Is There A God?

Everybody has a sense of God consciousness. Oh, yes they do. Some believe in Him and sense a personal relationship with Him.

Others spend their time trying to deny His very existence. They can’t according to a basic law of logic which states you can’t prove a negative. To prove God doesn’t exist you would have to know all there is to know about everything — everything and know that in that body of knowledge there is no God.

If you didn’t know everything but did know fifty percent of everything there is to know wouldn’t it be possible that in that unknown fifty per cent God does exist? Who knows fifty percent of all there is to know about everything?

Suppose you knew ninety percent of all there is to know. Would it not be possible that in the unknown ten percent He exists? Even if you knew ninety-nine percent there is still the possibility of His existence in the unknown.

No one knows one hundred percent of all there is to know. Some persons indicate they are all knowing and profess God does not exist. I know some such people and respect their opinion. They are gracious in response. A minority of such people attack the intellect and assault the very character of those who disagree with them. These are the evangelicals of no faith.

I had a friend who owned a large trucking company. He told me he required every potential driver to take a lie detector test before being employed. One question always asked was do you believe in God. He said there never was a person who said no that the test didn’t indicate they were lying. That is his story believe it or not.

God cannot be proven to exist. He is too big for that. However, He has given us lines of logic leading to conclusions only answerable by His existence. Some are:

Where there is a law there is a law giver. Highway speed laws indicate someone made the law. Inertia, gravity, thermodynamics are laws in nature indicating there is a Lawgiver.

Boi mean life. Genesis means life. There is an irrefutable law of biogenetics that says life only comes from life. The existence of life indicates there is a Lifegiver. Where there is design there must be a designer. The design of the human body is incogitable. The design of the universe suchas precise revolution of planets in orbit and the earth’s rotation on its axis reveals design which demands a Designer.

The law of cause and effect speaks of God. For every effect there must be an equal or greater cause. The universe is the effect. It shouts of a greater cause —- God.

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematician/philosopher renowned for his work in calculus and author of the famed Pascal Wager. He held that the prudent person torn between atheism and belief should “bet” on the existence of God. The reason: If God exists, at death the prudent person will get a heavenly reward. If God does not exist, well, no harm done. If one bets against God’s existence and He does exist, well ….

Wolves And American Ranchers

Conservation is an elemental essential. However, extremism in anything is not good.

A few years ago conservationists said the buffalo and elk herds in Yellowstone were over populated and wolves needed to be reintroduced to enable a balance of nature. In 1994 there were no wolves in the Yellowstone area.

I just returned from Montana where I had the good fortune of visiting with ranches. The experiment has gone on long enough for there to be an observable result. Wolves, the apex-killers, have changed the ecosystem in Yellowstone and the region.

Wildlife biologists and ecologists in Yellowstone are still rather pleased with the result of the reintroduction of wolves. The elk herd has been driven to greater elevations and reduced from around 19,000 to 11,000. Vegetation eaten by elk along low lying steams has rebounded and proliferates. Other carnivores benefit from food left from wolf kills.

It is ranchers and businesses in the area who have suffered the greatest losses.

The elk herd in Yellowstone has been so depleted that it has impacted hunting in the designated areas. Normally 2,000 to 3,000 permits are granted. None will be awarded this year because the wolves have decidedly depleted the herd. That means millions of dollars are lost due to hunters not coming into the area. Great revenue is lost because of there being no permits sold. These lost funds normally go to wildlife conservation.

Some persons disparage the iconic image of blood-lusting wolves. Ranchers don’t.

Wolves have impacted cattle herds. In certain regions there is only a 5 percent survival rate of calves. That represents thousands of dollars lost to the ranchers.

Grown cattle lose between sixty and eighty pounds of weight because of being harassed by wolves. At $1.05 per pound in a herd of 500 cattle that is a loss of $84.00 per head for a total loss of $42,000 per herd.

In one area 123 sheep have been killed by wolves.

We watched a herd of elk being harassed and eventually stampeded by a pack of wolves. A ranger pointed out five dead elk in a field killed by wolves. They don’t just kill for food. They kill for fun. The pack attack we saw was in a vast snow field on the slope of a mountain and was carried out for fun.

Various packs prefer certain animals. Over by Ted Turner’s Circle D ranch the preferred elk herd has been so impacted they are now working on the buffalo.

The Circle D has about 4,000 buffalo  Aldo Leopold wrote of a fierce green fire in a wolf’s eyes. The fire blazes when wild predators and domestic prey encounter each other.

Conservation is not only commendable it is crucial. However, forethought and unbiased planning is needed. The Green Movement has a lot to offer if they can just control their extremists who tend to act on emotion and impulse rather than un-skewed facts and fundamental logic.

In all decision making reason and logic should take precedent over emotion and sentiment.THIMK! Yeah, I know.

Swiss Army

We just visited the enchanting land of Switzerland and learned a bit more about their proud heritage.

There is a Swiss statement: “Switzerland has no army. Switzerland is an army.”

That is not exactly true. It has a population of six million of which 600,000 are in the army. At the age 20 each man is conscripted into the army and given 15 months of training. Until the age of 42 they train two to three weeks a year. They keep their weapon in their homes and stand ready to fight.

A distinction of the army is no person’s military rank can be greater than his or her professional rank. Job parody is the point.

Swiss forces last fought outside their nation’s borders in 1515 and they haven’t been at war in more than 500 years. For years there were various volunteer armies in regions who fought as mercenaries. The armies fought for whoever hired them. Once the Duke of Burgundy hired one Swiss army and the King of France hired another. The two armies fought each other as proxies for the Duke and King.

Such a national defense force preserves peace.

Nothing personifies the pride the Swiss have regarding their army than the “Dying Lion of Luzern” carved in sandstone mountain face above the town of Luzern. It depicts a wounded lion with a broken spear shaft extending from its body. Its paw rests on lilies symbolizing France and there is a Swiss shield thereby. It is a tribute to the Swiss soldiers who died attempting to save Marie Antoinette in 1792.

A caption above it reads: “To the Bravery and Truthfulness of the Swiss.”

The name Luzern itself is interesting. It means “The Lantern” or “The Light” and is based on the legend that an angel with a lantern showed founders to the place to establish the city.

Perhaps the European war that brought about more good than most is the Battle of Solferino. This pitted the Austrians against the Sardinian (French.) A Swiss business man, Henry Durant visited Napoleon III near the battle sight where there were 40,000 casualties. He convinced Napoleon “we are all brothers” and all who suffer deserve help.

The outgrowth was the International Red Cross. Durant being Swiss reversed the Swiss flag which is a white cross on a red background and put a red cross on a white background. Thus, it became the symbol of the International Red Cross. Durant formulated and fostered many of the current rules of war. The work of Durant resulted in him being the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

As an aside those medieval armies must have smelled very bad. All of society did. During that era it was believed water damages the skin and bathing was bad for you. It is said of King Louis XIV of France water only touched his body once in his life. It occurred at his baptism as an infant. Even drinking of water was discouraged. Children were told it would cause frogs to grow in them. Come to think of it deodorants are a relatively new thing.

We are blessed to live in this era and this country. If you are going to visit only two foreign countries make them Switzerland and Israel.

Austria: History Revisited

Travel is exciting and educational. Test yourself on these questions that have stumped me in recent travels.

What is the official color of Ireland? I had no doubt but that it was green. It isn’t. It is blue.

Hitler was a German: true or false? False, he was an Austrian.

Beethoven was Austrian: true of false? False, he was a German.

The reversal of the commonly assumed homelands of those two is considered a historical marvel.

What is the capital of Switzerland? It has no national capital. Bern is known as the Federalists City but no city is called the capital.

Which is older Italy or America? Italy as it is known today is considerably younger. As a political state Italy was established in 1861 and America in 1776.

We just returned for a five nation tour of Europe. Each of the five countries was highly enjoyable but Switzerland especially. They do not have states but rather cantons which are  in effect states in the Swiss Confederation. Like most of Europe immigration is a major issue as it is here. For persons to immigrate to Switzerland they do not apply to the national government for permission but to the canton in which they want to reside. The canton has the authority to deny or approve immigration.

In its formation American had a strong states rights provision. In that frame of reference Arizona recently passed a law regarding illegal immigrants that previously would have been the norm as it is now in Switzerland. We have indeed changed.

We gained a new perspective of the times and lives of the characters in “The Sound of Music.”

In the movie and stage versions of the story Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp and his family sang “Edelweiss” in defiance of pressure to support the rising tide of Nazism. The edelweiss flower is a symbol of Austria and the singing of the song was supposed to be a defiant statement of Austrian patriotism.

The scene is memorable but fictional. The song “Edelweiss” wasn’t written until 1959 by Rogers and Hammerstein.

Europeans know little about “The Sound of Music.” They rely on a 1950 German film “Apostolate” for their background.

In so far as Austrian patriotism is concerned it was not as strong as noted in the film and stage productions. There surely would not have been any expression as overt as depicted. However, there were vestiges of patriotism.

Hitler didn’t invade his home country of Austria. The Austrians welcomed him. The year Hitler’s forces moved into Austria there were more traffic deaths than were caused by the intrusion. They wanted him to rule their country, his homeland. In 1945 there were more Nazis in Austria than in Germany.

After Hitler manifested himself and things went bad the Austrians represented themselves as the first victims of Hitler. They were not victims. Only in recent years have they begun to acknowledge their deception and seduction by Hitler.

Austria is a classic example of a whole society being deceived by clever political charlatans.

States rights is a good point at which Americans can express their patriotism.

Renewal In A Circle of Stones

Renewal is an essential part of the life-cycle. Nature does it each spring. Even the cells of our body are periodically renewed. Therefore, it is only reasonable we human beings need to be renewed spiritually. Like clocks we tend to rundown and need rewinding.

Recently I took 36 athletes and twelve coached from Shorter University, notice now “University,” to Montana for a week of Christian leadership training. The week involved a variety of interesting things including a visit to Yellowstone, mountain hiking, swimming in the icy waters or Lake Agnes at 10,000 feet.

One activity was more engaging and stimulating than others.

It involved a morning of fasting which meant missing breakfast. For college students that is a start. They left their watches with group leaders, and turning off their cell phones had them sealed in a paper bag to be used only in the event of an emergency.

The ranch is over six miles long and three miles wide. The students were spread out across this area known as the high desert. Each was to find a place where they could not see anyone or be seen. Once in their isolated spot they were to gather up a number of the abundant stones and make a circle. They were then to sit in the circle alone. They were instructed to stay in the circle all morning except for restroom breaks.

The only movement they saw was deer, elk, antelope, moose, and eagles.

The circle was to symbolize God’s will. They were to stay in the circle and meditate all morning long.

For any active person, especially college students, this is a different discipline. One side affect of fasting is that every time there is a hunger pang it should be reminder that as the body needs food our spirit need renewing. Hence it is a reminder to refocus on God and pray. It is also a discipline in controlling our bodies.

At a given time shortly after noon an air horn was sounded and vans went out to pick them up.

Before they were to leave their circle each person was encouraged to go outside the circle of stones and find a special stone to be used to symbolize something in their life of which they need to be forgiven and renewal begun with the Lord. The stone was to be left in the circle as a symbol of leaving a bad habit or life-style impropriety (sin) behind with the Lord and starting over —- renewed.

For many that was a first, a severe discipline.

Leaders have to be disciplined. Being a Christian leader requires discipline and dedication.

The apostle Paul wrote of disciplining his body and keeping it under control. Our word is self-control. In a society of “me first” and “looking out for number one” where any appetite is to be indulged this was meaningful training.

We all train our bodies. Some train their body to indulge itself. They exercise little or no self-control.

A well self-disciplined life is a productive life. Devise your own equivalent of the circle of stones and begin self-discipline by spending time alone with God —- renewed.