Là na #Gàidhlig

Latha na Gaidhlig

‘S e “Là na #Gàidhlig” a th’ ann an-diugh.

Dè th’ ann?

‘Se latha eadar-nàiseanta nan Gàidhlig air na meadhanan sòisealta a th’ ann. Thòisich Là na #Gàidhlig ann Ameireaga-a-Tuath ann an 2014 ach tha daoine às a h-uile saoghal a’ dèanamh Là na #Gàidhlig am-bliadhn’.

Latha na Gaidhlig - Sealainn Nuadh Astrailia an t-Seapan - 20.04.2016

Happy La na #Gàidhlig (Gaelic Day)! What is it? It’s an international day for Gaelic in social media which started in North America in 2014 and has spread across the world.

Latha na Gaidhlig - an t-Sin Duthaich nan Taidh - 21.05.2016

‘S e di-ardaoin (an-diugh) a th’ anns a’ Là anns a’ h-uile saoghal ach Astràilia agus Sealainn Nuadh – bha Là na #Gàidhlig ann an-seo an-dè! Ach tha mis’ ag ràgh gu bheil Là na #Gàidhlig anns an-diugh co-dhiùgh.

Latha na Gaidhlig - h-uile Saoghal

So, you might have noticed that I’m alternating between “latha” and “là”. There’s a reason for that. Because Là na #Gàidhlig started in North America, it uses Canadian Gaelic.

Huh? Dè th’ ann Gàidhlig Chanada? According to Wikipedia, Canadian Gaelic is “the dialects of Scottish Gaelic spoken by Gaels in Atlantic Canada”. This may be so, but here’s a few things to know about Canadian Gaelic:

(1) They pronounce the name of their language “Gaylic” when referring to it in English. (As opposed to “Gallic” in Scotland and Australia/New Zealand).

(2) They haven’t accepted the Gaelic Orthography Convention of 1981, and so still use both accents. (This is true in Australia/New Zealand, too). Emily McEwan-Fujita at Gaelic.co explains:

We still write “an nochd” and “am màireach” instead of “a-nochd” and “a-màireach“, and “céilidh” instead of “cèilidh.” And you still know what we’re saying.

On a similar note, I’m constantly being corrected by my teacher for writing “‘n uair” or “‘n-uair” rather than “nuair”, which has to do with the orthography conventions. Based on the above, it wouldn’t surprise me if Canadians still wrote it out in full as “an uair”.

(3) There are a few distinctive dialectal traits in Canadian Gaelic. One of the most obvious is the pronunciation of the broad L – incidentally, the sound most likely to be a stumbling block for learners, as well. In Canada, as well as in the now-seldom-used Lochaber dialect, it’s pronounced “w”. As in “watha math”.

(4) Another obvious one is saying “agamas” rather than “agamsa”.

(5) There as a lot of Irish in nearby areas in the early days and in Canada, the census doesn’t recognise Irish and Gaelic separately. (This was true in Australia until quite recently, too). Irish writes “latha” as “lá”. I’m not going to say definitely that this is the reason it’s being called “Là na #Gàidhlig”, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the Canadian spelling.

De mar a tha thu

Oh, yeah, (6) if there’s one phrase that will identify which part of the Gaelic-speaking world you’re from, it’s “how are you?”


In 2011, 1275 people in Canada said they spoke Gaelic at home, along with 804 in Australia at around 59 000 in Scotland. (I can’t find the statistics for New Zealand, although interestingly that’s a 22% increase in Australia from 659 in 2006).

Latha na Gaidhlig

It’s been a big year for Gàidhlig. At least two major things happened: the Gospel of John was translated and published, and Google Translate finally acknowledged the language’s existence, thereby making Gaelic social media accessible to non-Gaelic speakers accessible this year for the first time since Là na #Gàidhlig started.



What if God chose Australia as the Promised Land?

When I read the question “What if God chose [Australia] as the Promised Land?”, my first thought was for size. The modern state of Israel can fit about 360 times into Australia, so even if we were just considering South Australia, the distances would be so much greater. Forget 40 years’ wandering, it would take them that long to walk here from Egypt! (Although, in thinking about how the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism is also the traditional site of Joshua’s crossing, one wonders whether Jesus might have been baptised in the Arafura).

One can see Cana from Nazareth and I’m told it’s possible to walk from Joffa to Jerusalem in a day. How much longer would everything take if logs shipped in to Sydney needed to be carted halfway across the country to Adelaide? The Biblical timeline would progress so much slower we’d just be coming out of Exile now, no doubt having been taken away to China.

My second thought was to geography, and then to climate. To be honest, the climates and geographies in Australia and the Holy Land are pretty similar. Both areas have deserts, hills, rivers, and below-sea-level salty depressions. Australia’s a bit tropical in the north, which Israel isn’t, and of course, all of Israel’s different climates happen in a much, much smaller space. I don’t imagine the climate-induced culture would have been terribly different, except that rather than struggling with Ba’al worship and other Canaanite practices, the question might have been about animal-based kinship skins.

So in terms of geography and culture, I don’t believe there would have been much difference. Rather than hearing about deer and hyrax, we might read psalms about kangaroos and bilbies, and during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus might have shown a gum seed and gestured to a massive tree, rather than a mustard seed and its spreading bush.

It’s really when I started thinking about the political side of things that I realised why Australia was so completely unsuited to being the Promised Land. Throughout the Bible, the people are faced with the constant threat – indeed, outright presence – of various major, mighty civilisations. Even assuming the Maoris to be a mighty empire, or taking into consideration China, Japan, India and Thailand, Australia as the Promise Land, like Australia today, would have the assurance of miles and miles of sea all around as protection. We’re no major thoroughfare between two warring civilisations, as the land of Israel was (or, indeed, is).

These ideas of world geography and politics also come into play when thinking about the faith and the impact of the early church. An Australia with a powerful indigenous culture and religion would be seen as “eastern”, and its beliefs and practices rejected by Europeans as “not for us” along with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shinto.

Likewise, in my brief thinking about the British Isles as the Promised Land, I noticed that while they also faced the threat of powerful civilisations (although in a slightly more detached manner than Israel), and had the benefit of lots of rain, had Christianity arisen there, it’s most definitely a “western” nation, and therefore most probably would never have made the same inroads in the middle-east.

God really couldn’t have chosen anywhere but the land He did. Yes, the climate and geography can be found elsewhere (like here), but that really wasn’t the point of the land. A culture made slightly different because of a wetter climate wouldn’t have made much difference in the overall scheme of things; proximity to and threats from major empires (or the lack thereof), and a positioning anywhere but right at the meeting-place of “east” and “west”, would.

The Authority of the Scriptures: A Response

Submitted March 2016

One of the best ways to learn how arguments are constructed is to study how other people construct their arguments. This is especially true if the argument is close to our position but differs in key fundamentals. Watch this YouTube clip and use the following questions to respond: What was his argument? Was his argument logically valid? Why or why not? What were his underlying assumptions?

The argument set forth by the man in the video clip appears to be that the Bible is not the final authority, due to being written down, translated and interpreted by fallible men, but that rather the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ (as he says, the Spirit of Christ) are the ultimate authority. He claims that “true followers of Jesus” do not subscribe to the Bible as any sort of authority, nor belong to any church, but associate only with Jesus Christ, led by the Holy Spirit.

I encountered several places where the man’s argument against the authority of the Scriptures was not logically valid.

In the first point, the man claims that while the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, they were written by fallible men and were therefore fallible. While this does display an ignorance of the meaning of the word “scripture” (from Latin “scribere”, to write; thus a “scripture” must by definition be written), it also indicates a limited view of God. Why should God be powerful enough to inspire the thoughts of men, but not powerful enough to enable them to write those thoughts down infallibly? The wording of his argument also leaves the impression that some (if not most) of what God through the Holy Spirit inspired did not make it into the Bible.

In the second point, the man claims that if the Scriptures had truly been inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit through the writing and translation process, there would be only one single “version”. This is logically unsound because it assumes that the same compulsion of man to translate writing from the original language into that person’s first language would somehow not exist, should the Holy Spirit guide the writing of the Scriptures. This is tantamount to KJV Onlyist claims that this translation is “inspired” – everyone should read the Scriptures in English. While I concede that intent of the authors of the Bible can be best understood in its original languages, the Bible itself also says – and the man quotes at the end – that every tongue should confess Jesus Christ. To enforce the reading of Scripture and worship of God in only one language is not only anti-Biblical but smacks of Islam.

In a third point, the man also makes the claim that the fallible men who translated the Bible from the original languages were guided not by inspiration by the Spirit but by various other motives. This is a logically invalid argument because its underlying assumption falls outside the man’s referential experience. How can he know what motivated these men to translate the Bible?

My final (although by no means exhaustive) objection to this man’s argument is that the leading of the Holy Spirit (or the “Spirit of Christ”) is the final authority. My first objection is that this makes the ultimate authority internal, rather than external, and therefore unverifiable and also variable. My second objection follows from this; by what means can one know that any internal leading is indeed by the Holy Spirit? Is it not possible that that Satan could just as easily simulate an internal prompting by the Spirit? How is it possible to know that any leading by the Spirit is genuine and any sort of authority at all?

I do not disagree that Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the vital but for some reason unmentioned God the Father, are the final authority on Christian life and doctrine; nor do I disagree that copying and translating of the Scriptures was and is carried out by fallible humans. However, I do not accept any logic to his argument that any perceived internal prompting by the Spirit can be taken as more of an authority on the will of God than the Bible, which has been faithfully transmitted to us.

Concepts of God: A Response

Submitted March 2016

Watch the following video and use the following questions to respond:

What types of sources are used to support the message about God?

How does the presenter seek to communicate what God is like, and how accurate are the attempts?

How does the concept of God portrayed in the video clip compare to the description you wrote earlier?

The woman speaking uses stories from the (Babylonian) Talmud and the Midrash, both Jewish holy books, to support her argument. She also references the prayer book a lot. I don’t recall her mentioning the Bible at all, which would seem to be something of an oversight. She also uses conversation with small children as support for her argument.

The first argument the woman tries to communicate is that God can be described in words, images, and comparisons to bugs. However, she then resorts to using the superlatives which we most commonly use to attempt to explain God, therefore undermining her own point, and then further doing so by relating a story from the Talmud which concludes that God is not explainable, and that we can experience only a fraction of His –ness to realise that we can’t comprehend or explain Him.

The presenter seems to indicate at several places that God is changeable – or at least that we can manipulate Him and our perception of Him. She says that we refer to Him differently depending on our needs, which isn’t entirely untrue but is phrased in a way which makes it seem we’re actually changing God himself. She also implies that we are able to get God to use our own failed understanding of Him to work in the world and change that. She’s very big on changing things.

The woman’s concept of God compares to my description in that we both use a lesser-to-greater comparison argument. While I describe God in terms of how He is not like us, she describes Him in terms of how He is like other aspects of His creation. Many of the other concepts we have of Him are similar; that He is love, that He judges, that He parents us to our own benefit, and that He grants forgiveness.

If found it very interesting to see that the woman seems still to be waiting for – and fearing – judgement. This is interesting to me because it shows how our views of God are different. For me as a Christian, I believe that God has already judged – and paid the price we should have. We no longer have to fear His judgement (although we should still expect His discipline) we need only concern ourselves with His warmth, love, and forgiveness.

Describing God

God isn’t like us. He created the universe, so He’s not part of it like we are. He’s also bigger than the universe. He’s everywhere in it; no matter where you are, even if you’re on the moon, God is still there. But it’s not like everything is God, so we can’t say that God is the world or the trees or people, but He is there. He didn’t just make everything and then abandon it. He’s still here. Because God created the universe, He also created time. So He’s not part of time, like we are. We have a beginning and an end, but God doesn’t. Because God created the universe, He can do anything. If He created everything, why shouldn’t He be able to do something that seems impossible within what He’s created?

God isn’t physical like us. We have our physical bodies, so we’re stuck moving through time and moving through space. God is spiritual and not physical, so He doesn’t have these limitations. Because we’re physical, we also have limited knowledge. We can only know and remember so much. God doesn’t have that problem, either; He knows everything. But just because God isn’t a physical being like us doesn’t mean He isn’t a person. If He weren’t a person, we couldn’t know Him. The whole point of us is to have a relationship with God, and we couldn’t have a relationship with Him if He weren’t a person.

It might be scary to think that God is everywhere, and knows everything, and can do anything. But because it’s God, it isn’t. God is loving and wants to have a relationship with us. He doesn’t do things to hurt us. He is righteous and just, though, so sometimes He judges and punishes, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can be better than we are, because He knows what we’re capable of. Because God is outside time, He doesn’t change, like we do. He just is. He is true and genuine – He is what He is, and what he is is faithful and reliable. Because He doesn’t change, He isn’t unpredictable – we know that what God has shown Himself to be in the past is true now and in the future, too.

So what is God like, in three words? He is different, He is better, and He is reliable.

Submitted March 2016

Assignment: Take ten minutes to write down a description of God using language you would use when communicating with someone from a non-church background. Then narrow your description of God to just three words.

Dawkins: A Response

Submitted February 2016

In logic class, we watched Dawkins’ “The Problem with Religion” and answered the following questions on an online forum: Is the accusation fair? Is the logical argument sound (why/why not)? This was one of the first assignments, so I didn’t talk much about the logic.

Dawkins’ primary argument in this clip is that children are provided with an indoctrinated in a faith or worldview, answering the questions of why we are here, why we were born, and where we came from, without allowing them to ask these questions for themselves. He claims that faith, unsupported by evidence, is a dangerous weapon, and insinuates that Christianity was invented a mere 2000 years ago based on pure folly.

While I agree that faith without evidence can be dangerous, Dawkins here makes the assumption that any faith in God, in a religious setting, must be without evidence. Both theistic and non-theistic worldviews have the evidence of observations of the world around, leading to a faith or belief in how that came to be so. Some beliefs perhaps have more evidence than others, but I imagine it is pretty hard to believe something with absolutely no evidence for it at all. I could write a lot more about different sorts of evidence and the nature of conclusions and beliefs drawn from that evidence, but our lecturer has warned me sternly about going over the world limit (too much).

People, including children, naturally and necessarily ask questions about origin and purpose because they are raised by the world around them and their presence in it. When children voice these questions, their parents and others around them give answers; or perhaps they teach the children without being asked specifically. The answers vary, of course, based on what the person answering has seen, has understood, has read, and therefore believes.

It seems to me that Dawkins’ problem is not that the questions are being suppressed, nor even that they’re being answered, but that they’re being answered in a way which does not line up to his own beliefs – indeed, his own “faith”.