Religion is the root of all evil. Easily said and easily proven so why isn’t it? Answer: it takes thought and the first thing religions teach their followers is to accept without thinking. Atheists, living in a world filled with sheep, have to think to reach a conclusion that there is no god. For our species to stop destroying the world it needs to be led by thinkers not idiots who walk around holding Bibles and wearing crosses and stars and other symbols indicating they are members of the unthinking flock.
Thinking is a good thing. If held hostage I’d try to exercise: push ups, walking and running in place, yoga stretches and mind stretches—thinking about questions that haven’t been answered (probably can’t) like is there a life after death? was there a life before life? Philosophers call this dualism, the theory that the mental and the physical—or mind and body or mind and brain—are, in some sense, radically different. It’s fun to let your mind run free in thoughts like this (unless you’re trying to get back to sleep).
-If you believe in a heaven, you believe in dualism, that something that is you will transcend life. I’ve asked a lot of people who believe in heaven to describe it for me. I am amazed at how little thought has been given to a place in which they aspire to spending eternity, which is a very long time (or maybe no time). Bible quoters say something like this: A river, clear as crystal, will flow from the throne of God down the middle of the city. On each side of the river there will be a tree of life, yielding twelve kinds of fruit every month. The streets will be pure gold, like transparent glass. The walls of the city will be adorned with every kind of jewel, emerald, onyx, amethyst, topaz, etc.(a total of 12) There will be no need for a sun or moon; the Lord will be its light.
When I think about life everlasting, a place I’d like to be for eternity, I’d much prefer green to shining, hard surfaces. Give me grass to walk through and trees to shade me and give me an infinite variety of colors, and I’m just talking about green. And then add in all the other colors, flowers, birds, animals. I like the idea of twelve fruit trees. In the Revelation model there are also twelve gates all garnished with precious stones (If you are interested chapters, 21 and 22).
If there is a me that will transcend life I envision a heaven having an environment very much like earth with one exception, everybody loves everybody. I have read the Bible to the end and find the last book to be lacking. It works well for preachers who want to enslave as many to garner as many followers as possible largely to line their pockets as it sucks in those who are not thinking, just following. Please, just think about it. Heaven according to Revelation, walled in 12,000 furlongs length, breadth and height; except for a silver river and 12 fruit trees everything appears to be jewel encrusted gold. No sun or moon, just the light of the Lord. Really? Do you find that appealing? No sunsets, no flowers, no grass or trees and only people who are just like you, have no interesting thoughts. Oh, I’m not saying your thoughts aren’t interesting just that you already have them so what’s to talk about. “Hi, how you doing?” “Same as you.” Have any new thoughts?” “You?” “Want to go pick some fruit?”
My thoughts have led me to the notion that there are twelve entities (gods, if you will) living in a place very much like the environment we live in because they created our world. Many old religions including Genesis, have God or Gods creating our world so this is nothing new. I just figure they created a world using their own as a model, you know, like the games we create, Monopoly, Clue and so many video games.
The following is a chapter from the novel A Stone’s Throw, Orvie’s Stories by Mort Mather. A great book: funny and philosophical.
Who Made Satan?
Perry and me are sitting on the bridge by Gabovich’s fishin’. It’s easy ’cause all ya have to do is drop the hook in the water and the current takes it downstream, and then ya just pull on the line every so often to make it more interesting for the fish. I got a cork on my line, which keeps the hook a little off the bottom. Perry’s got a real bobber made outta red-and-white plastic. Whenever the cork or the bobber goes underwater we pull on our line and hope the fish took the hook. Sometimes the cork will just bob a little bit and if you pull you don’t get anything ’cause the fish was just nibbling at the worm and hadn’t got a good bite at it. I’m pretty good at knowing when the fish is just fooling around and when it’s taken the hook.
Perry says that God is good and loves everybody and that he made the earth and everything, so I ask him if he made Hell and he says no, that Satan made Hell. Now, ya see, right off there’s something wrong. If God made everything then he must have made Hell, or he didn’t make everything. Take your pick. So then I think, God didn’t make the brooder house. Dad and I built that, so it’s OK that Satan made Hell, but when I ask Perry if God made Satan he says no again. So we’re back to God didn’t make everything.
Perry explains that Satan and God and some other angels were already around when God created Earth. I ask him what they were doing.
“I don’t know. Like us, I guess, just sittin’ around.”
“What, were they just watching God create Earth, then?”
“So, then Satan says, ‘I’m going to create Hell,’ or what?”
“Yeah. I think he was jealous because God created this swell universe with animals and stars and people and everything and Satan couldn’t do it so he made Hell.”
“What were the angels doing? Do they ever come to Earth?”
“Sometimes, I think, to give God’s messages and stuff.”
“So they’re messengers?”
“Yeah, pretty much, I think. I think they sing sometimes.”
Perry gets a bite but the fish gets away. He pulls in the line and puts another worm on the hook and just then the same thing happens to me. As I put on a fresh worm I ask him what Satan does.
“Oh, he comes down to earth a lot. He is the one who tempts us to do wrong things because if he can get us to sin and we don’t confess to the priest then Satan gets us and we go to Hell.”
“Does God come down to earth?”
“No. He sent his son Jesus but he never came himself.”
“Why not? Why doesn’t he come down like Satan and tempt us to do the right thing?”
“I don’t know.”
“Seems like it’d be a good plan.”
It starts getting hot, so we go under the bridge to get out of the sun.
A Trump judicial pick said transgender children are proof that Satan’s plan is working. Thank you, Texas assistant attorney general Jeff Mateer, for providing proof that Satan wrote the Bible.
While I’m at it let me say that I think Trump does not plan to give up the presidency in his lifetime. Yep, you heard it here first, Trump plans to hold on to leadership of the free (ha) world. He hasn’t shown his tax returns, he hasn’t divested himself of his holdings, he does whatever he wants to do. He has said he could commit murder in Times Square and get away with it.
How can he possibly hold on to power in the face of the Constitution? Ask yourself how he can be stopped. Will congress step in? Will the police? Will the military? Will there be riots? Will there be a lot of people with guns killing people who don’t support their president?
Here is an exercise. What if, soon after Trump was elected, it became obvious the election had been rigged by the Russians, so obvious President Obama declared the election results false and that he would remain President until a new election could be held and Congress agreed? Several new laws were passed including allowing a president to hold office for more than 8 years.
Don’t underestimate Trump. He is dividing us, on purpose; he is making violence acceptable, on purpose; he is turning us into a nation of haters, on purpose. The purpose? Divided we fall….into his trap.
I used to wonder (and believe I even asked you) if an aging agnostic would eventually ask, “is this all there is?”The answers to that question could be mind-blowing.
You probably mean atheist and the fact is that most atheists die quite contentedly without ever asking that question. It comes from giving thought to life and belief and faith and knowledge and thinking is a pretty good thing.
I am agnostic however many people, you apparently are among them, who think that agnosticism is a belief or a faith. It is simply the acknowledgement that metaphysical notions are not known. If a genie appeared and offered to give me one wish it would be that everyone in the world become agnostic; there would be agnostic Catholics, agnostic atheists, agnostic Jews, agnostic Muslims, etc. Everyone would retain their belief/faith and they would freely tell others if they wished, spread the word like the Mormons do, but they would understand the difference between belief and knowledge. I like to think that if everyone understood that their belief was not any better or worse than any other belief and that we should be respectful of others’ beliefs the world would be a safer and happier place.
What do I believe? I believe that this life is wonderful. I like to make an analogy that fits well into the Christmas season. I like to think of life as a gift and I know that if I gave someone a gift that was unwrapped and the recipient exclaimed “great gift, Thank you! What else did you get me?” I would think that person was an ingrate. Just in case the analogy escapes you I’ll put it in terms of your belief. God gave you life and you are saying “is this all there is?” I think this life is wonderful and I give thanks for it frequently. I’m not looking forward to something else. If this is it, thank you! If there is more, wow! But my job in this life is to live it fully, to use the gift well and with appreciation.
I recently picked up Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins and couldn’t put it down. I may go back and reread his other books soon; so many laughs and such good thoughts like:
Of course, as long as there were willing followers, there would be exploitive leaders. And there would be willing followers until humanity reached that philosophical plateau where it recognized that its great mission in life had nothing to do with any struggle between classes, races, nations, or ideologies, but was, rather, a personal quest to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain. On that quest, politics was simply a roadblock of stentorian baboons.
One of the arguments creationists use to dismiss evolution goes “If we evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” They ought to look at their own religion for the answer. Catholicism evolved from Judaism and yet there are still Jews. Islam evolved from Catholicism as did Protestantism yet there are still Catholics. There are divisions within Islam and numerous forms of Protestantism all leaving still intact their origins. For those who are confused about how evolution works, I hope this helps.
Understanding evolution doesn’t mean you have to abandon or even question your faith. I would hope this brings you a better understanding of your faith. Genesis is a myth. It is interesting to contemplate how that myth came into being. The majority of Christians, Jews and Muslims already understand it as a myth and yet they remain Christians, Jews and Muslims. Take the good messages on living that the Bible holds and use them. Enjoy the myths as part of your heritage.
I get great pleasure out of thinking. Concentrating on the meaning of life is as satisfying to me as, I presume, it is for a golfer to concentrate on an important putt. I don’t place any greater or lesser importance on my pleasure than on the golfer’s pleasure. I write these thoughts largely for myself though it is quite possible that if I were the only person in the world, I would not bother.
Would I still think if I were alone? One of the things I have found when I am alone is that I frequently think in the past tense. “As I walked up the road toward Mt. Vesuvius from where the bus had dropped me …” I was 27 when I was having that thought in those words while climbing Mt. Vesuvius. I wrote them down in my diary along with the thought “If there was only one person left on earth, and he was I; He would die. Why?”
Why? Because the thought in my head seemed to indicate that I was not climbing through a flowering orchard on a spring day with the cone of Vesuvius ahead of me for my current pleasure but rather for an experience that I could relate to others. Otherwise, why were not my thoughts in the present tense?
Deep breath. “Ahhh. The air is so sweet. God! I love this.” I breathe the air again. I look toward a sound and see a bird. As I emerge from the orchard and start up the cone I can feel my body carrying me upward smoothly. I pause and turn to look out over the bay of Naples. No words in my head about what I am doing. I’m just doing it. No recording necessary.
Would my mind be blank, blank of worded thoughts that is? I shouldn’t think so. The bird might call to mind something I know of birds that could be added to. The fragrance of the air might recall a spring day somewhere in my past. The pull of gravity on my body might bring thoughts of pride at my fitness or a resolve to become more fit. But I’m glad my thoughts weren’t in the present tense. Realizing that brought the philosophical thought, that I was not doing this for myself alone. It is those somehow larger thoughts that I enjoy most, larger and ever so debatable.
There are many things I would not do were there not other people to tell but that is a different thing from thinking. If all other people on the planet suddenly disappeared, would I stop thinking? First I would probably think that was strange. Then I might think it a bit frightening. My life would clearly be different with no one to talk to. I would have to sort out my needs and figure out how to meet them. There would be no one to generate electricity or make matches. How would I cook food? Where would I find food? There would be a lot to think about, at least at first.
At age 27 I thought that I would die if I were the last person on earth. Now, I’m not so sure. Of course I would die eventually but I’m not sure that I would just curl up and die because the only reason for living was to communicate with others. I think I would want to solve the important questions like food and shelter and then I think I would be able to amuse myself with thoughts about the meaning of it all. What was going on? What was I supposed to be doing? The thoughts might not be global or cosmic so much as “What is over the horizon?” “Am I truly alone in the world or are there people that I can find somewhere?” “How did this happen?” Ah, the thoughts seem to progress toward the more philosophical fairly soon.
It is difficult to try to understand thinking before there was language. One model would be animals, I suppose. What does the woodchuck think when it’s nose touches my electric fence for the first time? How do animals learn to be fearful of predators? Are they fearful or merely cautious? What did the early hominid think before language? Can there be thoughts before language?
If I try to think without using words, I think I can have thoughts. Are they thoughts or emotions? Certainly they would be extremely limited absent thoughts from others through written and spoken words. Hunger, shelter, sex are processed through the brain. Those are the “thoughts” I can imagine without words as I sit here half a million or so years later. It was clearly thoughts that brought about the development of tools. It has only been within the past 3,000 years that we have been thinking philosophically. Most of our thought up until then, I suspect, was focused on survival and on improving the quality of life.
What is my dog thinking when she huddles close to me during a thunder storm? What is she thinking when, alone in the house during a thunder storm, she gets into the bathtub? If dogs could communicate about things like thunder, would they exchange ideas on how to cope, try out each others ideas, and come to a general agreement on which strategy worked best?
Before language did hominids wonder what thunder was all about? Did they try to figure out a reason behind it? Once they developed language how did they come to the conclusion that thunder was caused by a god driving his chariot across the sky? As I try to think myself into the skin of people living under those conditions it seems a pretty logical explanation for something that was inexplicable at that time.
I wonder if fundamentalists understand parables. My own experiences lead me to believe they don’t. For example, I have had fundamentalists tell me that the reason no one stoned the adulteress when Jesus said “let he who is without sin throw the first stone” was because all of those men had committed adultery. If there had been just one who had not, he would have thrown the first stone and the woman would have been stoned to death.
“So,” I asked, “this story doesn’t pertain to you at all?” “Right,” he answered. I’ve never committed adultery so if I had been there, I could have stoned her.” It seems to me that is a story about judging others as in “judge not lest yea be judged.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan does not translate into “love thy enemies.” Enjoy this quote from a Christian site on the parables: “Like his aphorisms, Jesus’ parables were often surprising and paradoxical. The parable of the good Samaritan, for example, turned expectations on their head with the despised Samaritan proving to be the wounded man’s neighbor.”
Follows is a dialogue in which I tried to make a point using allegory:
Me: You believe life is a gift?
CF (Christian Fundamentalist): Yes.
Me: A gift from God?
Me: God the Father?
Me: Do you think life is a wonderful gift?
Me: You are a father. Have you given your children gifts?
CF: Of course.
Me: Imagine giving your son a wonderful gift, the best gift you could imagine and he said “Thank you Dad. What else did you get me?” How would that make you feel?
CF: What’s your point?
Me: God gave you a wonderful gift, you say, but you turn around and ask for another life, a heaven that you know nothing about other than you are sure it is better than this life, this gift. How do you think that would make God feel?
CF: I’m not God.
Me: You believe you were created in God’s image. God shows lots of feelings and emotions that you can identify with including rage. You call him your Father in Heaven. If I gave my son a beautiful bicycle that he wanted and he said, “Thanks Dad. What else did you get me? I’d be pissed.
CF: I’m sure you are a good father.
Using allegory when having a discussion of religion with fundamentalist Christians may not help advance your point.