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Posts Tagged ‘God’

ImageI’ll never forget when US Airways flight 1549 had to do an emergency belly landing in the Hudson river and no one was injured. Shortly following the event, a whole lot of people started clamoring about how it was ‘a miracle’ or that God definitely played a role in getting all those people to safety. My inbox was no exception.

Such things tend to frustrate me because it shows the blatant confirmation bias of the religious thinker. No one questions that ‘God’ steps in to do the ‘good’ outcome but they do not also apply that similar thinking to the ‘bad’ outcomes any more than they think the same ‘God’ would have played a role in causing or should have played a role in preventing the situation in the first place.

For example, do you suppose that anyone on board was ‘cursing’ God when they thought they were going to die? Or what about passengers or witnesses to crashes where no one survives? Well, obviously, that is just part of God’s plan then right? It’s a mystery!

Such thinking is not only inconsistent and intellectually dishonest, it distracts from the real heroes doing real things — real people! — who are contributing to great outcomes. To more than one person who sent me the ‘miraculous’ assertion, I had but one response:

Yes, I am sure that God personally intervened to make sure that all of those passengers and crew as well as the people on the ground were not harmed.
I’m sure that the years of training and calm headed, quick thinking of the pilot and the flight crew played absolutely no role in keeping the jet from crashing.
And the air traffic controllers using the world’s most advanced and coordinated air traffic system, radar technology, two-way radio communications and direct lines to multiple airports across the northeast didn’t have anything to do with it.
Nor did the years of development and advancement in aircraft design, technology and safety measures contribute in any fashion.
The flight attendants, their years of training and their similar cool thinking keeping the passengers calm and following safety procedures that have been practiced and rehearsed had nothing to do with it.
Not to mention the passengers themselves for following instructions and remaining so calm and working together.
No one on the ground in New York city with a cell phone, similarly developed through years of technology utilizing one of the most advanced telephone systems in the world calling upon seeing the plane going down did anything to help.
The 911 operators utilizing their refined network of emergency resources and vast network of trained emergency response procedures obviously did not contribute.
Nor did the quick response of the harbor authority and their rescue vehicles that rushed to the aid of the plane once it was safely upon the water.
Obviously it was all God’s work.

Now I’m sure you’ll probably say ‘well, God created all those things’ or that he had a hand in carrying them out. But I’m just curious. If God really wanted to make sure all of those people were safe, wouldn’t it have been far easier and less trouble in the long run….

…. if he had just moved the goose 3′ to the left?”

WSIDAirplaneGeeseinFlight

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These are a couple of short parables (and a true stories) depicting a brief history of the nature of religion(s)

Homeless God(s)

When early man first conceived of God he saw him in the beasts and the trees and the rocks.

But soon man learned to make hammers break open the rocks, weapons and tools to hunt and carve the flesh of the beasts and still other tools to harvest the plants and trees for food, fuel and building materials.
He found no gods inside them.

So man decided that the Gods must obviously be in the distant lands and across vast the oceans.

But as man spread out he learned to build ships to cross wide the oceans and vehicles to travel to the distant lands.
And again he found no gods there.

So man stated that the Gods must therefore be under the seas and exist in the skies and even out in the heavens among the stars.

But again, man learned to devise capsules to venture under the seas and built machines to soar the skies and eventually made devices to peer into the heavens to see the distant stars and even rockets to visit the nearby planets.
And still he found no gods.

Now man has evicted his god(s) to a place outside of all reality itself, to a supernatural realm where no one can ever go unless the god(s) let them in. An imagined place in an alleged mystical realm outside of all that we know to exist.

I can’t help but wonder when we finally realize there is in fact nothing outside of reality, where we will send poor God to next?

The Religion that is Subjectivism

Way back at the dawn of man, some men who were older, perceived as wiser and smart enough to sound important would wander off into a mountain somewhere to think to themselves. They would ponder long and dream up many great sounding ideas then come back and speak to the masses in big sounding words and spew out complex theories about man and creation and the nature of the universe. And all the common folk who were too busy trying to please their slave drivers and maintain their meager lives to ponder such things would bow down to them saying ‘oh oh great wise one, tell us how to think, tell us how to behave, tell us more of the truths you have received through revelation!

Yet more amazing still is that 4000 or so years later, similar men who are older, perceived as wiser and smart enough to sound important now go off into the ivory towers of their universities to think to themselves. They also ponder long and dream up many great sounding ideas then come into the public and speak to the masses in big sounding words and spew out complex theories about man and creation and the nature of the universe. And the common folk who are too busy trying to please their employers and maintain their meager lives to ponder such things still bow down to them saying “oh oh great wise ones …..

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I have spoken on this before in other threads, but I was updating the comments on a picture by repeating it so I thought it might also be worthy of a blog post to re-iterate the statements. (not to mention, I have been busy with work and haven’t had the energy to post much, so why not?)

Religion supersedes self-esteem by replacing the source of it with what I call ‘God-esteem’. When you combine the church notion that you can’t understand God or his mysterious ‘plan’ with the fact that the purpose for being is to ‘please God’, the notion of anything that is good or bad, including yourself and all your choices, actions and behaviors, is only good if God says it is good. Then you end up with a surrogate esteem through the perceived ideal that is the religion’s notion of ‘God’.

Of course, without proof of this God or proof of the alleged consequences of him (proof that it is his ‘word’ in the bible/torah/koran/book-of-the-dead, etc, proof that he/she/it speaks through the religion’s priests/ministers/missionaries/rabbis/monks/imam, etc.) then you are just as bound to the notion of faith to believe in this God as you are bound to rely _only_ on faith to know what this God wants and that what you are being told he wants is in fact true. (and I have as of yet to see a single instance where what is wanted is communicated by anything other than ‘other men’ or women)

For some time I was confused as to how people so boldly and arrogantly hung on to beliefs and stubbornly not only disagreed with, but ultimately “shut out” any valid or reasonable criticisms of those beliefs — and then in turn called that process of shutting out alternate views as virtuous! It was like they cling to their faith-based ideas as though their lives depended upon it.

But if their entire sense of self-esteem, all they have lived for and based their choices upon is hinged upon the existence of this being and the faith-derived notion that this being sees their life as good, then their entire sense of esteem does in fact rely upon that God existing, and existing as they perceive it to exist.

They cling to those beliefs as though their life and all that is good about it depends on it…. they cling to it as such, because in fact it does!

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I have decided to seek evidence to support a new theory that suggests religion and collectivism have a common source…

I wanted to write these down before I lost track of the verses so I thought I might as well do so in a facebook note.  I got involved in a couple of discussions where I brought up a common [trick] question I ask of many Christians, mainly:

     Where in the bible does the following quote come from?:

The good lord helps those that help themselves

It’s a trick question because it’s not in the bible, but like so many other things believers believe, the fact of that eludes them and they presume that it does.  The sentiment shows up in various writings going back thousands of years and the first similar reference to it shows up way back pre-BC in Aesop’s fables in a story about a man with a cart that gets stuck in the mud.  He prays to Hercules for the help of his strength and Hercules actually shows up and tells him that his cart will not go free if he just sits and prays all day.  (it’s also where the phrase, ‘put your shoulder to the wheel’ comes from Hercules and the Wagoneer)

The reason I find this question pertinent is because the Christian bible and the Judea old testament that it springs from don’t say this.  In fact, they tell quite a different story entirely.  Namely that you are not supposed to help, do or think for yourself but simply obey and serve.  The message(s) repeated throughout suggest that one is not supposed to think for themselves, not supposed to do for themselves, one is told that judgment is not theirs to make, greed and want are sins, self-motivation or self-determination are the acts of a fool and the ability to ‘know’ is the original sin.

So I’ve started collecting the various verses that pertain to this type of thinking and I will add more later as I find them.  If you know of any other good verses in this vane, please feel free to let me know and I’ll check them out and add them to the list:

Old Testament

proverbs 3:5

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding

proverbs 3:7

“Do not be wise in your own eyes”

proverbs 21:30

“No wisdom, insight, or counsel can prevail against the LORD”

proverbs 28:26

“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom [of God] are kept safe.”

Psalm 53:1

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Jerimiah 9:23-24

“This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows [God]”

Jerimiah 10:23

“LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.”

Jerimiah 17:9

“[Man’s] heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

Isaiah 5:21

“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

Isaiah 44:25

“[I am the Lord]  who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense”

Isaiah 47:10

You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’”

New Testament

John 15:5

“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

1st Corinthians 1:19

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

1st Corinthians 1:20

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

1st Corinthians 1:25

“[the] foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

1st Corinthians 8:2

“Those who think they know something don’t really know very much.”

1st Corinthians 3:18-19

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

1st Corinthians 13:8

[with the coming of God’s ‘perfection’] ” if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”

2nd Corinthians 3:5

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”

original sin in the Old Testament

Genesis

2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

3:4-5 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

(amazing that right there in the beginning of it all, we not only learn our greatest sin is our own sentience and daring to exercise free will, but in the process we meet the so-called evil Satan through the serpent – by way of God telling a lie and the serpent telling the objective truth and being the cause of man gaining knowledge and exercising free will.  That should tell you something right there about the ‘true’ nature of Judea mythology.  If that doesn’t convince you, try counting just how many people the ‘good guy’ God kills in both books some time and compare it to the number killed by the ‘evil guy’.

Who killed more people in the bible?

And no, this is not a ‘pro-Satan’ sentiment. Both notions – the existence of an all powerful God and the existence of an evil adversary that the all powerful God allows to wreak havoc on the so-called beings he created and loves – are equally absurd! I point it out merely to show the idiocy of bible doctrine. It might make for good fiction but for a way of life that you are told to follow blindly and never question? Are you serious????)

Additions:

I was driving behind a pickup today with a bumper sticker that read ‘pride kills’ then referred to this proverb:

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

This is not quite as immediately obvious in relation to the others until you look up ‘pride’ in the dictionary. Although it acknowledges modern connotations of an inordinate self-evaluation, it also refers to “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself”

This translates to a condemnation by religion in any self acknowledgement of doing things well, or taking joy or pleasure in your achievements and the possessions you earn as a result of it. Thus it is in fact the same principle – you should only be ‘glad’ according to the church, if you ‘glorify God’. And since only God can judge your adherence to these things – well, I guess you are SoL, you just can’t be glad! Your only joy is the joy of the obedient, non-thinking moron!

Further comment: [2/22/2013]
This list is specific to those verses that describe man’s pursuit of knowledge and use of his brain as being ‘foolish’ or otherwise discouraged and worthy of condemnation. If I get time, I will try to put another one together that spells out all the instances in both books of the bible that depict man as worthless, deceitful and otherwise gutter trash without the almighty revelations of ‘God’ and these unsubstantiated mythologies. I say ‘if I get time’ because I can see already that any post of that sort is probably going to be at least 10 times as long as this one due to the number of times it occurs.

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I was performing the blasphemous act of listening to Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion” on my way home from work the other day, when I found I was thirsty.  So as soon as I got home, I grabbed a glass and filled a pitcher of water.  I threw the headset on while getting out of the car but was only half paying attention now as I noticed something in the glass of water.

marked water glassI quickly grabbed for the sharpie that I use to mark my CDs and DVDs with and put a line at the watermark in the glass.  Then I went into the bathroom across the hall, drained the pitcher and promptly poured the water in the glass into the now empty pitcher.  I shook the glass real good to get as many drops as I could then poured the water back into the glass.

I was amazed!  The water came up to the same mark!!!  I repeated this procedure at least a dozen times and despite a few droplets that could easily be accounted for after spilling onto the sink or the floor, the water line was identical to my original mark!

I was no longer listening to that goofy Dawkins fellow as I was bearing witness to the substance of divinity here in my little water glass.  Despite the chaotic nature of the universe, regardless how many times I attempted to re-arrange the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, upon pouring them back into the glass they inevitably settled to the same level in the glass.

This cannot possibly happen by mere chance,‘ I thought and repeated the experiment three more times just to be certain.  No, it was definite.  Not only was there an obvious hand of a designer at work here to make the water and the glass and the pitcher, but the very presence of God himself had to be in the room with me!  How else could all those molecules fall into place ‘just so’ every single time I tried to disturb them? The holy one himself must have been moving them about as I poured them such that they would all settle in the glass to achieve the same level EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I quickly ran upstairs and out into the street where I ran up to anyone nearby showing them my miraculous discovery.  “Look!!!” I exclaimed, pouring the water back and forth before their eyes.  “The same level!” I would exclaim.  They would just look at me with an odd expression, one woman told her kids to go into the house, following the statement with a rather stern ‘NOW’ and at least one other guy grabbed the glass with a ‘thank you’ before taking a large drought.

Foolish non-believers!  They couldn’t see the hand of God at work.  I have determined after my mandatory meeting with the county mental health examiner next week, I am going to look for other proofs of the almighty in my fruit loops!

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(re-written based on a joke once told by Ronald Reagan*)

Once in early America an average man worked hard and earned some money, and he saved the money until he had a modest amount.  He heard word that they were opening up some frontier land so he quit his job, sold many of his possessions and purchased passage on a wagon train headed for the new land grab.

But he found upon arriving that a lot of the good land was already gobbled up by the new settlers and what little land was left was far less tillable, overgrown and at higher prices due to the steadily increasing demand.  So he looked over the varous plots and found most to be too hilly or too rocky or too wet and they were all much smaller than he’d hoped for.  But he wasn’t about to be let down on his dream so he found a reasonably flat piece of land that was considerably overgrown and rocky but that he thought he could turn around with dedication and hard work.

Due to all the new settlers moving about a town quickly sprung up in the county seat and soon along came a church.  Since the man came with basically what he could carry on his back and what money he had, he was often in need of supplies as he labored to turn his small stretch of land into a viable farm.  So once a week he would make the 4 mile trip to town to get  more supplies.

Every time he went into town, the new preacher would see him and recognizing that his was a face that he had not seen in church at Sunday mass, the preacher would always walk with him and try to talk him into coming to church.  The preacher would tell the man of all the blessings that a faithful man could expect and all the bounty that God could bring.  But the man would politely decline the invitation and suggest that he had far too much work to do on his land to make it a worthy and productive farm.

Thus was the case every week.  The man would go for supplies, the preacher would spot him and go into his pitch.  The man would politely decline.  But work hard he did, he moved the rocks a wheel barrel at a time to the edges of the property to build a small rock border around the entire plot.  He cut down and pulled up the weeds until this hands were raw.  He tilled at the soil finding more and more rocks and used the smaller ones to grade a cart path up the middle.  He cut some trees and built a small, modest house and eventually a barn.  And before too long, after pulling thousands of weeds and moving more thousands of rocks he began to lay down seed.

As the crops began to grow he had less of a need to go to town for supplies and his trips became less and less frequent and eventually, as his crops began to bear fruit he found that he barely needed to go at all.  But still, on what trips he made, the preacher always made a point corner the man and to tell him all about the wonderful blessings he could expect as a follower of God.

After a month had passed and the preacher did not see the man in town he began to wonder.  For all his attempts he hadn’t convinced the man to come to a single service.  Then one month became two months and two turned into three.  Winter was coming and the preacher decided he should make a trip before the weather gets cold to see what became of the man.  So the preacher ventured the 4 miles to where the man’s claim was said to be registered.

As the preacher rounded the corner of the country road he was overcome!  Despite the nearly unturned land on the neighboring plots where the other land grabbers had all but given up, here stood 8′ tall rows of corn, rows of tomatoes shining bright red in the sun.  Squash the size of a wash basin and melons as big as a small sow.  The preacher was amazed at the contrast between the bountiful farm and the surrounding land. His crops even rivaled the ones he’d seen on the more prime tracks of land owned by the members of  his parish.  At last the preacher spied the man hauling a basket overflowing with strawberries the size of one’s fist.

“Hallelujah!” exclaimed the preacher upon seeing the man.  “Hallelujah and praise the Lord!  Your land and your farm are like a miracle.  Your corn is taller than the eaves of your house!  And the ears appear as long as my forearm.  Your squash would fit but 2 to a cartload and the melons probably only one.  The tomatoes are so ripe and red… and those strawberries – oh those strawberries are downright divine!  It is absolutely amazing what the power of God and the work of man can do to create such a bountiful blessing!”

The man set this basket down and looked across his land remembering all the bleeding fingers, sore muscles, trip after trip with rocks and bundles of weeds and supplies from town and the hours tilling the soil, planting the seeds, pulling more weeds and tending to his crops.  But not wanting to be too unpleasant to the preacher he simply tipped his hat and said….

Preacher, you should have seen it when God was working it all by himself.


(*I’m not sure where Ronald Reagan got the joke, but I reworded the context considerably)

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How to take over the world:

  1. think up an ideal* that is ultimately unprovable, inconceivable, inexplicable, irreproachable and non-corporeal in nature (e.g. a “God”, the ‘common good’, the ‘State’, the ‘environment’, animal “rights”, EDIT: fighting a disease)
    * this goal should also ultimately be essentially unachievable in reality.
  2. convince people that adhering to the [pursuit of the] ideal is more important than their own rational self-interest
  3. demonize anyone or anything that questions or tries to controvert the existence of the ideal in #1 or the [pursuit of the] realization of #2
  4. convince your following that the ‘demons’ created in #3 are a threat to #1 and must either convert or be destroyed

(originally posted to my facebook)

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I tend to be political. When I am involved in politics, if forced to pick a ‘category’ for my politics, I most closely identify with libertarianism. But more often than not, I tend to find that my political action tend to entail fighting a similar sounding word – liberalism.
Mind you, I am one of the few in this world that still remember the difference between a Roosevelt democrat and a modern liberal. In short, I tend to associate the modern liberal with the philosophies of Moore (Thomas, not Roger) and more specifically, Marx. Therefore it comes of no surprise to me that collectivist and populist groups such as minority ‘rights’ collective movements or organized labor traditionally support or at least provide a voter base for the ‘modern liberal’ politician.
At the same time, I tend to hold an atheistic agnostic view of mysticism in general. Thus it often begs the question why I am more often willing to support a republican candidate ahead of a democratic (read: liberal) one when many republicans express an open inspiration from predominantly Christian belief systems and backgrounds. Upon thinking further on this subject I first looked at the similarities and then at the differences.

I tend to be leery of any organized movement that relies upon ‘belief’ to support their core objectives. Both religion and modern liberalism – mind you I am using that term synonymous with what could best be described as ‘softened’ collectivism – rely on belief in their ideal to support their motives and therefore their respective agendas. No biggie I suppose … just about any movement or even philosophy has behind it an idealistic goal that is as of yet unrealized and therefore requires some level of ‘belief’ that should it be realized (or at least sufficiently advanced) then the results will speak for themselves.
However, many such ideal do become at least somewhat realized and as of yet, the ideals of both parties (pun intended) have not spoken very strongly in support of their claims of what ‘should’ be expected by their realization. (at this point I could go into greater details of failed socialist or communist states or point to the horrors of time periods seen over by christian or other religious zealots – but I’m sure most are aware of enough of them to avoid the redundancy)

So what are the similarities?
Taking each onto themselves we can start with religion: a belief in an omnipotent being responsible for creating everything and somehow ever present in the events of the world. You can’t see it, you can’t question it, you must simply have faith in it. You are asked to sacrifice to your fellow man and to take your suffering as your award awaits you in the hereafter and while here the good lord will provide for his faithful. – to do otherwise is heresy, blasphemy and sin.

Then there is statism: a belief in a utopian society where the state is responsible for owning and distributing all that is created and all that is needed. You should not question it, and it does require a faith that those involved within it are upholding that same utopian ideal; From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The state does ask you sacrifice (the first part) but also offers you assistance – dare we say to the ‘faithful’? To do otherwise is a crime against the state akin to treason.

Both ask of the individual selflessness and require duty to the whole. Both provide something somewhat intangible greater than one’s self for which they are to provide this sacrifice; for one the ‘state’ and the other the ‘almighty’.

So why then does statism bother me more than mysticism? It’s interesting now that I have stepped outside the blind ‘faith’ style of the Christians I find around me to look at many so-called ‘modern’ religions and to examine their ceremonies, rituals and methods of worship, to read in history how these developed to what they are today and to look also at how many christians (or other religions, but mind you were are talking about christians in the present) have looked upon other beliefs with their own rituals as ‘primitive’ or ‘superstitious’ – even barbaric in nature. As the tenor sings a can’t in the back and a man in a fancy robe with a pointy hat waves around his little ball of incense on a chain before offering his followers the symbolic flesh and blood of their savior I can’t help but stifle a chuckle at the hypocrisy.

But then where is God? (big ‘G’) I looked for him at many points in my life before coming to my current doubters perspective – believe me! (again, pun intended) God (big ‘G’) is this invisible man whom most say lives in the sky, he is all around us, he is responsible for everything, knows everything, sees everything. Yet no one can really prove he’s there to a reasoning individual with any level of certainty – at least one that does not also require a leap of faith.

So where is the state? The state ‘is’ all around us! Anyone that understands the least bit about causality knows that although they can – for the most part – control their own behavior, decisions and how they react to the consequences, the same cannot be said for the man (or woman) standing next to you.
As long as there are two or more people in a situation, each with their own needs, wants and desires, you will need some construct of ‘rules’ to govern their interactions with each other and with those things around them that they might need, want or desire. This would be nice and peachy in that idealistic (yet all too often unrealized) existence where everyone followed the rules all the time – but of course we know better.
Then comes the need for enforcement of the rules – enforcement that does not adversely support the needs, wants and desires of one individual over that of another. The combination of these rules and the enforcement of same sooner or later shows up as government and can be eventually found synonymous with ‘the state’.
So, therefore (using a little deductive reasoning here) as long as there are two more more people in a situation, each with their own needs wants and desires – the emergence of a governing entity that could be dubbed ‘the state’ is pretty much an inevitability.

In short? A lot of people believe in a god. A lot more believe in some type of statism. But the state is the only one that we can readily demonstrate having an immediate and incontrovertible effect upon our daily lives.

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Can anyone explain something to me? What’s going on in my head the past few days is more than just pangs from a change (end) of a relationship. I find myself asking all too many questions that seem to boil down to the same two struggling principles. I run through my head any number of scenarios that all boil down to the same thing. Let me see if I can describe it and then see what kind of answers may come back.
I’ll try to keep it as concise as possible, but I’m sure this is a subject I could write an entire volume upon. I find my mind tossling between almost pure reason and pure emotion lately – almost a fatalistic tug-of-war over the last few days especially. I look around me at the rest of the world and see the same thing – different forces pushing each; whether it be science versus religion, male ego vs. female heart, right brain vs. left.
I see movies talk about the virtues of each outlook – one glorifying the dreamer, the other glorifying the beautiful mind. People write songs about Van Gogh who took his own live “as dreamers often do” but then hold up the great works of Da Vinci who managed to laugh in the face of foolishly vain men of God.
My entire life I have had this war ongoing within myself. At different times there has been one side or another that has dominated for certain periods of time. Go too far into emotion and you are can be seen as weak and a target for evil folk. Go too far into reason and you are simply cold and calculating like the Vulcans of Roddenberry’s stories.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that the real world is some mix somewhere in the middle. Perhaps I should go find a text on buddhism and learn about the whole yin-yang concept. But where in the world do you find a balance? How in the hell do you find your own point of equilibrium in the middle of that scale? My dreamer’s mind trying to tell me that love can overcome anything, my reasonable mind saying that love is just another emotion and that reality sometimes deems otherwise. My romantic self thinking anything is possible if you simply want it bad enough to be, my calculating self saying essentially the same thing but knowing that it’s not a matter of wishing but of perserverance and hard work?

You know the old saying – it takes 2 to tango. How can you risk truly giving your heart to someone when there’s the real chance that it’s going to be sent back un-opened? Or worse, roughly used and stomped on. And if you tread lightly, going with caution, taking great care giving of self with the heart as one of the last things given over completely is there not a real chance that they may give up or go away if that’s the part they really desired first?

And where in the hell do you find someone who will put up with your stupid ass while you find that happy medium?

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Many people have tried (and ultimately ended up regretting it later) to corner me on my ‘beliefs’ – or at least those ‘beliefs’ that would most closely resemble what most consider to be a ‘belief system’.

i.e.:
“Do you believe in God?” (big ‘G’)
“Do you believe in life hereafter?”
“What is your religious affiliation?”
etc.

It is of course, not an easy subject to address due to the potential misunderstandings that will occur as I try to relate what I know to be extremely abstract concepts.

This has become an increasingly growing debate as of late due to the apparent need of my mother to broadcast her new found interest in the ‘church’. (My impression on the subject is that she is feeling guilty for never really having taken an interest in the church previously, perhaps getting ‘worried’ as she grows older that her ‘immortal soul’ may have trouble getting past the proverbial gates and also beginning to feel ashamed for who knows what reason that my brother and myself turned out to be rather secularist and pluralized – go figure!)

This is of course also an ongoing debate in society – we see it rear it’s head in the abortion issue, partisan political debate, animal “rights”, euthanasia and probably about 90% of the recent ACLU case load. Of course the subject of religion as it pertains to public schools has not been the least of these issues.

The most recent of the church-in-schools issues that seems to be rising to the surface appears to be the so-called ‘new’ intelligent design theory and the whole brew-ha-ha over whether or not it should be taught along side evolutionary theory in public schools. To me, even though I understand the alleged differences, it is just another euphemism for ‘creationism’ – i.e. a Judea-biblical view of creation. In short, the notion is that some organisms are seen to be so infinitely complex that one should therefore conclude that they had to have been ‘intelligently designed’. This waxes as euphemistic to me because a design by itself is little more than paper on a drawing board until someone actually ‘creates’ something from the design – the fact that something can be seen and in turn assumed to have been designed requires the intermediary action that someone or something else has to actually build the design. Or if not build ‘the’design (in the case of a life form you are observing), at least build ‘a’ design to spawn the one you eventually find yourself staring at under the microscope.

The Watchmaker argument

The theory is perhaps best displayed through a metaphor that often comes up – mainly, William Paley’s “Watchmaker” argument. The metaphor goes as follows:

. . . when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive. . . that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. . . . the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker — that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.

As with most things, my view on this is a little different than most. When I see to people (or groups) involved in a heated discussion, I have learned one of the better things to do before taking a side is to look not only at both views but, and more specifically, to look for view points that both groups are missing or at least are not focusing on in the process of their argumentation. The concept of the watchmaker listed above also brings up thoughts of the metaphor often used to describe probability, mainly the Infinite Monkey Theorum:

It stands to reason that if an infinite number of monkeys are each left banging on one of an infinite number of typewriters with no specific time limit, sooner or later one of them will type out the entire works of Shakespeare.

For most of us, such a concept seems absurd, thus the need for the metaphor. When speaking of concepts such as probability within incredibly large samples, it can be difficult to fathom the abstract concepts necessary to gain a full understanding. When speaking of natural selection in a universe that is said to be tens of billions of years old on a planet that is about 4 1/2 billion years old, we and the duration of our lives are less significant than a fly spec on a dinosaur’s butt! How could we possibly fathom the process of evolution of life taking place over the majority of that span!

Nature’s a Mutha!
In addition to this unfathomability, there is something else that is often overlooked. Nature itself is not a vacuum – to invoke another metaphor, mother nature is a bitch!

[Darwin’s] evolutionary theory doesn’t simply involve the concepts of the “common ancestor” and subsequent changes through “descent and modification”, but it also includes the notion of ‘natural selection’ – the proverbial ‘survival of the fittest’. In short, it is not just simply a room full of monkeys typing away on a bunch of typewriters. There is also this very fickle bitch running around with a really big stick, and whenever any monkey is typing something that looks closer to Hamlet, she pairs him off with some other sweet little monkey who is also doing good on her key-banging to make more little monkeys. But if she sees some monkey typing something she doesn’t like, she clobbers him over the head to make room for other little monkeys!

Some proponents of the Intelligent design theory point specifically to what they refer to as infinitely complex‘ microorganisms as one of the greatest signs of proof of intelligent design. Basically saying that some of the extreme complexities in even some of the simplest of creatures therefore equates to the watch found in the field.
However, using the above reasoning in regards to both the age of the universe/earth and the bitch-with-the-stick in a room full of monkees, it would stand to reason that the organisms that would have been around the longest [on earth] and thereby would have had the most trial-and-error (and bang-on-the-head with the big mutha’s stick) would be the microorganisms. Therefore, extreme complexities in such creatures would not only be observable, but likely.

I saw a good reference to put this in perspective; if someone was dealt a royal flush in a game of cards – and they fully understood the improbability of getting such a hand straight out of the deck – they would likely not assume, therefore, that the hand couldn’t possibly exist. Or, since I really like to quote from Douglas Adams:

…imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ — Douglas Adams, speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge U.K.



Let’s Flex those verses!

Most of those supporting ‘Intelligent design’ will of course claim it is a ‘new theory’ (it is not, it actually stems from similar notions pre-dating Darwin), that it is not creationism in a new package, etc. Specifically, most ID‘ists will point to the fact that they do not ascribe to the notion that the earth is only 6000 years old and they do deny that some level of ‘changing’ of organisms occurs on earth – a nice way to save face with the fact that observable facts since the Beagle voyage seem to give strength to some (if not most) of Darwin’s notions.

So, which part or parts of the bible are to be taken literally?

  • Many hasidic orders of judaism still follow precepts of grooming, clothing and behavior ascribed in various books of the old testament. If all of ‘christian’ society would do the same, men would similarly wear their hair with curls down the sides of their faces with beards (or no beards depending on which book(s) of the bible you read) and women would all still be wearing long gowns, staying at home, serving their husbands and only speaking with permission.
  • Many judeau church celebrations have been merged with pagan or non-christian holidays and even moved half-way around the calendar to increase the popularity of the church. (ever wonder what bunnies and eggs had to do with calgary? Or trees, wreaths and red/green with bethlehem?)
  • George Carlin managed to launch his career in part by out of pointing to the hypocrisies of church dogma – “how many guys are in hell still doing time on the meat rap?”


Over the years the ‘word of God’ (big ‘G’) has been used by Christians to support any number of questionable acts from war and genocide to the spread of hatred, ignorance and prejudice. They have brought us the crusades, the inquisition and many would even argue World War I, World War II and even the revolutionary war. (and no, we are not talking about Muslim fundamentalism here) It seems that when necessary, the [Christian] Bible (and any other religious texts for that matter) can be used to construct any number of poor choices and be used to justify any number of bad actions or results.

So it begs the question, just how ‘flexible’ is the interpretation of holy scripture? Is the bible a living document?

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