Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Waning Authority Of Christ In The Churches

By Aiden Wilson Tozer

"The causes back of the decline in our Lord's authority are many. I name only two. One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. … The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned. … All religious activities, from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination, may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question."

HERE IS THE BURDEN of my heart; and while I claim for myself no special inspiration I yet feel that this is also the burden of the Spirit.

If I know my own heart it is love alone that moves me to write this. What I write here is not the sour ferment of a mind agitated by contentions with my fellow Christians. There have been no such contentions. I have not been abused, mistreated or attacked by anyone. Nor have these observations grown out of any unpleasant experiences that I have had in my association with others. My relations with my own church as well as with Christians of other denominations have been friendly, courteous and pleasant. My grief is simply the result of a condition which I believe to be almost universally prevalent among the churches.

I think also that I should acknowledge that I am myself very much involved in the situation I here deplore. As Ezra in his mighty prayer of intercession included himself among the wrongdoers, so do I. "0 my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens." Any hard word spoken here against others must in simple honesty return upon my own head. I too have been guilty. This is written with the hope that we all may turn unto the Lord our God and sin no more against Him.

Let me state the cause of my burden. It is this: Jesus Christ has today almost no authority at all among the groups that call themselves by His name. By these I mean not the Roman Catholics nor the liberals, nor the various quasi-Christian cults. I do mean Protestant churches generally, and I include those that protest the loudest that they are in spiritual descent from our Lord and His apostles, namely, the evangelicals.

It is a basic doctrine of the New Testament that after His resurrection the Man Jesus was declared by God to be both Lord and Christ, and that He was invested by the Father with absolute Lordship over the church which is His Body. All authority is His in heaven and in earth. In His own proper time He will exert it to the full, but during this period in history He allows this authority to be challenged or ignored. And just now it is being challenged by the world and ignored by the church.

The present position of Christ in the gospel churches may be likened to that of a king in a limited, constitutional monarchy. The king (sometimes depersonalized by the term "the Crown") is in such a country no more than a traditional rallying point, a pleasant symbol of unity and loyalty much like a flag or a national anthem. He is lauded, feted and supported, but his real authority is small. Nominally he is head over all, but in every crisis someone else makes the decisions. On formal occasions he appears in his royal attire to deliver the tame, colorless speech put into his mouth by the real rulers of the country. The whole thing may be no more than good-natured make-believe, but it is rooted in antiquity, it is a lot of fun and no one wants to give it up.

Among the gospel churches Christ is now in fact little more than a beloved symbol. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" is the church's national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden" or "Let not your heart be troubled," but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and all methods employed to achieve them. Because of long and meticulous organization it is now possible for the youngest pastor just out of seminary to have more actual authority in a church than Jesus Christ has.

Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less. I would not say that He has none, only that it is small and diminishing. A fair parallel would be the influence of Abraham Lincoln over the American people. Honest Abe is still the idol of the country. The likeness of his kind, rugged face, so homely that it is beautiful, appears everywhere. It is easy to grow misty-eyed over him. Children are brought up on stories of his love, his honesty and his humility.

But after we have gotten control over our tender emotions what have we left? No more than a good example which, as it recedes into the past, becomes more and more unreal and exercises less and less real influence. Every scoundrel is ready to wrap Lincoln's long black coat around him. In the cold light of political facts in the United States the constant appeal to Lincoln by the politicians is a cynical joke.

The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion. Or if it is taught as a theory in the classroom it is rarely applied to practical living. The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all of its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.

What we do is this: We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and His apostles. The beliefs, the practices, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In so doing we are keeping the commandments of Christ.

To avoid the hard necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them. Casuistry is not the possession of Roman Catholic theologians alone. We evangelicals also know how to avoid the sharp point of obedience by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh. They excuse disobedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by interpretation.

Yet Christ is consulted by increasing numbers of persons with "problems" and sought after by those who long for peace of mind. He is widely recommended as a kind of spiritual psychiatrist with remarkable powers to straighten people out. He is able to deliver them from their guilt complexes and to help them to avoid serious psychic traumas by making a smooth and easy adjustment to society and to their own ids. Of course this strange Christ has no relation whatever to the Christ of the New Testament. The true Christ is also Lord, but this accommodating Christ is little more than the servant of the people.

But I suppose I should offer some concrete proof to support my charge that Christ has little or no authority today among the churches. Well, let me put a few questions and let the answers be the evidence.

What church board consults our Lord's words to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board try to recall the times or time when any board member read from the Scriptures to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should see what instructions the Lord had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or "a season of prayer"; after that the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it. I for one will be glad to hear it.

What Sunday school committee goes to the Word for directions? Do not the members invariably assume that they already know what they are supposed to do and that their only problem is to find effective means to get it done? Plans, rules, "operations" and new methodological techniques absorb all their time and attention. The prayer before the meeting is for divine help to carry out their plans. Apparently the idea that the Lord might have some instructions for them never so much as enters their heads.

Who remembers when a conference chairman brought his Bible to the table with him for the purpose of using it? Minutes, regulations, rules of order, yes. The sacred commandments of the Lord, no. An absolute dichotomy exists between the devotional period and the business session. The first has no relation to the second.

What foreign mission board actually seeks to follow the guidance of the Lord as provided by His Word and His Spirit? They all think they do, but what they do in fact is to assume the scripturalness of their ends and then ask for help to find ways to achieve them. They may pray all night for God to give success to their enterprises, but Christ is desired as their helper, not as their Lord. Human means are devised to achieve ends assumed to be divine. These harden into policy, and thereafter the Lord doesn't even have a vote.

In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group.

What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?

What theological school, from the lowly Bible institute up, could continue to operate if it were to make Christ Lord of its every policy? There may be some, and I hope there are, but I believe I am right when I say that most such schools" to stay in business are forced to adopt procedures which find no justification in the Bible they profess to teach. So we have this strange anomaly: the authority of Christ is ignored in order to maintain a school to teach among other things the authority of Christ.

The causes back of the decline in our Lord's authority are many. I name only two. One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. These like gravitation affect every particle of religious practice within the group, exerting a steady and constant pressure in one direction. Of course that direction is toward conformity to the status quo. Not Christ but custom is lord in this situation. And the same thing has passed over (possibly to a slightly lesser degree) into the other groups such as the full gospel tabernacles, the holiness churches, the pentecostal and fundamental churches and the many independent and undenominational churches found everywhere throughout the North American continent.

The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned. Because of it good men who ought to know better are being put in the position of collaborating with the enemy. I'll explain.

Our evangelical faith (which I believe to be the true faith of Christ and His apostles) is being attacked these days from many different directions. In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more with sword and fagot; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. He comes in the name of philosophy or psychology or anthropology, and with sweet reasonableness urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.

He speaks in the sacred jargon of the schools, and many of our half-educated evangelicals run to fawn on him. He tosses academic degrees to the scrambling sons of the prophets as Rockefeller used to toss dimes to the children of the peasants. The evangelicals who, with some justification, have been accused of lacking true scholarship, now grab for these status symbols with shining eyes, and when they get them they are scarcely able to believe their eyes. They walk about in a kind of ecstatic unbelief, much as the soloist of the neighborhood church choir might were she to be invited to sing at La Scala.

For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? Is He in charge of the project or merely one of the crew? Does He decide things or only help to carry out the plans of others? All religious activities, from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination, may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question.

What, then, are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church.

Either the first or the second will but confirm the wrong. The third if carried out to its conclusion can remove the curse. The decision lies with us.

PS: Churches today would do well to heed his warning. May the Spirit of God search our hearts today.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Transcendental Argument For the Existence Of God

Introduction: The following scene relates a continuing discussion between a Christian math teacher and his student. The student had asked the teacher for evidence for the existence of God in the previous scene.

Act One, Scene 2

The teacher and student sat down with a cup of coffee.

Teacher (T): Have you thought about our previous discussion concerning the concept of numbers, and the logical conclusion that an immutable, eternal, and transcendent Mind exists?

Student (S): I think that’s an interesting argument you have there, but I am not really convinced that simply because the concept of numbers exists, and therefore, God exists. I can understand that such a Mind would explain the existence of the concept of numbers, but I would require a stronger argument than that to convince me.

T: I wouldn’t say that what I have to discuss with you today is a ‘stronger’ argument, but I guess most of my friends find it easier to understand. Besides, the gist of the argument is quite similar to the previous one.

S: Oh well, you can try me.

T: Right from the beginning of this discussion, I would like to emphasize that no amount of rationalizing and reasoning can make a person “Christian.” It literally takes a miracle from God to change that person’s mind concerning Him. Nevertheless, my objective in presenting such arguments for God’s existence is to show you the consistency or inconsistency of your worldview as compared to mine. For instance, there are several assumptions we usually take for granted in our day-to-day living. However, we do not really take the time to think things through, that is, to consider if those assumptions we make about life are consistent with our beliefs concerning God, eternity, time, and space.

S: Can you give me an example with regard to this alleged consistency or inconsistency?

T: Take for example, the existence of truth.

S: What do you mean by ‘the existence of truth?’

T: Do allow me to present my first point in this discussion: Truth exists. Your memory belief that you had eaten meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania is considered as truth by you. If you really did eat meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania, then that is the truth irrespective of what people think.

S: What if I didn’t eat meatballs, but burgers?

T: Then the proposition that P, that you had eaten meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania, is false. But if you really did eat meatballs at that time and place, then P is the truth. Your memory furnishes you with the belief that P. If you are not cognitively disabled, or mad, or demented, or comatose, your memory should serve you well, and that P is the truth concerning what, when and where you ate today.

S: I am not really sure if Truth truly exists. I mean, in this day and age where post-modernism is the reigning philosophy, what is true for me may not be true for you.

T: Why don’t you elaborate a little on what you mean by this?

S: I am a college sophomore, and having read biology at an advance level, I sincerely believe that humans are the products of evolution from a monkey-like-ancestor. My grandmother does not believe that, but I do. So what is true for me is not true for her.

T: But what is the truth concerning the origin of Man? Either man came from monkeys, or they didn’t. If God created Man, then that is the truth. It does not matter what you believe, because what you believe does not change the truth.

S: I still think that there is no absolute truth.

T: Is that belief of yours absolutely true?

S: Yeah, I think so.

T: If you claim that absolute truth does not exist, then that is the truth for you. Ironically, any attempt by you to deny the truth would serve as an affirmation of my first point: truth exists. Truth truly exists, even if the only truth that exists is, “There is no absolute truth.”

S: OK, I get it. So truth exists. And I think it is true that I ate meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania.

T: My next claim is that “Truth is immutable.” In other words, truth cannot change. If it is true that P, or that “you had eaten meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania,” then that truth cannot be changed.

S: Are you trying to say that if something is true, then it is always true?

T: Yes. Truth is always the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

S: But the truth that “my dog is pregnant” cannot be always true.

T: So when was your dog pregnant?

S: My dog was pregnant last winter, and she had since given birth to three healthy pups.

T: So let us say that, “your dog gave birth on 25th December 2007, 1:22pm Singapore time to three healthy pups at your home.”

S: That is right.

T: So how is that not always true?

S: That seems to be true no matter when you look at it.

T: The problem with your previous proposition – “My dog is pregnant” – is that no specific timeframe was given. Obviously your dog cannot be pregnant all the time. But if you were to specify the time, date, and place, the event is specifically described. Such a proposition is true even if that event has not taken place, but is yet to take place. In other words, the truth is always true, and is eternally true. What is more, truth is eternal in nature.

S: Eternal truth? It makes sense that the truth is immutable or unchangeable, but to say that truth is eternal seems to be stretching it a little. What if the world ceases to exist?

T: Then it is true that, “The world ceases to exist on a certain date and time.” This truth would abide even if the world were to be destroyed.

S: And if the entire universe ceases to exist?

T: Then the truth would be, “The universe ceases to exist at this time and on this date.” This truth would be true even if the universe were destroyed.

S: But what if truth itself should perish?

T: Then you are saying, “Truth perishes on this date and time.” That would be the truth. Again, any denial of the eternity of truth turns out to be an affirmation of its eternity. To put it simply, truth is transcendent – truth is not dependent upon time, place or people.

S: Please explain the concept of transcendence further.

T: The proposition that P, that “you ate meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania,” is true even if you were to travel a million light-years to another planet; it is true on that planet and on planet Earth. That P is also true even if you were to travel a million years, via a time machine, into the past or future. Furthermore, that P is true even if all the people in the universe were to deny its truth. And if all humans were to cease to exist, that P is also true. In other words, truth is not dependent upon the existence of people, and neither is it the product of any human minds. That is, even if all human minds were destroyed, truth still exists, and that P – which belongs to what is known as truth – is still true.

S: OK, I’m starting to grasp what “transcendent” means.

T: That is not all. Truth being transcendent also means that truth is not dependent upon the physical world or matter. Truth is not composed of atoms, electrons, neutrons or molecules. You cannot ‘capture’ truth with a document, and destroy it by burning up that document. You cannot isolate truth in a safe deposit box, or keep it stored away with an electronic storage method. The existence of truth is not dependent upon any form of physical existence. So, even if the physical universe were to be destroyed, truth will continue to exist.

S: I understand it now. Truth is eternal because it is transcendent in nature. It is beyond time, space, matter and people.

T: This brings me to my next point, which should be familiar to you from our previous discussion: Truth is mental. In other words, truth exists in the mind, and truth presupposes the existence of minds. I shall now show you how the existence of truth is incompatible with any materialistic view of Man. We have previously agreed that truth – take for example, the laws of logic – is not dependent upon the physical body or the brain. Some neurobiologists believe that thoughts are the products of random chemical reactions and biochemical phenomenon within the physical brain. But we know that random chemical reactions cannot be true or false; the laws of logic cannot be the product of biochemical reactions.

S: I am losing you here. Why can’t the laws of logic or for that matter, truth, be the product of biochemical reactions in the brain?

T: Do allow us to use a very simple example – mathematical logic. “1+1 = 2” is true not because certain biochemical reactions decide to make “1+1 = 2” true. Most 3 years old children putting two stones together would see that there are 2 stones, not 1 or 3 stones. Mathematical logic transcends human experiences and the physical world. If such logical laws of addition are due to random molecular bombardments or neurochemistry within the brain, then each brain can have its own random molecular changes and therefore, its own “laws” of addition. Some random molecular changes would perceive “1+1 = 3,” while others might even understand “1+1 = 100,000.” Physiological changes and random chemical reactions can be neither true nor false. One set of biochemical reactions cannot be truer than another.

S: So what is your point here?

T: My point is: a truth, a thought or a proposition can only be conceived by a mind. Truth is not physical; it is not composed of atoms and molecules. Truth is mental or conceptual in nature. Truth exists in a mind or minds. Therefore, if there is no mind, there can be no truth. But we have seen that truth exists. Hence, materialism cannot be true.

S: OK, so your point is “truth exists in a mind.” I can buy that.

T: Thus far, we have argued that truth is immutable, eternal, transcendent, and mental. Furthermore, truth is superior to the human mind. Truth by its very nature cannot be subjective and individualistic. Again, let us take for example, mathematical logic. The laws of logic judge our reasoning, and not vice versa. Even though beliefs vary from one person to another, truth itself cannot change. The laws of logic cannot change. The truth of the proposition that P, that “you ate meatballs today at 1:22pm Singapore time at Parkway Parade’s Pastamania,” cannot change. We do not judge the truth, but truth judges our reasoning and beliefs.

S: But since you argued that truth is immutable, eternal, and transcendent in nature, how can truth exist in human minds since the human mind is finite, mutable, and prone to error?

T: It is true that truth must exist in a mind, but it must also exist within an immutable, eternal, and transcendent mind since truth is itself immutable, eternal, and transcendent.

S: Are you telling me that this Mind is God?

T: It follows that, since only God has these attributes of immutability, eternality, and transcendence, this Mind is the Mind of God. As Christian Apologist Dr Gordon Clark has said,

“Is all this any more than the assertion that there is an eternal, immutable Mind, as Supreme Reason, a personal, living God? The truths or propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thoughts of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind. Since further, God’s mind is God, we may … say, we have a vision of God.” [Gordon Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), 321.]

End of Scene 2


Adapted from Gordon Clark’s transcendental argument in A Christian View of Men and Things (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), 318ff.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Religious Harmony With Religious Diversity Is A Possibility - Another Reply To Yap Kim Hao

I submitted this letter to the Straits Times Forum Editor today, but I guess they wouldn't publish it. Yap Kim Hao's interfaith agenda is too important for them.

Religious Harmony With Religious Diversity Is A Possibility

I refer to Dr Yap Kim Hao’s Straits Times Forum letter dated 6 September 2008, “Issue of inter-faith talks must be addressed.”

While I agree with Dr Yap that the various religious groups in Singapore should promote religious harmony in our multi-religious society, there are a number of points in his letter that I would like to highlight.
In his letter, Dr Yap states that, “there is no one Absolute Truth. No one Sacred Text contains all the truths. No one religion has the monopoly of Truth.” In addition, he emphasizes that “there will be different roads to God,” and that “we have to lay aside our exclusive truth claims and admit we do not possess all the truth.”
If Dr Yap is so certain that “there is no one Absolute Truth,” my question would be, “Is his belief - that there is “no one Absolute Truth” - absolutely true?”
Is it, then, the “Absolute Truth” that “there will be different roads to God?” Should Dr Yap likewise “lay aside [his] exclusive truth claims and admit [that he does] not possess all the truth?” If Dr Yap does not possess “all the truth,” and if “there is no one Absolute Truth,” why is Dr Yap making the exclusive truth claim that “there will be different roads to God?” How is Dr Yap so absolutely sure about this claim of his?
If Dr Yap is right that “no one religion has the monopoly of Truth,” and that “there is no one Absolute Truth,” then he should realize that whatever religious beliefs he has cannot be the “Absolute Truth.” Surely Dr Yap is not claiming that he has “the monopoly on Truth.”
The key to religious harmony within a multi-religious context is not to deny these religious groups the right to hold differing, albeit exclusive, truth claims. Harmony between two groups of people with different beliefs can be achieved with mutual understanding, empathy, and common goals. For example, two nations with differing political ideologies and economic agenda can live in harmony without giving up any of their distinctiveness or exclusive beliefs.
In contrast, the demand for religions to forsake their exclusive truth claims could be perceived as an attempt to undermine their faith. This might result in unnecessary religious tensions, and widen the gap between liberal and conservative religionists in Singapore.
While interfaith dialogues might lead to better understanding between the various religious groups, there is no necessity for these religions to forsake their exclusive beliefs in order to achieve societal harmony. As long as Singaporeans are willing to set aside their differences to build a harmonious and cohesive society, Singapore will continue to be a peaceful and prosperous country.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Can Mere Numbers Prove The Existence Of God?

Introduction: The following scene relates a discussion between a Christian math teacher and his student. The student had asked the teacher for evidence for the existence of God. The teacher, being a dutiful Christian and a budding apologist, decides to explain the concept of “numbers” to the student.

Act One, Scene 1

The teacher wrote the number 1 on the white board.

Teacher (T): What is the number I have just written on the board?

Student (S): Eh, I don’t really know what you are driving at, but I guess it is obvious even to my pet parrot that this is the number 1.

T: Are you sure that this is the number 1?

S: Why? Yes, I’m dead sure.

T: So if I rub away the number 1 from this board, the number 1 has ceased to exist?

S: I don’t understand you there.

T: You claimed that this is the number 1. So, if I were to use the cleaner and rub away this number 1, does the number 1 cease to exist?

S: Eh, no.

T: So this is not the number 1?

S: Eh, no. But I don’t know how to put it across to you.

T: You see, what is on the board is not the number 1. It is merely a reference to the number 1.

S: You mean that what you wrote on the board merely represents the number 1?

T: Yes. The number 1 is a concept, an abstract idea to be exact. Numbers cannot exist in the material or naturalistic plane of existence.

S: So where do numbers exist?

T: Isn’t it strange that many mathematicians never ask this question, “What really are numbers?” You see, numbers are ideas or concepts, and ideas or concepts can only exist in minds.

S: I am beginning to understand what you are driving at. You are telling me that numbers can exist in minds, and I presume “minds” include the minds of men or human beings.

T: That is correct. Numbers can be conceived by the minds of men, but not only by the minds of men. If there are other intelligent beings with minds, numbers can likewise exist or be conceived by such other minds.

S: Alright. So numbers are ideas, and they can only exist in minds. So where is the evidence for God?

T: Be patient, my friend. Numbers are not only ideas or concepts, but are also immutable ideas/concepts.

S: Immutable as in unchangeable? Why so?

T: Take the number 1 as an example. If number 1 changes in any manner i.e. quantitatively, it ceases to be 1. The concept of number 1 has to be absolutely unchanging, and what references to the number 1 we use in math (e.g. the number 1 we write on paper or key into the calculator) has to refer to the perfect form of the number 1. The number 1 we write, which represents the concept of the number 1, cannot be referring to any other number other than 1. If the concept of 1 changes, then it is impossible to do math. In such cases, 1 might become 2, and 2 becomes 3, and so on.

S: So I accept that numbers are immutable concepts.

T: Furthermore, numbers are also eternal concepts.

S: This is difficult for me to grasp.

T: Let us imagine the very first man who used the number 1. Let us call him Dumbo. Dumbo was the very first man who wrote the number 1 onto the walls of caves. In fact, he did that to count the number of animals he had hunted thus far. Each time he killed an animal on a hunt, he went home and wrote a “1” on the wall. He didn’t know the numerical representation of the numbers 2, 3, or even 4, but he did know how to write 1. He added the “1”s up using mental arithmetic. Obviously, the concepts or ideas of numbers 2, 3, or even 4 were known to him. If not, he wouldn’t be able to add the “1”s up.

S: So how does that explain to me that numbers are eternal concepts?

T: If Dumbo was the first man who used the number 1, does that mean that the concept or idea of 1 didn’t exist prior to the existence of Dumbo?

S: Obviously not. The concept of the number 1 seems to exist apart from the mind of Dumbo.

T: You’re right. Although the number 1 as a concept did exist in Dumbo’s mind even as he used the number 1 to calculate his kills, the number 1 was not restricted to Dumbo’s mind. Even if Dumbo’s mind was destroyed - say, eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex - the number 1 will continue to exist. In other words, the number 1 is a transcendent concept or idea. It exists not only outside of Dumbo’s mind, but also outside of this physical world (matter), and beyond space-time.

S: So number 1 existed prior to Dumbo?

T: Not only that. The number 1 exists outside of this world and prior to the existence of any mind in this world. More correctly, the concept of numbers exists outside of the space-time continuum.

S: So how do we know if the number 1 exists outside of this world? How do we know if the number 1 exists outside of this space-time continuum?

T: Well, if you were to destroy all minds (or all humans with minds) in this world, would the concept of number 1 continue to exist?

S: Eh, intuitively yes.

T: And if this world and this universe (or all matter) were to be destroyed, would the concept of number 1 continue to exist?

S: I believe so.

T: Or if space and time were to end now, would the concept of number 1 continue to exist?

S: Again, intuitively yes. Obviously the Big Bang didn’t “create” the concept of numbers. It seems reasonable to say that the concept of numbers existed prior to the beginning of space and time.

T: If the concept of numbers ceases to exist, mathematical logic such as "1+1 = 2" will also cease to exist.

S: Sounds reasonable to me.

T: We also recall that numbers are concepts or ideas, and can only exist in minds.

S: So if all the minds in this world are destroyed, how can the number 1 continue to exist?

T: As I had explained to you, numbers are immutable, eternal concepts that exist outside of and beyond this world, prior to the existence of minds in this world. Intuitively, you have agreed that even if all minds were to be destroyed in this world, the concept of numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3 etc) will continue to exist, and that the concept of numbers only exists within a mind.

S: Yes, I think that even if all minds in this world were to be destroyed, the concept of numbers should continue to exist, just as math (e.g. "1+1=2") will continue to exist. But how is that possible; in what mind does the concept of numbers continue to exist?

T: If numbers are immutable, eternal concepts that exist outside of and beyond this world, and if numbers only exist in minds, it follows that numbers exist in an immutable, eternal mind that is outside of and beyond this world i.e. a transcendent mind.

S: So what is this immutable, eternal, and transcendent mind?

T: I submit to you that this is the Mind of God, an immutable, eternal mind that exists outside of and beyond this world. And numbers are concepts or ideas that exist in this Mind of God. This philosophical explanation makes the most sense when explaining the concept of numbers.

S: This is a difficult thing to grasp, but let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

T: Well, if you can come up with a better explanation for the concept of numbers, do let me know. At least I have given you evidence for the existence of God - an immutable, eternal, and transcendent Being. Without the existence of this immutable, eternal, and transcendent Mind of God, one cannot explain the existence of such numerical concepts in Mathematics.
End of Scene 1


Definition of “Transcendent”: A transcendent concept or idea is not dependent upon space, time, people, or matter. For example, the concept of numbers is outside of and beyond the world, of or relating to a spiritual or nonphysical realm.
This post is also posted on another blog.