Chris Gampat, thephoblographer.com
Timelapses are some wonderful things as we discovered earlier on from Google today, but this recent one put together by Lake Superior Photo is quite a beautiful take on the sights of Michigan. We not only see the Northern Lights, but planets, star…
After working with standard photography and digital cameras, Brooklyn-based artist Phillip Stearns decided to experiment with creating works of art using old photographic technologies. He ended up studying the effects of high voltages and househol…
Want to see what London looked like back in the year 1927? Check out this beautiful color footage shot in various London locations by Claude Frisse-Greene, an early British pioneer of film. According to the video’s uploader, Tim Sparke, Frisse-Gre…
What does it mean to be human? This is the question at the core of the Christian treatment of all people and, hopefully, the core of interpersonal ethics for Christians that attempt to remain true to their beliefs. Indeed it is this vision of what it means to be human that characterizes the importance of living a life that shows a heart of charity towards all people and because we are all human, it is important to understand a Christian perspective of humanity as a whole. I think that the state of humanity can be divided into two parts, within the Christian worldview: (1) How people should be viewed and (2) what is the current state of humanity. It is the interplay of these two parts that form the foundation of all Christian ethics and is guided by the principles we gather by studying the Holy Scriptures and through reason and philosophy of thought.
What does it mean to be human? Christianity has the most powerful and positive vision of the answer to this question, an answer it has inherited from Judaism. People, all people, are created in the image of God. The Bible tells us “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This statement has, within Christian philosophy and ethics, profound implications. Because each and every person was created by God, we are connected to him, and because we have his image, we are imbued with an eternal soul, a rational mind, a will, and with a knowledge of good written in our hearts. But more than that, the implication that we are all in God’s image gives to every person intrinsic worth and dignity in all functional circumstances. This means to say that no matter what we have done, or how we have lived life, we are all of equal worth. The person with a mental disability is thus equal to the person who leads a nation in worth and dignity, deserving of life, and able to receive the love of God. This vision of the equal dignity of all people is a great equalizer, destroying the foundation for racism .
Christianity records God as making all things, and though there is some large measure of debate within the Christian community, it is universally acknowledged that all things were created good. And how can we not marvel at the universe at large. It’s beautiful, from the incomprehensible size of the universe filled with stars and nebulae, to the opening of a flower every day, to the intricate webs of life that surround us invisible, to the smallest atom being made of more than the sum of its parts. It’s. all. beautiful. But, people, having been made in the image of God, are the most beautiful of all. The sum of the diversity of thought and action, of expression in art and word, and of form and colour reflects the creative aspect of God, and it is both amazing and a daily struggle to recognize this in every person. After all, it is far often too easy to say “my best friend is beautiful” but difficult that “my greatest enemy (or constant annoyance) is equally as beautiful and filled intrinsic worth.” It is this very approach to humanity that should lead all Christians to value all people, no matter how they may disagree, no matter what they may do, and to always treat people with respect, and love.
So we were made in the image of God, a beautiful and not always appreciated image, but something intrinsically beautiful and worthy of love and dignity, yet for what end? The answer to this is that humanity has been made to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever . This answer is what should provide the Christian with a profound sense of meaning and significance because in this, no matter what we do, we are more than our mere function in human terms. Indeed, it has certainly given me much peace in that no matter what may happen to me, my life means more than the failure I encounter daily. Our lives have significance in the light of eternity, beyond the mere shortness of this life. However, while it is amazing that all people have been and are created in the image of God, it is also visible that the image of God has been marred and deformed. By this I mean that, while it was intended that people act in the fullness of good, people often act in evil and depraved ways. We need only to look at the news to see that evil exists, and that people often carry out that evil. Indeed every person, at some point, has knowingly gone against the natural law, fighting against their conscience to do wrong. This is what, in Christian theology, is called sin. It is, at its very core, saying that though we have been created to glorify God, we have instead chosen to put our own desires and wants as the first priority in our life, destroying the order wanted by God to exist, causing evil and harming others — all within the scope of the will and personhood God has granted to all people. This wrong that we have all done, has harmed our eternal souls in that it has destroyed our fellowship with God and predisposed all people towards seeking our own interests over God.
So this is the state of humanity. We are all intrinsically worthy of dignity and respect, no matter our present state because we are all made in the image of God with a rational mind, an eternal soul , and with the knowledge of right in our hearts . However, being left to the liberty of the will, we have chosen to deviate from the designed purpose of humanity – to glorify God and enjoy him forever – for our own purposes, driving us away from God. This low state of humanity, a state of estrangement from God and the purpose of all people, must be overcome and Christianity boldly proclaims that we all can find reconciliation with God in Jesus Christ, finally bringing us to part two of this series, “who was Jesus Christ, the man that started the whole of Christianity.”
 Though I note that Christianity has used the Bible to sometimes justify slavery in the past, I don’t understand how anyone can, within the scope of a proper understanding of the image of God, be racist. Indeed this very idea has helped
 Romans 11.36, John 17.21-23, Westminster Greater Catechism Question 1
 Genesis 2.7
 Romans 2.14-15
One day, if I ever have a wife, I hope that I love her, and not merely say ‘I love you’ in a superficial sense, but rather to love to the point where I would willingly die for her. For I, who doesn’t deserve reciprocated love of the magnitude that should be expressed in marriage, should be unable to do anything else but love in totality out of the overflow of my heart, and in so loving, also willingly give myself up to the highest degree that she may increase in all things.
We all have specific presuppositions that influence how we view the world. Some might suppose that the world came about by entirely naturalistic processes without the need or existence of a God. Others might not consider the idea of theism at all and look at the world with a central belief that all people are equal and should be treated as such apart from any driving force from religion of faith. In Christianity, the central presupposition, the central thing that it claims to be true is that God exists. Indeed this is the central premise of all theistic religions, but especially the monotheistic Abrahamic religions. Who then is this Christian God? Can we, humans, ever understand him? And if we can, then what is God like?
Christians often rush at the first question to say “yes! We can know God” but I would like to tell all those that read this, that no, that’s not a complete picture of who the Christian God is. Indeed we can never have a full picture of this God within our finite minds. I have stated in the previous post that God is the necessary being upon which all things in this world are contingent. This implies that he is no mere thing, for anything plus another is something greater. Anslem put forth the ontological argument for God’s existence which, roughly, states that God is that which no greater can be conceived. This very nature of God as something beyond all thought and reason and natural evidence (for all natural evidence is contingent on the creative power of God) brings us to the central pillar of the Christian theology: God is incomprehensible.
God is incomprehensible to humans because, by necessity, if we could comprehend him in fullness, he would not be God. This reasoning backs up what is shown to humanity in the Bible. God is called ‘unsearchable,’ ‘inscrutable’ and ultimately that our thoughts are not his thoughts, and our ways are not his ways because his ways are higher than our ways, and in being higher, incomprehensible to us people . However, this incomprehensibility isn’t always a bad thing ndeed, it is because we recognize that God is incomprehensible that Christians can rest solidly on things they do not understand including some of the central thoughts of the Christian faith: the nature of Jesus, the unity of God in trinity, and the nature of our salvation. Indeed, God keeps secrets from humans, in that he acts as the sovereign father in wisdom protecting his children from harm . For Christians, this incomprehensibility of God is deeply humbling in that, much as the scientist opening the door to the natural world, theology can never fully know God and that there is always more about him to know.
However, this is not to say that we cannot know God. The second major presupposition, the second major truth the Christians should proclaim always, is that we can know God and that we can know him truly, personally, and sufficiently . We know him truly in that while we can know him fully, we can know him truly in that while incomprehensibility leads the Christian to conviction in matters which are beyond human comprehension, the knowability of God leads the Christian to conviction in the nature and character of this God. Indeed, the knowledge of God is the center of joy for a Christian  and it is the basis of our hope for the future  and it allows us to love other people with the same love that God shows to humanity .
So of what character is this God Christians worship? While the scope of this question is too large for any single post, I find one of the greatest summations of the Christian belief of the Character of God in the historical church document, the Westminster Larger Catechism. Indeed when we ask ‘What is God’ it tells us:
God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. 
This is the God that Christians believe in, a God infinitely worthy of praise and glory, a God sovereign over all things, immutable, and (quite simply) awesome. This is not a God of mere weakness, but one that is strong beyond all measure, and loving with abounding steadfast love . This is the God I worship, and the God I seek to understand, and the God I wish all people to know and love also. Finally, to return to the Nicene Creed this is the God that is Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
(Post 1b in a series explaining Christian theology in the framework of the Nicene Creed)
 Psalm 145.3, Romans 11.33-34, Isaiah 55.8-9
 Deuteronomy 29.29
 2 Peter 1.3
 Jeremiah 9.24, Galatians 6.14
 1 John 1.1-2
 1 John 4.7
 Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 7
 John 4.24, Exodus 3.14, Job 11.7-9, Acts 7.2, 1 Timothy 6.15, Matthew 5.48, Genesis 17.1, Psalm 90.2, Malachi 3.6, 1 Kings 8.27, Psalm 139.1-3, Revelation 4.8, Psalm 147.5, Romans 16.27, Isaiah 6.3, Revelation 15.4, Deuteronomy 32.4, Exodus 34.6
 Exodus 34.6
The Westminster Confession of Faith gives a longer discription of the Christian God that I do so like.
Is there a god and if there is what and who is god? This is the central topic of theology and Christianity as a whole, and ultimately, for the Christian, this question should always be at the forefront of the mind as it represents the center of our belief, lives, and practices of faith. I would first like to begin with this post, ‘Can we know God?’ And I shall seek to do this first by addressing the question of whether or not a god exists, and if one exists can we know this god.
I must first tell everyone that, contrary to popular opinion, faith is not blind. Indeed, blind faith is not any faith at all. Faith is, rather, a belief in that which we have reasonable assurance for. By this I mean that the Christian’s faith in God is not irrational, it has, rather, been thought through by some of the greatest minds in human existence, from Augustine and Origen, to Anselm and Aquinas, and Calvin and Barth. God is believed by some prominent scientists such as Francis Collins, former head of the genome project and current head of the NIH and another 40% of scientists are theistic, against the loud shouts of people such as Richard Dawkins . Christians have a reasonable faith in God, and I hope to be able to show at least a little of that in this series.
Why do I believe there is a God? There is no one reason, even though I suppose you can say I have inherited my faith, but at the same time, I haven’t because I have thought deeply about this question, and I have made the Christian faith, my own faith and I, today, accept its core tenets without reservation, the same core tenets that this series will seek to present to the world at large. I have come to the conclusion that I believe in a god for three main reasons: the argument from contingency, the teleological argument , and an argument from morality , but I will only seek to show one here, the argument from contingency, the one I myself find most powerful .
The argument from contingency is one classical proofs of God drawn up by one of the greatest medieval thinkers, Thomas Aquinas. This is a variation on the cosmological argument and states (1) everything that exists contingently has a reason for its existence, (2) the universe is contingent, therefore (3) the universe must have a reason for its existence, (4) if the universe has a reason for existing, then that reason is god. Therefore (5) god exists. This is to say that because the things in the universe do not exist for the purpose of existing, a necessary existence, they are contingent on the existence of other things. Ultimately all things in this universe is made of matter, and this argument finds that the source of matter, ultimately, is god, who in the Christian tradition made the world out of nothing, ensuring that everything in the universe is contingent on himself. God himself, however, is a non-contingent being whose existence is necessary allowing him to be the causative agent of this universe .
These arguments are merely some of the few that theistic philosophers have used to logically justify the existence of a god, but I also recognize that for each of these arguments, philosophers have come up with counter arguments, and counters ad nauseam. There remains at some point where we must switch from mere argumentation to belief. Indeed, argumentation alone is not sufficient for a complete set of evidences for Christianity; it is merely the basis for our reasonable belief in the existence of a god. However, I hope this does show that the argument for a god is not merely a thoughtless belief, but it is a belief that has been defended logically from Plato to the present day.
Now, having provided a basis for the existence of a god, can we then know this god? Christianity says yes and that while the world and universe can explain that there is a god, God himself has revealed himself to us in his Word to humanity, the Bible . The Bible is then, necessarily, the basis for orthodox Christian theology and main work I will be using throughout the remainder of this series exploring the basics of Christian theology, the study of God through his Word, the Bible.
A final note, this post hardly covers any of the reasons Christians believe in God, or the character of God and I merely wish to present a cursory glance at the rationality of Christianity and a beginning of the understanding of God. Countless books have been written on these topics, and I can hardly do justice to them all. I would highly recommend Tim Keller’s Reason for God, and C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, as helpful introductions to Christianity, its basis, and its rationality.
 http://usminc.org/images/MereChristianitybyCSLewis.pdf, http://www.philosophy.ucsb.edu/faculty/anderson/moral_arguments_for_the_existence_of_God.html
 I am not a philosopher, though I at times wish I could have had more training in philosophy. I have just found these arguments to be most convincing for me in showing that the existence of a god is, at the very least, not merely a thoughtless argument, a god of the gaps thrown in so that I may not have to wrestle with deeper issues.
I am skipping over the other two arguments for brevity in this first post.
 I think the best example on youtube showing this argument is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Yjue8MXAI
 I also fully realize that this is a rather large leap, but I hope to show the basis of that leap throughout this series
What is God? Who is Jesus? These were among the central questions of Christianity during the 4th century. Indeed the 4th century was pivotal for the formation of Christianity as it is known today in that the nature of the namesake of Christianity, Jesus Christ, was established. From this century emerged the Nicene Creed, one of the marks I believe to be a standard of what a Christian should always affirm as true. These things include the existence of God, the nature of Jesus, and the existence of the Church, and it is these basic tenets of Christianity that I want to explore with this series through the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene creed was written during the first council of Nicea and first council at Constantinople, the first two ecumenical councils of the church, that is councils that considered the opinions of bishops from all corners of the Roman Empire. These councils occurred in the years AD 325 and AD 381, almost immediately after Christianity was finally legalized under Emperor Constantine in AD 313. They were conducted to help smooth over some of the divisions the occurred in the church and to promote unity in a newly legalized religion. What resulted was the Nicene creed, the most widely held standard of right Christian thought in both Eastern and Western branches of the historical Church.
Throughout this series I hope to explore a Christian understanding of God, of humanity, and of the world to come. I welcome questions and comments throughout this series, and I invite anyone with a desire to know more about Christianity to join me. My goal is to have this be finished by the end of Lent and while I can’t promise that however given the busyness of school, I still hope that I can and I also hope that these posts may be of interest to any that may come across them. I must also recognize that I am doing this to both expand my understanding of what I hold to be true, and that these posts do not encompass even a fraction of the historical understanding of God, but I hope to share what I do understand so that others may also under stand a little better.
The text of the Nicene Creed, 381 is as follows
(Latin additions to the greek form in brackets, post content in italics)
I believe in one God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
And of all things visible and invisible:
Post 1c: What is humanity?
Post 2: Was Jesus divine?
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
Begotten of the Father before all worlds,
[God of God,] Light of Light,
True God of true God,
Begotten, not made,
Consubstantial with the Father,
By whom all things were made;
Post 3: Was Jesus Man?
Who for us humans, and for our salvation came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary,
And was made man,
Post 4a: Why did Jesus Die?
Post 4b: How should humans respond to God?
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried,
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
Post 5: Where is Jesus now?
And ascended into heaven,
And sits at the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead:
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
Post 6: Who is the Holy Spirit?
And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord and giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father [and the Son,] 
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spoke by the prophets.
Post 7: What is the Church?
And I believe one catholic and apostolic Church.
Post 8: What is the hope of a Christian?
I confess one baptism for the remission of sins.
And I look for the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come.
 In that this is a Christian series, I will hold to the AD/BC convention. I shall also note that, as AD is Latin, it come before the year in English writing
 For this series I have opted to use an English Translation of the Latin form of the Nicene Creed. This includes the filioque clause, which isn’t found in the Greek form
The Secret Life of Toys – An Exposé of Action Figures
By: Stephanie Kay-Kok, photographyblogger.net
Photographer Marcos Minuchin has produced a shocking set of pictures exposing toys for what they really are: desperate, criminal, quirky, courageous, and above all, human. By documenting the secret lives of toys, Marcos shows a…