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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 58 -- On Wings of Angels
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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 2 December 2010 - 1:33pm.

Ever Learning, Yet Never Able....
Steven G. O'Dell (C) 2010

The things of God are foolishness to man.

"You're a fool."
The charge came out of nowhere, as LeAnne had commented to a co-worker regarding something she had heard at church the day before. Gerald, the accuser, jumped in uninvited and leveled the charge at LeAnne, making no bones about how he felt.
"Really? That's rather cold. Why do you say that?"
"Because you claim to believe in a mythical 'man-in-the-sky' with the power to change the world through science-defying miracles, that's why. You seem smart, but maybe I have misjudged you."
While the woman LeAnne had been talking to stood with her mouth open in surprise, Gerald stood with his arms defensively crossed, his body language saying as much as his words. LeAnne remained unshook, even smiling slightly.
"No doubt you have misjudged me, but not because you've concluded I am not as smart as you previously thought me to be. You've misjudged the strength of my position on religion from the start. You misjudge when you conclude that a belief in God somehow weakens my intellect and credibility."
"Surely you cannot seriously proclaim your unsupported belief in an unseen being that you cannot prove to be there and then expect me to accept your thinking as rational in all other areas."
"Unsupported, Gerald? Where did you get that idea?"
"Oh, please, LeAnne. You know as well as I do that you cannot prove the existence of a supreme being."
"No, I don't. In fact, I would argue the opposite. What I will say, though, is that you cannot dis-prove the existence of God. All your arguments about me being wrong does nothing to strengthen your own claims, does it?"
Gerald bristled slightly at the accusation. LeAnne saw the reaction and continued.
"Gerald, you know I'm right. All the pointing fingers and calling names does nothing to prove you are correct. You offer no scientific evidence that there is no God. You offer only the same regurgitated tripe offered by every pseudo-intellectual from day one."
Gerald bristled again in disgust at the choice of words.
"Show me some proof God exists and I will believe it."
"No, you won't." LeAnne made the statement, matter-of-factly, with no apology or qualification. The woman with them them stood in shock and said nothing.
"What?" Gerald replied in shock.
"All the evidence I could give you would be cast aside and rationalized away. You know it and I know it. You don't want to believe. You want to prove me wrong. You need to do that to build up your own ego."
"Now that is totally uncalled for! You have no call to insult me."
"It isn't meant as an insult, Gerald, unlike your own accusation. It is a statement of fact, plain and simple. No argument I make, no evidence I show and no miraculous sign would make a difference. You would explain it all away with a wave of your hand and demand more proof."
"Bah!" Gerald huffed in response and waved his hand unconsciously as he turned away in disgust. Deep down, he knew LeAnne was right in her accusations. He did want to prove her wrong. It would indeed make him feel better, smarter and superior to a lowly believer in myths and fables. Knowing she was right only served to irritate him. He was fuming inside, but for now, there was no way to refute her claims.

A few days went by and Gerald again approached LeAnne, this time a lot less hostile in his attitude.
"LeAnne, I want to apologize about the tension the other day. Could we talk about this some more?"
"Okay, I forgive you. We can speak at lunch, if that's okay."
"Yeah, fine. Thanks."
At lunch, Gerald came and sat beside LeAnne and again began somewhat the same trend of questioning as before. It was no surprise to LeAnne.
"So, why would you believe in someone you can't see?"
"Why do you believe in electricity? Why do you think you are talking to someone a thousand miles away through a thin wire? Why do you believe a man stepped onto the moon?"
Gerald could see that she was not going to be intimidated and he wasn't used to that, but he still couldn't let her get the best of him.
"It's not the same thing. Those are scientific principles."
"You sure? Have you seen electricity?"
"No, but I have seen the effects of it when the lights turn on or the fan on my desk begins to spin."
"Then you have no direct proof, right? How about the telephone...can you see the one you think you are speaking to?"
Gerald was beginning to get annoyed at the confidence of this young woman.
"Again, it isn't the same thing and you know it."
"Sure it is. You can't offer me any more proof than you ask of me and are so willing to easily refute."
It was all too much and Gerald got up and left the table. He was fuming again. This one was going to be a tough nut to crack. The arguments were fallacious to him, but her confidence shook him...a lot.

Another week went by and Gerald had been studying ways to argue with Christians, instead of researching why they might believe what they do. He didn't feel much closer to winning than before, so he decided to take a different approach this time. He would pretrend to be sympathetic and then gradually persuade her of the foolishness of her position.
"We got off to a bad start, LeAnne. My apologies for upsetting you."
"You didn't upset me at all, Gerald. I feel confident in my position."
"I don't understand it, though. What makes you believe in a supreme being? Especially when there is no proof?"
"I do have proof, but let me ask you this -- why do you believe in the the SETI program, looking for extraterestrial life, when you seem to deny the very existence of such beings in the first place?"
Gerald's mouth dropped open a bit and hung there a few seconds before he caught himself and closed it again. LeAnne knew she had struck a nerve again and continued.
"Don't you think it contradictory to plan on things like terraforming other worlds for colonization and yet deny the ET's we attempt to contact the very same abilities?"
Again Gerald was unable to respond in time.
"Gerald, the height of arrogance and hypocrisy is to believe we are the most advanced civilization in the universe at the same time we spend billions to search for more advanced races elsewhere."
Gerald was stunned and unable to answer this time. His mouth did not even open, as he had no idea what to say.
"There are too many problems with the theories in science to hang your hat on it and say it is safe and sound. Theories change every so often as new information comes in, yet we seem to want to act as if every new theory is the entire story and unchangeable."
Gerald found himself nodding involuntarily. It was true, after all. But certainly religion must be the same.
"But, LeAnne, isn't religion the same way? There are so many brands of Christianity alone; how can you think one is any better than another or even true?"
"The disagreements enter because of men's theories rising to the top. That's the very point I am trying to make."
"Then what is the court of last resort, if men are fallible?"
"God himself."
"But that's circular thinking, isn't it? Everything comes back to a being you cannot see or hear?" Gerald now felt as if he could get the high ground in the debate.
"Not at all. He has and does answer questions."
"I am not talking about the Bible. All those brands of religion can't agree on the written word, yet they all quote it as their authority to believe and teach their particular version of their faith. There is no consistency."
"Agreed, to a point. They do indeed cling to their own interpretation. Instead, they should go to the source, God Himself. God does answer prayer."
"So, you claim you can hear him?"
"At times He answers by a voice and at other times by an impression or a sign. It is our duty to be in tune enough to recognize the answer."
"Now, LeAnne, any clainm to hear a voice is akin to a type of psychosis, isn't it?" Gerald felt the strength of his position coming back.
"That would be true if God did not exist and answer the willing. IN all honesty, do you think me to be psychotic?" LeAnne waited for an answer.
"Well, no, but you may be on the edge and need professional help to prevent it, don't you think?" He smiled to disarm the tension that might erupt, but LeAnne just smile back.
"No, I don't. Let me put it another way. We spoke about the proof of electricity the other day. You can't see it normally. You see the effects only. It is the same with God...."
"But why wouldn't he just show himself and prove his existence?" Gerald shook his head in disbelief. "If there ever was a god, how do you know he isn't dead or has scurried off to some far corner of the universe and no longer cares what we do?"
"Let me finish, okay?"
Gerald nodded and became quiet again.
"On rare occasions, you can experience electricity in other, more extraordinary ways, such as seeing lightning or feeling the shock of an electrical outlet. A person that experiences such a shock may be far more concerned about it and more convinced of the existence than one who never feels that shock. One who experiences God in the more extraordinary ways will also take a deeper interest and be more convinced."
"It isn't the same thing."
"No, it isn't. You want proof; I can provide evidence. Not all of it will be acceptable to you."
"So, you admit you cannot prove the existence of god?"
"Not at all. I have had it proven to me, but cannot prove it to you. Only you can do that. Actually, only you and God."
"It still comes back to you not being able to prove it to me."
"And it still comes back to you not being able to disprove it to me, to be fair."
Gerald felt the confidence that had been rising suddenly shake again. He hated that feeling. LeAnne had been right about his ego in the matter, but he would never admit it openly.

Their last discussion had ended in a stalemate of sorts. Gerald felt he had made little to no headway, excpet for an admission that she could not prove anything to him. And yet the claim that only he and god could prove it to him was bothersome. He needed to defeat that claim in some way. In order to do that, he needed to know more about it.
"LeAnne, you claim that god talks to you. Tell me more about that."
"Oh, you mean my psychotic episodes?" She smiled, disarming him from the start.
"I didn't say you were psychotic."
"True, you stopped just short of it and suggested I might need professional help to prevent falling over the edge into it."
She had a sense of humor about it, that much was certain.
"Let me give you a few examples, Gerald. I mentioned the other day that we spend billions in our search for advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, yet we deny the very advancement we claim to be seeking in them. You think there could be no race out there that might speak directly with us and yet we have developed technologies that allow us to speak from opposite sides of the world. First, it was smoke signals or mirror flashes, then telegraph wires, then telephone wires and radio broadcasts. Now we have satellites in orbit that allow cell phone use around the world."
"But that isn't the same as a god speaking to us directly. It's simple technology."
"Simple to whom? And when does it go from complicated to being simple?"
"Okay, you got me. Progress changes perspective."
"Indeed it does. But let me give you an example of what I mean. There is a relatively new device called a neurophone. It allows audio input directly to the brain, bypassing the ears altogether. The input is through the user's skin, of all things. I've read about this and thought about how it could help the deaf. It also allows one to 'hear' more of the audio spectrum than the ears alone could do. The fidelity is amazing, I have read. Now, if we can do that, why couldn't a more advanced race do so? Another example -- science has found that our minds affect matter at a very basic level. We can't yet cause things to fly across the room by simply thinking about it, but the influence is measurable. If our puny minds can do that, why could a more advanced race not do more?"
Gerald didn't want to admit it, but he knew there was no rational argument against it. He conceded she could be right.
"You have to ask yourself if we are so arrogant as to think we are the only gods in the universe, Gerald."
The words stung like a bee. He had really never thought of it that way. She continued.
"We see unidentified flying objects, verified by good pilots and honest citizens, and yet we want to think we are the pinnacle of technology and knowledge? Ludicrous at best. Unforgivably arrogant and stupid at worst.
"Gerald, have you ever thought about how likely it is that life began as science wants to believe? What are the mathematical odds? At least one astrophycist says that the universe isn't old enough to have allowed life by evolution. Whether that is accurate or not, the odds are incredibly high against such a thing. You needed just the right conditions on just the right planet at just the right distance from the sun, just the right chemicals and enzymes being formed, opposing needs being provided...."
"Whoa! What opposing needs?"
"Glad you asked. If you have too much ultraviolet radiation, you burn out the very enzymes needed to 'create' life . Unfortunately for the theorists, you can't do it with less than that level either. The number against it gets bigger and bigger at every level and with every new requirement for life and viable reproduction and survival."
Gerald knew nothing about ultraviolet radiation requirements, so he couldn't argue the point. He sensed she was right about the odds against it, if the facts were correct. LeAnne seemed better read than he would have thought. Much better than he had hoped, unfair as that sounded. That made it harder to argue with her. He winced at the word -- argue. That wasn't his intent. He had thought it would be so easy to dispute her position. It had become anything but easy. To be honest, Gerald was becoming a bit disheartened, thinking that maybe hos college professors had misled him as to the weakness of the Christian position.
Since Gerald said no more in response, LeAnne continued.
"Mathematical odds are against evolution the entire way. If a single cell, under all the right conditions, succeeded in evolving, what happened to cause the change from mitosis to sexual reproduction? You then need to have a male and a female, in close proximity to reproduce, and both viable as reproductive organisms and compatible with one another to reproduce. What are the odds that would happen? Very high, right? And then you have a huge number, after adding up all of these requirements. It gets even higher as those two gendered cells now begin to specialize and form livers, kidneys, eyes, ears and more. Aside from why, we have to ask how. And all of this is an uphill battle that is constantly won against all odds, right? Then you have divisions into animals of all kinds, unlike one another as light is to darkness. That number is now getting huge, Gerald. The odds don't look good."
"Then what caused it all?"
"Wait, I need to cover another issue first. Why not go back before life on this planet and consider the origins of the universe itself? If, as science has claimed, the universe began with all matter in one place and it exploded, how did all of that matter get into one place?"
"I don't know. No one does."
"What's worse, no one asks."
Gerald had to admit that was true.
"Okay, let's assume, for the sake of the argument, that all matter somehow was in one place. We don't know how it got there, but that doesn't matter, right?"
She seemed to be mocking now and the tables had turned. He didn't like the feeling.
"Then science says there was the 'big bang'. My question is 'what caused the bang?' They don't know or seem to care. Add to that the fact that it would seem to violate the very laws of science and physics they seem to believe in...."
"What? How does it violate any laws of physics?"
By this time, a number of their fellow workers had gathered around to listen, few of them eating their lunch, so engrossed were they.
"Well, Gerald, if nothing can escape a black hole, including light, then how does anything escape what would be defined as the largest black hole ever?"
He was stunned to silence now. The thought had never occured to him. He didn't know how to answer. Was there an answer? There had to be.
"Gerald, scientists claim that the laws of physuics didn't exist at that time. How convenient that must be. Matter existed, space existed, but the laws of physics did not? How is that possible? Actually, the latest theory is almost identical to one that scientists ridiculed religionists for not so long ago."
Another person sitting close by asked, "What theory is that?"
"Ex Nihilo creation or something from nothing. Science said not long ago that was impossible, but now even men such as Michio Kaku say that the universe began with 'a disturbance in the vacuum.' What does that mean? How do you get a disturbance in a vacuum? What causes such a thing or is there a cause even possible?"
"So you are saying that science thinks something in a vacuum happened to cause an explosion?" This from a another bystander.
"Exactly. How does that happen?"
No one could offer an explanation. LeAnne continued.
"Again, for the sake of the argument, let's say it did happen. Now we have all of the matter from that single point shooting outward. There is a tremendous force driving the matter outward and no gravity at the center of the explosion anymore. And yet some scientists cling to the idea that the universe oscillates and will again draw inward and prepare to explode again. Doesn't this violate the very laws of physics now held to be inviolable? It makes no sense to me. It should make no sense ot anyone thinking rationally. You have to suspend disbelief to accept such a thing."
Gerald began to squirm. It was not going as he had planned. She was nopt yet attirbuting anything to a god, but was still managing to make prominent scientific theories look a bit foolish. The very word he had attacked her with so recently. The irony did not escape him.
"Now we have all this universe of matter exploding outward from its center, in a vacuum, supposedly. And yet we are asked to believe that it began to form eddy currents and coagulate into elements and compounds. How do you get an eddy current in a vacuum? Each particle shooting outward is in a diverging path, so gravity cannot and should not be able to overcome that explosive trajectory. Agreed?"
She looked directly at Gerald and waited for an answer. He could only nod agreement or be a hypocrite and a liar. He cringed again as the next statement came forth. He had hoped that would be the end of it.
"We have other problems with current theories. Such things as Quasars are said to be accelerating toward the edges of the universe. I have to ask how this could be possible in a vacuum. There are, according to the laws of physics, which even the most stubborn of scientists will admit are now in play, only a few defined ways that this could happen. Either it is what is referred to as 'red shift', a trick of light and distance only, or it is real. If it is real, there are strictly defined reasons as to how it could happen."
Gerald felt sick to his stomach. He knew instinctively that LeAnne was not going to stop there. She was going to peel away the false veneer he now knew had been pulled over the world of science and education. The other listeners were virtually riveted to LeAnne's words now. The silence and attention was nearly concrete.
"One reason a body might accelerate in a vacuum is that there is a force behind it that continually pushes, if you will. I think it is safe to say we can accept that once the 'bang' was over, there was no other force being applied from behind all this matter. That then leads to whether or not a gravitational force is pulling the matter in all directions from center. By definition, that would be the equivalent of a huge eggshell surrounding the universe we know. I ask you, is that a possibility? Science would likely say it is not. I think it unlikely, unless we are in an enclosed environment or some holographic condition. A huge egg? Probably not. An illusion? It all feels real, doesn't it?"
There were numerous utters and nods of agreement, as well as open laughter.
"That would leave only one other possibility that I can see. Perhaps these Quasars are self-accelerating, like a rocket. I don't think that theory is too viable, however."
A few chuckles erupted.
"In order to be self-accelerating, would this imply a gathering pressure from the center of the universe? That too, violates the accepted laws of Newtonian pysics. Once the explosion happens, no further energy is added to it. It diminishes. And the laws say that once an object is set in motion in a vacuum, it remains firm in the direction and speed it was set in motion with, unless something were to interfere with that trajectory and speed. Nothing seems to be doing that to Quasars. That leaves only one thing more, but no one seems to want to consider it."
"What is that?" asked a young man sitting nearby.
"Intelligent interference."
"You mean God?" asked another.
"Either that or it is illusion and scientists have hung their hats on an illusion."
"Well, that could happen," added a woman sitting next to LeAnne. Didn't we once think the earth was flat and you could all over the edge?"
Laughter from all quarters ensued. Everyone but Gerald smiled. He felt physically ill. LeAnne knew she must make amends after ripping his foundation of beliefs out from under him nd she was not so heartless as to keep him in agony. He looked positively miserable.
"Gerald, it isn't my intent to hurt you, you know. I want to share with you what I know to be true. Science doesn't have all the answers. Just as the average person doesn't know about the neurophone I told you of and would not believe it possible unless they experienced it personally, most will never know or experience communication with God. The reason is usually because they have no interest in doing so, no desire to know. It simply isn't important enough to find out for certain. And yet, if true, it would alter their lives so deeply. Imagine having the answers to the most iportant questions ever to occur to mankind. 'Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going after this life? What is my relationship to God?' If science cannot provide all the answers reliably, what other course do we have than to search what some would consider the unscientific regions and realms?"
Gerald nodded somberly, but said nothing, staring at the table.
"What I propose is this, Gerald. If there is a supreme Being that can influence the very fabric of our niverse, certainly He should be able to respond to a sincere prayer and affirmation on your part. I have experienced such an answer myself, along with millions of others. The answer was unmistakable, although no means of measuring it in a lab yet exists. No meters, buzzers and bells could discern it, but it was entirely real, nonetheless. It did not leave me psychotic, as you have suggested, nor has it destroyed any of my intelligence and ability to reason, I think you would agree. Just as you or I could receive input through new technologies that most people are unfamiliar with, we can receive input via spiritual means. We can agree that science has not discovered everything yet, even about the human body. It cannot eplain how a mother can be aware that her child is in trouble when she cannot see him. It will not explain how a child can be aware of and even feel the turmoil and pain a twin sibling experiences when not in close proximity. And yet these events are on record."
"I've had that happen to me with my own kids," one mother offered. Other women added their own experiences.
"Gerald, have you ever had a sudden insight for no apparent reason, an instantaneous knowledge that you could not explain and yet received, without a learning curve, and just knew instinctively to be true?"
"Yes, I have."
"How do you explain them?"
"I don't know...just fortunate epiphanies, I guess. Maybe my subconscious mind is at work while my conscious mind is doing other things."
"Maybe, but some of those insights surely were about things you had never even considered before. Those that just come from seemingly nowhere."
"Yes, I guess so. I don't know how to explain them."
"Then why could they not be intelligent communications via means you do not yet understand? Is there any proof it isn't?"
"I don't know."
LeAnne smiled. "I would rather hear that answer than a rationalization for a position that is unsupportable. I want to challenge you to do an experiment. I told you I could not prove to you the existence of God and I repeat that claim. That does not preclude you being able to prove it to yourself, however. Isn't that a scientific experiment worth doing?"
Now more humble, Gerald nodded assent. "How does one go about doing that?"
"I will teach you what you need to know about prayer, but you will need to study what God has caused to be written by his chosen prophets, if you want to get to know Him personally. I will even share with you sources other than the Bible alone. And I can introduce you to some nice young people who will calmly and lovingly guide you in your search. I think you will find them to be very caring and knowledgeable. Are you willing?"
"Yes, I think so. What other choice do I have?"
"True. You still need a firm foundational belief if you are to be a happy person at the core." LeAnne smiled again and nodded, while a few others expressed their own interest in searching these subjects further. LeAnne was all too happy to accomodate them.

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