Do you believe Hell is real? That Satan is a real thing?

If you ever believed in a god or something like that, did you ever either accept or believe in the personification of evil, a being that tempts people to act or think against the wishes of a Supreme Being? A being that takes the soul of a very bad person and ensures a sort of eternal painful karma?

As a child, the demonic scapegoat was not emphasized to me. As much as I may have accepted some sort of god, I cannot recall ever going all in on the Lucifer/fallen angel myth, with one exception. The Exorcist movie scared the Hell out of me, or should I say, the fear into me? I was an adult parent with one child by then (1973 or so).

However, I probably dropped any thought of a devil or a Hell for eternal suffering long before I flushed the whole Trinity thing along with any remaining number of evil spirits. I discovered that several Catholic Priests agreed with me that at the very least, all the devil and hell stuff was nonsense cooked up to scare people. Even the Pope had said that Hell was a state after death of not being with God, not a place.

As I did the final onion peel by removing the last vestiges of religion and theistic or deistic things from my pages of mental acceptance, the first to go was related to the problem of evil, Hell as anything real before or after death, and any spirit world, either good or evil.

After I managed to get over all of that, which I only quasi-accepted in the first place, the god balloon simply popped. All religion went with it: New Age, Pantheism, Eastern Religious beliefs and philosophies, Witches, and the like. I appreciate reality and science as much as any atheist, but in no way is any of that comparable to religion or any belief in a god-like entity.

Many people want to say god is love and other worn out tropes that tell us that they probably at least downplay any concept of Hell and devils without tossing out the heavenly eternal life part. This works well for them because one merely needs to repent and all will be forgiven, at least on that side of the Christian street. I’m not sure everyone agrees.

Is belief in eternal damnation required to avoid it? If one lives a good life, is that sufficient? Believers would answer those two questions with both yes and no. I never took a course in the Sociology (or psychology) of Religion. I wish I had.

I like the idea of love or at least being neighborly and caring about people. However, when my neighbor is an asshole, I neither love her or him, nor do I care about them. In fact, I often wish karma could be real (except not applied to me). But love is still better than the other options, except…

The other two emotions I can think of that seem to have as much, or more, influence on humans are fear and hate. I am so happy that religion does not teach fear and hate. Or would that be why the Lucifer and Hell myths assume such prominence in religion, particularly Christianity and Islam, both religions of love and peace (sarcasm, in case you missed it)?

As for hate, you be the judge. Just don’t leave out the history of virtually every prominent religion on earth.

Bill

A to Z Challenge 2020 (M = Metaphysics)

I got through most of my life without knowing the meaning of metaphysics. I didn’t care. I saw it online and had to ask. Then I had to look it up. I still didn’t care very much, but I had a name for what other people seemed to hold in high regard, like a religion.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy consisting of ontology (dealing with the nature of being), and cosmology (the science of the origin and development of the universe). It can be deep stuff and fun bar talk after a few rounds. But there is woo-woo. There is always woo-woo.

New Age and nonempirical ideas such as energy (like chi and prana), ideas like being balanced, harmonized, tuned, aligned, unblocked, and mellow. Okay, maybe not mellow. While I don’t believe in that stuff, I don’t sit with my back to the door either.

In one sense, metaphysics is often used with ideas of what is real, the nature of beings, and the theory of mind and mental phenomena such as ideas, perceptions, memory, consciousness, and so forth. That all seems reasonable to me.

But metaphysics also gets rolled into broad theories of reality. These would be like materialism and dualism, the nature of reality, why something and not nothing. I’m not even sure I can mentally grasp the concept of nothingness. Is there free will? Is there always cause? Has the Universe always existed? Are there spiritual beings and life after death?

This stuff is not scientific. I had my time battling it out in conversation with friends who saw things in a different way. I’m sure I enjoyed it at the time. I just didn’t know or care what it was called.

Some of it is nonsense. But some of a lot of interesting things is nonsense. Like the existence of god, most metaphysical stuff cannot be proven nor successfully refuted. But maybe that’s where the fun lives.

Bill

 

A to Z Challenge 2020 (L = Lucid Dreams/Dreaming)

This is when you are asleep, and your frontal brain lobe makes you aware that you are sleeping and dreaming. I’ve seldom had this experience, but it has happened, and I remembered it. Like dreams themselves, it’s interesting. Also, like dreams, you can spend thousands of US dollars on learning and doing more about it. But, even with personal experience, I must weigh in with a bit of not so fast. The whole dream business is packed with frauds, charlatans, and quacks, and the awareness aspect has been roped in at great profit.

If you need help with lucid dreaming (I cannot do it intentionally) you can purchase books, tapes/CDs or whatever the tech is today, scientific publications, and induction devices such as special lights and speakers. You can spend money and time going to seminars to help you tap into your unconscious mind and get continuing education or college credit (Psyc.).

Perhaps you will fly (in your dreams) with spirits and have an out-of-body experience you enjoy, and that makes you free (again, you’re dreaming) of the restraints of being human and gravity bound to Earth. Maybe you will even feel better. But I doubt it.

There is no special state achievable by paying a fee through which we can find transcendent consciousness any more than we can stop having nightmares because we don’t like them. But, as with so many things, you can pay the price and take your chances. You can also read a lot more about it, if you are so inclined.

I prefer to know when it happens and what the biological cause is. When I wake from my off-base dreams, many of which relate to my life 30 or 40 years in the past, I know immediately that I was dreaming and what facts were twisted in my dreams to create the imaginary scenario.

So, yes, it is a real thing. But I doubt that it is what many seem to think. From reality to woo-woo, and to $$ all the way to the bank once again.

Bill

A to Z Challenge 2020 (K= keraunoscopia or keraunophobia)

Keraunoscopia is a form of divination, which is fortune telling or foretelling the future. My sister once told me that she went to a fortune teller at a show of some kind and was thrown out for laughing. We share that, but I would more likely just mumble bull shit. The forms of this divination crap, which must include reading animal remains or deposits, go on and on. This one is by reading thunder and lightning. Very, very, frightening, right? Well, it is.

Keraunophobia a related funky word that seems to be a condition of every dog I have ever owned. It is an unreasonable fear of thunder and lightning. As many of you know, I am a pluviophile who finds comfort, peace, and pleasure in rainy days, and I will often venture out with the intention of getting very wet. However, I avoid such behavior in extreme cold. I also avoid thunder and lightning. When I lived in the states of California and Washington, thunderstorms were rare.

Here in Texas it is rare to have a nice soft rain without the threat of lightning and telltale thunder. But that is what all the woo-woo diviners look for so that they foresee the future. Like when the current lock-down (or shelter in place if one finds euphemisms comforting) will end. Well so can I. If you go out during a Texas thunderstorm and hold your golf club just right, you may be struck by lightning. I have no idea what to do about dogs freaking out when it thunders and lightning strikes are too close to home, but I don’t blame them.

Bill

A to Z Challenge 2020 (J=Justification)

Justification is a concept I don’t recall being in my metaphysical pandora’s box or my highest theological concept. I still don’t care, but I needed a word for J -day.

In the Jesus brand of theology, justification is god’s removing the guilt and penalty of sin (call it hell). If you spin your English just right, you get to go to a good place instead of the bad one. But you must have faith and believe. To Christians, this makes sense.

Since the Protestant Reformation, and probably before, justification was and area of significant disagreement. It is also an area of significant theological fault that, to this day, divides Roman Catholicism from the Lutheran and Reformed traditions of Protestantism.

Catholics, Methodists, and Orthodox distinguish between initial justification, which occurs at baptism, (ala infant baptism) and final salvation, accomplished after a lifetime of doing what you’re supposed to.

In Lutheranism and Calvinism, righteousness in the eyes of God is viewed as being credited to the sinner’s account through faith alone, without works, which maybe fodder for W-day.

My point here is that all these branches of Christianity, supposedly one religion, have fought over this woo-woo hair-splitting nonsense for reasons none of us probably care much about.

Atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindu, and Buddhists need not worry. There is no justification for any of this.

Bill

A to Z Challenge 2020 (G=Ghosts)

When I was a young boy, I believed in ghosts sometimes and sometimes not. Timing and environment mattered. Ghost stories around the campfire were a rite of passage. I can still recall how talented some story tellers were. I don’t recall ever thinking of ghosts as spirits from another realm. To a degree, I envisioned them as unseen earthbound beings, sometimes spirits of dead people, at other times I considered them independent beings.

When I was alone and frightened by noises or shadows and the like, that was always monsters or some form of ghoulish creature, not a ghost. All that ghosts of Christmas past stuff was for Scrooge, and they all seemed to be trying to help (and did).

The whole point of being scared was because it was fun, reality never played into it. Maybe that is why I was never fearful while tramping through cemeteries during all times of day or night. Half the fun of that for me was the fear others acted out or tried to cover up.

While I no longer believe in any form of a real spiritual world inhabited by disembodied spirits or any of the associated trappings of such beliefs, I have no problem with ghosts. They make great stories, movies (both serious and funny), Halloween is a favorite of mine, why not haunted houses?

Every time my wife and I hear an odd noise in the house that we have no ready answer for, she will say that we have a poltergeist, which is a noisy ghost or spirit. I will explain that he or she is loading the dishwasher, moving the car, leaving through the garage, wants us to call an electrician, or is getting ice for a drink.

I may be a skeptic. Maybe I don’t believe in ghosts. But I like them, and I always have.

Casper Bill

The Bard had ghosts in his writing. Maybe not like this one.

 

A to Z Challenge 2020 (F=Fire walking)

I was watching one of those HGTV home buying shows. This lady needed to make sure that her property ($millions), as glorious as each one was, had enough size and location to construct a pit or platform for fire walking. She was a shaman or something.

I have seen many shows where the main criteria were enough yard for the dog to take a shit and run around, or maybe a garden for granny. I only watched one where the buyer wanted space so her clients would be able to walk through fire.

In some parts of the world, fire walking is part of a religious ritual associated with mystical powers of fakirs (love that name, but I must be mispronouncing it). They really do walk on burning coals. The lady buying the house really does do that. I could not stand to walk on coals that were room temperature or under water without shoes. Walking on burning coals has never been on my bucket list and it will not be.

In the USA this event has gone New Age as a self-empowering experience. Some see it as overcoming fears and phobias. This is not fake. People really do this. If you ever watched it, you probably noticed the brisk pace of the walker. They do not tarry in crossing. Nor do they want to fall. That is fire down below.

It is possible to walk on fire, or least on a bed of burning wood coals and not get burned. But burns do happen. The proper wood and charcoal must be used and the person building the fire needs to know what they are doing (shaking my head “no” as I wrote that).

I have no idea how this works physically or what psychological gain there is. But it’s physics: thermo dynamics, probably. And well-padded feet soles don’t hurt. Fire walking is neither magic nor magick, spirituality, religion, or some form of holiness. It is not the Universe blessing someone. But it’s also not fake.

Bill

Everybody is wearing shorts.

 

A to Z Challenge 2020 (E=Energy)

In physical science, energy is a measurable with ergs, joules, electron-volts, calories, or foot-pounds as the capacity to do work. It is also defined as a usually positive spiritual force, such as an energy flowing through people. There is a lot of different energy in people.

New Age advocates see energy in the second sense, as a power force producing spiritual energy. It’s about enhancing energy by tapping into the power of the universe or another person by manipulating that force so that you can be healthy, happy, fulfilled, and successful. This makes life meaningful, significant, and endless. These are admirable goals for the defined type of energy, and indeed a considerable amount of time, effort, and expense (and someone’s profit) go into the pursuit of such energy.

Despite a long existence of things like chi, reiki, and prana, the second definition remains unmeasurable, although it is said to be the source of life and health. It is measured by feeling it.

Healers with special powers are often required. Masters, if you will; to help with unblocking, harmonizing, unifying, tuning, aligning, balancing, or channeling (see day 3). The key issue for all of this, to me, has always been that if I do not believe it works, it will not (sort of reverse placebo). The same argument is made for belief in any god or religion.

Yes. There is an energy to life. It takes a life to make a life, as far as I know. I don’t know how everything works, why, or when. I know that many quacks are out there in the world of bacteria and viruses, of gods and spirits, of true believers and skeptics.

If I take a drug that makes me feel good or bad, if I undergo a medical treatment, or if I have a helpful conversation with someone, including myself, I may feel better (or worse, for the other side of the value scale). I usually know why. In most cases the experience can be replicated.

The New Age way of looking at energy has never worked for me. Maybe because I am a natural skeptic. Even when I wanted it to work, and I sought it out, it did not have the claimed/desired effect. In every case, the failure was attributed to my skepticism. I was never told (even by people like chiropractors or massage “therapists”) that it was their fault, or the issue was fake. In one case, the practitioner claimed failure due to their personal lack of experience.

I have no scientific evidence that anyone’s life energy continues after death or that anyone was another person in a previous and separate life. When people like me try to be open to such things, does that give “energy” to fake practitioners? I don’t know.

I remain open to proof and evidence that is more than how another person was made to feel. But for now, I’ll stick to the first definition of energy.

Bill

A to Z Challenge 2020 (D=Déjà vu)

I recall one day as a child walking with my parents to the park where the county courthouse was (and is) along with a bronze statue of a deer upon which the tradition is to be photographed. I was about seven years old. I told everyone that I had been to this place before. I was certain of it. I don’t recall who told me that I had not been there, and that I was imagining it. But I think it was my father.

It was the only real déjà vu event in my life, that I can recall so vividly. If I went to the town where I grew up, I can stand on the exact spot where I said and felt it.

I’ve never forgotten. Then, one day about 5 years ago I was going through old photo albums and found a picture of me on the courthouse deer with my mother. She had to hold me up, so I was between six months and two years of age. I had been there before.

There were no pictures of my father. I had been there years earlier, probably with my mother and her sisters while Dad was at work. Déjà vu means “already seen” and indeed I had already seen as I thought. My memory was an actual memory within the confines of my actual life.

One of the issues with a woo-woo déjà vu experience is the feeling of strangeness, which is common. It happens often. My skepticism is, in terms of it being a lost memory (that is plausible), past lives (not so plausible), clairvoyance (nope), or other mystical and misguided explanations, there is a real-world explanation.

What we should focus on is the real. The feeling that may be caused by a brain state or things that precede brain temporal lobe epilepsy attacks or hallucinations. This, too, is common.

And I love the trite phrase, it’s déjà vu all over again. What’s your story?

Bill

A to Z Challenge 2020 (B=Backmasking)

Backward Satanic Messages come from playing musical lyrics backward, not that many music lovers would do that. I do listen to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven sometimes, but I am never inclined to ask Pandora to play it backwards. The people who believe nonsense like this are those who cannot see or hear anything without trying to figure out how Satan plays into it (SNL Church Lady).

Someone has so much time on their hands that they listen to music, play it backwards, and hear messages (satanic or whatever), then manage to convince others of their discovery.

…Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it makes me wonder

There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder….”

I have so much time on my hands, I write about it. To be clear, I think this back-masking nonsense is more religious crap that no one, even most religious folks, should believe.

Bill