Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Knowledge versus love

At this point in my journey through life, I am seeking knowledge of the things that I am interested in. This includes my walk with God. The search for knowledge isn't so much about the nature of God but how to live as God intended.

If we believe this is God's creation then surely He had in mind a blueprint for our relationship with Him and with one another. He had plan of how we should live and work together. The knowledge that I seek is to understand God's blueprint for living, to live it in this world, and to teach others to live it.

The Gnostics sought special knowledge on the nature of God but when it comes to God, we can only learn to know Him through love and relationship with Him. Claiming great spiritual knowledge has no meaning if we have no love for God.

Taking this further, our love for God, for others, and God's creation has to be the basis of God's blueprint for relationships. How can we see what we love suffer as a result of the way we live?

The teacher teaches so the learner may learn. The good teacher feels sorrow and pain when they mark assessments and the learner hasn't learnt what was intended. They seek new ways of teaching so that what is to be learnt (the object of learning) is more visible. The heart of the teacher is on all grasping the object of learning. I see this as living out the love for the learner.

How can the teacher communicate knowledge if they prejudge the learner's ability to learn? There can be no knowledge transfer without belief in the learner's ability to learn and without finding the common ground from which learning can occur.

This seems like a digression but how can we live in the relationship that God intended if we have no love for what God has created and for those around us? Knowledge may help us build systems and processes but the foundation for life is love and adoration. Let us sit at the foot of the cross and gaze upon God who so loved us He was willing to give to us His son and all that He has.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Stargate 1 series and faith

Leviticus 24:10-23 took on additional significance because we have been watching some of the Stargate 1 series. In that series, the priors of the ori kill off the disbelievers. They use their powers to force people to believe or at least into subservience.

In the Leviticus passage, the judgement is that a man should be put to death for blaspheming the name of God. Knight says that what this man was doing was “stirring up trouble” among the people to encourage them to be “disloyal to the Lord” (p 147). He goes on to talk of this man trying to destroy ye faith of Israel.

This could be argued that this is exactly what the Stargate team are doing with respect to the people's faith in the ori. Now the precedent has been set in Israel, there is the threat that those who endeavour to draw others from belief should be put to death.

Is disbelief the same as drawing others from belief, maybe more accurately actively trying to stop belief? The Stargate series seems to want to promote the idea of faith but tinged with the uncertainty of what that faith means. In the context of the Leviticus passage, that series begins to make Israel's faith one of fear in possibly a false God.

There are some other interesting aspects of the Stargate series. The Stargate team claims to go out to build bridges and in peace to learn about new people but is reality, they go out prepared to do battle with those they meet. If the people attack then they will defend but they don't see that carrying weaponry is a provocative act.

I can understand that we may push a person out of the community of fellowship who actively seeks to destroy the fellowship. In the times of Moses, this may have meant death. The question is whether Israel would have tolerated the doubter or the person who disbelieved.

The implication of the passage is that God declared the death sentence and that it was carried out by the people. It wasn't Gods representative, Moses, who made the judgement and completed the sentence. This could be considered a contrast with Stargate although the prior or his representative have tended to conduct the fulfilment of the sentence.

These parallels should cause us to think about our faith and what it means. The ancients in the Stargate series could be seen as ancestors who have ascended. This leaves the concept of faith open to many of our world religions. Even the concept of incarnation seems to be present. Is this series questioning faith or arguing for faith even in a technological world?

Reference:

Knight, G. A. F. (1981). Leviticus. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

Life and Death

Knight in his commentary on Leviticus 20:10-27) discusses the meaning of life as being the opposite of living(p 130). What he means is that through the sins described in this passage, people lose the ability to experience life as God intended. He talks of how promiscuity means that the modern generation is missing “out on those true dimensions of love which give meaning to life” (p 130).

A florist in New Zealand reacted with surprise that Marilyn's parents were celebrating 60 years of marriage. Such a reaction shows that this generation isn't just missing out, it is never realising what the possibilities are. A commitment that lasts a life time is not part of this generations thinking. These thoughts are in relationship to love and marriage but maybe our financial woes also come from a lack of commitment to our work and doing the best for an employer or our community. Of course employers are missing out on the dedication of someone who knows their job is secure. The commitment is to self-fulfillment so we flit from one role to the next never giving of ourselves to anything that we might do.

As I reflect on my research and what happens next, am I prepared to commit to the Computer Science Education path and look for work that allows me to continue that research? My desire is to continue along the path of facilitating learning and helping others learn the issues of teaching.

Reference:

Knight, G. A. F. (1981). Leviticus. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

What is holiness?

One theme is that holiness means separation. God did this for Israel when he brought her out of Egypt. He continues to do this for each of us as he calls us to be part of his family. We didn't earn holiness; he gave it as a gift, not because of any merit on our part but because of his grace. It is so easy to see ourselves as having been called because of some special gift that we have or something about our approach to doing things. The reality is that all that we are is given by God. He has called us and gifted us. He choose us because he wanted to bless us and through us bless those around us. God seeks to re-create his holiness in and through our lives.

There is another element of holiness that relates to “the power of his loving, righteous, saving presence in” our midst (Knight 1981, p. 97). God doesn't separate us to be out of touch with the people around us. Nor is He separate from us that we may not be influenced by Him. He is with us as our “creative, loving, purposeful sustainer and guide” (p 98).

As a reflection of God's holiness, we are to be in the midst of the world as its “creative, loving, purposeful sustainer and guide.” We do that through God's creative influence upon our lives. At any age, our journey had just begun and we are being an influence on those around us.

Reference

Knight, G. A. F. (1981). Leviticus. Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Ontology

The dictionary definition of ontology says that it is "the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being" (The concise Oxford dictionary). An internet source defines it as "the nature and relations of being; a particular system according to which problems of the nature of being are investigated." This internet source adds a second definition - "a theory concerning the kinds of entities and specifically the kind of abstract entities that are to be admitted to language system." This second internet definition relates to the use of ontology within the knowledge-management community.

However, my first experience of the terminology "ontology" was in relation to Christian ontological understanding particularly in relation to Christ and the resurrection. Did Christ exist and did the resurrection happen? These questions relate more to the nature of being.

What brought me to this review of ontology was a discussion about my grandma not believing that someone had achieved a certain objective. The reality of what the person had achieved has little to do with what my grandma believed. The ontological view would be that the reality of this event is in the records, the certificate issued for the achievement and the related records. The person who raised this issue seemed to base their reality on whether grandma accepted what had been achieved.

A person can become so preoccupation with what others believe to be true that they become disabled from doing things. If we can accept reality as we have experienced it or believed it and move on then life would be more positive. The question in my mind is how do I influence a person's reality so that what others think and say has less impact on them. What are the variations in perception that would help a person change their thinking without upsetting them.

With my thesis, I argued for a disconnect between existence or the nature of being, and the awareness or experience of reality. In my ontology, awareness or belief doesn't define existence; it doesn't even define the nature of existence. Our perception of a phenomenon simply expresses a way in which the phenomenon has been experienced. Knowledge doesn't define existence. Existence doesn't define how a phenomenon is experienced.

In my ontology, God can exist even if no one claims knowledge or experience of Him. However, God is not defined by any particular perception, belief, or awareness of Him. What I believe or claim to believe about God doesn't define God's existence or his nature. In my belief system, I leave room for changes in my perception and understanding as I experience more of and learn to walk more in his presence.

The question becomes what certainty do we have that our perception or experience represents reality. This can only be verified by shared experience. This is the basis for research. We lay a foundation for sharing, verifying and agreeing on our perceptions and experiences of reality.

The ontological journey in an ongoing journey. Along with our ontological journey, there is an ongoing epistemological journey.