domingo, 19 de febrero de 2012

Idolatry in the context of Romans 1

"Malus omnia in malum vertit, etiam quae cum specie optimi venerant"

God loves His sons and daughters. Because He is a loving father, He sometimes has to chasten His children so they keep going in a straight path. If He doesn't, then we are not His children but illegitimate, bastards (Hebrews 12:5-8). Worse, we are children of Satan (John 8:44) because we do not do the will of God, which is in our best benefit (Romans 12:2). As we fall short to His glory, and we don't repent, He gives us up to the Enemy, so we can experience the whole spectrum of consequences of our actions; that's what the parable of the Lost Son is about (Luke 15:11-32): He let us go to experience a self-conducted (as opposed to conducted by the will of God), godless life, but always waiting for our return so there can be celebration in Heavens. That explains why Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 and 1 Timothy 1 speaks about handing over people to Satan as a corrective experience: we are so stubborn in resisting the one and perfect will of God, that there is no other choice but to let us go for us to see the real dimension of what we wish to do. We want something so badly that we cannot longer hear the voice of God but the crave; we renounce His will so ours can take place, and we like it. And that is the essence of idolatry: to want, love something more than God Himself, to put Him aside so we do what we desire. He is so loving that He doesn't oblige us to do what He wants but let us go, it's our choice and He respects it. He is so loving He even waits there for our return to welcome us with arms wide open to His kingdom.

All that is what Romans 1 is about. People wanting something so blindly they forgot about God and engaged in what they wished to do. Knowledge, money, power, pleasure, anything... Those are not bad things. The Scriptures even encourage us to pursue those things (please, read the Song of Solomon before you misinterpret me holding some prude perspective). The bad thing is to want some of those more than God, because it'd break one of the two commandments we Christians have: love God above everything else. I think that would also explain why Paul says "for the pure, all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). People often take this passage as Paul talking about foods, but it says "all things", which I think includes circumcision and all other ceremonial laws. As Barnes noted: "The principle of the declaration is, that a pure mind - a truly pious mind - will not regard the distinctions of food and drink; of festivals, rites, ceremonies, and days, as necessary to be observed in order to promote its purity. The conscience is not to be burdened and enslaved by these things, but is to be controlled only by the moral laws which God has ordained. [...] But unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure - Everything is made the means of increasing their depravity." As we do things that are sanctified, we can see the fruits of it, because sin always reveals its true nature (John 8:44).

So what the Christians in Rome did was apostasy. They liked what they did more than God, and it came with consequences. He didn't inflict a curse over them for their actions, He just gave them up to what was already there. We should avoid that: be so stubborn to God with something He doesn't have another choice but to leave us to experience the consequences.

jueves, 16 de febrero de 2012

Couples in the context of Genesis 2

The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:24 NET (emphasis mine)

And God Almighty and Perfect created man, the original human being. But His original creation had a tiny detail: he was neither man nor woman, he was Adam. God hadn't created woman, so how could He create a gender-differentiated being if there was no other one with whom he could couple.

He put the man in this beautiful garden, where Adam saw trees and their fruit, and those were pleasant to look and good for food. The man felt they were good, he naturally knew it, that's why they were pleasant; there was something in him that knew he could eat from them. And then God gave him the freedom to eat from any tree, but the one in the middle.

Then God saw something: the man was by himself, alone but not in the sense of loneliness, God was with him. The Hebrew word that's been translated as "companion" in many bible versions actually means "helper", "one who does what we cannot do by ourselves". If analysed in the context, we see that after that realization, God wanted to create a helper, a companion for man that would help him with the labor God entrusted: to care for the garden. 

But it wasn't going to be any creature that Adam could find the one who was going to be his companion, it had to be one suited for him, complementary to him, not in the context of sexuality --the man was not gender differentiated yet, so that companion wasn't a sexual one. That's why, in order to find a partner for Adam, God brought before him all kinds of animals. There's an interesting thing here: God brought all these creatures before Adam for him to choose. God could've made a perfect companion right away and give it to Adam, but instead He delegated that responsibility to man. 

The Scriptures say that after naming all creatures, a suitable companion was not found, so we can deduce that God and Adam expected to find one among the creatures. He didn't, so God made woman and brought her to him. When Adam saw her, he said "this one at last [...]". After all, God did made him an adequate companion because Adam was happy with it, he saw she was suitable, she was like him, related to him, thus he gave her a name.

It is because all that that the man leaves his parents' home and comes to live with his wife and make a family, because Adam was pleased with the companion that was made for him (the scholars of the NET bible translation agree that the word flesh at the end of verse 24 really means 'kin' or 'family', as explained by the ancient OT custom of calling relatives flesh of my flesh). God knew what he needed and he liked it because it was the woman the one who was made for the man, not the other way around (1 Corinthians 11:8-9). I think that also explains why Jesus said that eunuchs don't have to live with women (Matthew 19:10-12): if they don't find them suitable companions, they don't have to deal with them.

Some times I wonder, if the man had found dogs to be better help for him, women would've never existed, and it would be just Adam and his dogs the ones running the world! So, Genesis 2 is not a story of romantic love, how sex came to be, or other fleshy things, but one of partnership, about finding someone suitable to be our complement, someone like ourselves with whom have a lot of offspring that could help us run the planet. Let's remember this all came to happen so we could accomplish God's very first commandment to Adam: "take care of my garden."

martes, 20 de diciembre de 2011

A double standard or beyond ethics?

Why right and wrong exists? To whom are ethics applied?

Easy: morals exists to avoid suffering, unpleasant situations. No one wants to feel bad or uneasy, so what make us feel that way is wrong. That's why human beings invented ethics, so we won't be harming each other all the time in our way to get what we want, using our judgement to decide how we can prevent that. As animals don't have moral sense or cannot make a judgment, morals and ethics do not apply to them; that's why some people say that animals don't have rights. The definition of what is suffering is also subjective to each individual; a few people actually like pain, so pain is not suffering for them; others don't tolerate lactose, so eating ice cream is suffering. This being said, we can conclude that ethical principles and moral are only applicable to humans and are relative to culture. That makes me question: why are we always trying to use our moral on God? 

God is a perfect, almighty being; obviously, superior to us. We are superior to animals and cannot apply our ethics to them, but we can treat them as it happened just to be good persons, because we know better. The same way, the moral standards and ethical principles of God cannot apply to us. The apparent exceptions to the Mosaic Law shown in the Old Testament and the ones Jesus did can't be examined with human standards. E.g, when God told Abraham to kill his beloved son Isaac. "God, who's perfect and good, cannot order the killing of someone", might say some people. In fact, He can. First, He created humankind and thus has the right to do whatever He wants (Romans 9:19-24). Second, His divine disposition does not change, so He knew that Isaac wasn't going to die; it is impossible for us to foresee things, but God knows the beginning and the end undoubtedly. That special attribute comes with certain changes in ethics: you can do things that might seem wrong, but if you know for sure the outcome will be a good thing and nothing bad actually won't happen, so it is not bad at all. And third, someone for whom death is not a problem because can be undone, certainly has a different way to see life.

The categorical imperative of God

Kant speculated about the idea that morality could be "summed up in one ultimate commandment of reason, or imperative, from which all duties and obligations derive". He called that categorical imperative, "an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself". Although Kant rambled intending to expose something different, I think there is no better definition that "categorical imperative" for the utmost principle of God's Law: love. Love is the base and foundation of the Mosaic Law, as is stated in Matthew 22:36-40 (note He said "hang" as in everything else depends on or comes from it):

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” NIV

Besides, there is something most people --who don't understand the Scriptures or have never read the Bible-- often overlook: the higher ethical principle of God, love. In the Bible there are plenty of passages about that, but the most notorious is the one that says "God is love" (1 John 4:8). We are similar to God, therefore we can understand and feel love, and act according to that. E.g, if you tell a lie to a robber to safe someone else's life --let's say, your daughter--, it doesn't mean you should go to pray and repent 'cause of your transgression of the commandment, just because you broke it in order to safe a life. There was simply no transgression whatsoever as you did it accomplishing the foundation of that commandment: love for a life. Some say that you can tell the lie, and then repent. Think: if you told the lie knowingly and willingly, it'd become a deliberate sin and thus with no forgiveness (Hebrews 10:26-27). 

Jesus' suicide

Suicide is sin because you will be killing yourself or willingly letting yourself be killed by something (a car, train...), and killing is bad, it's forbidden. But Jesus willingly let Himself be killed, He committed suicide, but... He did it for love towards us, so by doing it He was being faithful to the utmost principle and foundation of the Law, not a part of it that forbids to kill (1 Corinthians 13). That's also why He contradicted the experts on the Law when they seemed to be right. He himself made a distinction between what's right and wrong from what's good and bad in Matthew 12:1-12.

About Abraham, as somebody else stated, the purpose of God here seems to teach us that the love of Abraham towards God was so big he didn't even withhold his own son, and his faith was so great he knew God would keep His promise of giving him a son, that God would raise Isaac from death if necessary to keep it. It is also a preamble of what was coming: how God's love for humankind made Him sacrifice His only son.


Anyone who acts by perfected love and for love does not do wrong. God's commandments are just to show us how it would be like to do it (Romans 7:7).
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

domingo, 18 de diciembre de 2011

The world is not coming to an apocalyptic end

For those who are somehow religious/spiritual and hold the Bible as truth, here's a rough explanation about why the world is not coming to an apocalypse like in Hollywood movies.

First, the book of Revelation never says that the Earth will be destroy by a cataclysmic event. Yes, there's a meteorite involved, but it never disintegrates a great mass of land -- or water -- and annihilates life through and explosion. It just falls and contaminates water; no gigantic Armageddon-style waves that inundates entire cities. The book is mainly metaphorical and when talks about destruction, it is about the end of this system of things -- or better put, the reign of the Dark Prince's age and the restoration of God's kingdom. Plus, when New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven, it will be placed on Earth; it'd be a shame to see such a beautiful city surrounded by a horrible Terminator-like landscape. And no, it won't happen in 2012 as the Mayan predicted.

Here are some passages you should read:

For this is what the LORD says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited—
he says:
“I am the LORD,
and there is no other [...]
Isaiah 45:18 NIV

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
Acts 1:7 NIV

In fact, He hates the ones who destroy the Earth:

“I am against you, you destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth,” declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain.
Jeremiah 51:25 NIV (similar to Revalation 11:18)

Still I think there's gotta be some kind of natural disaster as the next passage says -- I believe the author is being hyperbolic:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
2 Peter 3:10 NIV

viernes, 16 de diciembre de 2011

The perfect IAL needs to be imperfect

"An attribute of perfection is existence"


An IAL (acronym for international auxiliary language) is a consciously invented language with the purpose to help simplify international communication between people of different cultures with different tongues. They have existed since a few centuries ago, but never been officially used. The ones that are the most relatively successful and still survive till these days are Esperanto, Ido and Interlingua. Their relative success must be due to something good they are doing, so they are the ones I'm going to talk about here.

Why no IAL has been successful?

Because of three factors: they still are complicated, culturally biased and their promoters are stubborn. Let's first talk about why they are complicated.


They key for a IAL to be successful is to be simple to learn. So, the IALs need to focus in simplicity trough regularity in grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Irregularities in grammar take time to learn, e.g. when children say sawed instead of saw, or me instead of I. Interlingua has a naturalistic grammar, but with all the "exceptions", pronoun placing, short forms, it is complicated. On the other hand, Esperanto has a tremendously regular grammar, but because it is European-based, it is complex and strange for speakers of simpler, not European languages like Chinese --particularly the tenses and cases. Ido took away all that complexity from Esperanto and made it simpler, but still European-based and strange for speaker of simpler languages. The point should be to have a simple grammar to the extent that speakers of the grammatically simplest languages won't have any trouble learning. IALs need to focus on the people from the far east, particularly Chinese people, specially now that China has become a new super power with over a billion speakers. Take the pidgins as examples: how people who speak different languages make a simplified form of both using the inherent disposition of the human brain. The result are the natural simplistic pidgins. They exist all over the world and amazingly, despite each pidgin being based in a different set of languages, share grammatical similarities. There's no wonder why Chomsky talked about a "universal grammar".

Now there's the simplicity through vocabulary. All three IALs have done a great job in here. They've managed to collect a common vocabulary to the European languages, but it is Interlingua the one which has been the most successful in this aspect and the only one to have a systematic method to do it. The problem is it's very Romace biased. A IAL cannot take all major languages as source, because of the great differences that exist between them. For instance, people like to say Chinese has a billion speakers, but that number of persons actually don't speak the same language literally: although China has an standardized writing system, the symbols are actually pronounced in extremely different ways in each region, with some grammatical differences, making most dialects unintelligible one another. Chinese monosyllabic words are so different from roots of other languages that finding similarities would be more a coincidence than evidence of an actual ancient etymological connection. If we merge a western and a Chinese root to create a new word, the resulting one would not be understandable for any of the speakers. That's why we cannot underestimate the power of Interlingua which used a large vocabulary pool that reaches a lot of people. We can't ignore either the fact Ido uses less vocabulary and roots to build new words, which makes it easier to learn because uses less words and the ones which we wouldn't know can be guessed from the meaning of the roots.

If we want a perfectly neutral language that takes vocabulary from all the most important languages of the world, with perfect neutral grammar that would not favor any language and has a high degree of utility, we all could well learn lojban. Its vocabulary is universal, its grammar is perfectly neutral, so neutral that is not based on existing grammars but on the inherent logical ability all human brains have, and also has a high degree of utility and unambiguity --it's almost perfect. The problem is that lojban, with all the logic, is very weird to learn. It is like a computer code --in fact, it's used as one-- and as such it is not "natural" to learn, it feels too "artificial". Humans haven't, doesn't and would not think with perfect logic ever, therefore language itself, the communicable reflection of our thoughts, cannot be that logical either. As we don't think like computers --all the time at least--, lojban is not an IAL kind to learn, despite its great simplicity. Actually, lojban was created to "teach" the brain to think and express logically --similar to what math does to the brain of mathematicians, physicians, etc. Hey, it is perfect, but we don't wear perfect clothing all day long.

Many claim that they don't want an european-biased IAL. Well, look around: in almost every country of this world ties and suits are used for formal ocasions. They use european democracy, western based economical systems, architecture, scientific method, standards, etc., they don't seem to complain about it and yet they haven't lost their core culture. Plus, European languages reach the greatest extent of population around the world and their shared roots and frequent loanwords from each other have created an standardized scientific international language --de facto, of course-- which serves as a wordlender for many other languages. Take Japanese as an example. 

Last, we have the simplicity through pronunciation or phonetics. We all agree that the Latin alphabet is the most widespread and simple, that creating a new one wouldn't be cost-effective. Interlingua loses in this category. Things like "j's are pronounced different when followed by e's and i's" seem arbitrary and are unnecessary. Esperanto wins in this one, but uses too many weird symbols which could be easily mistaken. Ido simplified this, creating a one-letter-one-sound alphabet. But still has many weird sounds that are even strange for the speakers of Romances, not to mention that many are similar, not easily learnable, and could take time to learn by speakers of languages where they do not exist. The phonetics of the IALs must be universal, using common phonemes or at least the ones that can be easily learnt and contrasted.

Cultural bias

I've already mention some of this before. So the point is we all should realize that a IAL would be an AUXILIARY language, a back-up, a second one; it will NOT replace our primary language. In fact, what an auxiliary language wants is exactly that: to preserve our mother tongue so we can learn one single language for INTERNATIONAL communication; its purpose is not to overtake our language in any way. Actually, a moderately neutral language might have a tremendous effect on how weak cultures are influenced by big ones, which is an anthropological principle that cannot be denied or stopped --and a physical one too: if two objects have contact with each other, that will have an immediate, permanent effect in both of them. Let's put it this way: if you learn an European-centered IAL, you will be influenced by the mild culture it could contain --given Europe is culturally too diverse, so the mixture of all those cultures would have an homogenizing effect, plus the effect of the IAL makers attempt to make it culturally neutral-- and any other culture that might influence yours by the language has first to pass through the IAL, acting this last one as a filter that europeanizes all foreign influence to the level of europeanization you would already have, thus diminishing the cultural repercussions. What would you prefer: an imperfect yet simple and sort of neutral language or to keep the status quo of the English language even more imperfect and culturally biased dominion? It sounds like I'm trying to justify the Europe-centered cultural influence, but granted it already exists around the whole world and cannot be avoided, let's use it for something good --it's the same reason that applies for the use of Latin alphabet. There's a plus: if the European/Western world supports and uses the IAL, its leverage on the rest of the world would make them use it too.

Stubborn promoters

When the IALA (International Auxiliary Language Association) first came, it rejected all proposed IALs of the time, but claimed that some were better than others. The promoters of each IAL, instead of getting together to make a SWOT analysis and come in following years with a new, perfected IAL, they dedicated to support their own and criticize other IALs --not always in a constructive way-- and, instead of using the criticism to improve their IALs, they started to justify their mistakes. They were not a united community and that was their biggest failure.

I know IALs communities and organizations don't count with a lot of funding, but that is not an excuse to justify why they are not advertised. The trick is to use key people. E.g.: I  first came in contact with Esperanto because in a popular TV series a character said she spoke many languages including Esperanto. I was curious and look it up on the Internet. So, if IALs are used by some influential people to reach the right common and scholar population --let's say they are used in medical congresses by big exponents of  some core fields and in scientific publications--, people themselves would become the promoters. 


I think the most perfected IALs are Interlingua and Ido. If we are making a European-based IAL, at least we can make it easier for speaker of non-indoeuropean languages to learn. That way the Chinese who would be interested in learning a IAL would say "wow, that's easy, all I have to do is learn vocabulary", and the European would say "it seems pretty familiar, let's learn the grammar". IALs don't need to be perfect, they just need to accomplish their purpose the best cost-effective way possible. So, though not perfect, IALs need to be perfected, or better, unified. We can put together the best attributes of each and come up with a suitable IAL with a bigger, merged population of supporters, a project for the advancement of international communication: a joint commettee of the Interlingua and Ido promoters with linguists, anthropologists and other experts from all over the world to reach a consensus in the interest of humankind's communication.

domingo, 11 de diciembre de 2011


Nadie es perfecto porque no podemos lograr la perfección. Pero eso no significa que no se pueda alcanzar. No se puede hacer con nuestro esfuerzo ya que nosotros mismos somos imperfectos, por lo que no podemos generar perfección. Necesitamos entonces de algo (o alguien) que sea perfecto, y eso es Dios.

Se le conoce por su habilidad de pedirnos que hagamos cosas muy difíciles o imposibles, pero Él sólo lo hace para enseñarnos que nosotros no lo podemos hacer solos. Por eso nos pide perfección:
"Por tanto, sean perfectos, así como su Padre celestial es perfecto."

NVI Mateo 5:48
Eso significa que la perfección es alcanzable de alguna manera, sólo debemos pedirla a Dios a través de Su hijo Jesucristo:
"Cualquier cosa que ustedes pidan en mi nombre, yo la haré; así será glorificado el Padre en el Hijo. Lo que pidan en mi nombre, yo lo haré."

NVI Juan 14:13,14
"Al que puede hacer muchísimo más que todo lo que podamos imaginarnos o pedir, por el poder que obra eficazmente en nosotros..."

NVI Efesios 3:20
Lo que Dios puede hacer por nosotros es inimaginable y mucho más allá de lo que pedimos, si lo tenemos en nuestro corazón. ¿Somos imperfectos? Sí, pero la perfección se puede alcanzar; no hay excusa para no intentarlo.

viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2011


Nobody is perfect because we can't achieve perfection. But perfection can be reached. It can't be reached by our effort as we ourselves are imperfect and cannot yield perfection, thus we need something (or someone) which is perfect, and that is God. 

He is known to ask humans for things who are impossible or very difficult for us to achieve, but He only does that to teach us we can't alone. That's why He asked us perfection:
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
NIV Matthew 5:48
So it means perfection is somehow achievable, we must just ask God for it through Christ:
"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."
NIV John 14:13,14
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."
NIV Ephesians 3:20
God can do what is unimaginable for us and He does much more than He's asked if we have Him within us. So, are we imperfect? Yes, but perfection is reachable; there's no excuse not to try.