Trend Watch: Religion

Happy Friday and welcome to the first day of Autumn for the top half of the globe. I was wondering why this word search happened.

Every 30 seconds of everyday, Merriam-Webster dot com tells us the top ten most popular words being looked up in their online dictionary. Based upon news and world events, it usually makes sense.

This is what they say about this feature, “Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.”

The other day number ten was the word religion.  Why now? Do the people doing the search not know the definition of religion? And why might they care?

Just to be sure, I often look up words that I know how to spell, pronounce, and how to define. I do not constitute a trend. I’m not sure how many it takes to merit the trend list. I have looked up the meaning of religion before. In this case, I wanted the exact dictionary definition.

The three definitions of religion listed are:

  1. 1. A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
  2. (a/1): the service and worship of God(s) or the supernatural, or (a/2) the commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.
  3. (b): It is the state of a religious (like a nun in her 20th year).
  4. A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”

I have no argument with these definitions. I knew them. But why were so many people looking it up? What’s the cause or big deal?

For days, if not weeks, fascism has been in the top three. It was gone when I last checked. It’s been in the top ten for years. I get that.

Do you think someone is thinking, oh now, if it means that, then this is not a religion? They update the list about every 30 seconds, but still—religion? I find it oddly interesting.

A curious synonym for religion from the M-W online thesaurus is cult. I also agree with that connection. I was originally taken aback when I first read all religions are cults. Now I get it. Yes, they are.

You could say “so what?” or be insulted by that synonym. But one must remember, conversely, virtually all cults have a remarkable resemblance to a religion.

Bill

 

God, Religion, and the Rabbi

The other day I read an old blog post by a Jewish Rabbi about The Difference Between God and Religion (title of his post). Reb Jeff says they are not the same thing. I agree, but only if the god or gods in question really exist.

I know many religious people wrap the two so tightly that they cannot conceptually separate them. I doubt if most believers could conceive of one without the other. A theist without theology.

Since the rabbi opened the door and put it out there, I am going to pick at his comments.

He wrote, “To me, God is manifest in the realization that I am here, and so are you, to fulfill a purpose and truth that is greater than any one of us individually.” (From Reb Jeff blog 8/18/2012, Italics mine). Jeff’s logic is that because you, he, and I exist, God not only exists, but is “manifest.” If that was true, there would be neither atheists nor agnostics.

Manifest means “readily perceived by the senses and especially by the sense of sight” and “easily understood or recognized by the mind: obvious” (merriam-webster.com). No god is obvious. None.

Furthermore, he got lost in the idea of living a pointless life without his god and his holy books. Based on what he wrote, without the Jewish God, Reb Jeff and his ilk cannot imagine a purposeful or fulfilling life. No news there. They subsequently reflect that position onto others, especially nonbelievers. How can you be happy if you cannot believe any god exits? Well, we are.

In the post, the rabbi speaks of “experiencing” God. Something not everyone does. Not even most believers. I never did. Experiencing is not manifestation. Psychoses and delusions can be experienced. Religion is experienced. Is God?

He also wrote, “You don’t need to be a mind reader to realize that a true atheist would not be concerned with the struggle to maintain faith.” Is the rabbi an expert in what a “true” atheist is? He is a reformed Jew. What if I claimed that he was not a true Jew?

Maybe he never heard of the true Scotsman fallacy. Anyway, I’ve been concerned with having faith and the “struggle to maintain faith,” my entire life. If the rabbi would say I am not a “true” atheist because I have such interests, he’d be wrong.

Then he says, “Atheism is the conviction that there is no God or gods (he’s wrong); no ultimate source of meaning (strike two), truth (wrong again) or morality (well, not the Torah) in the universe.” The whole universe?

He goes on, “How could a true atheist struggle with faith when atheism denies the very basis of faith?” He could have looked up the definition of atheism by atheists, but he did not. Maybe Reb Jeff should look up the meaning of faith and religion and God when he checks out the correct definition of atheism.

I suspect most atheists agree that people have faith whether God exists or not. Lord knows we hear it as the very reason many believe—not God’s manifestation. If God is obvious faith is unnecessary.

Some atheists are convinced to some degree that no god exists, but not all (at least as God is described by the Abrahamic religions).

As for terms like ultimate truth or morality in the whole fucking universe, I admit that I don’t know any universal ultimate truths except that death is real, and it seems to be wherever life exists. But my knowledge only applies to life on Earth. The old joke about three Jews having five opinions exists for a reason. Maybe I should ask three Rabbis and see how it goes.

I think separating religion and belief in god or gods is important for a better understanding of each. Rejecting religion makes room for varied conclusions about gods. However, as the rabbi implies, since I do not accept any belief in a real god (due to lack of evidence), thousands of religions become simple social/political organizations from my point of view.

The problem with seeing god and religion separately is that religion creates gods. Religions tell people who and what a god is and how to interact, relate, and what to believe about the god or gods. It’s contrived by humans. All religions thus become silly (some dangerous) psycho-social clubs.

Consequently, religious folks like good old Reb Jeff use terms (promises) like “experiencing God” to hold people to unnecessary social clubs, which they may enjoy, even as atheists.

Maybe that is why the rabbi thinks he must tolerate atheist-Jews showing up at the synagogue to be with other Jews. He claims they do.

Thank God for air conditioning.

Shalom,

Bill

What happens when a rabbi, a priest, and an atheist smoke (experience) pot?

 

On Biblical Fiction

I disagree with the claim that all atheists consider the bible a work of fiction. I am annoyed by that for two reasons. I didn’t like that someone else speaks for me about what I think or believe. Second, in my opinion, even for an atheist to make such a claim is as much folly as declaring all scripture fact.

Is the Bible a book of fiction? If you consider it either fact or fiction, perhaps it is. My dictionary says fiction is “something invented by the imagination or feigned.” Fiction is intentionally so.

Good story tellers of truth or fiction are rare and endangered artists. I humorously refer to the stories I write as lies or fibs (terms literalists might struggle with). Frequently enough, people ask if my story is true. Nothing I write is 100% fact, including this essay. Nor is anything I write total fiction.

It may be my best accurate memory. Factual journalism is challenging even for the best writers. If you’re as hung up on this as I am, try reading Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, by David Shields. Is exaggeration either fact or fiction?

I tell stories with beginnings, middles, and (the most difficult part) ends. My dreams are often related to a reality of my past. They’re not stories because they have only the middle: no backstory or once upon a time concept.

My dreams lack beginnings and transitions. They never end. I wake up or move on to another. There is no natural, spontaneous, or contrived ending. There is no moral lesson. Now, about the bible.

The point of the bible is that God inspired humans to write it. However, I am unconvinced of the biblical cannons being inspired since I believe there is nothing to do the inspiring.

For the sake of agreement, we all pretty much think the books of the bible are real and were written by people. They were also re-written, translated and retranslated, interpreted by and added-to by people other than the original, allegedly divinely inspired, authors. It all continues to happen even to this day. Yet, with all this effort, there is not even one original biblical document to read in any language.

So, which is it? Facts inspired by the divine or a bunch of nonsense and lies. While for many the answer is moot, I have never cared much. Did someone kill others with a jawbone? Did it rain for a long time causing floods? Were there wars and sieges? Did people cut off male foreskins? Were people crucified or decapitated? Was stuff copied from older stuff? Was there nothing and then six days later, everything? Did a bunch of slaves say fuck it and just leave followed by a bunch of morons who drowned? Maybe so. So what? Shit happens.

Even when I was a practicing Christian and teacher of the bible, it’s fact or fiction never mattered to me. I failed as a thumper. For me, the bible has always been a book of books about (and of) religion. But they are far from the only books of religion handed down through history.

So are these: The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys (Bahá’i); The Tipitaka (Buddhism); The Vedas and the Upanishads (Hinduism); The Quaran and the Hadiths (Islam); The Agamas (Jainism); The Tanakh and the Talmud (Judaism); The Kojiki (Shintoism); The Dao De Jing (Taoism); The Book Of Shadows (Wicca); and The Avesta (Zoroastrianism).

Omar Khayyam wrote, A hair divides what is false and true. People can call it whatever they wish. I speak for myself. For me, along with the Bible, all the above are books of religion. Each carry equal weight but have more meaning to that religious group, fact or fiction.

No god, master, translation, interpretation, inspiration, or conflagration required.

Bill

 

Let’s Talk. Let’s Not.

First, two quotations.

“There’s simply no polite way to tell people they’ve dedicated their lives to an illusion.” ~ Daniel Dennett

“Non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere,” (not to laugh, not to lament, not to curse, but to understand) ~ Baruch Spinoza

My point

People talk about whether a god exists and what they do and do not believe. They may debate the efficacy of prayer or correctness of a religion or religious practice. It happens. Peaceful argument can be done. Probably no one will change their mind, but maybe some understanding will come from hearing another’s point of view. Ideally, if that outcome ended every such discussion, what a fine thing it would be (sans argumentum ad hominem).

Even experts in debating issues of a god or religion have their moments of anger (i.e., Chopra in this blog last week). It does not take me long to let someone know that I do not believe what they do. I wish they wouldn’t ask me why not. That is often when the trouble starts.

However, I am willing to ask why people believe as they do. Since most believers accepted what they were told as the truth, I understand that reasoning. But that is seldom the response we get. It is not like they saw a waterfall or read the gospel of John and suddenly believed. Belief in a god is taught. All religion is learned behavior.

I decided on my own that I do not believe any gods exist. To be fair, at this point, I’m not sure that I could believe. No one ever told me there is no god or convinced me or won the god/no god argument. There is no proof and never will be.

What are the chances that a believer had a real moment of enlightenment like Saint Paul? Has anyone decided some god must exist because they had an epiphany? Often enough, scripture is their reasoning, but I bet they were already believers, if they ever read scripture at all.

Ultimately, I am willing to discuss

I don’t have a burning desire to have that talk, but I will if asked. However, I am more in Dennett’s court than Spinoza’s. The odds are that I will manage to piss them off, rock their boat, or hurt their feelings (not my goal); and subsequently I will be informed of my still pending eternity of spiritual pain and suffering because Oden is pissed that I seriously doubt his ultimate reality.

But I kind of get it

Truthfully though, it’s more likely that an agnostic or atheist will try to help me understand, but none of them has ever threatened me with eternal damnation. In fact, the worst outcome in arguments with agnostics or atheists is usually that we disagree on just how the hair splits.

I think I understand why people believe in a god. It’s usually several reasons. In no case is it ever because they asked for and were given proof. I even understand why most people cherry pick religious beliefs and scripture. It is not only what they are taught and have read. Belief in a god and the practice of a religion reflects how they want life to be, how their life-long sacrifice of no unmarried sex and meatless pizza on Fridays is juxtaposed with when you’re dead, you are just that. Nevermore. Nothing more.

Bill

I like this question. I also like ‘what do you want’ and ‘how do you want things to be.’

This youtube from “The Atheist Experience” is almost 30 minutes long. But watching any part of it makes the point and is a good example how hard it is to keep everyone calm, aware, and listening during the discussion. You may want to try a few minutes. Both sides have to work.

 

I Was (vs. Am) Atheist: A Difference

Happy Friday the 13th, Y’all,

While I don’t much judge what people say regarding their past metaphysical opinions, a blog post written several years ago by Bruce Gerencser struck a chord with me. He claimed that some folks who say they used to be atheist were lying. I pondered his claim. This is what I think.

First, these brief definitions are from the online Marriam-Webster dictionary (skip these if you want):

  1. Was is (love that) the past tense of be for first- and third-person singular. Were would apply to second person singular.
  2. Is is (even better) for be in the present tense third-person singular. It’s the dialectal present tense first-person and third-person singular of be and the dialectal present tense plural of be.
  3. Am is (I like it) present tense first-person singular of be.
  4. Just to be clear, be (in this case) means to identify with, to constitute the same idea or class, to have a specified qualification, or to belong to a class of.

Stay with me here for one more. M-W defines an atheist as:

  1. “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods: one who subscribes to or advocates atheism.” It has nothing directly to do with religion or scripture. Just god.

I’ll stop there. But meanings of words and terms are important.

I was a believer, although always with some doubts. I was a Catholic/Christian in that I accepted and professed beliefs and did things that gave me those specific qualifications. Some Christians would want me to use their woo-woo words or terms. Anyone is welcome to doubt that I was what I claim to have been, but I make my claim and I have documents to support it.

Now for my point. While I prefer, I am atheist to I’m an atheist, either works fine. I’m uncertain which is more grammatically correct, but I think atheist is a non-count noun needing no indefinite article. But who cares? Maybe a grammar expert will comment. But that’s still not my point.

By saying in the present tense that I do not think any god exists (the definition of atheist), I am owning up, putting in writing, signing my name, and accepting all consequences. When I first did this publicly my wife’s comment was, “I am not ready to go that far yet.” She is not (an) atheist because she does not say that she is. I will return to this idea.

Unfortunately, the only decent word we have says what we are not: we are not believers in the existence of any god or deity. By default, this not-believing jettisons most major religions. I’m not saying that atheists do not practice any religions. Of course, they do. They just think it’s necessary for some reason other than a belief in God.

I am also not going to say all religions are ruled out because atheists may practice Unitarianism, Wicca, Buddhism, or some other “religion.” But this brings so much mud into the water it’s frustrating.

Here’s my question. Can anyone say that they were atheist if they never admitted that they are atheist? Can the atheist conclusion be arrived at in hindsight? Especially, after being saved.

To me, when someone tells me they are atheist, I accept that as true. However, when someone tells me that they do not go to church, that they have no (or practice no) religion, if they tell me they have fallen away from some religion, or they tell me anything except, “I am (an) atheist,” I do not consider them to be, or to have ever been, atheist. But they might have been.

Atheism has no litmus test, no creed, no organization, no scripture, no set of rules. It is just a conclusion, usually self-arrived at, about the existence of any gods. Many people reach this conclusion but never tell anyone.

However, it is not difficult to find believers, often practicing some form of religion, who will claim that in their past they were atheists. I’ll write of two.

One was a doctor in my previous parish. She eventually drifted off into a lot of not Catholic woo-woo, like speaking in tongues. The more I learned about her, the more convinced I became that she was never atheist and never in her past identified as such. I would call her a none (no religion) who turned to religion because of some trauma she had faced in her life. The other was the writer/author Anne Rice.

Mrs. Rice, in her Memoir, Called Out of Darkness, claims to have been (an) atheist beginning in about 1960 up to the late 1990s, when she found herself back in the good graces of the Catholic Church and once again claiming to be Christian. She admits that she was atheist. But was she?

I have doubts. I have not read where in those 38 years of successful prolific writing and movies where she outed herself and said that she is (an) atheist. Her self-admitted behavior toward the Catholic Church and religion for many years does not seem very atheistic, and certainly was not anti-religion, to me (except for one priest). At most she was agnostic. But it’s more correct, in my opinion, to say that Anne was a long-term, fallen-away Catholic and nothing more.

Before Anne Rice died late last year, she had renounced her identity as a Christian in favor of Secular Humanism with a belief in God. Knowing this outcome made reading her memoir more interesting for me. I recommend it for any fallen away or former Roman Catholic (or anyone).

Except for the few deists out there, very few people harbor a belief in God, particularly of the Abrahamic or Hindu variety, without some attachment to a religion. My experience is that religion removes from a person (Anne Rice being a possible exception) the ability to objectively contemplate the existence of a god or higher power. To this claim, I would add most 12-step programs such as AA and NA, all of which claim not to be religious, but in fact are at least faith-based, if not outright religious. They say we are not. I say, yes you are.

I have read what many of the former atheists who are now Christians claim and found every one of them lacking. Except for a few people who may have made metaphysical adjustments very late in life, and who were possibly mentally or emotionally affected, I agree with Bruce Gerencser’s claim that people who were nones are looking for attention by claiming (lying?) to have been atheists when they certainly were not.

I be atheist. Truly.

Bill

In some cases I do not disclose. Besides, this list is of religions. Atheism is not one of those.

Essay: (Christian) Religious Music

What many religious folks seem to forget or don’t know is that for more years than most of them have been alive, I identified as Christian and practiced that religion, albeit the Catholic version (as a youth, it was the Irish Catholic brand for Carlin fans). I’ve lived in their church. I did more than my share of pay, pray, and obey. I swam in the deep end of godly religiosity. I was once a pubic hair from being ordained (imagine if I had gone through with that?).

I object when religion is forced on me or others. I decry when money taken from me and used to further any religion’s hold on government, society, culture, or basic freedoms. But religion is forced on us politically and money is taken from us and given to religions.

It annoys me (not offends or insults) when religious people lie about other people. Those others may be people of other religious or denominational beliefs, people of no religious practice (aka, nones), agnostics, and (mostly) atheists, like me. I also see many no true Scotsman lies.

Some folks incorrectly think I’m offended by many things Christian, or God stuff. I seldom am. I’m atheist. I don’t care if that offends anyone. However, I see threats to people and problems created for people (albeit, usually not me directly) by religions. I see the irony when the religious charge me with persecution if I insist that they keep their religion out of my throat.

In all those years of trying to be a believer, I never attacked anyone for not holding my beliefs or who did not believe in God. If fact, I often found myself defending non-believers, either generally as a group or by name. It’s enough to say that I’ve been one and done it.

However, I want to tell y’all right here and now that I still like some religious music (not so much the gospel stuff). I’m talking about some Christmas music, Gregorian Chant, and fun R&R tunes that back in some god squad stuff.

I like Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum, and observant Jew who excited so many Christians with the song, except for the part about ‘I’ve never sinned’ (we can’t have sinless Jews singing about their friend, Jesus). Whoopsie, Norm. You see man, I don’t think Jesus was God or the son thereof either. That’s the sin: what you believe, not what you do or don’t do.

I also like ‘(Jesus Christ) Superstar,’ (Murray Head); ‘Jesus is Just Alright’ (Doobie Bros.); and even some back atcha stuff like ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ (Rolling Stones). I (we) don’t believe in the devil either. There’s more religiously inspired music I like. But my point’s made.

I don’t get why people would assume anything godly or religious might aggrieve me or any atheist, particularly former believers. I defend my conclusions, but I also accept their lack of universal popularity.

Are believers upset by secular music? Normally, they’re not. But nowadays we have the holiday tradition of accusatory (false) wars on the reason for the season (it’s not the reason) and how awful the Starbucks coffee cups are this year. Here Comes Santa Claus is not the same as here come Jesus right down Mary’s birth canal. But who cares? It’s just a song.

Do folks get their religious panties in a wad over nonreligious songs? Okay, maybe few weirdos do. But come on. Let’s be realistic here. At the end it is just a song or a movie or a book.

Bill

May We Talk?

I read this brief post titled “How do we engage believers?” on Freethought Now by James Haught. The idea is for ‘well-meaning’ believers and freethinkers to have calm discussions, presumably about the existence of any god or the efficacy of any religion. It’s not a long article.

I cannot recall ever having such a discussion as either a believer or an atheist. That is unless you consider comments like, “well, there must be something” to be a discussion.

Today it might begin something like this. I’m atheist. Your religion is (pointless, dangerous, destructive, or silly) to me. Or I am convinced that no god exists. Why are you so certain that there is one?

Many folks still don’t know I’m atheist, much less what that means. While I’m willing to have that talk, I don’t want to. Some folks would be immediately offended simply to know that I don’t believe in Jesus, Allah, or Brahman (Hindu god). However, if sincerely asked why I don’t believe in any gods, I’m willing to explain. I’m just not up to debates or arguments.

I once had a Christian friend/acquaintance who would bait folks into such discussions or arguments, only to later play the victim (like she was accosted rather than the accoster). She would later criticize the other person behind their back or on her blog. I never walked into her trap even though she tried, but I did call her out on her “unchristian” behavior before distancing myself.

I witnessed one brief chat she had where the other person simply said, “I don’t see how you people can believe that stuff.” She said nothing to the person who made the comment. Later, she claimed to be shocked, offended, and angry. She soon posted the experience on her blog, seeking sympathy from fellow Christians.

Believers often charge persecution when they hear terms like freedom from religion, fiction, fairy tale, nonsense, delusions, lies, or deception. Recently, some god-believing folks commented on this blog, which is fine. They are welcome to do so. However, they eventually left claiming insult or injury (hurt feelings). One guy even said his claim to injury was his call since he was the ‘injured’ party. This after making odd and ridiculous claims which I, and some of you, pointed out for what they were: nonsense.

Apparently, when one claims the ability to prove a god’s existence, my pointing out that as evidence of a delusional crack pot is taken as an insult when it is merely describing their claim in the same terms even many of their fellow believers would do.

If anyone claims belief in a spiritual world, a belief in ghosts of dead people, or in other things unseen such as a parallel universe, that’s for them to do. Generally, they don’t ask me to share in their vision.

Religious believers are different. They get their panties in a wad when I request logic, science, proof, justice, human rights, and freedom. Sometimes the only way to remain civil is to talk about the weather (if we don’t have to pray for rain). Yet, even with weather, politics loom.

Here are more brief ponderings.

  1. I am not interested in educating anyone about their religion. They needn’t ask. That’s their job. All religion is pointless to me because there is no god.
  2. If others want to have religious discussions, good for them.
  3. People who do not believe in any god are called agnostics or atheists. It’s that simple.
  4. I call people who believe or claim to believe in some god, believers. Equally simple.
  5. I try to keep Gods and associated religions as separate topics.
  6. On this blog I post my thoughts (ponderings) as simple, up front, easy stuff.
  7. If I read about people saying or doing something dumb regarding some god or religion, I will have my say on this blog. I rarely block comments, so if folks want to weigh in, be my guest. However, #1 above still applies.
  8. If someone prays to their god asking him, her, or it to make me a believer like them; I claim equal opportunity to pray to that same god to make them skeptics like me. Fair is fair.

I like to listen to some religious debates. I enjoy learning about why some people believe in a god and why others don’t. It is better when they play nice. However, finding something new in any of that is rare.

Like everyone else, my days are numbered. I do not plan to use many of them arguing politics or religion. But one final point.

I was a believer for many years. While my doubts waxed and waned over the years, I’ve finally decided about most things spiritual. I’m clear on the heaven or hell hypothesis; I’ve read the complete bible, most of it multiple times. I’ve studied it and taught it along with other religious subjects. That gives me some street cred.

Consequently, when people insist on educating me about the Christian religion or its God(s), I can lose patience with them. I may even grow a bit testy. However, I sometimes play along. I want to see how ridiculous they can get. I’m human.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Bill

 

 

It Must Be I

To those whose baptisms are no longer valid and to those whose still are (like me):

I know. Who cares? Not the pin-head decision-makers. It’s the fixers who flip out. And rightfully so. They must look into the tearful eyes and sad faces of their faithful and lie because of some Schmutz’s in Rome said “it must be I.”

Here is a quick factsheet on most baptisms and what the Royal Catholic pains in the ass see as three levels of Baptismal judgment.

First is a list of ones they are okey dokey with. (Not a word about I, we, thee, or they.) The second group is a mercifully short list of we got no clues. (Maybe you go to heaven, maybe not.) Third list is of what we consider too fake to count.

If you got baptized in LDS, you need a redo to have a counter as a papist. That third group of no deals includes several religions and denoms who do not baptize at all. I’m Irish, but even I can see why those that don’t baptize ones might be “invalid,” since they don’t freaking baptize in the first place (oh lawdy, what next?).

Anyhow, as a once fully corrupted Roman Catholic (RC) [by some opines], a several times fallen away RC, and now a bona fide and fully convinced atheist (who claims to no longer give damn about such damnation tarnation), I must say that if you feel shocked and dismayed about the RC church bureaucrats tripping over their whacked off foreskins, no matter what you believe, you suffer from diagnosable naivety. This is what they do best. In this case, the office was created for just such purposes. In trying to look ecclesiastically smart (bless their hearts), they succeeded in making the entire RC church and all 1.3 billion members look like as many blind mice. Give them grief. They deserve it!

While the linked list does not appear to include either acceptance or rejection of atheist or agnostic baptisms, it does reject the Bohemian Free Thinkers. What? I did not know of such a group. All the Czechs I knew were RCs or Orthodox. Funny though. They (BFTs) tell ya what to think anyway.

The RC faithful and the semi-not-so-faithful are accustomed to this kind of dribble. It may seem scandalous, but it’s funny, if not silly. Do the bogusly baptized now run down to Father Peterbutt at Saint Flower of the Fold RC church for a redo? Do they sit tight? And what about the dead ones? Oh, I forgot; the Mormons can baptize them. Thank you, BYU. Even Mormon heaven beats the hell out of hades, right?

At the Pearly Gates, good old Saint Peter face palms and says, “Look Lady, I am so sorry. But the dumb shit who did your baptism said We instead of I. We, I mean I, have no record of a redo on you. I checked with JC and He’s adamant that He will not share the glory of your salvation with his Father, the closeted family Ghost, nor with any of the people who thought they were attending a bone fide, blessed event (no refunds, either).”

Perplexed, Peter whispers, “You have been metaphorically screwed by Christ. You need to go stand in line over there with all the atheists, Jews, and Muslims. Here is your ticket to Hell. They still think this is one big party. May someone have mercy on all their embarrassingly happy souls.”

To all you 1.3 billion RCs out there ignoring the rampage of insanity to which you give (much less than 10% of) your hard-earned money every week, you can fix this shit. God does not need your money. The Parish, Diocese, and bumbling snotty bureaucrats in Rome do. In fact, your local poor and homeless need it much more. Must I explain? Good people have been fired and politicians voted out for far less.

Bill

No Catholics here.

Can It Be Naught?

I forget what I read this week that put me onto this line of thinking. I read a lot of stuff that I do not understand or get. That’s fine. This whole business is crazy. One guy even told me that it was his job to get me to think like him. I am envisioning those of you who know me wanting to see him try to do that. Right?

Just to be clear, he not only wants me to be Christian; it’s with the Evangelical crowd that I must swear allegiance. On top of that, he called me a leftist for no reason. I liked the idea and told him so, but the real lefties might not agree. He wants me to be a right-wing guy. It seems I do not think like an American is supposed to think.

But when I peeked at his blog thingy, I noticed that he supports the creation of everything from nothing hypothesis. I am not sure what drug I need to take to help me comprehend nothingness. They talk about it, but how can they conceive of that? I cannot.

It is all something. We cannot portray or imagine anything but something. The movie clip from The NeverEnding Story attempts to portray the power of nothing, but it is all something. Evil is something. Absence implies something. There absolutely cannot be nothing.

In nothingness there is neither a beginning nor an end. When the Universe came to exist, nothing would cease because something existed. If there ever was a when of nothing, but there was a god or gods, then either god was nothing and still is, or god invented God.

So, all this buzz about creating everything (anything, something) from nothing makes zero sense. But at least that is something. Right?

Bill

What Matters More?

I am far from being an expert on the workings of the LDS religion, church, cult, or whatever it is. A friend told me about his father who was a convert to Mormonism. Apparently, if one is a good LDS, God will grant an enlightenment at some point. I have no idea what that is, but it sounds like speaking in tongues for some other denominations.

Anyway, my friend told me that his father went to an LDS bishop late in life to complain about either God or the Mormon religion not delivering on the promised epiphany. The bishop apparently then confessed that not everyone gets it. I’m unclear on the details, but I suspect a deconversion. My friend’s dad died shortly thereafter. So, then what?

One person commented on this blog that I must confess my belief in God before it is “too late.” The too late being when I am already dead, and God (who is love, who is forgiving, who sort of died for our sins) punishes my soul with Hell for eternity because I would not, could not, or did not believe that he, or she, or it was real. That commentator was trying to tell me what much of Christianity teaches. Goodness does not matter. Belief is all that counts. It sounds crazy and stupid, but the Bible backs them up on this.

Bottom line, if you do not believe in any god, or if you have serious doubts, you are doomed for eternity, according to the “good book.” That’s the theory, anyway. Nothing else in your life matters. In fact, you can be a lying scum bag, a murderer, a rapist, or all of these, and still be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven, provided you claim that you think God is real (i.e., profess belief). This makes sense to millions of people. But not to all of us.

In her memoir, Anne Rice raved about her Secular Humanist friends and how wonderful and kind and caring and what good people they were. How they do all these wonderful things for others. Many are, of course, people who do not hold much belief (or faith) in any god. Anne was at times a very devout Catholic. In that Christian denomination, belief was taken for granted. But it was (and still is) how you live and treat others that matters most. For them, ass holes burn regardless of belief status.

I sat face-to-face in a confessional one day. The Priest said, “God does not care about all that, Bill. What He cares about is how we treat one another.” Two other Priests told me essentially the same thing.

No matter what I believe about the existence of any god, I am convinced that how we treat each other is paramount. Therefore, if I treat my fellow man, nature, and the environment (God’s creation?) as well as I can, I’ll bet God would give me the same break he would give Anne or any of her wonderful friends. As for the Christian jerks, if there is a god, I have my opinion.

Happy Friday,

Bill