Fear of the Unknown

What do you fear more than anything else?  When are we scared the most in a horror movie?  Is it when we actually see the hairy, one-eyed monster or is it before we see it?  Our imaginations tend to fill in the blanks with a much more horrific monster than would ever be produced for the screen.  Movies that scared me the most were the ones that kept the monsters in the shadows, so that they remained unknown.

The unknown is very troubling to us because we worry about it too much, causing us to emphasize the worst case scenario.  Have you noticed that our dealing with the unknown is rarely a positive experience?  People associate the unknown with the dark side, where bad things happen to us.  One of the rare times when the unknown is considered a good thing is when we receive a wrapped present for Christmas or our birthday.  We expect to tear off the paper and ribbons and find a nice gift.  But, in this case, the event is known with only the specific present being unknown.

None of us know what will happen after we die.  This is a significant unknown.  Even if you don’t fear death, you fear the unknown… what happens after death.  If nothing happens after you die, then there is nothing to worry about.  However, if there is something waiting for you after death, it is unknown to you.  You will not know what it is until after you die, and you may not know the full impact of what happens until a long time after you die.  It may be a process, rather than an event, which may extend into eternity.  But whatever awaits us is and should be feared.

Winston Churchill once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  He probably was telling the English not to fear the unknown effects of the next bombing run by the Germans, since their imaginations would create something worse than what would actually happen.  Was he also saying that since we are afraid only of an emotion called fear, we should dismiss it since it really cannot harm us?  It’s only in our minds; it does not exist in the real world.  But isn’t the emotion that is in our minds what is most dangerous to us if we are still thinking at death?  The fear that grips our thoughts, creating nightmares and ghouls feasting on our souls, is what I think could follow us into our afterlife.  The reality of that new experience might be based entirely on what you are thinking.  We can be very afraid of that.

So, how do we deal with this fear of the unknown at death?  Perhaps, we can employ religion to give us faith that we will be saved from eternal damnation.  But that may not be sufficient.  If you are religious only for purely selfish reasons, you will have no protection.  You must believe in something other than yourself.  You must be genuinely humble, recognizing that you cannot possibly navigate through the chaotic storms of the underworld, and petition for assistance.  You must allow God to come inside you and be a part of you.  This unification probably will not come easily.  You may have to spend the rest of your life preparing to leave your body behind and becoming one with God.  Nobody knows exactly how this happens, so you will need to be prepared for whatever might occur.

You will need somebody inside you to calm you and guide you.  We know we are temporal and are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Just think of all the things that are unknown to us in our visible universe, which is only about 4% of the entire universe.  We literally know nothing.  We are nothing.  We truly are not worthy to be accepted in God’s kingdom, but we should be as prepared as we can be to follow God’s lead.  God said, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

Be Professional

I was watching NFL Sunday Night Football and noticed that an offensive and a defensive lineman from opposite teams congratulated each other on a play with one assisting the other to get up off the ground.  This was an unusual example of professionalism that we do not see much in today’s highly competitive world.  Typically, you see opposing team members getting in each other’s faces and shouting and pushing.  Of course, this is an example of non-professionalism.

It is interesting to watch professionals in the workforce.  They are highly motivated to improve their lifestyles, make more money, go higher up on the corporate ladder, purchase a bigger house… the list goes on, but everything is related to selfish desires.  Yet, in that wish list, you do not see a desire to become more professional.  That does not compute in the modern world, so it is refreshing to see it every now and then like I did that night during the football game.  It was so unique that I had to write a note about it.

In the movie, “Wallstreet,” we were told that greed is good.  There wasn’t a message to be more professional in that movie.  So, does today’s society believe that you should knock down your opposition and walk over them to reach your goals to satisfy your selfish greed, no matter what the costs?  This seems to be the case.  What has happened to our society?

Well, back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, people weren’t perfect by any means, but they worked together more because they saw what happened in the Great Depression and they were going through WWII and the Korean wars.  Small businessmen and farmers needed help since they didn’t have large operating funds.  Neighbors would pitch in to help whenever somebody needed a hand.  They didn’t consider themselves competing against each other like they do today.

Today, we don’t need any help from our neighbors or friends.  We are better than that.  We are the elite.  We will make it on our own because we are more aggressive.  And sometimes that works out for young professionals… at least until bad times hit.  And they will hit again.  It’s not will they come again, but when will they come again?

Thus, it might be important to be professional and congratulate your competitor for their accomplishments and deemphasize your wonderful feats.  Focusing on others may have a more beneficial impact on your persona than if you dedicated everything in your life to yourself.  And it would give you a boost toward preparing you for the bad times which will come again.  You might even have some friends who will help you when you are down.

Be professional, whether in your job, sporting event, community activity, social event, or interacting with family or friends.  Professionalism is an ethical attitude of doing the right thing even if it involves some sacrifice.  The choices you make always will have consequences.  Serve others before yourself and the world will be a better place for everybody.

The Power of Prayer

When you pray, you generally are looking for help from a third party or power that is beyond your personal reach.  You don’t typically pray to yourself.  You pray to a higher power to assist you.  Normally, this is done when you or a family member are really in trouble.  For example if you were diagnosed as having cancer, you might pray mightily for a remission or cure.

Is the benefit from praying:  (1) the comfort or hope that you receive by petitioning for help or (2) a positive answer to your prayer, or (3) triggering of serotonin or dopamine releases in the body, providing an out-of-body experience, or (4) a belief system that is effective only because you believe it to be true, or (5) you become unified with God?

There are several types of prayer, so we need to analyze what type of prayer we are featuring in this analysis.  You might read a prayer or repeat “The Lord’s Prayer” without any thought given to the action.  If this were just an inner speech, it would be no different than if you were talking to your friends.   But there are other prayers that can include a range of profound emotional experiences, which may have a significant impact on our feelings of well-being, both present and future.

Serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals produced by our bodies may be created by meditation involved in intense prayer.  I am not aware of any study where these chemicals were measured before and during prayer.  There have been some studies examining general brain activity, using MRI scanning, during intense prayer.  The brain lit up during prayer.  However, these same results occurred when Buddhists or Hindus meditated.  Similar studies showed that dopamine was released when subjects had emotional responses to music that they enjoyed.

At this time, these studies do not give us any concrete results.  We believe that there are a great variety of brain responses during spiritual experiences, depending on how involved that particular individual is with their respective prayers.

William James, in The Varieties of Religious Experience, wrote that religious emotions were just simply emotions, no different than the emotions of an atheist.  The experiments that showed an increased brain activity during prayer would be, in James’ opinion, exactly the same in a secular setting.  This seems to support the fact that religious prayer and secular meditation produce similar brain patterns.

In my opinion, prayer is personal, so it does not matter to me that secular meditation may reach a similar plateau.  I am only concerned with my ability to pray and what level I can reach with my prayer.  I also believe that meditation could be coupled with prayer, so the two are not mutually exclusive.  I would go to a quiet, dark room, where I could shut down my normal thoughts and sensory receptors in an effort to reach a simple, happy union with God.  I would be attempting to become one with God.

There are products that can make us transcend ourselves when we can become connected to the divine such as: (1) salvia divinorum, which acts through the dopaminergic system, (2) psilocybin mushrooms, which affect the serotonergic system, and (3) ayahuasca which also impacts the serotonergic system.  But we can reach these stages on our own without using these drugs with proper focus and control.

If you truly believe that you are connecting with God, then you are connecting with God.  Third parties can criticize your nexus with the divine, but it does not mean that your connection was not real within you.  Only you know you and your God.  Only you know whether your connection was real or not.

Some articles have indicated that if you believe that a man like Jesus can heal you, then you can be healed through your faith.  If you believed apples will cure your cancer and you ate an apple every day, your cancer might go into remission.  The same goes for believing that you are connected to God.  If you truly believe that you are one with God, then you will be one with God.

It does not matter to me whether other people believe that I am not really connected to God, but only think that I am.  That is because all that really matters is that I think I am.  If I die and am still thinking, and I think I am connected to God, then I will be.  And that is the nexus that will be required for me to be one with God in the underworld.

So when I pray and work toward unifying with God, it does not matter to me what others think.  They might laugh at me and wonder if anybody other than me is listening to my prayers.  But the answer is that it only matters what I think.  And if I think I am one with God, then I will be.  But the power of prayer makes you stronger by blending in the power of God.  Even though you become one with God, you are no longer the old you.  You become a different entity.

Laws of Thermodynamics Evidence a Shrinking Universe

The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics provide some evidence that our universe is collapsing rather than expanding.  Most scientists believe that since the Big Bang, our universe has been expanding.  The red shift discovered by Edwin Hubbell indicated that galaxies were moving away from each other at an increasing speed; therefore, scientists continued with the same line of thinking arguing that the expansion was increasing so that one day, we would be sitting in deep space with no neighboring galaxies, in effect, lost in space.

It is interesting that scientists get so stuck on a theory, like expansion, that when they find evidence that disproves that theory, they simply make the old theory work by forcing the new piece into the theory.  So without any logic being utilized, the expansion, which should be slowing down, is accelerating.

This brings us to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the science of entropy.  A simple definition for entropy is that everything in the universe goes from order to disorder.  For example if you fired a cannon, the ball would explode out of the rifled channel in a rapid burst of speed only to slow down and either strike a target or land on the ground as its trajectory fell.  In our universe, there is no law that indicates that the cannon ball will increase in speed after being fired.  In the early moments after the Big Bang, the universe probably expanded faster than the speed of light.  We know that it slowed down after that.  Entropy indicates that the expansion slowed down substantially as our universe got further away from the original event.

But I believe the First Law of Thermodynamics is the most important law that may prove that our universe is shrinking.  The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the change in the internal energy of a closed system is equal to the amount of heat supplied to the system, minus the amount of work done by the system.  This law is a version of the Law of Conservation of Energy, which states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant.  Energy can be transformed, but can neither be created nor destroyed.

In special relativity, mass and energy cannot be destroyed, so it might be more appropriate to say that mass cannot be converted to energy, but instead mass and energy can both be transformed into a different type of mass and energy.  During all processes, mass and energy remain unchanged in quantity, but may change forms.

What does all this mean?  Well, if you believe our universe is in a closed system, then all matter and energy within our universe cannot be created or destroyed.  Thus, no matter how many new stars are born and no matter how many stars have exploded into supernovas, the total of matter and energy in our universe will always be the same.

How does this apply to proving whether our universe is expanding or contracting?  Well, a continually expanding universe seems to require an open system, one in which the expansion can move into an infinite space that has no boundaries.  If you examine the maps of our universe, the galaxies and clouds of gas appear to connect, forming interconnected filaments in a very homogenous state.  In fact, the universe looks like it is a living organism suspended in a confined space like connected algae in a petri dish.  It does not look like a universe that is disconnected headed toward empty spaces.  Rather instead, it seems to be a smooth universe that is very connected.

Thus, it seems logical that if our universe were closed, then the red shift could be explained as a universe that was collapsing.  If the visible matter and dark matter in our universe remained proportional to each other, but were collapsing, the galaxies would be shrinking and thus would be appearing to move away from each other.  And if dark energy were causing this miniaturization process, it would become more pronounced as the dark energy grew and the collapse would be accelerating.

Perhaps it comes down to whether scientists believe in an open or closed universe.  If our universe were expanding forever into deep space, sometimes called the “Big Freeze,” then we would be living in an open universe.  Is there any evidence proving that this is a closed universe?

Well, there might be six arguments that favor a closed system.

  1. There are clear boundaries between the macroworld of gravity and the microworld of quantum mechanics.  Boundaries between these two universes are obvious because the laws of gravity do not apply in the quantum world.  And demarcation lines prove closures exist.
  2. The Big Bang theory proves that our universe broke out of a shell as if it broke through a boundary and popped into a closed universe.  We should not expect to see beyond the Big Bang because it probably is not in our universe.  The “Big Freeze” theory does not make sense since our universe is expanding at increasing speeds.  Clearly, if our universe were headed out into an infinite open space, it would be slowing down.  Also if you believe that dark energy is pulling both visible matter and dark matter out into voids of empty space away from where matter is located, then it would be logical for dark energy to be located outside of the inner orbiting sphere of matter.  Then there would be some evidence of stretching of matter located where galaxies are traveling about 90% of the speed of light, which would be assumed to be the outer edge of the sphere of matter.  Scientists have not found that to be true.  The maps of the universe seem to show filaments, super clusters, clusters, and galaxies pretty uniformly positioned throughout the sphere of matter.  It seems more likely that dark energy is a force pulling all matter inside itself.  The map of the sphere of matter would look the same and remain proportionally the same, since dark matter would hold it together.  Interestingly, the outermost solar systems in galaxies are moving around the center of the galaxies at the

same speed as the inner systems.  We would expect the systems near the edge of the galaxy to slow down since the gravitational attraction of the super-massive black holes in the center of the galaxies would decrease.  Dark matter probably is the glue holding galaxies and clusters and filaments together throughout the universe, keeping them proportional as to each other.  Dark matter is also evidence of a closed system that keeps all matter inside the system.

  1. If we were in an open system, it is unlikely we would be able to view ancient galaxies since the light from those systems would have sped past us billions of years ago.  We would only be able to see a few galaxies like Andromeda, which is speeding toward us.  The speed of light from those old galaxies would be faster than the speed of acceleration.  However, we do see ancient galaxies, which may be explained by a current contraction within our universe so that we are headed back in time to those old events.  When we can actually see the Big Bang, this probably will not be a good thing.
  2. There is an invisible order in our universe, which would not exist in an open system.  It could be dark energy or the original imprint from the creation of the galaxy, but for the purposes of our argument, it doesn’t matter what you call it.  We just know that it exists.  The dark energy could be shrinking matter at increasing speeds.  If the dark energy were pushing everything away from it, the outer galaxies would be slowing down.  They are actually speeding up.  So it is logical that dark energy is causing a contraction of the universe.  This would also be evidence of a closed system that alternates back and forth between the Big Bang and the Big Crunch.
  3. In an open system, entropy would be the rule as everything slowed down, failed, disintegrated, and came to a final, frozen end.  In a closed system, there would be an order and design imprinted on galaxies and everything else in the universe.  Of course, entropy also exists in a closed universe, but it is offset by order and design, so that a perpetual system of alternations between the Big Bang and Big Crunch would work very well in a closed system.
  4. Neither hearing nor seeing the microwave background radiation (MBR) seems probable with a constantly expanding universe, heading out into an open universe.  The microwave radiation appears to be spread out everywhere, which only makes sense with a closed universe.  The radiation, which comes close to the speed of light, would have surpassed the speed of acceleration, leaving all matter from the Big Bang far behind in an open universe.  Only a closed universe would permit the MBR to saturate the universe.  And only a reversal within the space-time fabric would allow the MBR to be heard and seen again.

In conclusion, a closed universe would require first an expanding universe and then a collapsing universe.  After the Big Bang and early expansion, entropy would have caused the expansion to stop and then reverse itself into a collapsing universe.  In a closed universe, total matter and energy would remain the same, but dark energy probably would be the force transforming the visible and dark matter into more dark energy, thus causing an acceleration of this process.  In a closed universe with edges, a spatial expansion would be limited.  However, an expanding and collapsing universe, acting like an inflated and then a deflated balloon would make more sense.  I hope that scientists give this idea some consideration in the future.

Love and Hate

Love and hate are both four-letter words.  Sometimes they have other similarities.  Love can turn into hate and hate can return to love.  How can this be?

Well, both of them are extreme emotions that many times spring from relationships.  The most basic explanation is that love occurs when the relationship is good and hate develops when the relationship sours.  So are we talking about the same emotion, distinguished by whether things are going well or not?

It’s not quite that simple.  Some people love and hate from afar.  A stalker may be initially attracted to a beautiful lady, thinking of his feelings as love for her.  But the stalker may eventually realize that he can never have her, so his feelings turn to hate.  The poor lady may never even know anything about this guy until he appears out of the dark and kills her.

Some people hate others based on race, creed, or religion.  If you are poor, you can hate the rich without knowing them.  Thus, these forms of hate are not based on personal relationships that have gone bad.  Many times, hate is a way for the oppressed to compensate for their positions in life.  Hate also can become a super-glue for political parties, gangs, and peer groups.  What better way to cement individuals together than by hating another group?  Hitler understood this very well.

Love and hate, although very powerful initially, typically are very temporal emotions, because extreme emotions can burn out fairly quickly.  They can disappear as quickly as they appear.  But there are exceptions to this.  The hate between Arabs and Jews has been going on for hundreds of years.  This is not going away because the Bible makes the Jewish people the chosen ones and the Koran does not.  The hate leads to terrorist acts that beget more violence.  It has become a “never-ending story” of hate.

However, these problems can be resolved over time when reasonable leaders are in charge of Arab countries and Israel.  An example of this was Northern Ireland and England.  The terrorist killings had gone on for decades without any end in sight until the leadership of those countries recognized how the acts of terrorism were tearing the economy of the two countries apart.  Reasonable leaders found an economic compromise that has held the peace for many years.

Does that mean that the leadership in the Middle East is unreasonable?  Well of course it does.  But which comes first:  reasonable leadership or stopping the terrorist attacks?  The leaders say that they must respond to the terrorist attacks, and since the terrorists are not reasonable, they cannot be reasonable.

There is a problem with extremist thinking.  It is important for moderates to exert more control in the world.  Generally, moderates do not choose to get involved with extremists.  They patiently wait for the extreme positions to dissipate.  But moderates must take a stand against terrorists and extremists before they polarize the world.  The thing that makes moderates apathetic is that they believe that since terrorists and extremists are in the minority, they can never take over the world.  Hitler is the ultimate example of why this is the wrong way to think.  Many extremist minorities have taken over countries throughout history.  Stalin just killed millions of people who didn’t do what he demanded.

There are many countries in the world who do not want terrorism to expand into their areas, so they should be willing to form a worldwide coalition to eradicate terrorists and extremists throughout the world.  The terrorists and extremists cannot stand up to a worldwide force that joins hands to crush them.

Perhaps we would be better off by not emphasizing extreme emotions like love and hate and instead by becoming a more thoughtful, moderate world.

Who Commits Murders and Why?

Murders are committed daily.  There are murders for hire; there are murders for revenge; there are murders for money; there are murders for love; there are murders for hate… the list goes on for quite a distance.  So, who commits all these murders?

We all do.  All of us are fully capable of committing murder.  Anybody will commit murder under the right circumstances.  It is foolish to deny it.  If you had to protect your family, wouldn’t you kill an armed burglar?  If you were in the military, wouldn’t you kill the enemy before they killed you?  I could provide hundreds of scenarios where even the most ethical and highly religious individuals would still kill.

I suppose that legally, not all killings would be adjudged murders.  If you kill somebody in self defense or you are serving in the military, you typically would not be charged with murder.  However, for the purposes of our discussion, we are defining murder as the killing of another human being, no matter what the reason.  In other words, there is no defense for killing a human being.  Taking another’s life, no matter what the reason, is considered murder in this article.

So why do we murder?  Is it because we had a bad childhood?  Is it because we were sexually molested when we were in grade school?  Is it because we were socially deprived?  Is it because we were poor?  Is it because we got hooked on drugs?  Is it because we mentally deficient?  Some or all of these things may be ingredients leading up to the final recipe of committing murder, but the final decision to kill is very intentional.  It is quite possible that your murder was a crime of passion, but you still decided to kill.  It doesn’t matter that you made the choice to murder two months ago or two seconds ago.  It still was your decision.

When murderers were interviewed by a writer whom the convicts trusted, he discovered that all of the killers made a conscious decision to murder.  None of them denied that murder was a choice that they made.  It is possible that you could be in a drug or alcohol stupor and not know what you were doing at the time of the murder, but you intentionally put yourself in that condition and must accept the consequences.  Even drunks make choices… just usually bad ones.

The only difficult area is somebody who has a mental illness who commits murder.  If they do not have the ability to understand what they are doing, do they decide to murder?  My answer may be controversial, but I believe those who are mentally incapacitated also choose to murder.  The mental deficiency may impair their decision making process, but it does not stop it.  They still decide to kill.  A mental patient may think that he is killing the devil when he shoots a priest, but he still makes a conscious decision to pull the trigger.

So, like I said earlier:  all of us are capable of committing murder.  And we commit murders after we decide to take a life.  The reasons for murder vary from individual to individual.  But all murders are committed because of choices that were made by these individuals.

If Seeing Is Believing…

If seeing is believing, then you will never believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or God.

Typically, children believe in Santa Claus based on artist renditions of Santa or the Santa’s they visit in discount stores, giving them a wish list.  But they never see the real Santa.  They believe based on their innocent naivety.  This is not meant as a negative comment on the beliefs of youngsters, but it does indicate that the trust is not strong and permanent.  As children get older, their peers or parents may tell them that there is no Santa Claus or they may simply come to this conclusion by themselves.

In order to reach the highest rung on the ladder of conviction, you must leave your senses behind and search for a devout trust in the unknown.  Since you will not be able to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch God, you must find Him in a special place inside your thoughts.  This should be an out-of-body experience.

This cannot be based on expectations of gifts because of your belief.  Rewards for your faith are irrelevant at the highest level of your creed.  Many children believe in Santa Claus or are “good” just to obtain presents at Christmas.  This may be the lowest rung of a ladder reaching to the highest level of certainty.

If the highest point of this dogma cannot be reached through our five senses or hope of rewards or simple tenets or devotion to a higher being or certitude of the Bible or fidelity to God, what is required to reach the level that is required to enter the chaos of the afterlife?

Your faith in God must be a complete immersion of your thoughts into this belief so that your awareness is unified with God.  You and God have to become one.  This must be a steadfast, rigid, unwavering, unbending, virtuous devotion, dedication, loyalty, and fealty that cannot be lost or broken in the chaotic underworld.

It is very difficult explaining this process of unification with God, but it requires a significant effort during our lifetimes.  We must prepare through meditation.  We must attempt to erase our senses and melt into the universe outside.  Our thoughts must reach out to an unknown power that we cannot see.  When we blend our consciousness with the mind of God, we will form a new soul that will be protected from the potential hell of living with ourselves for eternity.

If you do not bond with God, you will be stuck with your own thoughts, which would be hell for any of us.  Just imagine if you did not have the distractions of your senses.  You would be in a sensory-deprived environment.  This quite frankly is used as a form of torture.  None of us have the ability to deal with sensory deprivation on our own.  We need help from God and that can occur only when we reach the highest rung of that ladder of faith, which is not seeing, but is staunch, powerful believing.

Gnostic Gospels

The lost gospels of Mary, Peter, Phillip, Thomas, and Judas, many of which are Gnostic in origin, were not included with the gospels selected by the Nicene Convention in the fourth century for our Holy Bible.  They were intentionally eliminated and were hidden from Christians for hundreds of years.

Since the Gnostics believed that their relationship with God was personal and thus did not need a bishop, priest, or any other religious leader to intercede for them, it was natural for the structured, formalistic faction of Christianity to not include their gospels in the Bible.

The Gnostics were almost mystical in their faith.  They had a one-on-one connection with God that did not require them to go to church or have any relationship with other believers.  Their faith was based on God entering their thoughts and mind and unifying with them.  Nobody else was required in order for this to happen.  In fact, others would have distracted them from obtaining this type of relationship with God.

Even though these Gnostic Gospels are not accepted by mainstream Christians today, it is important to read them.  They provide insight into an important and significant part of early Christianity that was erased by Emperor Constantine and the Roman religious leaders of that time.

The importance of Gnosticism is found in the reality of any imagined afterlife.  Logically in order to have an afterlife, you have to be thinking or be aware after death.  If you die and are no longer thinking, then anything that happens after you die is meaningless to your consciousness.

There are scientists and doctors who believe that you will no longer be aware of anything after you die since your brain, the center of your awareness, will be dead.  This is quite possible, but I would argue not probable because of the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy.  Our consciousness or thinking cannot be destroyed in this universe.  Our awareness, however, can be converted to another form of matter or energy, which probably does happen.

But the question is: will you still be thinking in this new type of matter or energy of the underworld?  I believe that it is more likely that you will still be thinking because your awareness cannot be destroyed; it can only be modified.

So, Gnosticism may be more appropriate for a situation when you are thinking in a new environment without priests or friends or family by your side to assist you.  You will be on your own, facing eternal thoughts in the afterlife.  Anyone familiar with sensory deprivation will explain how devastating that can become within a matter of minutes.

As the Gnostics recommend, you should become one with your God before you die.  By unifying with God, He enters your thoughts and becomes one with you.  He will be your guide through the underworld.  Trust me.  It is not something you want to try on your own.  Just ask former prisoners who were tortured with sensory deprivation.

Even those who said they were religious did not fare well because they had not linked up completely with God.  They may have gone to church and may have even led a good life, but they were not unified with God.  Most of them started hallucinating within minutes and the horrible nightmares would have created an eternal hell for them.

What Is Sin?

Somebody asked me years ago what sin was, and I recall telling them that it was anything taken to extremes.  Back then, I thought moderation was the key to modifying all behavior.  Today, I’m not so sure that is the answer.  I still believe that moderation is very important in a social setting, but I wonder if there is a better definition of sin for the afterlife.

After you die and if you are still thinking, you would not want to carry any sins with you as baggage on your trip through the dark underworld.  So what is the definition of this type of sin?  Well, it must be anything you have done that causes you to feel guilty.  Thus, guilt could drag your after-life thoughts down into the depths of eternal depression.

We know that Christianity offers a way to avoid this.  By believing that Jesus died for your sins, then your sin debts are paid in full.  You don’t have to worry about your sins because Jesus erases them.  Of course, that’s assuming that you truly believe this.  If your belief is based on a selfish desire only to eliminate guilt from the sins that you never really stopped committing, then there may be a surprise waiting for you.

But what actions and inactions deserve to be called sins?  Could that vary from individual to individual?  A hardened criminal may not feel guilty about killing a dog, but I would feel that I committed a sin if I even hurt a dog.  Is it a sin if you think you committed a sin, but you actually didn’t?  If a man paid an assassin $200,000 to kill his neighbor; but instead, the criminal gave the neighbor $100,000 to flee to Mexico, would this be considered a sin?

Well, I guess it depends on what you take into the afterlife.  It is possible that you may feel guilty about things that never really happened and you only thought that they happened.  That would still be a sin in your mind.  And it is possible that hardened criminals will not feel guilty about some actions that you would feel guilty about, but those hardened criminals are going to have plenty of other things to hang on their guilty tree.  It is a mistake to compare your feelings of guilt with those of others.  The feelings of guilt in the afterlife are very personal.

The bottom line is what feelings of guilt do you take into the afterlife?  Those are your sins.  If you truly believe in Jesus, then He will remove these burdens, which will lighten your journey.  This is not to say that your trip through the afterlife will be easy.  Your belief in Jesus will only make it easier.  None of us knows what lies ahead, but we can expect that consequences await us for all the poor choices we made during life.

It is critical to have a tour guide and Jesus can be that guide.  We like to think that we can handle everything on our own, but that is certainly not true in what may be the chaotic, dark unknowns of the underworld.  You must truly believe in Jesus and allow Him to be inside you and become a part of you and your every thought.  However, if you are not thinking after death, then believing in Jesus and God only did two things: (1) it made it easier for you to accept mortality and (2) hopefully made you sin less often.  But if you are thinking after death…

Putting a Light on Dark Matter

Recently, astronomers detected unusual x-ray emissions coming from the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster.  Since the emissions do not correspond to any known particle and are concentrated in the center, the scientists wonder if this is evidence of dark matter.  Prior to this discovery, astronomers believed that a super-massive black hole was located in the center of most galaxies.  The findings were confirmed when they examined the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Scientists have several theories as to the makeup of dark matter, including weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), axions, and sterile neutrinos (hypothetical cousins of normal neutrinos).  The deterioration of sterile neutrinos is believed to produce X-rays, so researchers suspect these may be dark matter particles coming from Andromeda and the Perseus cluster.

Observations of star motion and galaxy dynamics, along with mathematical calculations, suggest that about 80 percent of all matter in the universe is dark matter, exerting a gravitational force but not interacting with light.  But that’s not the whole story.  These same mathematical calculations indicate that the visible matter along with dark matter only account for about 27% of the universe, leaving a gargantuan 73% missing, which scientists call dark energy.

Cosmologists believe that the visible matter is increasing in its expansion, headed toward infinity so that somebody all our neighboring galaxies will be out of sight.  In effect, our universe must be flat.  This sounds similar to the ancient theories that the earth was flat.  It seems flat from our perspective.  However, it seems more logical that the original expansion of the universe has slowed down through entropy.  So why are we increasing in our acceleration?  Well, the acceleration does not have to be out into a flat future, but it can just as easily be back toward its origin, which might be dark energy.

If dark energy were consuming the matter within our universe, the visible matter, remaining proportional to each other, would be shrinking away from each other so as to create a red shift showing an increased acceleration.  This may be the most logical explanation of an accelerated speed.  As the dark energy consumes more matter, it will exert a more powerful force on the matter and its feeding will accelerate, causing the collapsing to occur at a faster rate.

As scientists put a light on dark matter, it will be interesting to speculate where dark energy lies.  Assuming that our universe is not flat, but has edges and blows up and then deflates like a balloon, dark energy must surround and be inside matter in order to consume it.  Then like a star that collapses and explodes into a supernova, the universe will eventually explode into a new Big Bang.

The Big Crunch and Big Bang would alternate back and forth within a closed recycling universe.  The universe would not be flat without boundaries, but it would be self-contained cycling between expansion and contraction.