The Day of Itching Ears

For the professing Church the day of theological controversy has passed. Ecumenism is now the word on every tongue. Church leaders appear to have become convinced that the stifling confusion in the Church can be overcome only by all of us getting together, minimizing our differences, and emphasizing those doctrines on which we all agree. As a result, some of the most important doctrines of Scripture are neither denied nor affirmed; they are ignored. But little matter, for the objective now is not to be true to the written Word of God but to see to it that the Church is “strong” and commands the world’s respect.

Ecumenism, sad to say, has made significant inroads among evangelical believers too. All too seldom do men of God stand up to defend by the Scriptures the truths they believe and proclaim. The theological debate has given place to dialogue, in which two individuals or groups sit down together to discuss their differences and see if there is not some basis for agreement. This appears generous and objective, but too often convictions are compromised and the truth watered down by such undertakings, with the result that the Spirit’s power is sacrificed for numerical strength. No man of God can speak in the power of the Spirit when he places anything before the Word and Will of God. Nor can the Church ever be truly united and strong unless she puts God’s Word and Will first and takes her place in the world as Christ’s ambassador on alien territory (See II Cor. 5:20).

But what do the Scriptures say about this new “open-mindedness,” this new “let’s all get together” trend?

OUR LORD’S WARNING

During our Lord’s earthly ministry He warned His disciples: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6).

The disciples did not immediately grasp the significance of the Lord’s warning. Realizing that they had forgotten to take bread with them, they supposed that He referred to the leaven which their bakers used and concluded that the Pharisees and Sadducees were evidently out to poison their food!

To correct this mistake our Lord had but to remind them how, with but a few loaves, He had fed five thousand people at one time and four thousand at another. They themselves had taken up baskets full of the fragments on both occasions. Surely, then, He could supply them with food!

“Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Ver. 12).

Someone was out to poison them–spiritually! It is doubtful that the Pharisees and Sadducees meant to propagate poisonous doctrines, but in their pride and hypocrisy they were the ready tools of Satan. It was because of the destructive qualities of these doctrines that our Lord had used the term “leaven” to describe them. Where false doctrine is concerned, it takes but a little to do a great deal of harm. Referring to this very thing Paul warned the Galatians that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9).

What was so dangerous about the teachings of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? In general it was that the Pharisees added to the written Word (Matt. 23) and the Sadducees took from it (Acts 23:8). Both were dangerous, and our Lord warned His disciples to BEWARE of both. We do well to take this lesson to heart, for the Pharisees and Sadducees are with us still–those who add to the Word of God and those who take from it.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE PHARISEES

“The doctrine of the Pharisees” has held a prominent place in the Church throughout its history. The Reformation did not put an end to it by any means, for still today vast numbers of religious people subscribe to it.

The leaders of Christendom have added all sorts of rituals, restrictions, and requirements to God’s revealed program for His Church in this dispensation of Grace, and multitudes of sincere believers follow like sheep, instead of searching the Scriptures daily to see whether these things really do belong to His program for our day.

Look at the members of Christ’s Body. Many have placed themselves under the Law, while others are trying to recover the miraculous signs of Pentecost, or are striving to carry out a “great commission” that is not theirs. They observe holy days, baptism, footwashing, and all sorts of other forms and ceremonies which are contrary to God’s program for this dispensation, as revealed in the epistles of Paul. As a result the Church is a Babel of confusion and Satan is well satisfied.

How perverse is the heart of man! God reveals the Substance and lo, His people go back to the shadows! He demonstrates the all-sufficiency of Christ’s redemptive work and behold, His people continue to observe the rites that pointed to it. Indeed, they add ceremonies which He never commanded at all! In grace God postpones the judgment and the earthly reign of Christ, to offer grace and reconciliation to His enemies and lo, His servants do not even understand and go about vainly trying to “establish His kingdom.”

They do not deny that we are commissioned to proclaim God’s offer of grace and reconciliation, but they add another commission and so confuse the God-given message. They do not deny the all-sufficiency of Christ’s finished work, but they add unscriptural and undispensational teachings and forms and ceremonies, and so confuse and adulterate God’s clear message of grace.

This is “the doctrine of the Pharisees” and it is dangerous.

Added error blinds men’s minds to the truth. Those who add the so-called “Great Commission” to God’s program for this dispensation cannot fully appreciate the glory of our Lord’s “great commission” to Paul and to us (II Cor. 5:14-21; Eph. 3:8,9; et al). Those who go back under the Law of Moses or even back to Pentecost cannot fully appreciate the glory of our Lord’s finished work or “the exceeding riches of His grace.” Those who observe footwashing, water baptism, or holy days cannot fully understand the mystery of God’s purpose and grace. These added things hang as a veil before their eyes and blind them to the glories of their position in the heavenlies in Christ as members of His Body.

Our Lord charged the Pharisees with “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” and with “making the Word of God of none effect through your [their] tradition” (Mark 7:7,13). This is being done on every hand today as religious leaders add to God’s glorious “grace” program ceremonies and observances which belonged to former dispensations, or which He never commanded at all. This is dangerous to our spiritual welfare and we should “beware” of it.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE SADDUCEES

But if Satan cannot deceive us with “the doctrine of the Pharisees” he will seek to accomplish his purpose through “the doctrine of the Sadducees.”

In comparison with the bigoted Pharisees, the Sadducees were the “advanced thinkers” of their day. Not that they did not also substitute human tradition for the Word of God, but they made more of the human intellect and refused to believe certain truths which were supernatural in character. The Sadducees have a host of followers in our day with its emphasis on the intellectual.

But our Lord warned His disciples against the Sadducees too. He said “Take heed….Beware” and described their doctrine as leaven because a little of it can spread so fast.

This warning is sorely needed today since some sincere Christians, wishing to be intellectual and open-minded, place themselves in positions of great spiritual danger.

On the premise that they are mature and are seeking for the truth, such people often spend their time examining all the different viewpoints they can find and so make shipwreck of the faith. We should be careful about assuming that we are mature either intellectually or spiritually. To the puffed-up Corinthian believers Paul wrote:

“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become [take the position of] a fool, that he may be wise” (I Cor. 3:18).

“And if a man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (I Cor. 8:2).

The fact is that we cannot trust our intellects. Surely the sharp disagreements among the world’s greatest intellects should teach us this. These disagreements exist because, as the Bible teaches, the human mind, like the human heart, has become depraved by sin.

THE THESSALONIANS, THE BEREANS, AND THE ATHENIANS

But were not the Bereans commended for listening with open minds to teachings which they had never heard before? Yes, when they were confronted with them. It was the Athenians, not the Bereans, who made it their policy to consider as many viewpoints as possible on every subject (Acts 17:18-21).

The strength of the Bereans was that they kept close to the Scriptures. When confronted with some new doctrine, they did indeed give it an interested hearing, but then “searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Had they found anything in Paul’s message which contradicted the Scriptures they would immediately have rejected it. And for this God calls them “noble.” They were the truly great, the spiritual aristocracy of their day.

Too many believers today aspire to be like the Athenians rather than the Bereans. They say they wish to have open minds, and this is good if it is remembered that an open mind is like an open mouth; not everything should be put into it.

The Athenians went to the other extreme from the Thessalonians, who would not even consider a new doctrine when confronted with it–would not even consider it in the light of the Scriptures.

The Bereans were the wisest of the three. They kept close to that blessed Book, and, when confronted with unfamiliar teachings, immediately subjected them to the test of Scripture.

This is the wisest course even if only because we are all limited in time and strength. Obviously we cannot spend a great deal of time looking into the conflicting teachings of men without sacrificing a great deal of much-needed time for Bible study, and in the measure that we do this we are bound to grow spiritually weaker.

THE QUESTION OF EXPOSURE

There are those who argue that believers cannot be strengthened against error without being exposed to it. Our Lord knew better. He did not invite the Pharisees and the Sadducees to address His audiences. Rather He warned His audiences against the “leaven” of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and kept teaching His hearers the truth.

The depravity of the human heart and mind is such that the believer is not strengthened against error by constant exposure to it; he is strengthened against error by feeding consistently upon the Word of God. Exposure to error strengthens the believer only as it drives him to the Word of God. Show me a Christian who is always “considering all sides” and I will show you one who will fail dismally to give the Scriptural answer to false teaching–if indeed he is not taken in by false teaching himself. But show me a Christian who spends his time with that blessed Book and I will show you one who, strong in the faith, can easily answer his adversaries by the Scriptures. Paul wrote to young Pastor Timothy:

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ…. Preach the Word….For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (II Tim. 4:1-3).

And what was to be the result of this “itching ears” condition, this passion to hear teachers of all schools of thought expound their various doctrines? Hear the divine prediction:

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (Ver. 4).

What thoughtful student of the Word will deny that we have reached this point in the history of the professing Church, that the day of “itching ears” is upon us?

The desire to “give everyone a hearing,” as it were, may seem superficially to indicate spiritual greatness, but actually it is of the flesh and is based upon the exalted presumption that it is safe for me to trust my intellect, even though the greatest intellects have disagreed over the most vital subjects. Where our intellects are concerned we are wiser to heed the Spirit-inspired exhortation of one truly great intellect, the Apostle Paul:

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

The Apostle Paul did not assume that his followers were mature enough to consider all religious viewpoints. He delivered his God-given message and warned his hearers and readers against false teachings.

To the Corinthians he wrote:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor. 11:3).

Reminding the Colossians of his labor and strife and toil and conflict to establish them in the faith, he warns:

“Beware lest any man spoil [rob] you….Let no man beguile you…” (Col. 2:8,18).

He did not suggest to the Ephesian elders that it might be big of them occasionally to invite the legalists or the gnostics or some other heterodox teachers in to address their audiences. He rather impressed upon them their responsibility to protect their congregations from false teaching. Read carefully and prayerfully his very words, as found in Acts 20:28-31:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood.

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

“Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”

Even those two outstanding pastors, Timothy and Titus, were warned against the “leaven” of false teaching. The apostle exhorts Timothy:

“Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee” (I Tim. 4:16).

This passage explains why some pastors have been unable to save their hearers from error and spiritual shipwreck. Certainly it teaches the danger of false doctrine to both pastor and people.

Throughout his two epistles to Timothy the apostle warns his son in the faith against those who “teach otherwise” and exhorts him to “fight the good fight of the faith.” How earnestly he beseeches young Timothy to stay close to the Word of God and especially to the Word of God committed to him for this present dispensation:

“O Timothy, keep [guard] that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding…oppositions of science falsely so called” (I Tim. 6:20).

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

“That good thing which was committed unto thee keep [guard] by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (II Tim. 1:13,14).

In his letter to Titus the apostle declares that a bishop must be “blameless as the steward of God” (Titus 1:7).

“Holding fast the faithful Word… that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers” (Ver. 9).

Never does Paul advise even the strongest, most mature man of God to seek out the doctrines of those who “teach otherwise” so that they may know how to deal with them. He rather exhorts them to keep strong in the truth, ever ready to meet false doctrine with the Word of God.

When you are confronted with the familiar sign, “BEWARE OF THE DOG,” be wise and keep out of the way. If you ignore the warning and have to flee torn and bruised, that is your fault. Nor can you expect God to protect you from spiritual harm and loss if you ignore His admonition to beware of false doctrine.

Do not presume: “I am mature. I will never be confused or overthrown by error.” BEWARE! This is the course of obedience. This is the course of wisdom. This is the course of humility.

Every believer should remember that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God…because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). It was by the Spirit that our eyes were opened to the most vital truths which confront mankind. Therefore it behooves us to protect ourselves from error and spiritual harm by consistent, prayerful, believing study of that blessed Book of which the Spirit is the Author.

Challenges Facing The Library At West Africa Theological Seminary, Affiliate Of University Of Nigeri

INTRODUCTION

The library has become “a place entrusted with the acquisition, organization, preservation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information in whatever format it might appear” (Olanlokun and Salisu 1993, ix). West Africa Theological Seminary Library is at the crossroad. The traditional library practices and modern technological advances must be developed and embraced if it is to be relevant in this information age. It is a very high price which must be paid otherwise the library will eventually become like the legendary character who slept for twenty years at Gasgill Mountain in Gulliver’s Travels and eventually woke up to find the world completely changed.

BRIEF HISTORY OF WEST AFRICA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

The history of the above seminary could be realistically traced to the historic visitation by two American missionaries (Rev. Dr. and Rev. Mrs. Gary Maxey) who led a group of Nigerian and expatriate Christians to Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria in April 1989. (The Maxeys had initially worked creditably in religious education in Port Harcourt for seven years). The establishment of the seminary in 1989 was a practical demonstration of the need to actively participate in the training of pastors, evangelists, missionaries and teachers not only in Nigeria but also in other parts of the continent and the west. Presently, the seminary is the largest non-denominational evangelical holiness seminary in Nigeria that has attracted students from a broad spectrum of Nigerian Christian denominations, (and) ethnic groups. During a recently completed semester, WATS has students from thirty of Nigeria’s states, from over forty language groups, from (several) other African countries, and from well over eighty different church groups (West Africa Theological Seminary Prospectus 2004, 5).

The name of the seminary was changed from Wesley International Theological Seminary to West Africa Theological Seminary on 1 June 2001, the same year it relocated to 35/37 MM International Airport Road, Lagos, Nigeria. The institution is affiliated to the University of Nsukka, Nigeria and presently offers several programs of study including : Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Diploma in Theology, Certificate in Computer Studies, Diploma in Computer Studies, M.A. in Biblical Studies, Master of Divinity, M.A. in Christian Leadership and M.A. in Intercultural Studies. The seminary started publishing the West Africa Theological Seminary Journal in 2002.

One of the immediate plans of the seminary is to automate its library collection. A crucial aspect is to identify software that will be able to meet the needs of the seminary. In selecting software, the seminary must think in terms of networking and bear in mind that automation programmes normally require annual support fees.

WEST AFRICA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY LIBRARY

It is a truism that “the library is the nerve center of educational institutions” (Olanlokun and Salisu 1993, vii) and West Africa Theological Seminary Library is no exception. This library uses the second edition of the Anglo American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) and the twentieth edition of Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC 20). The card catalog is divided, “a file of authors and titles kept in a single alphabetical order and a file of subject cards in alphabetical order” (Newhall 1970, 38) and the filing system is letter by letter, a system in which “entries are filed without considering the spaces between words” (Nwosu 2000, 61). There is a book catalog, which contains the projects (undergraduate and graduate) submitted by students of the seminary and some members of staff who studied in other institutions.

In 2003 the library benefited from a subscription paid by Asbury Theological Seminary to use the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Database on CD Rom. This is a comprehensive tool designed to support religious education and faculty research. The library serves students, academic and administrative staff of the seminary and external users (academic staff and students from other theological institutions).

Other relevant information include:

OPENING HOURS:

A. During term: Mondays to Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. ? 10:30 p.m.

B. Holiday: Mondays to Fridays: 9:00 a.m. ? 9:00 p.m.

NO OF BOOKS: 36,500

NO OF journal titles: 98

NO. OF VIDEO AND AUDIO CASSETTES: 114

PHOTOCOPYING MACHINE: 1

THE BOOK CATALOG: Projects (both card and book catalog)

NO. OF REFERENCE MATERIALS: 1,722

LIBRARY STAFF

With the exclusion of the presenter, WATS library is presently manned by seventeen members of staff, nine of whom are student workers. These student workers mostly work in the evenings, manning the security and circulation desks (although no external borrowing is done during this period). In addition, they clean they library.

CHALLENGES

1. Training and recruiting professional librarians

Nine out of the seventeen members of staff are student workers who use this opportunity to raise a significant portion of their fees and, in some cases, some extra funds to maintain themselves as they pursue their theological studies. The presenter is unaware of any who has expressed interest in the library profession. Services rendered cannot be classed as professional. Unfortunately, only two of the regular members of staff have completed some form of library training at the senior supporting level. The implication is that the library is seriously in need of professional librarians otherwise it would continue to run sub-standard services. An irksome dimension is that in most cases, junior members of staff who are in the majority “are allowed to do professional duties in the absence of the right cadre who should do them” (Nwosu 2000, 103).

The card catalog for instance will be used to demonstrate the effect the paucity or lack of professional librarians is having on the library collection.

The most common form of library catalog in West Africa is the card catalog and “there is need for (one) to know the design of the system to be able to use it effectively” (Nwosu 2000, 57). A challenge for the library is to maintain a consistent filing rule. Although WATS library operates the system known as the “letter-by-letter” or “all-through” method, there are evidences of the other method, that is the “word-by-word” or “nothing before something”. The former is the common approach to alphabetization, where B must always come before C. In the latter, the space between words is taken into account since the focus is on each word. When it gets to the turn of the word in the alphabetic sequence, all its associates are considered along.

Marrying the two methods of filing or alphabetization may cost one the information that is needed.
Another problem is misapplication of the filing rules. The American Library Association Code (Rule 6) stipulates that “abbreviated words should be filed as if they were spelled out in full, with one exception, that is, the abbreviation Mrs. St. is therefore filed as if it were spelled Saint, and Mc… as Mac” (Harrison and Beenham 1985, 82). The above rule is unfortunately misapplied in WATS library. If the rule is not taken into consideration, the word scan will be filed before St. when it should be the other way round. In the same manner, the Dr. (doctor) will also be filed before down and not the other way round.

A third issue in filing (Rule 5) states that initials should be filed before words. (However, acronyms are treated as words, for example UNICEF, UNESCO, ECOWAS etc.) There are instances in the WATS catalog that this rule is not taken into consideration. A word like Aaron erroneously comes before A.G.M and A.L.A.

It is frightening that there is no clear room for upward mobility of library staff. In the absence of a professional scheme of service or promotion guidelines, members of staff have worked in one position since they received their appointment letters.

2. Computerizing the library

Some libraries in Nigeria have automated their services. Examples include the Institute of Tropical Agriculture Library at Ibadan and the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Library, Oshodi, Lagos. Others, including WATS Library, are on the verge of putting their automation plan into action.
Automation can benefit the Acquisition, Cataloging and Serial Departments in the following ways :
Acquisition : Automation can help in fund control as well as in generation and dissemination of reports. List of items, including the accession list can also be printed.

3. Acquisition

Acquisition is generally defined as “the process of obtaining books and other documents for a library, documentation center or archive” (Prytherch 1986, 61). Incontrovertibly, it is “one of the most important functions of any library system” (Ali 1989, 66). Some means of acquisition of library materials include purchase, donation, exchange, Legal Deposit Legislation and membership of professional organizations. In most libraries in West Africa, it is observed that
acquisition rates are grossly inadequate to support both teaching and research even if judged by minimal standards accepted in developed countries. Attempts to alleviate the situation with various forms of aid though intrinsically meritorious offer little hope for long term improvement (Allen 1993, 232).

Donated materials extensively stock West Africa Theological Seminary Library. Since beggars are not choosers, there is a significant proportion of dated publications. There are many reading materials which are not even relevant to the general curriculum of the seminary. Weeding ‘unwanted’ stock is a big problem to the library since there are no suitable replacements.
An often-overlooked means of acquisition is membership of professional associations. If the library continues to distance itself from the professional register of library institutions, it will not be aware of current trends in the professional which will negatively reflect on the type and quality of services rendered.

4. Internet connectivity

The WATS administration released a letter on 2nd January 2005 announcing a significant reduction (about 75%) of the internet service provided on campus. This was attributed to the reduction in the bandwidth which made it impossible to support all the former work stations. A technological blow was dealt on the library cyber café since it fell prey to this decision. Students were advised to use the cyber café on the ground floor. The seminary administration must support the library in its embryonic stage to judiciously embrace the new technology. On the other hand, the theological librarians have a very crucial role “to ensure that the resulting use of computers and telecommunication and any other appropriate technology contributes in cost effective ways to the needs of scholarship and research since (they) have the expertise in acquiring materials in a variety of formats and make them accessible for a variety of purposes” (Simpson 1984, 38).

5. Online resources

An online resource that was used at West Africa Theological Seminary (and which is highly recommended for other theological libraries in Africa) is the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) Religion Index, useful for accessing articles, reviews, essays, dissertations and monographs. The use of databases, which overlap subject fields, that is, interdisciplinary database searching, is an often over-looked aspect of online searching.Users of West Africa Theological Seminary Library do not have access to an incredible amount of online resources because it is not subscribing to use these materials. An example of a very important online resource is the Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC). This center, a bibliographic utility based in Dublin, Ohio is a global electronic information co-operative serving about 39,517 libraries in seventy-six countries. It runs an Online Union Catalog. There are approximately twenty eight million cataloguing records and the database (using MARC tapes and other online input data for users) provides reference services and interlibrary loan, qualifying it probably as the world’s most comprehensive database of bibliographic information that produces the First Search System through which a library can subscribe to thousands of academic and professional titles from about seventy publishers available electronically.

6. Functional photocopier

Although the library has a photocopier, the machine is frequently out of order. This second hand machine needs to be replaced to enable the library to realistically benefit from its services. The seminary administration even took a decision recently to hand over photocopying services to a student who is presently running a better business.

7. Audio visual collection

Audio visuals are non-paper based information carriers. They have been introduced into the library through advances in technology. They are called audio-visuals because they require auditory and visual appreciation. One of their chief advantages is storing a large amount of information in a small space. Audio visuals include audio tapes, microforms, filmstrips, charts, slides, video tapes, television etc. Some of these appeal only to the sense of hearing (audios), some only to the sight (visuals) and others to both the auditory and visual senses (audio visuals). Although WATS library has received quite a few audio visual materials, there is need to purchase the necessary supporting equipments to make the audio visual collection a reality.

The seminary has been receiving several research tools in the form of CD ROMS for a considerable period. The library is yet to make these available to users by installing them in a functional computer.

8. Bindery

It is true that “once any item is selected for the collection, the library promises to preserve it” (Goodrum and Dalrymple 1985, 65). The absence of a bindery collection within the library is adversely affecting the physical condition of books. It must be borne in mind that since a significant portion of library materials are donated, many are received in a very poor physical condition.

The bindery could also be very instrumental in binding back issues of newspapers and journals to facilitate a relatively easier storage, retrieval and dissemination of information.

9. User instruction

A major weakness of library practice is the failure to instruct users in the use of the library to the best advantage. From experience, “surveys have shown that public use of such tools as catalogues are minimal, largely because they have never been shown how they operate” (Jackaman 1989, 3). Many students in WATS go through the seminary without a reasonable grasp of basic library principles. This means that the one hour orientation conducted at the start of every semester is insufficient.

10. Serial collection

Various journals subscribed to by the library are selected, ordered and received, processed and shelved by this collection. It is constantly checked to determine if there are any missing issues already due but have not been received in order to make such claims. This section also stocks newspaper. The relevance of such an invaluable collection in the library cannot be overemphasized. It is unfortunate that WATS library is not subscribing to journals and this explains why there are many distinct gaps in periodical literature. The library is at the mercy of donors who normally send journals at random.

Newspapers are directly purchased by the WATS administration and these are subsequently sent to the library in most cases not on the day of purchase. This defeats the purpose of newspapers since they come late to the library. Providing recent information must be the primary concern for the library or information worker. Consequently, “currency should therefore be a requirement and not an option” (Wilson 1993, 636).

11. Heat in the library

The present heat in the library is detrimental to the books since humidity is a threat to their survival. If not sprayed periodically, fungi easily develop within the pages and damage the writing. Many researchers are unable to stay for a considerable period simply because of the discomfort caused by a very hot environment.

12. Internet searching

When the library cyber café was functioning, user statistics of users indicated that ninety percent of those who used the Internet did so to send mails and chat with friends. The remaining ten percent use it to conduct research and perform other functions. The insignificant percentage that uses it for research purposes heavily rely on Google. A student and a library staff opined that they adopt the ‘google only’ approach because they are not aware of any other cite.
It is observed that “most users locate (information) through subscription-free search engines such as Google” (Harding 2004). This over-reliance is a serious limitation. The effectiveness of Google is assessed thus:

A recent search on Google of ‘Ancient Near East’ resulted in over 150,000 results. While many of these are probably excellent sites, many more are probably not. The ETANA site, interestingly, does not appear in the first one hundred listings. Thus, the researcher who would benefit from access to ETANA but who does not know of its existence will likely not stumble across it using Google (Limpitlaw 2003, p.5).

It is rather unfortunate that even lecturers are incredibly proliferating reliance upon one web site (Google). The issue is that “if faculty researchers themselves are relying almost exclusively upon Google, however, how many of them are likely to encourage students to expand their searches beyond Google, to at least explore the resources and materials their libraries maintain?” (Norlin 2004, 56). The library staff must be very instrumental in directing users to many other relevant sites and free online libraries, for instance Africa Digital Library in South Africa. Continuing education for the library staff must be encouraged to enable them to be abreast of technological changes. It is opined that “a successful training program is also dependent on the commitment that top management shows for the training process” (Martey 2002, 14). An incontrovertible reality is that “librarians need to know how to access and filter what is on the web” (Rosenberg 1997, 15). Among several suggestions to shake the evident frost off the African church in its theological mission, Tienou (1990) proffers the improvement of theological libraries, and (by implication), the theological librarians who intersperse between the information and the user. The training of library staff and information professionals is very crucial in coping with the astronomically fast development that is evident in the information age. It is rather unfortunate that the theological librarians have not generally accompanied the introduction of Internet service at West Africa Theological Seminary Library with a thorough training on its use.

Indubitably, unless … librarians receive this staff training, there is a danger that the potential of this technology for sourcing and repackaging for information transfer will remain insufficiently exploited and that it will not become integrated with more traditional print-based library services” (Asamoah 2003, 17).

13. Funding

It is incontrovertible that “every good collection is an expression of adequate and sound financial backing, and no collection development can achieve this objective if it is financially handicapped” (Alemna 1994, 47). In their commentary on the challenge in the field of librarianship, it is observed that “library funding will probably be the issue which consumes the energy of library managers to the end of this century (and the next)” (Moore and Shander 1993, 19). WATS library must be realistically budgeted for if it is to continue to be the academic nerve center of the seminary.

THE WAY FORWARD

Like Ato Yawson in Ama Ata Aidoo’s The Dilemma of a Ghost, the question is, shall WATS library go to Cape Coast (representing the traditional) or Elmina (representing the modern’)? In the field of librarianship, a realistic response lies “in preserving traditional services and embracing the technological advances” (Harding 2002, 9).

The following are proffered for consideration to assist WATS library to face the inescapable challenges:

1. Professionally trained staff

The library profession is in crises. It is observed that “the need to find and retain quality leadership for libraries is a core issue for the future” (Hisle 2002, 211). Library staff at WATS must be professionally trained. Acquisition of relevant library qualifications cannot be overemphasized. Relevant training must include use of software applications. The modern theological librarian is standing on a crossroad and must maintain a very useful balance between traditional and modern research techniques to be relevant in this information age. Substandard services will continue to be provided if staff are employed just because they are Christians with little emphasis on professional training. Theological librarians need the kind of training conducted by ACTEA (Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa) East Africa Library Staff Training Institute in Daystar University in Kenya in July 2004. Untrained librarians need courses in cataloguing and classification, management of the library and answering reference questions. Furthermore, they must receive training in searching the internet, using Boolean operators to consult full-text journals, accessing reference materials on CD Roms, using MARC, and compiling lists of important websites and reference CDs.

Seminary, library, training, recruiting, librarians,

2. Scheme of service

In order not to make a continued mockery of the library profession, it is recommended that the professional guidelines for the appointment and promotion of library staff at all levels be drafted and implemented. The seminary administration could compare the scheme of service of several institutions in Nigeria and the sub-region as a guide to reasonably maintain the standard.

Positions which should be taken into consideration within the various categories include:

a. Junior staff

i. Messenger/cleaner

ii. Library attendant III

iii. Library attendant II

iv. Library attendant I

v. Library assistant I

vi. Library assistant II

vii. Library assistant III

b. Senior supporting staff

i. Trainee Librarian/Senior Library Assistant II / Admin. Assistant II

ii. Senior Library Assistant I / Admin.

c. Senior staff

i. Library Officer

ii. Librarian II

iii. Librarian I

iv. Senior Librarian

v. Deputy Librarian

vi. Head Librarian

The criteria for scoring senior library staff should be taken into consideration. Some of these areas include :

Academic and professional qualifications

Professional/working experience

Professional activities

Research and publications

Administrative experience

3. Revamping of internet services in the library

The library cyber café must be resurrected if the library is to be relevant in this technological age. The library staff should receive training that will enable them to creditably handle databases in their library.

4. User instruction

The library should be more proactive in user education strategies. More current awareness or selective dissemination of information should be done to attract students and staff. A course on the use of the library could be introduced as a compulsory subject for all categories of students. It is evident even in West Africa Theological Seminary that “librarians can no longer assume the same level of interest in and support for the library from a faculty that increasingly rely upon their own search strategies and abilities in an electronic world they can access from their offices” (Norlin 2004, 56). Theological librarians need to be carefully attuned to the concerns of the students and faculty. If librarians at WATS discharge professionalism in identifying the problem of the researcher, searching for specific pieces of information efficiently and expeditiously and transmits the result of the search by any convenient means to both faculty and student users (telephone, email, personal call, short letter to mention a few), the interest in the library as information intermediary would gradually be revamped.

The library of West Africa Theological Seminary should spend several weeks offering “faculty only” and “students only” training sessions on the use of American Theological Library Association database (after paying the current subscription). An incontrovertible fact is that “unless theological librarians consciously view the faculty (and students) as the primary target for (their) activities, (they) would become irrelevant to…students, faculty, administrators and institutions” (Norlin 2004, 55).

5. The role of the seminary administration

Management at WATS must recognize that the library is not an optional extra and that the impending doctoral programme in the seminary will only become a reality when the library attains a particular professional standard. Seminary authorities must support its progress by developing existing collections (for instance, subscribing to scholarly journals for the serials collection) and by assisting in the setting up of a vibrant Digital Library Collection which should be manned by a professional librarian. Providing server upgrades and disk storage space must be seriously considered. There should be regular in-service training to assist library staff gain relevant skills in information technology.

The issue of funding cannot be overemphasized. The WATS Library can only be relevant in this information age if the seminary administration would recognize “the centrality of its academic nerve centre (the library) and ensure the sustainability of the library programmes and services” (Harding 2002, 9). Introduction of user charges, more fund raising activities in the library (such as book sales), increase in the support from donor agencies could yield an increase in income needed to purchase and maintain necessary equipment.

When the library is adequately funded, it will be in a position to subscribe to relevant journal titles, purchase standard theological texts, build a vibrant audio visual collection, provide air conditioning facilities to control the heat, replace the photocopier and provide other necessary services as and when necessary.

Professionally trained staff, scheme of service, revamping of internet services in the Computerize, cataloging, acquisition, internet, user instruction, audio visual, serial, bindery, funding, scheme of service,

6. Membership of professional organizations

WATS library should enroll as an institutional member of professional library associations such as Nigeria Theological Library Association, Christian Librarians’ Association for Africa, American Theological Library Association and Christian Librarians’ Fellowship. (The presenter is a member of all but the former). It was through the American Theological Library Association that the author was informed that the twenty second edition of the Dewey Decimal Library (DDC) classification has been published. (WATS is using the twentieth edition). The DDC numbers include all headings newly mapped to the 200 Religion Schedule, as well as others considered to be of interest to theological libraries.

Below is an illustration:

Subject heading Call number

All Souls’ Day in art 704.9493943

Islamic modernism 297.09

Nymphs (Greek deities) in art 704.9489221

Open-air preaching 206.1, 251

Social capital (Sociology) ? Religious aspects 201.7

Venus (Roman deity ) in art 704.9489221

(Osmanski 2003, 2-1)

7. Computerization

CONCLUSION

It is indubitable that the role of the library as information intermediary would never change. However, the means to fulfill this invaluable role keeps changing and the library must adapt to maintain its relevance. WATS library is a unit of a self-supporting institution with several challenges. Traditional library practices must be fully developed and the best of modern technology must be embraced. This high price must be paid as the library journeys to ‘Cape Coast’. The seminary librarians have a major challenge to move from being mere keepers of the book to guides through a universe of knowledge, thereby playing an invaluable role as information intermediary (Kargbo 2002). Since the mission of the library to facilitate the free flow of information endures even in the midst of technological changes, the librarians in all types of libraries, including WATS, “must find a very useful balance between the conventional/traditional library functions and the methods of the new challenges in order to maintain their leadership role in (the) information age” (Harding 2002, 10). Librarians in West Africa Theological Seminary could only be relevant in this age if they gear up to possess the necessary skills to enable users to creditably use materials for reading, study and consultation in whatever format they might appear. This cannot be realized without the invaluable support of the seminary administration. With this realization, “the students will be taught the art of electronic information retrieval, which they can use to write their project work and thesis” (Asamoah 2003, 17).

WORKS CITED

Alie, S.N. 1989. Acquisition of scientific literature in developing countries : Arab Gulf countries.

Information Development 5:2 :108-14.

Allen, C.G. 1993. Resources, acquisitions and the viability in libraries in

developing countries Libri 43:3 : 234-244.

Asamoah, Edwin. 2003. Re-orientating Ghanaian university librarians to

provide non-traditional services : Some suggestions for achievement.

SCAULWA Newsletter. 4:1: 14-18.

Goodrum, C.A. & H.W. Dalrymple. 1985. Guide to the Library of Congress.

Washington : Library of Congress.

Harding, Oliver. 2002. The African university librarian in the information age.

SCAULWA Newsletter 3:2 (Jun): 8-11.

2004. Suffering as a source of comfort to others : an

exegetical study of II Corinthians 1:3-7, M.A. thesis proposal, West Africa Theological Seminary,

Lagos.

Harrison, Colin and Rosemary Beenham. 1985. The basics of librarianship. 2nd

ed. London : Clive Bingley.

Hisle, W. Lee. 2002. Top issues facing academic libraries : a report of the focus on the future task

force. C&RL News 63:10 (November) :

Jackaman, Peter. 1989. Basic reference and information work. 2nd ed. Cambs :

ELM Publications.

Kargbo, John Abdul. 2002. The internet in schools and colleges in Sierra

Leone: prospects and challenges”, Available :

http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue73/kargbo/index.html. (Accessed 2004, August 10).

Limpitlaw, Amy. 2003. The management of web resources in religion and

theology”, Theology Cataloguing Bulletin 12: 1 : 3-5.

Martey, A.K. 2002. Training Ghanaian academic librarians to use the Internet”,

SCAULWA Newsletter 3: 2 : 11-25.

Moore, D. & D.E. Shander. 1993. Towards 2001 : an examination of the present

and future roles of libraries in relation to economic and social trend.

Journal of Library Administration 19:2 : 75-88.

Newhall, Jannette E. (1970), A theological library manual. London : The

Theological Education Fund.

Norlin, Dennis A. 2004. ATLA Staff News : Serving ATLA Members and

Customers. American Theological Library Association Newsletter 51: 3 : 55-56.

Nwosu, Chidi. 2000. A textbook in use of the library for higher education.

Owerri : Springfield Publishers.

Olanlokun, S. Olajire and Taofiq M. Salisu. 1993. Understanding the library : A handbook on library

use. Lagos : University of Lagos Press.

Osmanski, Paul. 2003. Library of Congress subject headings/DDC numbers of

Current interest. Theology Cataloguing Bulletin 12:1 (November) : 2-1.

Prytherch, R. 1986. Harrod’s librarians glossary of terms used in librarianship, documentation and

the book craft and reference book. Aldershot : Gower Publishing Company Ltd.

Rosenberg, D. 1997. University libraries in Africa., London : International

African Institute.

Simpson, D. 1984. Advancing technology : the secondary impact on libraries

and users. IFLA Journal 10: 1: 43-48.

Tienou, Tite. (1990), The theological task of the church in Africa. 2nd ed.

Achimota : Africa Christian Press.

West Africa Theological Seminary Prospectus. (2004), Lagos, West Africa

Theological Seminary.

Wilson, P. 1993. The value of currency Library Trends 41(4) : 632-643.

A Supreme Deity Versus Physics

Various theologians and other religious philosophers have over many, many centuries, given a list of what traits or properties a Supreme Deity or Maximally Greatest Being would have. Physicists refrain since the list in question makes little if any physical sense, as we’re about to discover. Much of what follows stems from an on-line debate I had with my old ‘friend’ the “Accidental Meta-Physician”. While I admire his all gun’s blazing theological faith, his physics leaves a lot to be desired.

Author’s Note: Rather than name names and thus include and exclude certain gods from various theologies, I’ll just use an all-encompassing phrase “Supreme Deity” or “SD”. Persons of differing faiths can substitute their own specific deity as they wish.

According to one well known modern religious theologian, William Lane Craig, the entity (i.e. – Supreme Deity) behind the creation of the Universe had to have been itself uncaused, beginning-less, changeless, eternal, timeless, space-less, an immaterial all-powerful being who is a personal agent, endowed with freedom of the will. Hopefully, by the time you’ve reached the conclusion of this essays, these characteristics will be viewed as total nonsense.

PHYSICS: DEBATING THE EXISTENCE OF A SUPREME DEITY

“Things”, like a Supreme Deity (SD), would have certain properties. Things with certain properties have structure and substance. Things with structure and substance are physical things. Physical things can have an effect on other physical things. Non-physical things, like Wednesday, have no structure and substance. The concept of Wednesday cannot have any physical effect on say a billiard ball. A billiard ball cannot have any effect on the concept of Wednesday. So, non-physical things (concepts) cannot affect physical things, and vice-versa. Since a SD, being, according to some theologies, a non-physical entity (a concept with no structure and substance), cannot therefore have any effect on or create or destroy physical things. However, non-physical concepts can have an effect on other non-physical concepts. The concept of a SD might give some the concept to be a more moral person, but that is not imposed on anyone by a non-physical SD but rather that morality comes from within. A physical deity of course could tell you to be moral or else physical consequences will follow.

If the Universe was say composed of a total of 1000 atoms, then any Supreme Deity (SD) who created the Universe couldn’t be composed of any atoms otherwise the sum total of atoms in the Universe would add up to more than 1000. Thus any SD, any supernatural creator, must be non-physical according to some theists. Unlike theists, I say that the non-physical cannot create the physical. Not even a SD can create something from nothing, especially if that Supreme Deity was also non-physical.

Once upon a time there was this Supreme Deity, who was non-physical, who was eternal but not infinite. For some unknown and unexplained reason(s), He / She / It decided* somewhere on down the track, to create a physical universe, complete with life and just everything. How do you do that if you have nothing physical to work with? Even if this SD were physical in and of itself, it wouldn’t have any raw materials from which to work on or with. So, here’s a variation on some standard cosmology. The SD – a physical SD – literally went all to pieces, came apart at the seams, and scattered Himself / Herself / Itself into the void and became as one with the Universe. The SD is the Universe and goes by the name of Mother Nature!

*How you can decide anything if you are non-physical and lack any neurological infrastructure or system is quite beyond me.

So here we have this omnipotent entity, this Supreme Deity (SD), who is non-physical, who has existed for all eternity (but not infinitely so which seems a contradiction to me but apparently not to religious theologians), and in a timeless state to boot. Then for some totally unexplained reason this entity crossed over the Rubicon into time by creating a physical cosmos, but not an infinite cosmos; created it out of absolutely nothing for no apparently good reason other than “what the heck; why not; I’m bored” (my quotes). Do you, the reader, have any comprehension of how utterly ridiculous that sounds? If you came across that scenario or concept for the very first time in a novel, you’d be right to question the author’s sanity or their drug use.

Timelessness is a ridiculous impossibility since that would require an operating temperature of absolute zero (negating any possible change, therefore motion taking place, therefore making the concept of time meaningless). A state of absolute zero is not actually achievable. If you have even the smallest amount of change, therefore motion, you have time. I wish those advocating pockets of timelessness might, using their powers of philosophical deduction, point out a place(s) in the Cosmos that currently exist(s) in a state of timelessness.

The transition from a state of timelessness to a state of time by anyone is impossible since a change (a mental thought, electrons in motion at the minimum is required) would of had to have occurred while still in a timeless state which cannot be. You have to think of going from your timeless state into a state of time before you actually do it.

Further, it’s an impossibility to create an absolute something from an absolute nothing, especially if you are non-physical to begin with.

An actual non-physical thing is nonsense. A “thing” here is an actual something with substance and structure. Non-physical ‘things’ are just mental concepts without associated substance and structure. One can imagine a Santa Claus of course, but that Santa is non-physical. That non-physical Santa cannot make a transition from that mental state of non-physicality ‘reality’ into a physical reality. That equally applies to the mental concept of a non-physical Maximally Great Being. As in the case of Santa, just because you can imagine it doesn’t of necessity make it so in a physical reality.

So why can’t those of the faith, various theologians, produce their invisible ‘friend’, their Supreme Deity’s body, for all to admire? Oh, of course, how silly of me – their invisible ‘friend’ is of course non-physical so nobody could see, hear, touch, taste or smell Him / She / It – How very, very convenient when asked to produce the goods.

And therein lies the central problem. Theologians can’t do a “show and tell” and give us the SD’s body to gawk at. Religious theologians can’t give us the physical mechanism or even the theoretical equations that make the something from nothing mechanisms real mechanisms. Then some theologians toss around meaningless and nonsense terms like existence in a state of timelessness or existence in non-space, and then they expect people to take them seriously on just their say-so.

If their waffle were as convincing as they seem to think it is, well the whole world would be their oyster now, wouldn’t it?

I’ve thus far briefly hinted at the concepts of non-physicality; the creation of something from nothing; and existence outside of time and space. I’ll now examine these in greater detail.

PHYSICS AND NON-PHYSICALITY

Any Supreme Deity (SD) is most certainly is a physical object. Firstly, according to various religious theologians, He / She / It crossed over from a timeless state of ‘reality’ into a reality state where time (thus change through motion) exists. If you are in a physical reality and you change or cause change in that physical reality, you in turn must be physical. Anyway, the evidence that a SD (assuming a SD of course which I don’t) is physical is found in the Old and New Testaments and similar religious texts. A SD exists at specific times in specific places and does specific physical things. He / She / It speaks. You cannot speak if you are not physical! In the Old Testament, for example, a SD controls the weather and drowns lots of animals and people. A non-physical being cannot cause physical rain for 40 seconds, minutes or days. This SD transports Himself / Herself / Itself from place to place via a cloud. A cloud is a physical thing! This specific SD has a throne in Heaven. What need of a throne if you aren’t physical? The Old Testament in particular is full of a SD’s actions, interactions and reactions. I’m sure if you could go back in time and chin-wag with Moses (assuming Moses actually existed of course), he’d tell you that his encounter with a SD had physical reality. This Supreme Deity was a physical something with structure and substance.

I’ve argued long and loud elsewhere that a Supreme Deity (SD), if there be a SD as described in the Old Testament (and similar texts), must be physical on the grounds that creation of physical things (the Earth, seas, animals, humans, etc.) as related in Genesis requires a physical creator. Non-physical auto workers can’t construct a physical automobile!

So I’m here to debate the physical existence of one possible SD known by lots of different names to lots of different people, not the metaphysical non-physical existence of a SD or the SD in Alice’s Wonderland SD, or the SD from Never-Never-Land, etc. I want evidence – no, make that proof – for a physical SD that could get into the boxing ring with the current heavyweight champ and punch his lights out. That kind of a physical SD!

The current heavyweight champ has nothing to fear from a non-physical SD in the boxing ring since a non-physical SD couldn’t lay a non-physical glove on him (or her – thou shall not be sexist)!

I continue to note that religious theologians STILL aren’t answering the eternal question of how their non-physical* Supreme Deity (SD) created something from nothing. They can’t worm their way out of this. They can’t just avoid the issue and procrastinate indefinitely by not answering. Attention all religious theologians: Either please explain or just fess up and admit you haven’t a clue. The more you delay the worse you and your thesis look.

* Even Casper the Friendly Ghost has way more substance and structure than any theologians’ SD, since their SD is non-physical and all that nonsense. I mean how could their SD even see anything if He / She / It is non-physical? It’s the same paradox that faced “The Invisible Man”. Light photons would pass straight through and never register. So both “The Invisible Man” and any non-physical SD are blind! Ghosts on the other hand are physical. If you can see them and hear them and touch them and they have some physical impact on their immediate environment, they have some degree of substance with structure.

Being non-physical isn’t the same thing as being non-green. Something non-green is still a physical something. Something non-physical isn’t a physical something. A red billiard ball can interact with a green billiard ball. A non-physical thing cannot interact with physical billiard balls of any colour.

PHYSICS: THE CREATION OF SOMETHING-FROM-NOTHING

Philosophers give us loads of theoretical philosophical waffle. Meta-physicians give us loads of theoretical metaphysical waffle. Religious theologians give us loads of theoretical theological waffle. A prime example is that something (the Universe) was created out of nothing (by a Supreme Deity). They go further when they collectively say that there is necessarily physical evidence for a Supreme Deity (SD) because the Universe had a beginning, although they often qualify that necessity by use of the phrase “metaphysical necessity” not physical necessity. Regardless, even though there is evidence the Universe had a beginning, it’s just theoretical waffle that this beginning is also evidence for a SD.

Okay, fine, the physical Universe came into existence, but philosophers, meta-physicians and religious theologians weren’t there to witness that event so they therefore haven’t ever seen the creation of something-from-nothing; they have never personally witnessed the non-physical or the immaterial interact with the physical or with the material. To be blunt about it, they’re guessing. My guess in turn is that if they went back to that coming into existence of the physical Universe, they’d find that that physical existence originated from a previous physical existence. In other words, there was a before the Big Bang and that “before” had physicality.

The one thing theists have NOT given us, NEVER given us, EVER given us, is actual physical evidence to back up their theoretical waffle that a SD created the Universe out of nothing. They don’t know that since there could have been a before-the-Big-Bang and a before that and a before that. To repeat, they weren’t there at that imagined something-from-nothing beginning. Their something-from-nothing beginning is a theoretical philosophical / metaphysical / theological beginning that they have adopted as ‘fact’ because it suits their philosophy / metaphysics / theology. I ask them to prove to us that something non-physical can create something physical via an actual demonstration. Just do it. Make it so. They have always just talked-the-talk. Now I request them to kindly walk-the-walk and produce their physical evidence, not only that a Supreme Deity actually physically exists but that He / She / It can physically create something (i.e. – our Universe) from absolutely nothing. Their credibility is on the line when it comes to convincing their intended audience, including of course me, that their philosophical / metaphysical / theological worldview is correct. Of course they can’t do it since millions before them have tried and failed to be universally convincing. Atheists aren’t dumb. If you produce the physical evidence they will be forced to agree with you. Now I ask theists to produce it.

To conclude this little segment, they have NOT answered the questions. They have stated that a non-physical being, a SD, can create something-from-nothing; many have stated this is so, but they have not explained how it was done or how it could be done. Give us the recipe. Give us the physics of it that one could then place in a new and improved revised standard physics textbook for undergraduates and graduate students. What are the equations? If the proponents of a something-from-nothing philosophy / metaphysics / theology can demonstrate this, they should do so and earn their Nobel Prize and get their picture on the front cover of “Time Magazine”.

PHYSICS AND THE CONCEPT OF NON-SPACE

Some suggest that a Supreme Deity (SD) just ‘exists’ outside of space. Any SD ‘exists’ outside of our Universe or outside of the Cosmos itself, which has just got to be one of the silliest statements I’ve ever read since the Cosmos is all that ever was, is, or will be. As per above, Moses would beg to differ given his close encounter in existing space with his SD.

Even non-physical beings*, the concept of non-physical beings like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and even a Supreme Deity reside inside the mind; a mental space that resides inside a physical space. Any Supreme Deity of your acquaintance, one more likely as not rammed down your throat like so much propaganda while you were still too young to resist and to question and to know better, just resides inside your mind which resides inside your brain which is inside your skull which is inside… Well you get the point.

Children tend to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

Adults tend to believe in a non-physical SD who can create something from nothing.

In weighing up the evidence for both beliefs, the children have a far stronger case. While I’ve never ever seen a Supreme Deity, I have seen at least one Santa Claus (actually hundreds of them over the years at shopping malls, department stores and standing on street corners); one Tooth Fairy (who originated from Hollywood-land) and one Easter Bunny (spotted annually on the White House lawn).

If a mature-aged adult of average intelligence (or greater) still seriously believed in Santa Claus, and/or the Tooth Fairy and/or the Easter Bunny you’d call into question their intellectual faculties. Yet if that exact same person professed belief in a Supreme Deity for which no court-of-law evidence exists and which nobody has seen in living memory, well, that’s rational and obviously the person has a sound intellectual faculty. They might quote religious texts as evidence, but the assertion that a Supreme Deity penned or was somehow totally responsible for their representation in some holy text cuts no reality with respect to the reality of that Supreme Deity. Using that logic, James Bond (Ian Fleming); Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling); Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) and Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz) all really exist since books about them exist and their authors exist!

*An actual being, or an actual person, as opposed to the mental concept of a being or a person, has to be physical. The concept of a POTUS (President of the United States) is mental and that POTUS concept is non-physical but nevertheless POTUS resides inside minds which reside inside physical space. The actual POTUS at any one time of course isn’t non-physical but has structure and substance, is composed of flesh-and-blood and resides inside physical space, usually the White House.

Back to those non-physical beings that are not located in space. So any Supreme Deity (SD) now exists in time (since He / She / It created change through motion requiring actual stuff) but not in space? So can theologians identify exactly ‘where’ we can find some of this non-space? I assume any SD is the sole resident? If so, where do other minor deities like Jesus live? And where do the angels live? And where do all of those SD-worthy humans who have departed this mortal coil live? Isn’t this all really just a pot-full of pseudo-theology?

PHYSICS AND THE CONCEPT OF TIMELESSNESS

Okay, one further comment, regardless of His / Her / Its existence in a timeless state, or His / Her / Its existence in this state of time, what the heck does He / She / It actually do? If He / She / It had no beginning while He / She / It existed in a timeless state, well that’s a heck of a long time to do – well, what? Our hypothetical Supreme Deity either had to have been bored out of His / Her / Its timeless mind and/or been the greatest party-poop of all time. It would seem the sum total of His / Her/ Its CV is creating the Cosmos in just a tiny interval of His / Her / Its existence. I mean if you live for 100 years and the sum total of your accomplishments in that time is making one breakfast, well that doesn’t strike me as being something to brag about!

Often religious theologians undermine their own faith by the use of the word “If”. “If time had a beginning” and if time “was caused to exist” then only a timeless state could have created that beginning and that cause. Well, here’s my “If” rebuttal. If time did NOT have a beginning, and if it was NOT caused to exist, then there does NOT have to be a timeless state or a timeless entity. Theologians are not getting that through their head! Actually since time is change and change is motion and motion requires a state of matter/energy, we’re just back to that golden oldie about creating something-from-nothing versus creating something-from-something. Sigh!

OK, if a Supreme Deity (SD) was changeless, frozen in a state of suspended animation, doing nothing, thinking about nothing while in that timeless state then He / She / It could NOT have come up with an idea to cross the Rubicon and create time and a physical Cosmos, whether it be out of pre-existing stuff or out of nothingness. The very idea to do such a thing had to have existed while in that timeless state and that’s a contradiction. If you have an idea that implies that there was a time before that when you didn’t have that idea, but the transition of “didn’t have” to “have” requires a change and change cannot happen in a timeless state.

OK, never mind about what a SD did do or didn’t do or could do or couldn’t do while in a timeless state, what’s our Supreme Deity done post creation? Now that the SD has created the Cosmos and crossed the Rubicon into time and is now stuck here in time (not all that omnipotent now is He / She / It), what is He / She / It going to do for an encore? Or perhaps He / She / It has just packed it up and gone off to Florida to retire and just do a bit of fishing.

In conclusion to this section, IMHO the concept of timelessness or timeless as religious theologians use it is utter claptrap. There is no truism to be had. Show me a state of timelessness. Yet again I need point out that religious theologians can’t walk-the-walk but they sure can talk-the-talk. It’s all philosophical / metaphysical / theological waffle like arguing angels and pinheads.

THEREFORE AN INFINITE COSMOS

A cause cannot cause itself so there must be an infinite regress of causes and thus no First Cause. Thus the Cosmos is temporally infinite or consists of a causal loop and thus is also temporally infinite.

Since you can’t create something-from-nothing that implies that something has always existed and thus also implies and thus reinforces the concept of an infinite Cosmos.

Religious theologians or theists are unhappy with this state of affairs since it leaves no room for creation by a supernatural mechanism (i.e. – a Supreme Deity (SD) for all practical purposes). On the other hand, their SD has to be eternal if for no other reason than to avoid awkward questions like therefore who (or what) created that SD? But if the temporally infinite SD created our finite in time Universe then it would of had to have been an infinite time ago which of course is not what we observe since only an additional 13.8 billion years have elapsed since the beginning (deliberate creation?) of our Universe. The Cosmos (of which our Universe is but a part) is of course infinitely old, not just 13.8 billion years old.

OVERALL CONCLUSIONS

Before you can go assigning attributes, properties, traits, whatever to your Supreme Deity or Deities, you first have to prove that your Supreme Deity or Deities actually exist and that all other versions of a Supreme Deity or Deities are false. Good luck with that Labour of Hercules! I mean that I can’t talk about the properties of mermaids, unicorns, and leprechauns until I can demonstrate that any one or all of these entities actually exist! It’s body first, then description of the body. It makes relatively little sense to say that a Supreme Deity (SD) is omni this and omni that and omni the next thing only to have Athena come down off of Mount Olympus and punch your lights out for blasphemy by believing in, worshipping, and attributing traits to a false monotheistic god. Never-the-less, that’s what most religious theologians or theists have done by believing in, worshipping, and attributing traits to a body-less SD.

Theists say that the SD is uncaused, beginning-less, or eternal.

I suggest that an infinitely old being who would after an infinite amount of time had elapsed, all of a sudden get this idea of creating life, the Universe and absolutely everything is ridiculous. At least this gets around the concept of who or what created the SD which is in itself an infinite regression as in what created the creator of the SD and so on.

Theists say that the SD is changeless, or timeless.

I suggest that if you are in a timeless state and thus in a changeless state then you can’t initiate any action like an actual creation, since the very process of pre-initiation to initiation to post initiation is change which must by definition take place in time.

Theists say that the SD is space-less.

I suggest that this means that either the SD exists outside of space (and to exist implies existing inside of something – like space) or else the SD isn’t comprised of any space and thus is non-material or non-physical (i.e. – nothing) and thus can’t create anything material or physical (i.e. – something). Either way, the concept of a SD being space-less is nonsense.

Theists say that the SD is an immaterial all-powerful being who is a personal agent, endowed with freedom of the will.

I suggest that the SD isn’t all-powerful (omnipotent). Can a SD throw a ball so fast that not even He / She / It can overtake it? If not, He / She / It is not all powerful; if so He / She / It is not all powerful. It’s a no-win situation. More relevant might be an observation, since our SD must be physical IMHO in order to create physical stuff, then our SD must be presumably subject to the laws of the Universe. So could our SD ever escape from inside a cosmic Black Hole or travel faster than the speed of light or create a square circle or violate the axioms of Euclidean Geometry? Does our SD have freedom of the will? Again, if our SD is in a timeless state then He / She / It has no freedom to act or to change and thus no freedom of any will since will implies the ability to act or to change.

Should any or all of these SD’s attributes be taken without evidence on the say-so of religious theologians? That makes relatively little sense. If I were to claim that I could travel faster than the speed of light and escape from inside of Black Holes; that I could create something from nothing; that I could travel in time (and space like Doctor Who); that I could cure any and all cancers; that I could create life in a test-tube; that I was in communication with E.T.; that I could download biological minds into artificial substrates like computers; that I could compose music faster, cheaper and better than Mozart; that I had a pet unicorn and dinosaur (recall that time travel claim); that I had telekinetic powers; that I knew the Theory of Everything (TOE); that I could create gold from lead using a child’s home chemistry set; or that I was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, would you believe me without evidence based on just my say-so? Of course not. So why make an alleged Supreme Deity an exception to your scepticism?