Wednesday, October 10, 2007 25 Comments

Interstitial comments on Dawkins

Like part 1, part 2 received a lot of interesting, and generally quite cogent, comments. A few raised doubts about the whole effort, so I will break my promise and address them briefly before returning to the coalface.

George Weinberg shared his objections to the whole Dawkinsian "meme" metaphor. Of course I agree with these objections. George is right. (George is pretty much always right.) And I think the thing to remember is that the metaphor is only a metaphor. Genes are digital and "memes" are not. This is quite sufficient to shatter any logical abstraction.

Nonetheless, once we accept that traditions exist and have names, we have accepted the problem of taxonomy. Humans have a remarkable bit of mental machinery devoted to classifying the world around us. When we apply this machinery to history, it seems to want to show us patterns of cultural continuity and evolution. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to think both precisely and intuitively about history. This is where the cladistic metaphor is helpful, because we can borrow its rigorous logic for intuitive purposes only, even though there is no comparable underlying rigor in the "memetic" context.

There was some interesting discussion about the specifics of Universalism. Baduin suggested that we really have two distinct traditions, M.42 or classical Enlightenment "Old Left" liberalism, and M.43 or hippie postmodernist "New Left" Universalism. It's certainly true that the two differ in some ways, and the latter is distinctly scarier. For example, it includes many mystical and romantic themes.

I think this is cutting the pie too finely. The liberal Western tradition over the last 250 or so years is a huge stew of themes which resists this level of classification. There is no exact "memetic" equivalent of reproductive isolation, but patterns of political conflict come close. To me, Universalism is best defined as the orthodox belief system that emerged in the West after World War II, and while its themes have definitely mutated over time, the whole thing strikes me as having a general aesthetic unity.

Perhaps we can use modifiers to distinguish between various Universalist tropes. Let's call paleo-Universalism the original beast, a la Atlantic Charter; neo-Universalism, its 1960s mutation, a la Port Huron Statement; and retro-Universalism, the neoconservative resurrection of paleo-Universalism.

Let me also second Michael S's response to Eliezer Yudkowsky - and try to broaden it slightly.

My original point about Eliezer's reasoning was that he classifies traditions primarily as "theistic" or "nontheistic," which is like classifying animals as "flying" or "non-flying." Or maybe even as bad as classifying mammals as "long-haired" or "short-haired."

Au contraire, Eliezer responds. He is classifying them as "evidence-based" or "non-evidence-based." Everything else is just a matter of "literary style."

The fons origo of bias in the Yudkowskian school, I think, is the fact that Eliezer Yudkowsky is an AI researcher. He sees an easily-defined, trivially correct algorithm for reasoning - Bayes' Theorem - and latches onto it like a dog on a sausage. As anyone would, if they had a problem to solve and saw an obvious answer to it. And indeed I have no reason at all to believe that Bayesian inference will not be part of the first working AI, which someone - perhaps even Eliezer himself - will manage to build at some point.

But at some point in this process, Eliezer fell into a very deep trap. Because he decided to define all rational thought as Bayesian inference. Either you are applying Bayesian reasoning, or you are drifting in flights of whimsy. Hence "literary style."

Excluding for a moment the generally accepted frequentist interpretation of probability, which informs us quite cogently that the concept of quantitative probability is meaningless except in the context of a defined sample space, and that therefore so is Bayes' Theorem (I thank this QJAE paper for pointing me toward the frequentist school, whose insights I was groping painfully toward in this anti-Bayesian screed), there is an even more obvious problem here, which is that neither Eliezer, nor I, nor you, dear reader, is an AI. Rather, we are two-legged apes and we think with a big lump of fat.

The properties of this big lump of fat are well-known. It can reason deductively, inductively, or intuitively. It can also go off the rails in quite a few well-known ways.

It is certainly possible to argue that any two of these forms of reason are a special case of the other. For example, you can go here and watch Eliezer argue that deduction is really just a case of induction, because we learn inductively that deduction works. Und so weiter. Frankly, I'm afraid Neoplatonism lost a great mind when Eliezer decided he didn't believe in the One.

We use terms like deduction, induction and intuition because they describe phenomena in the real world - the strategies of reason that a real human brain uses. They are concepts on which we can agree. If we are to think about thinking, surely it makes sense to think about thinking in the ways that people actually think - as opposed to the ways that AIs would think, that is, if we had AIs.

The irony of it all is that Eliezer is a really good philosopher. You can watch him reasoning deductively and intuitively all day long. His "literary style" is excellent. The problem is that he devotes so much of his deductive and intuitive firepower to the rather fruitless task of explaining that all reason is a special case of Bayesian induction. Perhaps this is true for his AI, but it certainly doesn't strike me as the most cogent description of Eliezer's lump of fat.

Worse, this rather Plotinian transformation seems to apply entirely to deduction. Which is fortunate because it allows Eliezer to believe that 2+2 = 4, and perhaps even to accept the Rev. Bayes' proof of his famous theorem. I'm afraid intuition is mere "literary style," however.

The problem is that intuition is the form of reason that the lump of fat uses to understand history. History is not a science. Its purpose is to parse the past, to present it as a set of coherent patterns. If you can't think intuitively, you may be able to verify specific factual claims, but you certainly can't think about history.

Classifying traditions by their cladistic ancestry is a fine example. The statement that Universalism exists, that it is a descendant of Christianity, and that it is not a descendant of Confucianism, can only be interpreted intuitively. It is not a logical proposition in any sense. It has no objective truth-value. It is a pattern that strikes me as, given certain facts, self-evident. In order to convince you of this proposition, I repeat these facts and arrange them in the pattern I see in my head. Either you see the same pattern, or another pattern, or no pattern at all.

When you get all Mr. Spock and you refuse to believe in intuition, you are essentially turning off a very substantial lobe of your brain. Worse, there is no actual off switch on this lobe. You will continue to think intuitively whether you like it or not. But you will think intuitively in an unexamined way. As both Yudkowsky and Dawkins do - when they regurgitate the anticlerical themes of Universalism without asking where anticlericalism comes from, how it got into their lumps of fat, or whether it belongs there.

Finally, there is a very practical reason why it's imprudent to categorize traditions - or even individual themes - as either "evidence-based" or "non-evidence-based." The trap is that the God delusion is not just non-evidence-based. It is blatantly non-evidence-based. As such, it seems very sensible to single it out for special ridicule.

But it is profoundly imprudent to do so. If your goal is to overcome bias, the God delusion is the least of your concerns. It has actually tagged itself as non-rational. There is no reason to waste any time in attaching further antibodies. If someone believes in God, why on God's green earth would you think reason would be an effective way to convince him otherwise?

The real danger is the set of received themes which purport to be rational, but in fact are not. And in the next post we'll look at some of these.

And TGGP: note the frequent use of the word "nonconformist" in that article. With a small n. If you capitalize the N, I think you learn more than the survey tells you.

25 Comments:

Anonymous tggp said...

The Old Left was way scarier than the New Left. It knew enough to be dangerous. The New Left is just silly. Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter are right. The Adbusters crowd are just a new middle-class elite in a hipness competition. They aren't going to change society and they don't really want to, they would lose status when the revolution comes. That is why they advocate changing yourself and adopting a new culture rather than boring old legislation like putting a tax on advertising.

Yes, I noted the non-conformist part of that. I simply didn't consider it all that important. You think intellectual influences are important. I think they are moreso than the religion one may be brought up in. The intellectual influences discussed there were those you dubbed the arch-enemies of Universalism.

I don't think the God Delusion is a major concern of Eliezer's. It's just one he encounters frequently and so has plenty of examples to share related to it. He didn't attempt to debate Jacob Stein, though Mr. Stein challenged others to refute the Torah over at his blog.

This might be the wrong thread to say this, but Michael S, your response was lame. So people who say a certain thing are the "types" that live in "Oxford" and blah blah blah? What a knock-down argument! It reminds me of the hawks who insist I shouldn't say anything bad about war with Iraq or Iran because that's the type of thing MoveOn or Nancy Pelosi do (perhaps I should tell them it's more along the lines of Charles Lindbergh). I guess if they say they like apple pie I should stop eating it. And they wouldn't like if they got mugged. Gee, never thought of that before! Maybe you could try that on people who endorse mugging or oppose punishing muggers, but it doesn't mean a damn thing to someone disputing the factual nature of normative statements.

If your statement about Universalism has no fact value and does not alter my anticipated experiences why should I bother to pay attention to it and believe it?

Robin Hanson discusses intuition here.

October 10, 2007 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

The Atheist Delusion is that reason alone suffices.

October 10, 2007 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger chairmanK said...

I do not comprehend the QJAE article that you linked. I got stumped when Aristotle was brought into the argument. I could parse the sentences without difficulty, but I had no idea what the author was talking about. To me, this article was as meaningless as a theological debate on the nature of Christ. How did it inspire you to adopt the frequentist interpretation of probability?

As a Bayesian, I believe that all thought - deductive, inductive, intuitive, "rational", "fallacious", whatever-you-want-to-call-it - is Bayesian inference.

October 10, 2007 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Conrad H. Roth said...

"Classifying traditions by their cladistic ancestry is a fine example."

And you say you're not interested in Nietzsche? For god's sake man, go read the Genealogy of Morals.

And who is this Tanstaafl dude? Is he, in fact, the reincarnation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux? (And does that make Yudkowsky Abelard? And Mencius? Raymond Lull, clearly.)

October 11, 2007 at 2:28 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

If you can't think intuitively, you may be able to verify specific factual claims, but you certainly can't think about history.

Well, maybe we can't think about history. Intuition is unreliable. Just because you want to think intelligently about something doesn't mean it's possible to do so.

October 11, 2007 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

conrad, if you're an atheist I'm your worst nightmare, a rational spiritual agnostic.

October 11, 2007 at 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, I'm afraid if the one morsel you extracted from my post about the logical meaning or lack thereof of ethical or æsthetic statements was my description of the social type of A.J. Ayer, that you missed my point entirely.

Go back and read the comment as if that paragraph were not there. And ask yourself if YOU were beaten and robbed in the street whether you would not feel wronged in a way that you would find hard to dismiss as logically meaningless.

To claim that moral propositions (which, as I noted, are not "supported by evidence") have no meaning is an easy thing to do in the comfort of an atmosphere in which everyone behaves AS IF those propositions do have meaning, regardless of how he may reason abstractly about them. It is not so easy to do in the larger world where one encounters folk who routinely ACT as if moral propositions were meaningless.

The philosophical world faced a far greater challenge from David Hume than it did from the logical positivists. Hume's scepticism was equally corrosive to revealed religion and to the sort of 'reason' represented by the facile philosophes of the French enlightenment. If neither revelation nor reason could be relied upon, in what were we to put our trust? Burke provided the response. Men as individuals are fools, but as a species they have managed to accumulate a little wisdom in the form of tradition. Thousands of years of thought about ethics and æsthetics can't simply be discarded out of hand because they did not arise from the application of the scientific method. We are obliged to address these problems because they are central to our ongoing life as social creatures.

October 11, 2007 at 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

Further to the points above: the ancient Greeks, who knew not the scientific method as we understand it today, developed Euclidean geometry. It rests, inter alia, upon the parallel postulate, which is neither supported by evidence nor susceptible to proof. Mathematicians long ago noted that it was possible to devise geometries that did not incorporate the parallel postulate. Nonetheless, Euclidean geometry has a great deal of practical use, and is intuitively used every day by people who have little or no formal grasp of it.
Try to build a house without it!

Moral propositions ultimately are reducible to first principles (such as the wrongness of murder or stealing) which, like the parallel postulate, are neither supported by evidence nor susceptible to proof. Can we conceive a human society without them - at least, one in which we would wish to live - any more than we can conceive of a building that did not make use of Euclidean geometry in its design?

October 11, 2007 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Conrad H. Roth said...

"conrad, if you're an atheist I'm your worst nightmare, a rational spiritual agnostic."

Er.... wrong. There are many worse nightmares for an atheist. After all, my wife is a rational agnostic. At least she claims to be. I deny it vehemently. As far as I'm concerned there is no answer to Russell's teapot.

October 11, 2007 at 4:36 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

And ask yourself if YOU were beaten and robbed in the street whether you would not feel wronged in a way that you would find hard to dismiss as logically meaningless.
I've been over this before. If I was beaten, I would not like it. But the stream of curses I spit from my lips would not have any truth value, they would merely be an expression of my subjective displeasure. If I say "Boo!" or "Ugh" or "Hooray" or "Eww" or "Haha", what does it mean for you to disagree? Only that your subjective attitude toward something is different than mine.

To claim that moral propositions (which, as I noted, are not "supported by evidence") have no meaning is an easy thing to do in the comfort of an atmosphere in which everyone behaves AS IF those propositions do have meaning, regardless of how he may reason abstractly about them. It is not so easy to do in the larger world where one encounters folk who routinely ACT as if moral propositions were meaningless.
So in a hypothetical world in which they were meaningless, what behavior would be expected? What if most people wrongly believed they were not meaningless?

Men as individuals are fools, but as a species they have managed to accumulate a little wisdom in the form of tradition.
Species do not have traditions. Communities, nations, cultures and so on do.

Thousands of years of thought about ethics and æsthetics can't simply be discarded out of hand because they did not arise from the application of the scientific method.
I discard what is not useful. Wondering how many angles can dance on the head of a pin is not useful to me.

We are obliged to address these problems because they are central to our ongoing life as social creatures.
I have not accepted any such obligations.

Further to the points above: the ancient Greeks, who knew not the scientific method as we understand it today, developed Euclidean geometry. It rests, inter alia, upon the parallel postulate, which is neither supported by evidence nor susceptible to proof. Mathematicians long ago noted that it was possible to devise geometries that did not incorporate the parallel postulate. Nonetheless, Euclidean geometry has a great deal of practical use, and is intuitively used every day by people who have little or no formal grasp of it.
Try to build a house without it!

The parallel postulate may be true or false in different consistent mathematical systems. Whether or not it describes our world is an empirical matter. According to Einstein space-time is curved by gravity (or gravity is the curvature of space-time, whatever). There is still open debate on what the curvature constant of the universe is. It has been proposed that we study very large triangles to see if the angles add up to 180 degrees, and in fact this has been done. So far it looks like the universe is quite close to being flat (or Euclidean), but the difference may simply be too small for us to detect presently. For now assuming Euclidean geometry is useful, just as Newtonian mechanics was before Einstein.

Moral propositions ultimately are reducible to first principles (such as the wrongness of murder or stealing) which, like the parallel postulate, are neither supported by evidence nor susceptible to proof. Can we conceive a human society without them - at least, one in which we would wish to live - any more than we can conceive of a building that did not make use of Euclidean geometry in its design?
I can conceive, but what I can conceive of and what is possible are different things. I do not intend to create a society, so my task is merely to decide how it is I am to behave. Morality is not necessary or even useful.

tanstaafl, I consider myself an agnotheist rather than an atheist, but I was never spiritual even when I was religious. You are not any sort of worst nightmare and I think claiming the "rational" label might be claiming more for yourself than you are due.

October 11, 2007 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Tanstaafl said...

I don't feel compelled to prove I'm anybody's nightmare, I simply claim it. As I claim to be rational.

To those who don't think either claim is my due, thank you for illustrating the point. That sentiment, that my validation must come from you or anyone else, is of a kind with the conceit of the atheist who demands proof that God exists. This is the conceit of Russell's teapot, and the FSM.

There is no proof, and thus no burden of proof, for faith. That's the point the most pointy headed atheists never seem to get. Your logic and reason is not all there is. There is a world outside it, beyond it, untouchable and unknowable. You cannot reach it with logic. It is the complement to reason, not its negation.

I don't claim to understand its nature, but I'm certainly not cocky enough to assert that it doesn't exist. That would be to assert that reason is complete, and as I mentioned in a previous thread Gödel did a pretty thorough job of disproving that. Much to Russell's chagrin.

October 12, 2007 at 4:55 AM  
Anonymous Conrad said...

OK, Bernard. Back to your athanors.

October 12, 2007 at 5:55 AM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

TGGP, people who simply think that moral propositions are meaningless are called logical positivists. There are, however, people who translate that thought into deed.

"For why" Because the good old rule
Sufficeth them: the simple plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can."

We call them sociopaths.

There appear to be or to have been some societies in which moral propositions came to be treated as meaningless. The Ik people, as described by Colin Turnbull in "The Mountain People," may well be an example of man in a state of nature - a nature red in tooth and claw, where the only guide to behavior is an opportunistic evaulation of the potential consequences.

You write that your "task is merely to decide how it is [you are] to behave. Morality is not necessary or even useful." However - you do, presumably, think in a systematic fashion about how you are to behave. Have you ever raised a child? If so I would be surprised if you have not tried to instruct it in how to behave - and in so doing, you have made normative statements (moral propositions). I doubt you would be amused if your child told you that they were "not necessary or even useful." What is not useful is a philosophical position that cannot be applied to the lives we live.

October 12, 2007 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous tggp said...

I do not have any children now nor do I have any special desire to have them, so I can apply my ideas to how I live. You can call me what you will. I've heard of the "Mountain People", but all I recall was their way of life being severely disrupted and not any sort of unusual system of ethics.

October 12, 2007 at 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

The lives of the Ik people were indeed disrupted by the Ugandan government. As a consequence of their forced deracination their society fell apart, traditional norms were forgotten, and their lives became a war of all against all.

TGGP, unless you really are a sociopath, I suspect that you are living by a set of moral principles even if you not wish to acknowledge them as such. Perhaps you are even unconscious of them. That does not mean they are not present in the only venue where they count - in your behavior.

October 14, 2007 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Conrad H. Roth said...

Michael and TGGP, I wonder what you make of recent(-ish) gestures away from rule-based ethics, eg. Stephen Toulmin on casuistry, or Alasdair MacIntyre?

October 15, 2007 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Michael S. said...

I have little acquaintance with either Toulmin or MacIntyre but from what I know of them both seem to be responding to the challenge of the logical positivists to the 'meaningfulness' of moral propositions in ways with which I am broadly in agreement.

Toulmin's revival of casuistry is in line with my comment in the antecedent thread that while the scientific method is an excellent path to knowledge, it is not the only one. The law has for years used techniques of argumentation to decide cases based on standards of "beyond a reasonable doubt" (criminal law) and "on a preponderance of evidence" (civil law) - and human societies have broadly accepted these methods as fair and honest, even though lawyers are rarely admired. Further, there are numerous instances in law in which the "wisdom of the species" (TGGP - the phrase is Russell Kirk's, not mine, so blame him, and blame not me) is respected. One instance is the legal doctrine of adverse possession, whereby a piece of real estate that has been possessed in fact by a person - e.g., by the maintenance of a fence, by regular planting and upkeep - for the requisite period of time, becomes his at law, and his title is defensible against claims not asserted during that period. Another is the confirmation of heritable title to property to the nearest of heirs-general "for aught yet seen" in the absence of evidence to the contrary, e.g., as of a purported alienation, bequest, or devisal for which no documentation can be found.

MacIntyre's reference to virtue rather than to rules seems rather like an assertion that traditional virtues, such as honesty and respect for the lives and property of others, have a claim on our allegiance by adverse possession, or for aught yet seen.

October 15, 2007 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous tggp said...

I don't know much about either of them, except that MacIntyre's a communalist, and I don't like communalists.

October 15, 2007 at 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Moral propositions ultimately are reducible to first principles (such as the wrongness of murder or stealing) which, like the parallel postulate, are neither supported by evidence nor susceptible to proof. Can we conceive a human society without them - at least, one in which we would wish to live - any more than we can conceive of a building that did not make use of Euclidean geometry in its design?
I can conceive, but what I can conceive of and what is possible are different things. I do not intend to create a society, so my task is merely to decide how it is I am to behave. Morality is not necessary or even useful.


EXACTLY RIGHT. You (and all other "atheists") are rational, purely egoistic individuals.

Believers (in the Christian faith that is, this DOES NOT HOLD for hindus or muslim, who don't believe but are under social terror, or actual terror, to affirm "divine law"), on the other hand, accept that there is a society that needs to work together to exist.

The third group, believers in islam and/or hinduism (sikhism, for example ~= islam + hinduism, sufi ~= islam + buddhism, all are morally reprehensible and unstable), are either forced to believe by the sociopaths among them, or they are the sociopaths. Both islam and hinduism provide "accepted" violence against "undesirables" (women and slaves/infidels/dalits). They invest their self-worth in their (obviously racist) ideology and act accordingly.

Obviously there is only one party that's going to win the fight, as only one of these parties even cares about survival.

November 24, 2007 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Rafael said...

THE MEANING OF LIFE

1. THE PURPOSE OF MAN’S EXISTENCE
Who we are? Why are we in this world? Where are we going?
Have you ever asked yourself why this questions and what the meaning of the human life is? No matter what type of person you are or what your profession is, there are a few things which you, like most people, would agree with, that is:
Money cannot satisfy man; neither can education satisfies man, nor can
Pleasure do not satisfy man, Nor can success satisfy man.
WHY?
Because you have not yet realized:
2. GOD’S PLAN

God has a plan. Which is to deposit his life into man his plan has everything to do with man? In the bible there are tree different words in Greek to designated the word “life”
1. Bios referring to the biological life our body
2. Psycho referring to the soul logical means study. The word Psychology means the study of the soul, emotions, mind and will.
3. There is another word for life that is Zoe the highest life. Whenever the bible speaks of eternal life speak of Zoe. In a Greek dictionary you will find the distinction.
This is the reason why, Gods plan with the man he created, in first place is not to bring him to heaven, neither to save Him from hell. But to receive the life that was not created. God’s life.
His plan with man is complete, from creation, while living in earth, and the future.
This is the reason why God created man different than the rest of his creation
1. MAN HAS GOD’S IMAGE
Please read the following verse:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness....”Genesis 1:26a
God’s creation of man is different from His creation of all other things. He created man in His own image. A glove is created according to the likeness of a hand with the purpose of containing the hand.Likewise, man was created in the image of God with the purpose of containing God.
2. MAN IS A VESSEL
Now read the next verse:
God “should make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy...even us.”Romans 9:23-24
We are vessels of God. God wants to be our content. As bottles are made to contain water, we are made to contain God.
It is no wonder that knowledge, wealth, pleasure, and accomplishment can never satisfy you, for you were created to contain God!
3. THE PARTS OF MAN
Please continue by reading the next verse:
“May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete?”1 Thessalonians 5:23
Man is God’s vessel. The Bible divides this vessel into three parts—the spirit, the soul, and the body. See diagram below:

The BODY is simply the physical body, belonging to the physiological level, contacting the things of the material realm, and is the most superficial part.
The SOUL is the mental faculty, belonging to the psychological level, contacting the things of the mental realm, and is a deeper part.
The SPIRIT is the deepest part of man, belonging to the spiritual level, and contacts the things of God.
For problems of the body one may see a doctor. For problems of the mind one may visit a psychiatrist. Yet only God can solve the problems of the spirit.
4. THE MEANING OF LIFE
God wants to enter into man’s spirit, to become his content and his satisfaction.
This is the purpose of human existence! You are not merely created to contain food in your stomach, or to contain knowledge in your mind, but you are created to contain God in your spirit.
1. THE TWO NATURES OF MAN
Since man was made in the image of God, he possesses a good nature that matches God’s nature, with virtues such as truthfulness, goodness, loveliness, wisdom, kindness, and valor.
However, there is also an evil nature in man which wars against his good nature. The Chinese met physicists refer to this war as a battle between reason and lust. Throughout history, both in the East and West, those who understand human nature acknowledge the existence of this evil nature which the Bible calls:
2. SIN
Because sin is in man, he is unable to carry out his good intentions.No one likes to be greedy, jealous, or murderous. No one likes to be boastful, arrogant, or deceitful. No one likes to be irritable, licentious, or lustful. No one likes to murmur, complain, or curse.
Nevertheless, man cannot escape his evil nature. Please read the following verses:
“For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but to do the good is not.”Romans 7:18
“But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that do it but sin that dwells in me.”Romans 7:20
This is a portrait of man.
3. THE FALL OF MAN
Sin entered into man and caused him to fall. See diagram below:
(1) Sin caused man’s spirit to be deadened:
“And you, being dead in your offenses and sins.”Ephesians 2:1
(2) Sin caused man’s mind to rebel:
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by evil works.”Colossians 1:21
(3) Sin caused man’s body to sin:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to obey its lusts.”Romans 6:12
The fallen man is like: A damaged and untunable radio which cannot receive and play music, but rather meaningless noise. He is also like:A cup that has fallen into the gutter still having its original fine form but now covered with mud.
4. MAN CANNOT SAVE HIMSELF
Throughout history, man has tried every possible way to escape sin, but he has found that:
Good works cannot save him from sin. Education cannot save him from sin. Ethics cannot save him from sin. Chanting cannot save him from sin.Religion cannot save him from sin.
This picture of man simply depicts the battle between his good nature and his evil nature.
1. WHO IS CHRIST?
Christ is the Savior sent from God to the world to solve the problems of human life.
He is the embodiment of the Triune God.
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”Colossians 2:9
He is also God incarnated:
“The Word was God...the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us...full of grace and reality.”John 1:1, 14
Therefore, He is both the complete God and the perfect man. See the following diagram:

He is more than a good man! He is more than a great man! He is more than moral man! He is more than a holy man! He is the God-man!
2. THE DEATH OF THE GOD-MAN
This God-man was nailed to the cross to accomplish the work of redemption. He died with three statuses:
(1) As the Lamb of God, He died to take away man’s sin.
“...the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”John 1:29
(2) As the brass serpent that had been lifted up, He died to crush the old serpent, Satan, and to deal with the serpent’s poison within man—his sinful nature.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”John 3:14
(3) As a grain of wheat, He died to release the divine life.
“...a grain of wheat...dies, it bears much fruit.”John 12:24
NOW:
His death has taken away the sin which man has but should not have!His death imparts into man the life which he needs but does not have!
1. THE TWO BECOMINGS OF CHRIST
God became flesh, born as a man called Jesus. Please read the following verse:
“The Word became flesh and tabernacle among us.”John 1:14
The Lord became the Spirit called the life-giving Spirit by His resurrection from the dead. Read the following verse:
“The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.”1 Corinthians 15:45
Since this Spirit is the life-giving Spirit, He dispenses God with His life into His believers.
Hence, the Bible says:
“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”1 John 5:12
2. REGENERATING MAN
In his first birth, man obtains a physical life.
When man receives God’s life through Christ, he experiences a second birth, which the Bible calls regeneration.
“God...has regenerated us...through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead.”1 Peter 1:3
Jesus said, “Unless a man is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”John 3:3
A pig cannot participate in the sheep’s kingdom and live a sheep’s life by education, improvement, or regulation; it must possess the life of a sheep.
Similarly, man cannot participate in God’s kingdom and live a divine life by education, improvement, or regulation; he must receive the life of God!
3. THE MEANING OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
A Christian is one who receives God’s dispensing. God first dispenses Himself into our spirit and then spreads from our spirit into our soul. Finally, He fills and saturates our spirit, soul, and body with Himself. The Bible calls this final stage glorification.
“And whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”Romans 8:30
Through this, we can be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ.
“Because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son.”Romans 8:29
This is the purpose of human life! This is the meaning of being a Christian!This is what God has planned for you!
WHAT MUST YOU DO NOW?
Now that you have realized God’s plan, you should do four things:
1. TURN YOUR HEART TO GOD—REPENT
Repentance is not to be remorseful. Repentance is neither to turn over anew leaf. Repentance is to have a change in mind.
Previously you had your back towards God. Whether you were doing good or evil, you were turned away from God. Your mind was turned away from God. Now listen to what the Lord Jesus said:
“Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”Matt. 4:17
2. BELIEVE—RECEIVE
To believe is not to nod your head, nor to agree, nor merely to be appreciative.
If someone gives you a watch, it is not enough for you just to nod your head in agreement and admire the watch. You need to receive it. Believing is just receiving. Read the following verse:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”John 1:12
3. CONFESS—CALL
Being a Christian is an open matter. God requires that your heart believe and that your mouth confess.
If your heart does not believe, you cannot be saved.
If your mouth does not confess, neither can you be saved. But:
“...if you confess with your mouth, Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from among the dead, you shall be saved.”Romans 10:9
4. BE BAPTIZED—TESTIFY
Baptism is a testimony before men. All believers should be baptized in order to be saved not only before God, but also before men.
The Lord Jesus said:
“He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.”Mark 16:16
Through baptism, God transfers us from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God. For this reason, the Lord Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”John 3:5
NOW PLEASE PRAY:
"Lord Jesus! I am a sinner. I need You. Come into my spirit. Take away my sin. Fill me that I may have the life of God. I receive You right now as my Savior and life. I give myself to You. I ask this in Your name, Amen!"
Now you are clear about the meaning of human life! May the Lord bless you and cause you to continue living in God’s plan!
Now, pray often, read the bible, you are the church, the church is not a physical building, neither an organization is the body of Christ Ephesians 1:22, we are the house of God Hebrews 3;6 we are Gods temple I Corinthians 6:19 and in eternity we will be the bride of Christ Revelations 21:2 . But after Eternity we will return to the source and origin of all things God the Father, Colossians 3: “a renewal in which is not distinction between Greek and Jews, circumcise or uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, slaves or free man but Christ” Galatians 3:25 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free man, neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” This Christ Jesus is the new man Ephesians: 2:15 “ By abolishing in his flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contain in ordinances , the in Himself He might make of the two one new man” This new man said in John 20:17 “I ascend to my Father and your Father” By him we became the many brothers of Christ and He is not ashamed to call us his brothers Hebrews: “ for this reason He is not ashamed to call us brothers” He is our older brother Romans 8:“ That He might be the first born among many brothers” Our older bother Christ is our Wisdom, He is Our Physician , our Light, and the one whom together with us his young brothers He will give all the infinite universe even us to the Father so that God the Father ICo 15:29 “ God maybe all and in all” this means the in the infinite universe that we finite man will never reach, God the Father will be all everywhere and He will be in us therefore we will be with our Father everywhere we never get bored, we will never get tired in a universe that has not end, furthermore we will enjoy His love forever. This is the meaning of life. God the Father since has place in us the desire of have Him. Regardless you are a believer or unbeliever, moral or immoral, wise or fool, with Him or against Him. He is waiting for you and He will run to you as soon you come for Him.

January 5, 2008 at 7:57 AM  
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