Friday, August 31, 2012

Galatians 5

Christ Has Set Us Free

Christ has set us free, do not submit again to slavery.

That seems like good advice.

If you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. In fact, if you accept circumcision then you will be obligated to keep the whole law as you are being severed from Christ. Through the spirit and by faith we wait for righteousness, and in Jesus Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision count for anything, but only faith matters.

What the hell. So the message here is if you are circumcised you have to keep the law because you are cut off from Christ, also, through Christ circumcision doesn't matter. Paul is declaring A and not A to both be true, right in the same paragraph. Not exactly the most important contradiction ever, but the fact that it is a few sentences apart really baffles me.

Who has kept you from obeying the truth? A little leaven leavens the whole lump, I'm trust that you will believe me along with Christ rather than others. "if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed."

What? It seems that he is saying that the truth will prevail and if they listen to him and others they will surely wind up following him, I think that is what the leaven business is all about. Apparently there are rival groups preaching to these people as well. It also appears that he is getting some heat from the other preachers, he says that he should not be persecuted anymore because he is preaching circumcision, but is he? Is this why the upfront message is so confusing? 

Use your freedom as an opportunity to serve one another, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" encompasses the whole law. If you don't do this beware of the fallout.

Finally something decent in here.

Walk by the Spirit

The spirit and the flesh are opposite from one another. The spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." the flesh is "sexual immortality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these." You should walk with the spirit and ignore the flesh.

First, the spirit and the flesh being opposite and the flesh being against the spirit really doesn't point to a perfect creator to me. Second, lists like this are always very telling of the person who is making it. The flesh list must be all of the things that deep down Paul wants to do while the spirit list is what he feels he should aspire to. Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but it is my take on it.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


5:14 Love your neighbor as yourself

5:22-26 Focus on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control [thanks JKerber in comments]


5:2,3,6,11 ridiculous doublespeak (about circumcision)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Galatians 4

Sons and Heirs

If you are an heir and still a child you might as well be a slave until the time comes for you to take your inheritance.

I guess he is trying to say that even as an heir, you don't have a lot of control so you might as well be a slave? This analogy is terrible.

When the time came God sent his son to redeem those under the law and make them sons, and therefore heir's through God.

I'm either completely misunderstanding this passage or the analogy is just atrocious. He's reusing the words sons, heirs, and slaves but in ways that don't match up and the meanings just don't seem to cross over much.

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

Before you knew Christ you were enslaved to regular people. How can you go back to that after knowing God?

Were the Galatians actually slaves or is this poetic? 

I preached to you before because of a bodily ailment. My condition was a trial for you and yet you accepted me anyway, but after I preached the truth to you I became an enemy which I find puzzling. I wish I could be there with you now so we can sort this out, I am confused about why you changed your tone.

Here we see the problem with these books being a letter written from Paul to a specific group of people. The people have a history with Paul, so I'm sure they know exactly what he's talking about, but I have no idea. 

The reason that Paul started preaching to them was an ailment? That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, he was sick and therefore he started preaching? Did his preaching include asking them for help? His condition was a trial to them, is that because he was contagious or because he was asking them for help? Very strange.

Example of Hagar and Sarah

Abraham had 2 sons with 2 different women, one a slave and one free. The son of the slave was born of the flesh and the son of the free woman was born through promise. As it was at that time, those who were born of the flesh persecute those who are born of the spirit. The scripture says to cast out the slave woman and her son. We are not children of the slave but the free woman.

That is a lot of wrong in one place. First, the scripture is advocating throwing a slave woman out with her child, that is fucked up. As the bible seems to do, it is promoting a persecution complex, but here it is pretty explicitly promoting a preemptive strike, they will persecute you so in anticipation you should throw a slave woman and her child out. Finally, wishful thinking. We don't want to be descendant of the slaves so we aren't (it's possible that there is actual reason that they are descendants of Isaac, but I'm assuming he's just pandering)

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


4:29 persecution complex

4:30 preemptive strike

4:31 wishful thinking

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Galatians 3

By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

Faith is good, works don't matter.

This is the same old message, faith is good, actually doing stuff is irrelevant.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

More of the same

The Law and the Promise

The law of Abraham was not annulled by Christ because it was not really referring to us, it was referring to Christ. The law was there and we followed it for 430 years, it was really just a placeholder until Christ got here. We needed the law for a while to take care of some transgressions but the really just there for the interim. We were held captive under the law until the coming of faith was revealed.

This is another one of those sections that I don't think I fully understand. There is a lot of confusing language in there that may in fact be intentionally confusing. It seems to be trying to answer the question of why we don't need to follow the law anymore when we used to have to, and the tactic it takes is that the law was really only there for Jesus and we just following it for a while. It honestly seems a bit clumsy to me, but again I'm not sure I fully understand.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


3:2-3 Faith is good, works don't matter

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Galatians 2

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

After 14 years Paul had a revelation and went back toward the apostles. They saw that he proclaimed the gospel to the gentiles and they were impressed that God entrusted the gospels to him. They trusted him and asked him to remember the poor, which is what he wanted to do anyway. Also there was something about false brothers being put into their midst who were trying to make them slaves.

The 14 year thing is interesting to me. It would be interesting to see how the timing of this works together with other stories in the bible. 

Paul Opposes Peter

This section is "Paul opposes Peter", but it seems to be about Paul opposing Cephas. Is Cephas the same person as Peter? Why does the bible do so much of this multiple name stuff?

Cephas wanted everyone following the gospel to get circumcised, but this was keeping people away and Paul didn't like that. He told Cephas that he is a Jew living as a Gentile, how can he tell Gentiles they should live like Jews?

Once again, God seems way to interested in penises.

Justified by Faith

We are justified by faith, not by works, if we were justified by works Jesus would have died for nothing. I died with Christ and how I don't live in flesh but through faith Jesus lives through me.

I guess when this is basically different letter Paul has sent to a bunch of different churches, it isn't surprising that the big points will come up over and over again. I never quite know how to take the idea that we are dead and Christ is living through us. This is obviously not supposed to be taken literally (right?) but then what does it mean?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Galatians 1


Paul introduces himself as an apostle from Jesus. He wishes the church grace and peace from God.

No Other Gospel

Paul is amazed that the Galatian people are following a different gospel. He says there is no other true gospel and even if he came back and tried to teach them an alternate gospel they should be accursed.

I understand the idea of telling them not to follow anyone else preaching an alternate gospel, but to ban them from hearing an alternate gospel even from Paul just seems a bit confusing. What if Paul tells them something similar but different from what he told them before, is that a new gospel or a new take on the old one?

Paul Called by God

Paul did not learn the gospels he is teaching from anyone else, but instead from God through revelation.  He used to persecute the church and tried to destroy it, but God spoke to him directly and he switched sides. He then spent three years away from all the other disciples and learned directly from God. Later people heard that the man who tried to destroy the church was preaching for it and they rejoiced in God because of me.

This claims he got revelation directly from God, how is someone supposed to tell the difference between that and simple insanity? Or if not insanity, how can you tell it isn't just your own thoughts instead of thoughts God has implanted in your brain?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coin Flip Game

The topic of probability came up recently in several discussion threads and it reminded me of a coin flip game an old buddy of mine told me about a few years ago. The game is very simple, everyone in the country gets a quarter to use for the game, and any time you come across someone who is still in the game, one of you flips a coin. Whoever wins gets the coins of the other and the loser is out. (We'll assume the coin flips are fair and there is no trickery going on, maybe you have to throw the coin over your head and let it land on the ground).

Suppose we continue this game until there is only one player left, what can we say about the guy who wins all of the money? Did God want him to win? It certainly might feel that way to him, he just beat out a whole bunch of people. It's not a skill based game, so he can't credit practice, he can't honestly say he is good at flipping coins, he just got lucky. The thing is, somebody had to win. If there is a God, he might decide to manipulate our fair coin tosses and make it so that particular guy wins. But if there is no God, or if God is not interested in this game, somebody would have to win, it could be anyone and it has to be someone.

If the country we are talking about is the united states, the odds of any particular person winning is about 1 in 300,000,000. It might seem that with odds this drastically low it would be impossible for it to happen by chance. There must have been someone or something guiding the coin flips for him to overcome those impossibly low odds of winning. But that is just not the case. It is true that for that guy, the odds of winning were one in three hundred million. But there are three hundred million people all with the same odds. If you look at the entire situation instead of the one guy who happened to win, it doesn't seem so crazy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Atheism Plus

I imagine most of my readers are already familiar with the bigger atheist bloggers, but in case anyone here doesn't read Blag Hag, or Greta Christina's Blog, or...well I think most everyone on FTB has made a post about this. But just in case anyone has missed it, I thought I would point out that Jen McCreight has recently made a few posts about this new branding on her blogging, Atheism+. Basically it is atheism plus a bunch of social justice topics, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

The whole thing makes a hell of a lot of sense to me. Equality always makes a lot of sense to me, whether the oppressed minority group is atheists, women, african americans, trans-folk, if their rights are getting taken away we should fight for it. I don't blog about these topics very much at all, being a straight, white guy, I am in the privileged position on most of these topics and I don't often have much to add to the conversation. I do thoroughly support these causes though, and I really like this A+ branding effort (the astute reader will notice the new A+ badge in my sidebar). If you haven't heard about this yet, I recommend reading about it in more detail from Greta, her writing is always great.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2 Corinthians Overview

As I have explained in the past, one of the reasons I am doing this blog is I am curious to see what kind of messages one might get from reading the bible. What might one learn as a take-away. Here is my quick summary of the good and bad from 2 Corinthians.

(note: the chapter link takes you to my page on that chapter, the verse link takes you to the verse on

The Good

2:5-7 Be quick to forgive and comfort those who have done wrong

8:14 promote reciprocal altruism

9:11 Be generous

12:14 Persistence

12:15 Generosity

The Bad

5:8 death is better than life

5:10 do what the church says, you will be judged when you die for it

7:12 Don't worry about the person you have wronged, just get good with God

8:3-4 Poor people should give to the church beyond their means

12:10 Be happy with persecution

13:3-6 request for proof met with threat

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2 Corinthians 12 & 13

Paul's Visions and His Thorn

Paul had a vision of a man who was "caught up to the third heaven" 14 years ago. The man saw things that cannot be told.

Why is he telling this story. Paul tells us of a vision where some guy goes up to heaven and sees stuff we can't talk about. So what? Is the whole point that someone went to heaven? 

Also, what is 'third heaven'? A quick google search led me here which led me here. It seems people back then thought the heavens were basically concentric domes above our heads. Who still wants to use the bible as a science book?

To make sure Paul didn't get conceited because he got this amazing vision, God put a thorn in his flesh and a messenger of Satan was sent to harass him. Paul pleaded with God to remove these impediments, but God said his grace was enough for him and the weakness would make him strong, so he boasts about the weakness and is content with it.

This is just weird to me. Paul is boasting about his weakness, doesn't this just make him double conceited. He is conceited because he is amazed at how special he is to get the vision, then on top of it he is conceited to think he is special enough to deserve harassment from Satan and other weaknesses thrown on top of him. I also don't like the idea of being happy with persecution, it can really give someone a complex.

Am I being too critical here? Perhaps a good spin on it is if people are accepting of their failings they will live a happier life. This is a double edged sword though isn't it, if you are happy with your weaknesses will it hold you back from striving for more? This is the best I can come up with for an alternate view and I'm still not really a fan.

Concern for the Corinthians Church

Paul says he will come back to Corinth for a third time to try to convert them. He is afraid for their souls. He will make sure not to be a burden as he has done in the past.

He is concerned for them, that is good I suppose. He is coming back a third time, and apparently with not much success here. So I suppose this is encouraging persistence, and caring for your fellow man.

Final Warnings (ch13)

I'm coming again for the third time. You have asked me for proof that Christ is in me, Christ was crucified in weakness but lives in strength. Examine yourself and make sure you pass the test.

So his response to a request of proof is a declaration that Christ is real and a threat. That is the Christianity I am familiar with.

Final Greetings

Rejoice, live in peace, and comfort one another, then God will be with you.

That sounds nice, but it doesn't match up with the rest of it. You can't preach doom and gloom and then end by saying all you have to do is be nice and everything will be cool. It's the sugar coating to make you swallow the rest of it.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


12:14 Persistence

12:15 Generosity


12:10 Be happy with persecution

13:3-6 request for proof met with threat

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2 Corinthians 10 & 11

Paul Defends His Ministry

Many of the Corinthians apparently complained that Paul talks a big game in his letters but is weak in person. He claims this is not true. He also says that his tools are spiritual tools.

I think the point of saying he uses spiritual tools is to try to claim that he isn't weak in person, he is just working on another level or something.

Paul wants the Corinthians to become more faithful so they can expand their influence through Corinth to territories on the other side of their borders.

I suppose a cynical view of this would be that they are being selfish the whole time. They are just trying to expand their influence and get money from more people. A more forgiving view would be that they are true believers and want to spread the word as much as possible. They are trying to tell the Corinthians that the sooner they believe the sooner Paul and his guys can help additional people. Honestly, I don't see why both of these ideas can't be at least partially true. Why couldn't someone be a true believer and at the same time be motivated by greed?

Paul and the False Apostles (ch 11)

v1 "I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!"

I'm not sure how to take this, does this mean the following section is of less importance than other things? Perhaps he simply thinks he is warning them of something that is not really a danger to them? Is this just the ancient way to put a smiley face emoticon on his words? I don't really understand the relevance of this verse, but it definitely seems worth pointing out.

I am afraid you might be deceived by other apostles speaking of another Christ. I preached to you free of charge as I accepted support from others while I was spreading the word to you. How can I convince you that I am for real and others are false apostles? For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, his servants will also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their ends will correspond to their deeds.

So he is basically saying there are other people who are preaching similar stuff but everyone should believe him [Paul] instead. He doesn't really explain how you can tell who is for real and who is fake except for the vague reference to the ends corresponding to the deeds. Well, if the message is to look at deeds to determine who is with God and who is with the devil, I point to the catholic child rape scandal to show those people are definitely not with God.

Paul's Sufferings as an Apostle

Paul says he is boasting as a fool, then gives a list of times he experienced hardships, often getting his ass kicked.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2 Corinthians 9

The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem

I have told the people of Macedonia how awesome you guys are, it would be embarrassing to me and to you if you didn't come through on your promise of a gift. So I am sending some of my guys ahead to collect so when I get there with the Macedonians it is a willing gift rather than an exaction.

This section I just find strange, and it feels to me like we don't quite have enough information to make a proper judgement. Paul says that the Corinthians made a promise of a gift, and therefore he is simply making sure they come through. On the surface this seems like a fine thing. If you promise something you should follow through. On the other hand, what is the deal with it becoming an exaction if they don't give it as a gift? That makes the whole thing seem shady.

I suppose a Christian might accuse me of just looking for things to complain about (perhaps this is true) and say that Paul is just trying to make things right.

The Cheerful Giver

The more you sow the more you reap. You should be generous in every way.

This is good stuff. Encouraging generosity is great. Many Christians focus on this kind of thing from the bible and our world is a better place for it.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


9:11 Be generous

Monday, August 20, 2012

2 Corinthians 7 & 8

Paul's Joy

Make room in your hearts for us, we care about you. I made you grieve with my last letter, which is unfortunate, however it made you repent so I am glad it caused you temporary hardship since the end result was good. Godly grief produces repentance and salvation. Every time you have had Godly grief you have cleared yourself with God. I did not write to you for the purpose of the one who did wrong, or the person who was wronged, but so you could see your earnestness with God and feel comforted.

This seems like a bad thing to me. They have apparently done something wrong, Paul is not interested in making sure the person who did something wrong learns a lesson, or that the person who was wronged is made whole. The concern is that they are cleared in the eyes of God. It shouldn't be possible to be good with God without also at least trying to make it right with the wronged person.

Encouragement to Give Generously (ch 8)

We were going through severe affliction while in Macedonia, and the churches there gave in abundance even beyond their means. They were in extreme poverty, and yet gave to us generously on their own accord and begged us to take part in "the relief of the saints".

So Paul and his guys basically took advantage of poor people. When I read the title of this section I thought it was going to go on the good side of the overview, but it looks like it should read "encouragement to give generously to us".

This is not a command to you, but a way to prove your earnestness. You should give away your wealth to those who have little so when they have much and you have little they will help you out.

Now this doesn't sound so bad, basically a help each other out story. Basically trying to sell the idea of reciprocal altruism. Which would seem like a good lesson, except the first part of the lesson was about poor people who gave a bunch of wealth to the church. So who is Paul talking about? Is he talking about rich Corinthians helping out poor Corinthians? If so I like it, but I think Paul is asking the rich Corinthians to give money to the church (in other words, give money to Paul). I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt as much as I can manage and put this in both good and bad.

Commendation of Titus

We are sending Titus to you, we like him and we think he will be good for you.

Doesn't seem to be much here.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


8:14 promote reciprocal altruism


7:12 Don't worry about the person you have wronged, just get good with God

8:3-4 Poor people should give to the church beyond their means

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What is the deal with Creationism?

Recently in a post on Reason Being's blog, a creationist popped up in the comments. My first instinct was to say to him that creationism is simply "God did it", but then I realized, I actually don't really know what creationists say. I know what my parents told me as a kid, and I know what my church told me as a kid, they basically said "God did it, evolution is wrong". I also know that the ID people (who are the same people as the creationist people if I am understanding correctly) claim things like irreducible complexity, which is just nonsense. But apart from that, I'm not really sure what the creationist people say.

So today when I stumbled across the institute for creation research, of course I subscribed to their "daily science updates". I figured it would be a fun post to go through a few of their recent articles and see what I see.

What Does It Take to Make a Jellyfish?

This article manages to say something ridiculous right from the start, it begins with
Many jellyfish are transparent, and they have seemingly simple movements and few visible interacting parts. They should, therefore, be easy to synthesize with man-made parts...
Why would "transparent" and "seemingly simple movements" imply easy to synthesize? The article then goes on describe what the scientists tried to do to mimic a jellyfish and how it was not very well done. For the record, it sounds to me like what the scientists were able to accomplish is very cool. Anyway, the article concludes with the following
The implication is clear. Whoever designed real jellyfish was much smarter than ordinary people.
So to sum up, the author of this article makes the rash assumption that since jellyfish are transparent and have seemingly simple movements, they should be easy for people to synthesize. Then when this assumption proves false, he concludes that the only explanation is that jellyfish were designed, and they were designed by someone smarter than the people who tried and "failed" this time. It seems to me that there are a host of other possible conclusions one could draw from this, but why not just stick to the one that he wants to be true?

New African Fossil Confirms Early Human Variations

This article talks about a recent paper from the journal Nature. Apparently, the paper found some new fossils and the scientists talked about trying to fit the fossils into our currently understood evolutionary lineage. This is a topic I am not particularly well versed in, so I'm not sure how much I can contribute, but the author of this article complains that the nature paper is trying to challenge early concepts of the lineage and might change earlier ideas. He uses this to try to argue that evolution is junk because it changes, I guess he doesn't understand that he is pointing out one of the huge advantages of science, it can always challenge earlier ideas and things can always change. He finishes this article with
On the other hand, the Bible's origins account is compatible with discontinuous fossils like these, since it says that God created people to reproduce after their own kind, not between kinds.
So my instinct was correct, the creationist view is simply "God did it"
 It follows from this that no undisputed ape-to-human transition will ever be discovered. 
I agree, these people are basically pledging to dispute everything of this type that shows up, so it is true, there will never be an undisputed ape-to-human transition found.
If these new human-looking fossils really do represent human varieties, then they only reinforce the biblical and scientific observation that humans can and did rapidly express widely differing variations in form and features. 
Is there biblical evidence for humans variation like he is describing? I'd love to see a verse citation.

Useless Search for Evolution of the Human Brain

This article talks about a review article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It apparently talks about a gene FOXP2 which is seems to be important to human speech as there are some people who have a mutation in that gene and have speech defects. Obviously there is the potential that this gene was important in the evolution of speech.
No. The high hope once held for FOXP2 as a key to explain the evolution of speech in the brain was dashed on the rocks of real research.
Oh, I stand corrected. Apparently this guy thinks he has proof that this gene can not be part of the evolution of speech. Care to elaborate?
Analyses of FOXP2 gene activity showed that it was not only used in brain tissues that facilitate speech, but also in various tissues throughout the body with a variety of uses. 
No problem there. Many features of animals have multiple uses, evolution can happen when a population of animals shifts from one use to another.
This represents an overlooked flaw in the evolutionary research approach. Because FOXP2 turned out to be involved in many traits, its evolution by natural selection is highly improbable.
This is just completely wrong. The fact that FOXP2 is involved in many traits makes it all the more likely it was important for the evolution of speech. Suppose for the moment, that FOXP2 is important for speech. The fact that it is useful for other tasks makes it all the more likely that it was present when all of the other things important for speech were there and it was ready to be co-opted for the purpose of speech. [disclaimer: I don't actually know anything about FOXP2, but I have a general idea of how evolution works and this guy's analysis just seems completely wrong to me]

He then complains that the survey article assumes that evolution is true and it didn't consider ID as an alternative. He states:
Preuss and others did not mention—let alone test—the possibility that FOXP2 was purposely placed to serve multiple functions throughout many body tissues in many creatures.
How would you even test such a thing?

Salmon Use Sophisticated Compass Cells

This article talks about how salmon know how to get back to their spawning ground. Apparently some scientists have found some cells that have magnetic properties. Pretty cool. Also, there are many cells that don't have that magnetic property, if there were too many they would interfere with one another. Again, very neat. So then he says this
Would anybody argue that a fully functional compass, complete with a spinning needle, could ever be arranged by accident? Apparently so. [emphasis mine]
 No god dammit! It is not random and it is not by accident. Randomness is part of the process, but natural selection is not random. In fact, in a very real sense it is the opposite of random as traits that are superior win out and spread like crazy.

So, to the author of these articles, I think it is now time for me to ask the question. Are you stupid or are you a liar? Given that you are writing about how evolution is bullshit, I'm assuming you have studied at least the basics of it. If you think evolution is things simply being arranged by accident, you are stupid. If you just say "by accident" because it fits your narrative better and you think it will play better in your target audience, then you are a liar.
These are articles I found largely at random. I also looked around the rest of the website a bit and as far as I can tell, they seem typical. If anyone thinks I have missed some obvious good resources or that I'm being unfair, please point me toward something of higher quality.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What am I supposed to tell my kids?

I was recently reading a comment thread about gay marriage and someone asked if they saw a gay couple kissing how they would explain that to their children. My normal response to this kind of thing is that [--edit-- there is nothing wrong with it and] it is irrelevant to the conversation. The fact that you might have trouble explaining something to your kids is not a good reason for censorship, it is certainly not a good reason to take away someone else's rights.

But for some reason, this time the comment struck me a little bit differently. As a parent, wouldn't it be best to look at these "unfortunate" events as a teaching experience? Let's say there is some event (in this case 2 dudes kissing) that your child could potentially witness. Would you prefer it happen when you are around or when you are not? Instead of complaining that something happened that you have to explain to your kids, you should be happy that you get to give your perspective.

So it seems to come down to whether or not you want to accept reality or ignore it. I understand that you want to protect your kids, but how does ignoring problems help them in the long run? This goes for alcohol, drugs, and sex too. Your children will eventually come across these topics on their own, it seems a good parent would want to talk them over with their children ahead of time. Yes, sometimes these topics are hard to broach, shouldn't you then be happy for an easy lead in? If it comes up organically somewhere wouldn't it be better than having a sit down and starting with "we need to have a talk about X"? Those conversations are never comfortable.

But the other option is to just never have the conversation at all. Don't tell your kids about alcohol and just hope they don't wind up going nuts and getting alcohol poisoning, don't tell them about safe sex and just hope they don't get any diseases or unwanted children. These are conversations that need to happen, you can't protect your children from the world by hiding it from them, because if you try it that way, who knows what will happen when they are on their own.

Friday, August 17, 2012

2 Corinthians 5 & 6

Our Heavenly Dwelling

Our home on Earth is just a tent in which we experience anguish, we have a house waiting for us in the heavens. When we are here in our tent, we are away from God. Even though we would rather be away from the body and at home with the lord, we must do everything we can to please him because one day we will all be judged by Jesus for what we have done in the body, whether good or evil.

I find this kind of thing pretty disgusting. The message is basically that this life is shit, we would all rather just die and go to heaven, but you must do the best you can here because someday you will be judged. It is simultaneously telling people that their life is worthless and that they should follow what the church says.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

We know that everyone will be judged after they die, and so we are spreading the word. Jesus died for all of us, and therefore we have all died. Anyone who has accepted Christ is in a new creation. God has reconciled those people and doesn't count their trespasses against them. So we are spreading this word, please accept Christ and be reconciled to God.

So if I am understanding this passage correctly (which I might not be, I found it confusing) we will be judged after we die, but if we accept Jesus our trespasses won't count. So everyone is judged, except if you are with Christ you can do whatever you want because your trespasses don't count. 

(ch 6) (why are the chapter breaks all in weird places?)

The day of salvation has arrived, we have put no obstacles in your way so no fault can be found with our ministry. We are amazing in many ways (listed in detail in verse 4-10). We have opened your hearts to you, you should in return open your hearts to us.

The Temple of the Living God

Do no associate with unbelievers. Go out into their midst and be separate from them.

Confusing to me, how can you do both things?

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


5:8 death is better than life

5:10 do what the church says, you will be judged when you die for it

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2 Corinthians 3 & 4

Ministers of the New Covenant

You [The Corinthians I guess] are the proof that we are doing a good job. We are ministers of a new covenant that surpasses the old covenant of Moses. The old covenant kills, but ours gives life. The covenant given to Moses written on that tablets was so full of glory that the men could not look at it directly, but compared to the glory given to us through the spirit the old one had no glory at all. This is partly because our glory lasts forever and the glory of Moses eventually came to and end. When reading Moses, there is a veil over your heart which can only be taken away through Jesus Christ.

This section I found fairly difficult to understand. I think I got the idea right, but I might be misinterpreting stuff. The whole thing seems very anti-Semitic to me though, as it seems to be comparing Christians to Jews and the Jews are spoken of in poor light. Their religion is talked about in terms of death and behind a veil and with hardened hearts and so forth.  The whole thing makes me a bit uneasy.

The Light of the Gospel (ch 4)

We have this ministry by the mercy of God and we refuse to use any underhanded or disgraceful methods. Jesus said to let the light shine out of the darkness, and it has shone into our hearts the knowledge and glory of God.

So basically, they want to let the gospel out to as many people as possible. Fair enough, if you believe something like this is true the correct thing is obviously to tell everyone about it that you can. You should dedicate your life to spreading this message. 

v3-4 "and even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

This really caught my eye, especially the fact that the god that was blinding the minds of the unbelievers was not capitalized. I'm assuming this is supposed to be a competing god from another religion. If another god can shield people's mind from God, what does that say about the omnipotence of God? 

Treasure in Jars of Clay

I assume Jar of Clay is supposed to be our bodies.

We accumulate treasures in this world, and yet they will waste away. If we also carry the death of Jesus in our hearts, so will the life of Jesus manifest in our bodies.

Basically just saying that you will die, but if you believe in our stuff you will actually live forever. What an enticing story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2 Corinthians 1 & 2

According to wikipedia, there is evidence that there are at least 4 letters from Paul to the Corinthians. Apparently chapters 10-13 are very harsh compared to the rest and it is speculated it was actually a different letter. Very interesting.

God of All Comfort

God comforts us when we are afflicted so that we may comfort others when they are afflicted. We share in the sufferings of Christ as well of the comfort of Christ. When we were in Asia, we were so burdened that we thought we would die, but that was to force us to rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead and delivered us from that deadly peril. We want you to pray for us.

So we suffer for the purpose that we can be comforted later. There is some logic to this, if we are always happy then it won't seem like happiness but it will just be what is normal. But if we are sometimes sad it brings meaning to the happiness. Or something like that. There is some logic to this idea, but it appears to me that this is supposed to be an explanation for the pain and suffering in the world, and to me it falls flat. For everyday stuff, sure, dealing with some pain and anguish might help you appreciate the good times that come later, but what about people who don't come out of it? What about people with debilitating diseases (like MS for instance)? I suppose a Christian might say that they will find comfort in heaven later or something, but this only works if the person who has the disease is also a Christian.

Another thing here, it seems to try to equate raising the dead from bringing back from the brink of death. We can all understand bringing people back from the brink of death, but to have someone actually die and be brought back is another thing entirely. Trying to talk of them as if they are the same is slight of hand.

Paul's Change of Plans

It appears that Paul had planned on visiting Corinth a second time and did not show up. This passage seems to be justifying the fact that he did not show up.

I do not follow the whims of the flesh and say yes and no at the same time. I wanted to come a second time, but I knew that I would cause you pain, and this would cause me pain in turn. I am writing you now so that when I come later we can all rejoice together.

Seems to me that Paul didn't come and now he is justifying it. 

Forgive the Sinner (ch 2)

If anyone has caused pain, he has caused it to all of you. Therefore, you should forgive and comfort him or he will be overwhelmed by excess sorrow.

This sounds really good. The idea that we are all harmed when someone in our community is harmed is a good one. We should all strive to help each other out and the world would be a better place.

This is how I am testing you, anyone that you forgive I will also forgive.

What the hell is this? If the lesson is that you are supposed to forgive everyone, shouldn't Paul follow this and forgive everyone, regardless of whether or not the other Corinthians have forgiven them?

Triumph in Christ

We spread the true word of God unlike so many other 'peddlers of God's word'. We have the fragrance of God on us, we smell of life to believers and death to non-believers.


For the overview post

2:5-7 Be quick to forgive and comfort those who have done wrong

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1 Corinthians Overview

As I have explained in the past, one of the reasons I am doing this blog is I am curious to see what kind of messages one might get from reading the bible. What might one learn as a take-away. Here is my quick summary of the good and bad from 1 Corinthians.

The Good

4:3 Don't be quick to judge

9:12 It is better to save a soul than make some money (see chapter 16:2 below)

12:25-26 Help each other out

13:1-3 Love is very important

The Bad

2:15 We can judge you, you can't judge us

6:18 sex is bad

11:3 Women should be subordinate to their husbands

14:34-35 woman should be submissive, it is shameful for them to speak in church

16:2 Undoes my good item from chapter 9

Monday, August 13, 2012

1 Corinthians 15 & 16

The Resurrection of Christ

If you listen to the gospel that I [Paul] preach and you believe you will be saved "unless you believed in vain".

This is an interesting bit of scripture right off the first 2 verses. It sounds to me like this is saying that if you believe what I am saying there are 2 possibilities: 1. you will be saved, 2. you have believed in vain and you will not be saved. Although this is how it sounds to me, it doesn't seem like something that Paul probably meant. 

I looked up in vain and one way it is used is what I was thinking of "Not yielding the desired outcome; fruitless: a vain attempt.". But there is another way to use it which seems like a more reasonable guess as what Paul meant "In an irreverent or disrespectful manner". So basically, he is saying that if you are believing in a somewhat fake manner, you will not be saved. I think this is what the verse is supposed to mean.

Paul retells the resurrection story and mentions all of the people that Jesus visited after he was resurrected. Included in this story is the mention that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at one time.

I don't remember the 500 people incident, I did a quick search and it seems that the only place the 500 number comes up is here.

The Resurrection of the Dead

You say that no one has been raised from the dead, if no one has been raised, not even Christ has been raised and our preaching has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.

hmm, I take back what I said up top. Perhaps my first read of that was correct.

But Christ has been raised from the dead, and so will you in good time. Otherwise what would being baptized on behalf of the dead mean? etc.

Basically, he wants it to be true or all of his preaching is false, pretty circular.

Mystery an Victory

At the end of time, God will play the last trumpet and we will all be raised from the dead, God will conquer death.

I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean. Although I do find it interesting that there is no heaven mentioned here. It talked of us waking up, as if we are dead in the ground and God brought us all back to life. Doesn't mesh well with the way we currently conceptualize things.

The Collection for the Saints (ch 16)

During the first day of each week, you should put some money aside that I will collect for the saints when I visit there.

I deserve your money but I'm not going to take it to save more souls...also, give me your money

Plans for Travel

Paul gives his travel itinerary


Final Instructions

Be prepared for visitors. Be watchful, strong, and do things in love.

Sounds good.


The churches of asia send you greetings, greet one another with a holy kiss.

Sounds good.

If anyone has no love for the lord, let him be accursed.

So basically, greet anyone with love and be welcoming and what not, unless they disagree with us, fuck those guys.

For the Overview


16:2 Undoes my good item from chapter 9

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When you can interpret the Bible any damn way you please...

I was reading a post on the Superfine Apostate's blog which shows a video where a Christian uses the bible as justification for rape. The guy reads a passage from the bible, says that it means you are going to get raped, he says he is going to do it and he is going to like it. It's fucking disgusting.

After the video, SA says the following "When you can interpret the Bible any damn way you please, other people will interpret the Bible any damn way they please." This to me really should be the takeaway of the video (obviously I think it is brilliant, I stole this quote for the title of this post). This is the problem with the bible being a big book of multiple choice, it really does seem like you can justify any position with it. I have heard many people say that Jesus only teaching peace and love, I have heard people say "what's the harm?", well here it is. This guy used the same book to justify rape! You might say "well that's old testament", well this guy doesn't seem to have any qualms about using the old testament to justify his atrocities. The old testament is in your book, and assholes don't seem shy about using it.

This actually reminds me of separation of church and state a bit. People who don't want separation of church and state assume that their religion will be the one associated to the government. They assume that other religious people are just like them. It doesn't occur to them that some religious people, even some Christians, believe things vastly different from them. Some sects don't go to doctors at all, they just pray and let God sort it out. What if they got in power, would they outlaw hospitals? Seems a bit out there, seems a bit crazy right? You know what else sounds crazy? Justifying rape with the bible.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

It's a Miracle!

I had completely forgotten about this until a few days ago, but when I was a Christian I interpreted a minor event as a miracle. I used to deliver newspapers, the fastest way was to go on my roller blades, but rain was very bad for them, so on rainy days I had to use another means (a bike or having my mom drive me around).  One day I was out on my route and right near the end it started to sprinkle, so I really pushed myself to finish and get home as fast as I could. As soon as I walked in the door it started pouring outside. (In reality, the timing probably wasn't quite this tight, but to me it felt like it went from nothing to torrential rain the moment I crossed the threshold.) I remember thinking that God must have held the rain back for me so I could get home relatively dry. This was my miracle.

Thinking about it later, I realized how self centered I was being. Rain is something that affects a large number of people at the same time. Making a change that would help one person out could have repercussions that would hurt another. If it starts later it would have to end later (or rain harder I guess). Or maybe it would have to rain in a slightly different place. On the other hand, God is pretty big, surely he can help me without hurting someone else. But why would God go to all that trouble just to help some kid not get his roller blades wet? I went back and forth like this for a while.

My other thought in regards to this event calls back to the fact that the rain affects a large number of people at the same time. Let's say for the sake of argument that 100,000 people got rained on that day, odds are that someone will narrowly miss the rain. If everyone had been thinking like me that day, someone would have thought they experienced a miracle, whether or not there is any kind of a deity.

So what really happened that day? Was I randomly just a lucky person who narrowly avoided some water, or did God help me out? The funny thing is, there is no way to know for sure, but that is part of the problem. I can never prove that God didn't help me out that day, but it seems more reasonable to me that I was just lucky.

Friday, August 10, 2012

1 Corinthians 13 & 14

The Way of Love

If you don't have love, your other accomplishments amount to nothing. Love is patient and kind, and it has a lot of other really nice properties. Love never ends while everything else passes away.

This is a good passage, focus on love is a good message. If people focused on things they loved instead of things they hated for instance the world would be a much better place.

Prophecy and Tongues (ch 14)

Prophecy and speaking in tongues are both good, you should do both, but know what that when you speak in tongues you are talking to God and when you are prophesies you are building up the church. Speaking in tongues is not helpful to anyone except the person doing it unless there is an interpreter.

I suppose this makes sense, if you speak in a language no one can understand it will be worthless to them.

Speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers and prophecy is a sign for believers. For if an unbeliever comes into a church where everyone is speaking in tongues they will say you are all out of your minds. On the other hand, if an outsider comes into the church and prophecy is being spoken, he will be convinced.

This sounds backwards to me, what am I not understanding? It says that speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers, and yet it says that an unbeliever who views speaking in tongues would call them nuts and turn away. On the other hand, it says that prophecy is for the believers, then it says that an outsider who sees prophecy will be convinced. This looks like an error to me, it makes no sense this way. If a friend of mine wrote this and had me proofread I would show him this and point out that he must have mixed up believers and unbelievers in one part or the other. Am I missing something here?

Orderly Worship

If speaking in tongues during church, have 3 people at most speaking in tongues, each in turn with someone interpreting. If there is no one to interpret they should stay quiet and speak only to himself and to God. If someone is speaking prophecy, let him speak and let others consider what is said. If someone else has a revelation while he is speaking, he should be quiet and let the other man speak.

Generally these seem to be rules to keep service orderly and worth while for everyone. Sounds good.

v.34-35 "the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."

I don't even know what to say here. This is horrible. This is very explicit, much worse than yesterdays bit of misogyny. How could any enlightened woman follow this book? 

I'm trying to imagine how I would have reacted to this when I was a Christian and I honestly have no idea. I was never confronted with this stuff back then. If someone had just told me this was in the bible I think I would have called them a liar. If they had persisted and shown me the actual verse, I just don't know how I would have responded. I probably would have assumed there is something here beyond my understanding that must make this ok, but I think I would have a hard time with this. 

For the overview post


13:1-3 Love is very important


14:34-35 woman should be submissive, it is shameful for them to speak in church

Thursday, August 9, 2012

1 Corinthians 11-12

Head Coverings

[edit: In the comments of this post there was a good discussion of this section. Commenter Kristen has clearly thought about this passage a lot and has a good detailed section about it on her webpage. Anyone who is interested in this should go check it out]

This section is completely bizarre to me, I'll break it down as best I can, but it seems to me that it is just a cultural relic.

The head of a man is Christ, the head of Christ is God, and the head of a wife is her husband.

I'm going to assume that being the head of someone means they are subordinate to you or something. A good example of sexism in the bible. I'm not sure how God being the head of Christ fits in with the whole trinity thing, although I've never really understood the trinity so I'll move past this. Another interesting thing here is it doesn't mention unmarried women. I suppose unmarried women were thought of as property of their fathers and not worth bringing up.

If a man prays or prophesies with his head covered he is dishonoring Christ, but if a woman prays or prophesies without her head covered, she is dishonoring her husband.

I don't understand why there would be a difference, is a head covering an honor or a dishonor? This is what I mean when I say it must just be some cultural relic.

If a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short, but this is a disgrace so she should cover her head. A man should not cover his head for he is the image and glory of God.


Woman was made from man but we are all born of women, so women should wear a symbol of authority on their head.

I really don't understand what these things have to do with one another.

If a man wears long hair it is a disgrace, but if a woman has long hair it is her glory.

So why do we cover it up? This whole section makes no sense to me. It seems to me that it is simply reflecting the preferences of the person speaking and/or the style of the time and simply claiming that God wants it that way too.

The Lord's Supper

When you come together as a church to eat the bread and drink the wine, do so properly or you will bring judgement on yourself. You should not have factions in your church. You should not come to church hungry, you should eat at home first.

I understand the idea of not having divisions in the church. That seems like a good thing, cliques are bad and whatnot. I don't really get the part about being hungry. Perhaps it used to be a full blown meal that was done there and people were taking advantage? I don't really know.

Spiritual Gifts (ch 12)

Paul is talking to Pagans, he says that different people have different spiritual gifts, yet they all come from the same spirit. The spiritual gifts include: utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, the ability to distinguish between spirits, speak in tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

My understanding is that Pagans have a different God for each action that a God might do. In this context, this section makes sense if he is talking to former pagans, he's trying to explain how their old religion was wrong.

One Body with Many Members

Everybody is part of the body of Christ. We all rejoice together or suffer together. It is like one person is the foot, another is an eye, we need each other. Some people seem less important, but God made it that way.

Interesting metaphor I guess, we should help each other out is always a good message.

For the Corinthians Overview Post:

12:25-26 Help each other out

11:3 Women should be subordinate to their husbands

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

1 Corinthians 10

Warning Against Idolatry

Our fathers all "drank the same spiritual drink" and yet God was not happy with most of them. We must not indulge in sexual immorality, put Christ to the test, or complain as many of them did and were destroyed. If you are tempted do not think it is unique to you, temptations are all common. But don't worry, God won't temp you beyond your ability to escape.

That makes no sense. If he won't temp you beyond your ability to handle it then why are people tempted and then destroyed when they fail? I suppose the answer would be that they 'could have' avoided the temptation but didn't, but isn't that what we mean when we say it is beyond their ability to handle it?

He then says that idolatry is bad and we shouldn't associate with the pagans during their rituals.

This just seems like he is trying to separate people from the other religion. Force people to make a choice, us or them. I don't like this at all.

Do All to the Glory of God

All food is ok to eat, you can eat whatever is sold at the market. If you go to dinner with an unbeliever you can eat whatever is served to you with a clean conscience. But if they say it is a sacrifice then you shouldn't eat it.

I'm not completely sure what he is getting at here. My best guess is he is trying to say not to worry about things like the kosher laws. If someone serves you pork don't worry about it. However if someone serves you food that is from a sacrifice don't eat it, I guess because it is involved in idolatry or something.

This is a tough one for me to follow.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

1 Corinthians 9

Paul Surrenders His Rights

Paul points out that workers of a field eat some of the crops, those who tend animals take some of the milk, etc. So why shouldn't those who tend the spiritual lives of people take some material things from them? This is the right of the clergy, and yet Paul does not partake because he thinks this will result in even more people converting.

This is a really interesting passage, the more I think about it, the more I think this is a fine message. The spiritual leaders among you are working to provide you a service. You think the service is valuable, why not give them some material items so they can get by. The reason I think this is ok, is that the message seems to be talking about making a living, not getting rich. There are 2 problems I can think of here. One is if someone uses the message to get rich (mega-churches for example), the other is when poor people are manipulated to give more money to their church than they can really afford, like the prosperity gospel. However, both of these objections would have to be a distortion of this verse, or perhaps just drawing on other sources.

The other part of this message is that he has a claim to their money but he isn't taking it. He is basically saying that saving their soul is better than taking their money, and if he can refuse some of what is coming to him to save a few more souls it is worth it. This is a good message. Of course I don't believe in the soul or anything myself, but the basic message here it to help each other out, and that I like.


After I wrote this post, it occurred to me that this is a letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He's not there preaching, he's at a far away place. It seems to me that the modern equivalent is the guys at the Vatican telling us that they deserve some money from the churches all over the world. This I'm not much of a fan of.

For the Corinthians Overview Post:

9:12 It is better to save a soul than make some money 

Monday, August 6, 2012

1 Corinthians 8

Food Offered to Idols

My first read of this made no sense, I had no idea what it was talking about. I googled around a bit and found this page which explained that in pagan rituals they offer food to idols and some of the food gets eaten by the people attending the ritual. 

If you eat food offered to the idols, it will not change anything, it won't make you better or worse because the Gods of those idols don't really exist and therefore have no real power. However, if someone who else sees you eating that food they might think that the other God's exist. This would cause an indirect harm and therefore you should not eat that food.

This seems pretty reasonable from their perspective. It won't really do anything because those Gods are fake so giving them attention is bad. From a marketing perspective it is really good, it's not exactly condemning the other religion, but it is keeping your people from standing in both camps.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Know Your Biases

We all have biases. There are certain things that we think are true and other things that we think are false. It is natural to look for things that provide confirmation either way. If I see an article that agrees with a conclusion I have already drawn (say for example, that homeopathy is nonsense), it is easy to look at it and say "one more piece of evidence" without even reading the article. On the other hand, if I see someone that goes against my previous conclusion (say an article that claims vaccines cause autism) I might say "that person has no idea what they are talking about" potentially without even reading the article.

So we all have biases, it is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just a fact of life. But I think it is important for people to be very aware of their own biases. I am biased against religion...a lot. I hate religion actually, I wish it would go away. I think the world would be a better place without religion. I have a number of very well thought out, rational reasons for disliking religion. I also have a number of irrational reasons for hating religion, and I can't always tell the difference. It is important to be aware of my bias and try to take a step back every now and then and make sure I'm not just in some kind of a feedback loop.

The got onto this topic this week while thinking about my weekday bible posts. I was thinking about why I started doing them and why I do them now. One reason is simple, I find it interesting (boring at times, but interesting overall). Another reason is one that I have stated a few times, I hear theists talk about how much good stuff is in the bible and atheists talk about how much crap is in there, and I was curious how much of each is there. Here's where I started thinking about my bias, if I'm being honest with myself, I have to admit that I want to find more bad than good in the bible. I want to find things that are negative and I'm not particularly interested in finding things that are positive. It would serve my bias well if I discovered that the bible is garbage through and through, and therefore it is easy for me to highlight every negative thing that I come across and pass by any positive thing. This is of course, not reality, there is plenty of good stuff in there. The fact that I know my bias plays into how I perceive what I read, I have been trying to be more strict about what goes into the "bad" section and be more generous for what goes into the "good" section. I'd like to think I have succeeded in making it somewhat fair, but what I can say for certain is it is much better now than if I had just gone with my gut instinct every time.

In thinking about the overview posts, I was thinking that something that would be really awesome is if commenters could argue with me over what goes into the overview pages. It would be great if people could point out that I am skipping certain verses that should go on the good side and perhaps being too harsh on the bad side. Or if I have poorly summed things up here or there. This is unfortunately impossible given the way I have been doing it up to now. So I have decided to make a small change (and we will see if it sticks or not), at the end of each post, I will put what will go into the overview post. It seems like that could invite discussion, which is really the reason for the blog in the first place.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Let's imagine a 4 dimensional cube

I was recently thinking about a fun old trick that I used to enjoy showing to students that would allow them to imagine a 4 dimensional object. Today we are going to imagine a hypercube. The key to doing this, is to imagine explaining to a 2 dimensional person what a cube is, if we can figure out how to describe a cube using only 2 dimensional objects, we can then use analogy to imagine a 4 dimensional hypercube with 3 dimensional objects.

So, imagine there is a guy (let's call him Edwin) who lives in a plane, Edwin is a 2 dimensional person and has no concept of a third dimension. We are going to describe a cube by building it out of squares. The first thing you might think to try is the following picture. (Please forgive my poor paint skills)

This doesn't work though, because we only see a cube in this 2D picture because we have seen a 3D cube before. To Edwin this is just a jumbled mess. Think about this as a purely 2D object, I see a little square in the middle, a triangle in the top left and bottom right, and 4 irregular 4 sided polygons. This is just no good at all. We need to do this without overlapping any lines.

So, we start with a single square, and if Edwin walks off any of the 4 sides of the square, he ends up on another square. At this point Edwin probably is picturing something like this.
A pretty good start for sure, we can now try to explain to Edwin that the 4 outer squares are actually pushed into the 3rd dimension. When he crosses those lines he is making a 90 degree turn into a new direction he's never thought of before. Furthermore, the 4 outer squares are connected in ways not shown in this picture. For example, if he goes up, then turns left, when he gets to the edge of the square he will step onto the square to the left. There are basically 2 ways to draw this, we can use colors to show edge identifications or we can distort the picture, here we can see both of those options.
The picture on the left shows the flatness of the squares perfectly, but we have to imagine "jumping" from one square to the next when we hit a colored line. The picture on the right shows the proper spatial relationship between all 5 squares, but the 4 outer squares are distorted since we have pushed them into 2D from their natural 3D space. This picture on the right is the one we want to focus on, it is more useful to us.

Now, we have 5 of the six walls of this cube, we simply have to imagine a 6th square whose 4 edges connect to the 4 outer edges of this picture and we have a cube with 6 walls. We simply have to "fill in" the interior of the cube with three dimensional stuff and we have ourselves a cube. This last bit will be pretty impossible for Edwin to understand, but hopefully he will understand the 2 dimensional walls and how they all fit together.

We are ready to move on to the hypercube, but I want to mention one aside with this picture on the right. Imagine if you have a cube and you put one side right up to your eyeball. This is what you will see, the opposite side is a big square right in the middle of your vision, and the other 4 squares are distorted around the side.

Ok, now we are going redo this work, but we will start with 3D and work into 4D. Imagine you start with a cube, on each face of the cube, we attach another cube, we wind up with the following picture (stolen from here)
Now, if you go into any of the "outer" cube and make a 90 degree turn you should "jump" into one of the other neighboring cubes. Again, we distort the picture (stolen from here)
We are finally ready to imagine the hypercube. Think back to the cube built from squares, you start in the middle square and walk into one of the other squares. When you cross and edge from one square to another, you are really making a 90 degree turn out of the page. The same thing happen here. You are in the middle of the cube in the middle, you can fly into one of the other cubes. When you hit the face that the 2 cubes share, you are really making a 90 degree turn into the 4th spatial dimension. So we have the little cube in the middle of this picture. The 6 cubes adjacent to it that are distorted in this picture, and the final cube that is connected to those 6 that isn't pictured. Those 8 cubes are the boundary to the 4 dimensional hypercube.

Hopefully this made some kind of sense. It is obviously better to do it person, and with physical models instead of pictures and a good bit of hand waving. Just remember, the key is to think about what is going on with Edwin and extrapolate that to yourself.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...