the ship remained on course, chances that the sharp edge of the bow might have cut right through the ice, leaving minimal damage to the hull, and successfully docking at New York before the need for inspection and maintenance. Instead, panic gripped the crew members responsible and swerved the vessel to the left in an attempt to miss the iceberg. Wretched things those floating lumps of ice has always been, there was an underwater ledge or protrusion of some kind which tore into the unsinkable hull, and the water gushed in.

Oh such an irony of it all! The very vessel even God was unable to sink. And it was destroyed on its very first cross-Atlantic sailing - not by military might of an underwater torpedo launched by an enemy submarine, neither by a drifting mine, but by a lump of frozen water, itself in the process of melting into the ocean as it drifted south. As the encapsulation of the British Empire sank into the dark depths, up to 1,500 of its passengers, instead of being greeted by New York's Statue of Liberty, they found themselves standing at the throne of their Maker to face Judgement.

Yet I can't help but hear the shaking of the leaves, the pages of the Bible. Fierce pride, self-confidence and optimism resulted in the post-Diluvian population to amass and build a city and a tower which would reach to heaven (Genesis 11:1-9) - an epitome of human greatness and an attempt to reach immortality through their own efforts and without God. I can't help seeing strong similarities between the Tower of Babel and the RMS Titanic - the only difference was that whilst one attempted to reach the sky from the ground, the other - in a sense a tower floating horizontally attempting to cross an ocean, both came to their end before their initial destinies were fulfilled. It is to be noted that there was nothing wrong in these projects in themselves. From the dawn of history, construction and ocean navigation has always been the need for survival. But in these cases, motivation was the cause of such downfall.

And so I discussed with Alex whilst watching a BBC 2 documentary, Brexit, earlier in the week. This one-hour long programme was a series of interviews conducted by BBC correspondent Laura Kuenssberg, at both politicians and to the public in the streets. Most intriguing was an answer delivered by an elderly lady in Yorkshire when asked about last year's Referendum. Although I can't recall exactly her answer on a word-by-word basis, what's is quoted here is a good approximation:
I cannot understand why our Government has got us to vote in a referendum when we are not educated enough to know the facts behind such a decision we had to make.
Of all debates I have ever listened or read about in connection with this issue, nothing so far has ever eclipsed such a statement! And yet she was one of many who voted to leave the European Union.

What a contrast that statement was in comparison with one interviewee, former Education Minister Michael Gove. A devout Brexit advocate, he insisted that the UK should now walk away from the Union with no strings attached. When asked by the reporter of any adverse consequence of such a move, his answer was that we must be optimistic and be confident for the future of our country, for with our own efforts (without God) we will succeed with world trade without the need for European Union membership. Judging by his self confident and optimistic tone and attitude, I have wondered whether Michael Gove is a reincarnation of Nimrod, the ancient governor behind the Tower of Babel project!

Tory ex Education Secretary Michael Gove.

And on the same evening of the documentary, a casual browse on Facebook came up with a post by atheist Richard Dawkins. What he said was in a away a strong rebuke to Michael Gove and his fellow Brexit supporters, backing what our dear lady in Yorkshire has said, that how can we seal the fate of our children and grandchildren with such a future without knowing any of possible consequences, and on top of this, without any hope of reversing the decision in the future, or if ever the Union would ever accept the UK back into membership. And the worst aspect of all this will be that our children must face this brave new world alone, after all of those who voted out are dead and gone. So says Richard Dawkins.

If there was one occasion I had to agree wholeheartedly with such a persistent atheist, it has to be on this issue. For here is one occasion when Dawkins made far better sense than many "dumb" Christians who voted to leave, without proper knowledge and without many years left to live! And talking about "dumb Christians" - that is what people like Richard Dawkins perceive us to be who believe in the Young Earth Creation as historical. He did admit though, that he has more respect for a Young Earth Creationist who believe in the historicity of Holy Scripture, than he does for those who believe in Theistic Evolution - an attempt by Christians to make better sense of the Gospel to unbelievers.

Websites are popping up on the Internet, both on Google and on You-Tube, ridiculing us Creationists in believing that we live on a flat Earth. Yet despite of that, I don't believe that Dawkins is assuming we're thinking that the Earth is flat. In the forty-plus years of being a Christian myself, I have never come across a fellow Christian who believe in a flat Earth. But I have come across many, many Christian graduates who believe in Theistic Evolution. Yet lately, I have been watching videos of professing Christians advocating that the Earth is flat in accordance to Biblical revelation. There is a growing number of these videos which are gaining views by the thousands. These people are not hipsters or eccentrics who dress funny. They are professionals who dress for work in suit and tie, therefore a cause for respect. One flat-Earth advocate, I believe, is an airline pilot. As they insist that the Bible teaches a flat Earth under a solid dome known as the firmament, and is watched by scoffing unbelievers, I'm pretty sure that it won't be too long for an average Christian to be the target of relentless teasing and ridicule by scoffers, together with their rejection of the Bible.

Ridiculed by unbelievers who knows that the earth is spherical. So does the average unbeliever who uses the flat-Earth theory to ridicule the Bible, to deny the existence of God, and to trust in themselves, in science, in a strong economy, and their optimism for the future. To them, Science is their saviour, not Jesus Christ. And so is their belief in a strong, independent economy and in a rosy future.

I find this fascinating! I can't help but marvel at such a scenario.  A life without God whilst mocking the truth of the Bible, political optimism, self confidence, reaching to the skies by self effort, science as saviour, pride in nationalism and glory in national sovereignty, the Tower of Babel, the Titanic - I could well be asking: Are all these mental and emotional attitudes - from pride in national sovereignty and Empire to flat-Earth advocates - a fruit of an adverse spirit in the air bent on its attempt to keep us all from the truth of the Gospel and the glory of God? And could this adverse spirit be blinding us from the real reason why we are here: to know God and enjoy eternal life, which is in his Son Jesus Christ?

Hostility and ridicule against Holy Scripture is alarming. Why this hunch against the Bible - hatred even? Even if the Bible itself does teach a spherical Earth. For example, Isaiah 40:22 says that his throne is above the circle of the Earth. So these scoffers use this verse in their insistence that the Bible teach a flat Earth. But as a child, whenever I was able to see the Sun safely through a certain type of cloud cover, I was convinced that our nearest star was a flat disc. It looks so much like a flat disk. As for the moon, when full, it too looks like a flat disc. And during the first and last quarters, when the moon was only half lit, it resembled a white pancake carefully folded in half! The Bible writer's view was more understanding. A sphere will always look circular, no matter from which angle it is viewed from. Then Job 26:7 says that the Earth is round and hangs upon nothing. That is exactly what Neil Armstrong saw when he stood on the moon in 1969. My apologies to the scoffer, but the Bible and Science are far more true to each other than these sceptics makes out to be.

Earth taken from Moon's surface, 1969.

Science does not refute Holy Scripture, rather it backs it. Another example of this are the Levitical laws about sex. Science has discovered that promiscuity encourages sexual-transmitted diseases. This form of illness can be extremely painful and is also the cause of infertility. Also children born of mothers with such diseases were often arrived blind or crippled. In the Old Testament, God's intention was to spare us from such unnecessary suffering. And so did Paul to Christian believers at Corinth. He instructed them to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:12-20), because these Christians were bedding with prostitutes - a cause for Christ-dishonouring diseases which are fully backed up by science.

Hostility towards God and the Bible is totally unnecessary. One of the greatest verses in the Bible is Luke 11:13. Here are the words straight out of the mouth of Jesus Christ himself:

If you, being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Receiving the Holy Spirit by the asking of one who is evil! There is no prerequisites. Jesus didn't even say that you must first believe in Him, although such a level of faith must be there in order to ask. There are, in my own opinion, three great passages in the Bible which encapsulate the whole Gospel: Luke 11:13 as just quoted, John 3:14-17, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. Then the rest of the New Testament backs up into changing your mind from not believing to believing in your heart that this Jesus of Nazareth is the risen Christ:- will lead to salvation and reconciliation with God. It is so simple. I find it very puzzling that with great promises such as these, one can be so hostile and unbelieving.

National pride may seem like a virtue to those who advocate it, belief in a spherical Earth is common sense endorsed by Science, but only faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour make the believer fully whole, worthy and purposeful.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

What If - A Possible Alternative.

For the last couple of weeks we have been watching a BBC drama SS-GB, which is a series based on a novel with the same name written by Len Deighton. It depicts the scenes of London in particular as it might have looked if the German Nazis had won the War, with Britain falling victim to the German invasion. In addition to the presence of Nazi military personnel seen just about everywhere at their posts, we see flags bearing the Swastika icon displayed across the deserted city, and especially over the Houses of Parliament. We also see Buckingham Palace reduced to a bombed out derelict, with the King and his Royal Family imprisoned in the Tower of London. At the time of writing the series is still ongoing, and we as viewers are yet to watch the climax of the drama, still a few weeks away.

As the series depicts how Britain might have looked if Germany had won World War II - and that could have easily been the case - here I would like to be more on a personal level and depict on how things might have possibly turned out if I had not bumped into two rather insignificant-looking young men at the Strand in London one wet Saturday night of December 1972.

As I have written about before,* the year 1972 was a year of contrasts. It began with myself with a girlfriend named Sandra. Together we booked a holiday in Spain to be taken later that Summer. Also it was to be my first trip abroad without my parents, and as still a teenager, it was seen as a big turning point in my life. Then during Spring of that year, Sandra ended our year-long relationship. I was even dismissed from her parent's home in Wimbledon, after spending so much time there, even a few weekend sleepovers. Fortunately, when arriving at the home of a college friend in Southall, West London, literally in tears, he offered to take Sandra's place. So the Spanish trip with what was then package firm Cosmos was saved. But on the long term basis, my emotions over the split still hadn't recovered.

And thus I was a prime target and sitting duck for any passer-by to take advantage. As I walked along the Strand that evening feeling hopeless and looking rather like a drowned rat, the route taken was from the Lyceum Ballroom (now a theatre) where I was refused admission by two smartly-dressed bouncers, one of them looking like a burly wrestler. The venue was directly across the Strand from the start of Waterloo Bridge, and therefore a not-so-long walk across the River Thames from there to the terminus where the last train departure for home awaited.

It was whilst approaching Charing Cross Station where I was stopped by two young men in the street. They asked me what I thought about Jesus Christ. After taking on the conversation, I invited them to a pub located at an alleyway directly across the road. Inside the bar where it was warm and dry, which changed my mood for the better. Once in, I bought them drinks and once seated at table they took out a Bible. For the first time I believed, and it does look to me that from that moment in the pub, I experienced regeneration and became a child of God. Later that evening I actually paid their train fares as we, along with several others all singing and praising God whilst seated in the train out of Charing Cross Station, made the journey to their colony, which was set in a disused jam factory located just a couple of blocks from Bromley North terminus station, towards Kent. It was at this disused factory where I spent the whole of that night. What follows is now history.

But supposing that I had not met these two young men at the Strand that evening? How would things turn out? In which direction would I been heading? As a teenager I was an atheist, at least that was what I called myself. But was I really an atheist, believing that God doesn't exist? And if my own experience has any value, do I believe in the reality of atheism? Or to be more honest - a hatred for God but still with an awareness, even in the most remote corner of my mind, of his existence? I think there is just one issue which can turn a man against God or to disown his existence, and that is religion. I grew up as a Roman Catholic - a religion of Hell, Works, and Ritualism, with a lot of uncertainty thrown in. The result was believing that God does not, and cannot, love me because of all my shortcomings. As Mum used to say to me whenever I have done something amiss as a young child,
If you die now, you'll go straight to Hell.

This was endorsed by the Church in those days. A system of mortal sin, venial sin, Hell, Purgatory, Confession to a priest, Penance, the Act of Contrition, Hail Mary, the sacredness of Holy Communion, attendance to church dressed up in Sunday Best suit and tie, not daring to swear or say something out of place whilst in church, bowing to the Alter, getting wet with Holy Water, doing the Sign of the Cross - and so it goes on - no meat eaten on Friday, the necessity to say grace before meals (although at home we didn't do this, but had to at school), and of course, no contraception. All this was compounded by our rigorous school discipline, when corporal punishment was used, so it seemed, as a release of pent-up feelings in the administrator's heart. No wonder I grew up believing that God was perceived as a dissatisfied "big man" in the sky, ready to punish, and who would interpret any positive prayer as a snide way of attempting to gain his favour.  

And so, like quite a number of schoolboys of my age, we denied the existence of God, and I believe that the vast majority of those who call themselves atheist had similar experiences as I did. Considering Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris as examples, I don't believe in their true denial of God's existence. Rather, all three had an inkling of his existence within a corner of their minds. This is a fact endorsed in the Bible itself, which reveals that the light of Christ shines into every man born into the world (John 1:4, 9). This is backed up by what Paul has written to the church in Rome, that:

For although they knew God, they never glorified him as God nor gave him thanks, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts became darkened.
Romans 1:21.

In other words they suppress, or push away the truth, as Romans 1:18 says. Peter also says in his letter that there will be those who will deny the historicity of both supernatural Creation and the Flood, in favour of "everything continuing since the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:3-7). Or what we refer to as Darwinism and Uniformitarianism at present. If the Bible is true, then there is no such person who is a "true atheist". Everyone is born with an awareness of the existence of God, for it was God who has put this awareness there.

And so as a teenager I hated God and embraced Evolution. Actually I was quite a fanatic of the theory. But by the time I have reached my twentieth birthday in 1972, with having no more compulsion to dress up and attend church, and the rigorous school discipline confined to history, by then there was a dulling of my hatred of God. In other words, I began to accept his existence. But still I remained a staunch Evolutionist.

So if I had not met those two guys at the Strand that evening in 1972 - maybe because despite my drowned rat appearance, I was still allowed entry into the ballroom. Or that I argued for a time with the bouncers and the two men had in the meantime stopped someone else in the street. Or they decided to go another direction, missing me entirely. Here I try to speculate what could have happened - or not happened - in the life which might have followed:

I would have carried on towards Trafalgar Square and turned North into Charing Cross Road towards Tottenham Court Road Underground Station located at the junction with Oxford Street. Just before arriving at the station entrance, I would have halted outside The Setting Sun Club and Discotheque. With more relaxed entry requirements, chances that I would have spent the evening there instead. The probability of finding another girlfriend would have remained very slim, but not an impossibility. Then a direct tube train ride for Waterloo Station from Tottenham Court Station for the last mainline train home.

The Strand, London. Approaching Trafalgar Square.

And instead of moving out, "flying the nest" so to speak, chances that I would have remained at home with my parents. This was much to do with the fact that when I actually started to attend church as a true believer, most young church-going men of my age had already flown the nest, and either were co-habiting with fellow graduates or undergraduates, living on their own in a rented apartment, or were married already and raising families. Therefore I considered myself an oddball by remaining at home during the 1970's. As a result of this way of thinking, I flew the nest in 1976, then aged 23. If I had not met these guys on that fateful night, chances that I would have been happier remaining at home.

But whilst at home, I very likely would have worked hard and saved up hard. And I might have set my heart on travel. Not the package deal to Spain with my college mate in 1972, but TRAVEL. This means backpacking in mainland Europe for considerably longer than the three to four weeks. As finding a job, even as an unskilled labourer, was not that difficult, as there were plenty of those sort of jobs going around in those days. In order to travel for longer periods, the need to terminate employment most likely would have been a necessity before departure. At first, travel would have been confined to Western Europe until I have earned my parents' confidence. Frequent sending of postcards, even an occasional full-blown letter telling them where I am and what I was doing would have most likely set their minds at rest.

Long-haul travel might have been the reality some time after a couple of more years in manual work whilst living at home. Then it's off to North America, possibly South Africa, and Australia. But not just for a few weeks but for several months at a time. For example, the maximum time a tourist can stay in the USA is three months. But there was always the possibility of applying for a Work Visa at the US Embassy in London beforehand, which could have allowed me to stay up to six months in America, working on the fields picking fruit or even on a building site as a labourer. These short-term contracts would have allowed me to explore the whole of the country without allowing my funds run low.

When I was actually staying at a hostel in Sydney in 1997, there was a poster advertising fruit picking work on offer to any long-term traveller. Had I not met these young men in 1972, there would have been a good chance of fruit-picking in Australia, prolonging my visit there to maybe up to six months before moving on to New Zealand. It would have been at these workplaces where I would be totally immune to any smut or teasing. This being the actual result of working in a furniture factory immediately after leaving school in 1968. It was here where I gradually became immune to the smutty talk which continued unabated throughout the five years I worked there. Therefore I might have been ready for any flak that might have come my way overseas. 

By contrast, if I had not met these two young men that night, chances that I would have remained as an agnostic rather than an outright atheist. Also my level of academic learning would not have progressed much since leaving school. Not only would the Bible remained a closed book, but my adherence to Darwinism would have remained intact. Of my travel experience, it would have been unlikely that I would have ever set foot in Israel, let alone visiting Jerusalem. I would have had no interest in religiously associated or spiritual destinations. To me, Jerusalem would have been nothing more than a reminiscence of those Religious Education lessons at school, and along with anything "churchy", I would most likely avoid at all costs. Affiliated with this, I would have never have studied history, both ancient and recent, especially which is connected with church history. Neither would I have ever looked into Geology, nor would have I gone far into Genome biology, unless there was a rise in personal interest in any of these subjects from purely a secular point of view.

I would have known nothing about the Bible, possibly not even being aware that the book is divided into the Old and New Testaments, let alone knowing any chapter and verse. Any attendance to church would remain specifically reserved for any weddings, perhaps funerals too, and always of course, smartly dressed, as I wouldn't have been able to think otherwise. Christmas and Easter holidays would have been spent at home, or even at the coast, but not at all in church. As for my personal I.Q. - this might have risen somewhat as I got older, but nothing of the rate it had risen as the result of Bible reading and familiarity with the Holy Scriptures. In short, experience has shown that regular Bible reading has raised my intelligence quotient to a considerably higher level. 

Then there would have also been the possibility that in a wider search for employment, I would have eventually had to fly the nest and settle elsewhere in the UK. This of course would have compromised my travelling experience unless I ended up sharing a house or apartment with other tenants, whether married, co-habiting, or single. In a case like this it would have still have been possible to work hard, save up hard, and travel hard. Assuming that I would have never heard the Gospel in the first place, I would have never set foot at Bracknell Baptist Church in 1975, neither would I ever set foot at Ascot Baptist Church in 1990, let alone knowing anyone who attends at present.

But there is always the possibility that I could have heard and responded to the Gospel later in life. Then yes, there is that chance that I would be attending Ascot Life Church as I do at present, if I remained in the Bracknell area. Otherwise there's that equal possibility that I could be living elsewhere and therefore attend some other church, maybe far away.

Instead, I was stopped by these two young men at the Strand on that wet and dismal December Saturday evening. Therefore, my knowledge of the Bible began to grow. Also allied with reading Holy Scripture, I learnt how to read Greek as a result of a clash with some Jehovah's Witnesses over some Greek words. I have studied some history as an aid to look into the origins of various theological issues. And geology was researched to understand better the mechanics of the Deluge. And because Creationism clashed with Evolution, this opened a door for me to look into the probability of the Genome and its natural evolution, a subject which I now find rather fascinating. 

And yes, talking about Jehovah's Witnesses, there is always that possibility that I could have become one of them. Then again, would I have been under pressure of personal conviction to keep on knocking on doors, only in the majority of cases having the door slammed shut at my face? Would I have found myself feeling enslaved to an American religious organisation in order to hold on to my hope of salvation, and even ending up committed to an institution, as reported that some Witnesses were actually committed to psychiatric wards? Indeed, ending up as a fully fledged Witness could have been a strong possibility.

Rather, everything has worked out exactly as God foreknew and planned. And I will forever thank him for allowing me to meet up with these two guys after being refused entry at an entertainment venue. 


* To read the full account of my conversion as told in one of my archives: Frank's Christian Thoughts: 1973 And All here.