A complete summary
I am not here mentioning specifically Christian topics, such as: which Catholic or Protestant doctrines I accept or reject; interpretations of Bible passages; arguments for or against creationism, evolution, and intelligent design.
I'm not a fundamentalist evangelical Protestant but I do insist on interpreting the Bible literally. And I insist on accepting the things proven as true in modern science, philosophy, biology, archaeology, and textual scholarship. Yes, the Bible is rife with errors (I prefer to call these "fiction") yet there is truth in some of the various eyewitness accounts of events.
I am nearing the end of a decades-long project to reconcile Christianity with scientifically established facts including textual scholarship. I chose to remain a born-again, radically-saved, on-fire-for-the-Lord, Nicene-creed, Trinitarian Christian through the process (and succeeded in this). Needless to say, the tenets of faith I derived horrify fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.
Long before becoming a Christian I realized I can (and should) seek truth. As a Christian I am willing to jettison what clearly seems untrue and find ways to explain the gaps.
I am sympathetic to the view that there is a single spiritual integrated reality. But I merely tolerate the materialist view common in science where consciousness is an illusion (absurd), or an emergent property of matter, or merely a side effect of the mathematics of physics.
I agree with the philosopher Kant there is an objective physical material reality, but that we can only experience and interact with it via human perception and human reason. But scientific experiments bypass much of this subjectivism; errors of perception are limited to misreading the output of equipment.
In explaining evil as not from God, I assume God allowed for the possibility by creating spiritual creatures in God's image as "little gods" having their own conscious existence apart from God's, and unseen by God; sub-gods or mini-me-gods if you will. They can cook up all kinds of mischief in their own sub-realm of the spiritual realm.
The sources of evidence in determining Christian metaphysics...
This third step is what is missing in most Christian teaching.
Anyway, put all the data into the philosophical blender and, voila; you end up with my views.
My current default position is to believe the Christian claims unless one-by-one I find them to be false. There is not much left for me to study so my views will likely be static from here on.
There are YouTube videos by professor of Philosophy Tim McGrew in which he convincingly demonstrates the gospel accounts are historically trustworthy. There are errors, but these are to be expected from eyewitness accounts, even in the best of circumstances. Yet this does not invalidate their testimony.
Also, there is fiction. Some examples...
Aren't eyewitness accounts evidence? (Yes, but try telling this to a materialist.) Why can't intuition be used as evidence? (It can, but needs validation from other sources.)
The key point is that there is a factual historical truth embedded within the various testimonies of witnesses; we just have to pry it out. Critics stop at the first hint of unclear evidence and then reject all the evidence.
The Old Testament presentation of God and his nature is hopelessly flawed. The writers had incorrect views on many details, making God out to be a psychotic maniacal murderer, and things such as this.
Using the Bible as proof of God's existence is not a good argument unless you first demonstrate it to be a trustworthy source of truth about such things.
There needs to be an overarching set of principles to interpret the Bible. Examples...
Christians should accept the conclusions of modern science and modern psychology. I'd bet less than 1% of creationist Christians know about any of this.
The scientific method includes: Hypothesis, experiments, theory. Getting ever closer and closer to 100%, the best you can do with abduction (the simplest explanation) and induction (the most likely explanation). Things having radical disagreement are not true.
I first learned of evolution decades ago. Recently I began studying modern views including the interactions with genetics, biochemistry, DNA, epigenetic activation of genes, mutations and frequency of occurrence, and etc. Much has changed.
Modern psychology includes: Studies regarding perception, brain function, consciousness, mapping regions of the brain, memory of events by eyewitnesses — and much more.
Science offers some certainty but only when assuming materialism. In considering subjective consciousness, some are breaking ranks and adopting dualism; that mind or consciousness exists as a thing in its own right.
I was first an atheist but something inside felt empty. I explored various kinds of spirituality but there was always something missing: explaining evil. I learned of Christianity and it explained evil.
When I listen to TED talks (which assume atheism) for an extended time, my spirit feels empty, depleted. These kinds of subjective experiences confirm my belief that God exists.
We can't discern God through properties of nature. That's why the atheist view is reasonable and should not be mocked by Christians.
Are such things as consciousness, mind, cognition, etc.; are these "real". Science wants to squeeze these into a materialistic explanation. This seems invalid to me.
I require evidence beyond the material physical world to believe in God; such things as the subjective feeing that there must be an absolutely good, divine, holy entity to explain my feelings for such things.
Philosophy is needed to guide us. Conflicting Bible interpretations are no help at all.
I used induction (the most likely explanation) and abduction (the simplest explanation) to arrive at my views. These are by definition not 100% certain. By the nature of the question to be proved, there cannot be 100% certainty. Only deduction can provide certainty; induction and abduction cannot.
Philosophy demonstrates the scientific method guarantees truth within its domain, that is, the physical material universe.
Idealism (which I reject): reality is mental or spiritual or the manifestation of consciousness or some such. The key ingredient of Idealism is, I think, there is no physical material universe apart from our experiencing of it or our perception of it; thus, the physical material universe exists because it appears to exist. This is the opposite of materialistic science which denies everything except the physical material universe.
By the way, I have no complaint against Idealism (but I am not an Idealist). Materialism has problems, mainly when considering subjective conscious experience.
Things wrong with Aristotle...
I find the old Greek views about change and causation and perfection and such very unsatisfying; very contrived. But this system is still dominant in Christianity via Augustine, Aquinas, and etc.
Determining truth in Christian teaching requires (among other things) we see how well certain ideas worked out in history. If an idea from the Bible and put into practice caused disaster and ruin (and many did) then we should reject that idea.
There is a God, but the Bible passages starting with, "Thus says the Lord", are not his words. You have to look deep inside the biblical text and history and philosophy and science; then he appears.
I had to reject most of what other Christians believe; but that's because it's nonsense, and I'm not afraid to say so.
The enormity of the task of learning about Christianity before converting must seem exhausting for all but the most dedicated. And then wading through the variations and the competing claims, and all the morally outrageous events in the Bible, and having to jettison science and common sense. It's no wonder no one wants to be a Christian.
If you are looking for certainty and consensus, very little can be known about anything; you will have to be content with saying, "I don't know".
We detect God's presence through our soul, through our spirit, residing in the spiritual realm. Those who reject the existence of the spiritual realm will not detect God.
Should we only allow observable events in the concept of reality? In other words, is it possible there are aspects to reality no one has ever seen (or will ever see)? If yes, what basis is there to limit reality to only what we have already witnessed? (I suppose before the scientific era, there were all kinds of "real" phenomena no one had ever experienced.)
Intuition is not always wrong. Seems it would be a useful endeavor to learn when it can be trusted. I think we all do this in day to day living.
The final eternal home is the new heavens and new earth, not heaven.
In my view our bodies in the new heavens and new earth are the same as our current bodies. The difference is in the spiritual realm: (1) having no more influence from the powers of darkness, and (2) our souls having greatly expanded awareness.
Some key conditions in the new heavens and new earth...
In my view the new earth will the same as this current earth, but with these following differences (due to the powers of darkness in the spiritual realm being gone)...
There shall be no more thence [from there] an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
This passage describes the conditions in terms of conditions familiar to them that will no longer occur. In other words, if a child were to die it would not be in infancy or when young (because those things are tragic), and, if a hardened sinner was not judged and killed by God long before reaching old age, this would be unjust.
There are no differing degrees of reward as taught by the Bema Seat of judgment. In the new heavens and new earth we each get the maximum benefits possible; it makes no sense to try to compare them. It's like me saying my conscious experience of life is better than someone else's. Our conscious perception of the physical world is based on imperfect data from the senses further processed by the brain then finally presented to whatever it is that consciously perceives it (our soul in the spiritual realm).
I think the world has two components (realms)...
The human soul resides in the spiritual realm (heaven) and communicates with the body in the physical realm. This communication is two-way...
Perhaps the communication is via states of quantum mechanics in the brain which the soul interacts with: reading these states from the brain (body to soul); creating these states in the brain (soul to body).
The three states of life...
In my view, the physical material properties reside in the physical realm, and the spiritual properties of nature reside in the spiritual. Physical in physical, spiritual in spiritual.
I make this distinction because science demands it. They have successfully described the physical realm with no need for the spiritual realm. But they have failed to account for..., well, anything spiritual.
The body is inert physical matter; only the soul residing in the spiritual realm is alive. Temptations originate within the soul when influenced by the powers of darkness. Perhaps "the flesh" is merely one of the various kinds of spiritual influences from these powers of darkness, a susceptibility or weakness in the soul.
There are aspects of our soul which clearly don't have free will, for example, the subconscious or unconscious. Only when conscious do we have free will, and only then regarding things involving the will.
My view is based on modern science with it's excluding from the physical material universe of anything not measurable by direct experiment. Therefore, only the body is physical; soul and spirit (I don't distinguish these) reside within the spiritual realm.
My definition of "universe": all physical material matter included within the assumed presupposition of all that exists by modern science.
I am a radical dualist. Rather than accepting merely mind or consciousness apart from matter (or as a new property of matter), I propose an entire realm, the spiritual realm, containing life, love, emotion, memories, symbols, souls, spirit(s), God; in fact..., well, everything not physical or material.
Two views. Reality is...
It seems to me the (a) physical material, and (b) non-physical non-material, aspects of reality are distinct. For example, the spiritual "I" doesn't care about the contents of the DNA of the material body it is associated with, except insofar as the capabilities of the brain constrict the ability of this "I" to express itself through its body.
Seems to me some of Jung's key teachings regarding such things as: (1) unconscious activity, or (2) knowledge and drives shared across cultures; that these cannot be explained by brain function nor by materialistic physics. Seems this stuff is just calling out for someone to acknowledge a spiritual realm they can all reside in comfortably.
We have detected the spiritual realm. Some serious mainstream scientists are accepting dualism when considering consciousness. I am merely expanding this in a way that makes sense and is compatible with Christian metaphysics. Kant didn't limit his philosophical system to materialism. Nor Aristotle, and I don't know how many other modern philosophers.
Before there was a material physical universe, there was the spiritual realm containing various sections or domains. (The spiritual realm contains everything not material such as souls, spirits, ideas, memories, emotions, etc.) Lucifer was created by God and given a large domain; then he rebelled and many spirit beings (angels) followed.
Probably in a scene similar to the opening of the book of Job, Lucifer (now named Satan, I suppose) proposed God create a new kind of realm, non-spiritual, and allow Satan to influence its design.
God created the physical material universe (this will be called the new heavens and new earth later) and turned control over to Satan, who fiddled with the knobs making it a universe of scarce resources, pain and suffering, death, competition for survival, and the need to eat.
Over time, creatures were created, these having both a physical body and a spiritual component. In humans this consists of a soul, consciousness, the unconscious and subconscious mind, reason, the will, emotions, and etc. All the non-physical components interact with the physical body, animating it. (The physical body is living only in the chemical, biological sense.)
In the Bible, the various references to non-physical places are all within the spiritual realm. Much of the book of Revelation takes place in the spiritual realm.
Satan's spirit invades our souls (not possessing it, but influencing it). In taking on humanity, Christ's divine spirit became a human soul, taking ownership of the spiritual realm inhabited by Satan.
Anyway, all Bible passages fit neatly into this framework, and it harmonizes with science because the physical material realm is distinct just as science claims.
After death, you stay where you already are. The body dies, not the soul. The soul can only reside within the spiritual realm, and it stays there after death.
I accept there is a soul and a spiritual realm because it is a Christian teaching. I agree with all of science except their insistence that the physical material universe is all that exists; it leaves me feeling spiritually empty delving into it for very long. I accept the eyewitness accounts of the writers of the gospels as historically credible and trustworthy. I also accept my intuition which tells me: (1) there is a God having only good characteristics, and (2) evil is a living spirit.
Infinity exists in the spiritual realm; time flows smoothy and continuously in the spiritual realm.
Time and space are jerky and quantized in the physical material universe. There is no motion at all, rather, the entire universe is created ex nihilo out if nothing each instant, then dissolves into nothingness (my "Creative Frames" theory). The soul in the spiritual realm persists across the gap and interprets it as flowing continuously like a motion picture.
I understand that the position of an electron (for example) is completely random, only constrained by the probabilities of the wavefunction.
My view is that this randomness is where living entities (including our human soul) residing in the spiritual realm; that this is how they interact with the physical material universe, guiding and directing all events having a quantum mechanics component.
Thus, evolution is random, yet directed by living spiritual entities, mathematics experts, who were granted the power to do this for their particular domain within the spiritual realm.
I find it intriguing that physics uses mathematics. Some philosophers consider mathematics as pure intuition (or some such idea), not grounded in matter. If the universe is mathematics, maybe this suggests something like Idealism (not my view) or Dualism (my view).
Some say our external physical reality is a mathematical structure. According to Kant, mathematics is synthetic and a priori, therefore, self-evident not requiring sense data to determine observed facts.
This is the same kind of thing as the spiritual realm; you don't observe it with your senses, but your mind and soul detects its existence and characteristics.
Did the writers believe the earth was a sphere? I doubt they did. The evidence...
The writer of the creation account in Genesis chapter 1 believed the earth was flat. He was a "flat-earther".
The frame of reference is on the earth's surface (which is flat, except where it isn't) or in the spiritual realm, not in orbit around the earth looking down on the earth.
The first humans appeared 200,000 years ago. Adam appeared 10,000 B.C., no sooner. This we know because: (1) he was a farmer and had domesticated animals, and (2) these things started no sooner than that.
Religion occurred because man's soul resides in the spiritual realm where these other things reside: memories, spirits, will, emotion, creativity, love, the part of God we interact with, etc. When humans observed stuff, they tried to explain it and, voila, religion. God finally revealed monotheism, possibly to Adam, likely to Abraham, certainly to the Israelites. Only when Jesus as the second person of the Blessed Trinity took on human form, only then did the goal of our religious impulses arrive.
The Bible teaches flat earth.
Faith requires action or it's only mere belief; action activates faith. Faith is directed toward the goal of redemption, of spending eternity in the utopian new heavens and new earth in the direct presence of God. In this life we exercise faith by worshiping God and growing in virtue and holiness. Certainly God prefers we are healthy and prosperous, but looking at all the suffering by faith-filled holy people proves that faith is not a magical tool to become wealthy. This world is a world of pain and suffering as Christ proved on the cross.
Satan is a person, a living being, who resides in the spiritual realm. Our souls also reside in the spiritual realm and are plagued and influenced by this person, by Satan. His effect in the souls of humans includes: selfish drives, that moves him to struggle for possessions, power, pleasure so that life becomes easy; but the list of his influences is very long.
We are saved by faith. The real question is, what is faith? Faith is belief or knowledge having corresponding action. You believe your parachute will open. Only when jumping do you exercise faith. Thus faith and corresponding works are two aspects of the same thing. Like a coin: heads is belief; tails is works.
I think what people usually hear when you say, as James did (James 2:24), "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only"; I think they hear instead, "you are saved by works only".
The works of faith must be those pleasing to God. As an example, if you believe road rage is a good thing to do, and then do it, this is not faith.
Adam was a farmer and used domesticated animals, therefore, he appeared no sooner than 10,000 B.C. since that's when these began.
Agriculture and animal domestication began no sooner than 10,000 B.C. (Adam did both). The first modern humans appeared 200,000 years ago in Ethiopia (long before Adam). Humans migrated to all continents by 60,000 to 30,000 years ago. Therefore: (1) Adam appeared after humans had settled every continent, and (2) there was no global flood.
Early humans were hunter-gathers for the first 190,000 years. (I am referring to modern humans, the same species as me and you.) There were Neanderthal's in Europe maybe 60,000 years and some interbreeding probably occurred since we all have some Neanderthal genes.
Theories about humans and evolution should be grounded in modern science rather than mere speculation unless you have some reason to distrust the science.
Esther and Job are fiction. The Old Testament up to David is mostly fiction.
There are YouTube videos by professor of Philosophy Tim McGrew in which he convincingly demonstrates the gospel accounts are historically trustworthy.
Example of fiction: These two passages of the same quoted dialog are radically different. The high priest said something like this but we don't have the exact quote even though both passages claim to be.
A few examples of errors...
And there are many many more.
In my view the Old Testament writers often misrepresented God's nature and character. For example, that God slaughters innocent children.
In my view, the Old Testament writers' understanding was mostly false.
I believe the Bible and I believe there was no global flood. Did the writers of the various flood accounts in the Bible intend to present a historically accurate account of events having no living witnesses and no written documents of? The only way to believe this is something like the dictation theory in which God places the information in their minds supernaturally.
Christianity and evolution are not incompatible.
Why do we have to choose? Can't something both evolve randomly and be designed? After all, consider the randomness inherent in the quantum mechanics wavefunction. I propose it is not random at all. Rather, an intelligent living non-material (spiritual) entity chooses, always working within the probability requirements of the wavefunction.
The first modern humans appeared 200,000 years ago in Ethiopia and migrated to every continent by 60,000 to 30,000 years ago, long before Adam. Adam was a farmer and had domesticated animals; this occurred only about 10,000 B.C.
The last glacial period of the Quaternary ice age ended about 10,000 B.C. (this was the start of the Holocene geological epoch) and resulted in huge floods all over the world.
"Intelligent design" is not science; it is a phrase, sometimes stretched out into a whole sentence. Proponents merely glue it on to someone else's scientific work so they can call it science (and get it included in textbooks).
Determining truth is a question of philosophy. Facts are things you can know, things you can use as true premises. Truth is determined via sound arguments having true premises.
Regarding creationism vs evolution, the approach should be as follows...
Intelligent Design is merely the sentence: "It was designed by a designer".
When young-earth creationist Christians find out its problems, they often become atheists, not realizing the old earth view and evolution is compatible with Christianity. Thus, in insisting on teaching young-earth creationism they are discrediting Christianity and emptying out their churches.
If Jesus physically appeared in your presence glowing in the light of his glory, would you fall down to your knees and face to worship him? If so, that is all that is needed.
Heaven is the spiritual realm, the place our soul already resides. The rewards refers to redemption and its many benefits.
There is no Bema Seat judgment; that is a quaint invention of a doctrine to avoid the idea that Christians are judged based on their works. But there is not a single passage stating Christians are judged by their faith, or that Christians are not judged at all.
The final goal is the new heavens and new earth, not heaven. In heaven we have no body; in the new heavens and new earth we do.
After we die, our disembodied soul remains in the spiritual realm (heaven). This state is paradise because we will be comforted and protected by Jesus from the powers of darkness residing there also as we discard the garbage from our soul (purgatory, if you will). Later, after the second coming of Christ we will be given a resurrected body (the same body we have now, but improved, if you will) and, after the Great White Throne Judgment, we will live forever in the utopian new heavens and new earth.
God won't judge anyone unless they have seen God. Therefore, there must be a time, probably during dying or just after, that God must reveal himself. Only those who reject God when clearly face to face with him will be repelled from him. I can't imagine any sane person would do this.
I think anyone who falls down and worships Jesus when they meet him face to face after death will be redeemed. I believe, at that time, when the light of God shines upon you, your sins and wickedness will be repelled away from God's presence. Those who cling to these will be repelled also. I intend to let these things go, to face into the light, and call out to Jesus in love and fear.
I suppose I'm a panentheist (not pantheist), meaning, God pervades everything. Maybe we shouldn't use the term "God" because of wrong views associated. But I'll continue to say "God" anyway.
For some people the term "God" has the baggage of ancient gods and such. My conception of God is: numinous (supernatural) and transcendental (beyond comprehension). I merely interpret the Bible passages not matching as errors or fiction, refusing to believe God in such nonsensical anthropomorphic terms.
In my view humans do human stuff because God has implanted these attributes in us. We are mini-gods. But human attributes are merely a tiny sub-set of God.
I think Christians (and others) have some pretty wacky ideas about God, based on philosophy. I present here my views...
The question of free will makes no sense for God.
Materialist scientists want to deny free will because, I think, they might have to consider the existence of something outside of the physical material universe.
You can't prove God using Aristotle and deduction; who would even think to try such a thing? Doing so implies the philosophical concepts are grander than God. God comes first, philosophy later.
I don't think God knows the future; that idea sounds like something from an early Greek philosopher. More likely is: God creates the immediate future once he knows everyone's desires.
God is outside of time as well as in time. When God creates something, he indwells it.
God didn't wait in time until it was time to create, nor did he at some certain time plan it (then later do it). God creates time (then indwells it) as needed to achieve his will.
We think time flows continuously because there is always another instant in time. God is always everywhere and everywhen yet continuously creating more where's and when's. Before he creates something existing somewhere and somewhen, it doesn't exist.
His intent and plan and execution are all parts of one creative act; we assume they are separate because we are viewing it from within the where and the when that he created.
God creates each instant of the universe frame by frame as he polls the results of the previous instant. God creates both the entire universe and the time it resides in at the same instant.
Only God existed before anything existed. Everything that exists resides within God's creative eternal being. Created things exist. God is.
I don't consider Aquinas a very good source about such questions. He considers Aristotle (among others) as an authority.
The God portrayed in the Old Testament is not the God of Christianity: the Old Testament God does not have perfect character, nor is the Old Testament God an infinitely compassionate Being.
I reject that God has, is, or does; evil. For example, he doesn't perform genocide, or kill people for petty crimes. Nor does he create creatures then send them to suffer forever merely because they never heard the gospel presented properly, without the baggage of church traditions and culture.
The concept of God portrayed in the New Testament is woefully inadequate. That being said, I think it has enough in its favor that I base my views on it. Things that are correct...
These (and others) form the backbone of my view, my project, of harmonizing Christianity with science, archaeology, psychology, textual scholarship, and etc. using philosophy to hold it all together.
I'm talking about a philosophical system of integrating science, psychology, archaeology, scholarship of the biblical texts; of integrating these with true Christian teaching. I define true Christian teaching as taking the many diverse historical and orthodox views of Christianity, and removing the things provably false. This, in the context of understanding subjective consciousness as some physicists are currently doing. On this, I embrace a dualist view; but where they invoke mind, I substitute an entire spiritual realm ala Christianity.
There is only one God and always has been, the Trinity of Christianity.
God did not do bad things; man did them claiming it was God. God is understood through the lens of the person's perspective. Those who think God kills innocent babies (for example) have the wrong view of God.
God only indirectly does these bad things mentioned by allowing humans and wicked spirits to do them. If someone pushes someone off a cliff, God didn't do it.
God invades the universe in two ways...
The state of the system after the quantum mechanics wavefunction collapses is truly random.
Consciousness is tightly coupled to brain function. Materialist scientists say it's because the brain causes consciousness.
What about after death?
Evidence from the Bible of option #2: (1) Samuel brought back from the dead, and (2) Abraham (God is the God of the living).
Regarding the randomness inherent in the quantum mechanics wavefunction and subsequent collapse: Will science one day discover the pattern, perhaps being able to predict the outcome?
Here's a sample scenario: An electron starts out as a wavefunction having a probability of appearing at point x with probability y when it interacts with another particle causing the wavefunction to collapse and the electron to appear. If you measure it a million times doing this, it obeys the probability given by the wavefunction.
Reality is the sum total of everything that exists along with all of its functioning and operations. Reality is bigger than anyone can discern. It cannot be completely understood or comprehended by our small brains/minds/souls.
Reality is bigger than God. Here's why: God is not evil and cannot see evil (although he is aware of its existence). Satan is evil. Evil is a real "thing", and therefore part of Reality.
Does the subjective experience of consciousness qualify as evidence for God? After all, materialistic science can't explain it (at least the subjective aspect).
Regarding consciousness as an emergent property of the brain, of matter (a nonsensical idea in my opinion), that something new can spring out something existing: I think non-dualist materialists like this idea because they have only worse ideas to choose from.
Consciousness is tightly coupled with brain functioning. But consciousness resides in the spiritual realm as part of our soul; the subjective experience of consciousness is not physical. Yes, I am a dualist and I think Christianity supports that.
Regarding consciousness as an emergent property of matter: There is no evidence that the subjective experience of consciousness springs from matter. I think only the dualist view makes sense; that consciousness or mind is something new, not merely a configuration of physical material matter.
Our conscious perception of the physical world is based on imperfect data from the senses further processed by the brain then finally presented to whatever it is that consciously perceives it (our soul in the spiritual realm).
Life is an independent force that manifests itself in the physical realm, nearly sentient. This points to dualism of some form, that is to say, a force beyond the physical, a new kind of property of matter. Perhaps it interacts with matter by directing the supposed randomness of the end state after the collapse of the quantum mechanics wavefunction.
Lately in studying what scientists have to say about the subjective experience of consciousness, I notice some finally realizing there may be more to this physical material universe than assumed. These are embracing dualism, which admits of mind or consciousness as another property of matter or some such non-materialist explanation.
I have trouble considering consciousness as an emergent property. An example usually given is the wetness of water, but this is nothing like consciousness...
Consciousness is nothing like this...
I think the only other option is some form of dualism: matter and mind.
In my view randomness occurs just as evolution teaches, but is guided at the quantum mechanics level by spirit beings residing within the Spiritual Realm. These respond to prayer and to the desires of our heart, and also to God's will (and, sadly, the wills of the powers of darkness). Scientists can't see the guiding because all they see is the randomness, that the probability function of the wavefunction is not violated after millions of observations.
Jesus didn't command sinless perfection, just that we be perfect as God is perfect. The concept of sin doesn't apply to God; he isn't sinless, nor is he a being who has conquered sin (via sinless perfection). We are to be perfect in this same way as God is perfect. Therefore, the command for us to be perfect has nothing to do with not sinning and everything to do with conforming to the image of Christ.
An explanation of the source of evil: Our souls reside in the spiritual realm. This realm is also inhabited by evil spirits. They have crowded into our souls causing them to become dysfunctional. So we choose to do bad things because the spiritual pressure to do so is overwhelming.
How can evil exist: (1) without there being a "bad" God opposing the "good" God, or (2) without God being both "bad" and "good"? Here's how...
God creates creatures in his image (partially), that are in some way mini-gods. Their conscious experience and related attributes are distinct from God; he doesn't experience what we experience. And in some way he created a fresh spiritual space for these creatures to live in; again "outside" of God.
God has relationship with these creatures. If for some reason he promised one of them (Lucifer) a whole universe of creatures to design and co-create, and then if Lucifer rebelled against God..., well, you would have our current predicament.
Even today Christians consider the body as a source of sin, calling it "the flesh".
Regarding the perspective of many non-Chistians about the wacky side to Chistianity: I am a born-again, radically-saved, on-fire-for-the-Lord Christian, yet I totally agree with many of their observations of Christian culture. Such things as...
And they wonder why the culture around them slowly more and more rejects Christianity.
I reject Aristotle. Arguments using his philosophy go around in circles. I mention this because Christians often use his philosophy to prove there is a God, and that evil is merely the abstract absence of good, and other such things.
I was an atheist and scientific. Then suddenly, I don't know why, I became obsessed with yoga, eastern religion/philosophy, then the new age movement. (Perhaps if I heard of Christianity I would have done that instead?)
Two things bugged me: (1) The ultimate goal (to be no longer human), and (2) the problem of evil.
I heard of Christianity (fundamentalist evangelical Protestant) on the radio, and something in my spirit was energized. I knew I would never like three things: (1) hit-em-over-the-head-evangelism, (2) that wacky language Christian-ese, and (3) emphasis on cerebral intellectualism (instead of epistemology, metaphysics, and ontology). And one thing really bugged me: the anti-intellectualism.
I converted. It answered the two things. I still don't like the three things and the one thing.
As a born-again, radically-saved, on-fire-for-the-Lord Christian, a Trinitarian and believer in the Nicene Creed, I am happy to declare for all the world to read, that Bible interpretation ignoring science, is myth and ignorance.