What is a god? Any god. Who is it?

I Googled ‘God.’ I got about 2.16 billion hits. Wow. The answer must be there. Right?

One was from a Christian religious site. Everything they claimed about God was supported with biblical citation by chapter and verse, of course. But there were two important exceptions.

First, the article claimed it’s obvious: “God’s existence is so conspicuous….” So, everyone should know. Second, it championed God by further claiming that “creation,” or existence, and human consciousness make God manifest. The writer did not answer what, or who is any god. But they continued to try.

The rest of the post made interesting claims. Such as, they said if you don’t get God right, that is idolatry, which is a sin (Pardonne-moi s’il te plaît). “God is spirit, by nature intangible.” No help there. But then they said, “We know certain things to be true of God…” Then they quoted more scripture. Why? Because all we “know” of that God are unsupported, written claims from thousands of years ago.

The piece also identified characteristics of God. Those are loving, truthful, holy, compassionate, merciful, graceful, judgmental, and forgiving. All human traits, yet again based on scripture because that’s all they have. Still not much to help with what or who a god is.

If we return to the it’s conspicuous and human consciousness claims, which make God obvious, there are problems. Nature, a certain creation of God’s, is obviously random and destructive. Additionally, God’s humans are incredibly destructive toward each other and to nature. Enter The Problem of Evil.

There is also the fact that no one is born knowing anything about any god. We are taught about God by others. God must be learned. How is that obvious, intuitive, or rising from human consciousness? And why not? Many less important things such as breathing, swallowing, our beating hearts, and more are there from day one or before.

A God, or higher power, is whatever we say it is or want it to be. We create gods and always have. That need may be a human trait. But so is thinking. A tree, nature, rain, an animal, something living in a volcano or in the sea may be a god because we say so. Personally, I like the Sun as a god. Planets named after gods and goddesses are all ready to step in for us. And what about goddesses? We’ve had Luna, Phoebe, Athena, Aurora, Flora, Freya, Iris, Cora, Selena, Thalia, and hundreds more.

I enjoy H. L. Mencken’s 1922, funeral oration for dead gods, “Memorial Service,” in which he lists names of many gods now gone. He ends with, “You may think I spoof. That I invent the names. I do not. Ask the rector to lend you any good treatise on comparative religion: You will find them all listed. They were gods of the highest standing and dignity – gods of civilized peoples – worshiped and believed in by millions. All were theoretically omnipotent, omniscient, and immortal. And all are dead.”

None of those gods ever actually existed. The author of the referenced Christian article would almost certainly agree with Mencken and me, with one exception. The one God and religion they were luckily born into and taught about. Lucky them.

I see the Sun. I get it. It’s there every day. We need it to survive. It preceded us and probably contributed to human and nature’s existence. Why not retro that old god? It’s nothing new. What is a solar system without a Sun?

Bill

 

The Bible: There is no such thing

The Catholic Mass liturgy includes three Old Testament (OT) readings, a selection from the prophets, and three readings from the New Testament (NT) to include Acts, the Catholic or Pauline Epistles, and the Gospels. During Christmas and Easter, a fourth is added for the evening service.

Growing up Catholic, I never had to read a bible. In the three-year liturgical cycle, I heard virtually the whole of Christian scripture read to me. In my eight years of parochial school, I took mandatory Religion and Catechism classes/courses as part the curriculum. I recall taking Bible History one year with a full-length history book to read.

I was taught the myth of Samson slaying the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (hee-hee, back then) as historical fact. Since it is an OT story in the inerrant word of God, it must have been true.

There was no bible in my home. I doubt if many other Roman Catholics of my generation grew up reading a bible in the sense most adherents of sola scriptura (scripture alone) would understand it. We didn’t have to. A bible was read to us several times over by age 15.

How I became something of an amateur, or layman, bible study teacher (and expert?) forty years later would take too long to explain. But I was the first of such in a large Parish for about ten years. During that time, I acquired several different bibles, concordances, and various other materials that I used for learning and teaching.

The relationship people have with bibles fascinates me to this day. They claim to believe that it is the word of their god. They say it is the most important book ever written. Many have not read one single word of any bible, even if they own one.

Bibles are available for free in book form, electronically, or online. There is no excuse. Read one. Yes, an atheist just suggested that you read a bible.

One guy even used a bible recently as a prop for a political photo op (to evangelical silence, if not bizarre enthusiasm). I bet he never read it, could not say what version he was holding, how many books were in it, or if the religion of the church he stood in front of would approve of the translation.

We say it. We write about it. We talk about it all the time. However, there is no it. There is only them. There are hundreds of versions of the same book(s). I’ve seen the number 450, but I doubt there are so many official versions. It’s not the bible. It’s a bible—one of them.

One reason for this is the many different translations. Another reason is the various canons, or books and scripture, that are (or are not) included as authorized. Some of what may be included is referred to as apocrypha (not really the word of god).

There are no original bible writings that we can point to as the first or even the second copy. While some old scriptures do exist, they are far from first editions.

The Bible? Which one? It’s bibles. It’s them, not it. Confused by holy scripture, version 123.666 and 50 others.

Bill


Most popular? There are more?

 

 

No, but that’s not why.

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 (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

Essay: Learning Reality

I’ve lived most of my life thinking god is either likely or unlikely. I suppose that’s normal for many people. Did I believe in a god? Who was I trying to please by playing along?

At times, I have said something about being agnostic. However, I never said I did not think a god existed until a few years ago. But that’s what I thought. The only conversations on the topic that I recall were with people who claimed to believe not only in god, but who also thought their religion was correct.

While I tried to believe that a god existed, I considered virtually all religion as nonsense regardless of whether any god existed. In the case of Christianity, some denominations seemed more looney than others. That was my point of view even when I acknowledged only the good side of religion. Now I more clearly see the dark side of religion. My opinion feels balanced.

Over the years, I probably worked harder at not being a nonbeliever (which I seemed to be) than I did at being a believer (which I wasn’t), if my double negative comments make sense. That is for me what religion is all about, at least on the surface. Oddly enough, I never had much of a cognitive dissonance issue with this conundrum. I assumed that I wasn’t getting it.

This back and forth (or on and off) went on for a long time. During the last twelve years of my experience in the deep end of the Christianity pool, I was all-in; meaning I was on a mission to fix my 40+ years of personal doubt. What happened was the opposite. I changed from a quiet (keep it to myself) skeptic going through the motions. I became an outspoken atheist who loves to say there are no gods. Prove me wrong if you can. I’m justly called cantankerous for less.

When I was silent (practicing religion or not), I was never asked to prove anything. I was never asked to provide a meaning for my life. No one asked me how humans and animals came into existence, even though I’d reconciled evolution with Genesis. Others seemed more willing to inform me of how the Universe popped up from nothingness (whatever that is), than to ask how I thought that had happened.

One does not need to come out as either atheist or agnostic. But we should when it’s safe. Depending on the situation, claiming to be deist might work. Or, one can also simply stay away from religious practice and admit to not having a church ‘home’ or no religion: to being a none. But that opens the door to proselytization.

Many folks make exactly that choice, and no one hates or fears them as with an atheist. I know some self-proclaimed Christians who are a party of one as far as proclaiming denominational alignment. They claim to be anti-church or anti-organized religion. Maybe it’s complicated.

My wife and I have always had friends, family, neighbors, or workmates who were involved with religion. That social aspect of our lives may account for several efforts of accommodating various Christian denominations. All of which fell apart for some legitimate reason.

My search has ended. I find it interesting that I spent such effort, time, money, and talent trying to be (and apply) something that was never a serious intellectual or mindful part of me. I thought I was missing out. While I never felt a spiritual loss, I was socially missing something. Something I now scoff at.

Unfortunately, some folks don’t understand why I have no regrets about trying. Others seem to proclaim regret for a religious past. Perhaps it was psychologically damaging to them, or maybe they regret wasted time and effort. I learned things about myself and human nature during those years. It is a reality of my life. How can I regret learning about reality?

Bill

Review of the Netflix movie: The Two Popes.

Two good questions: first, why would I watch such a movie, and second, why would I take time to review it?

I could list all the religious, biblically based movies I’ve watched and assign quality ratings to each based upon my opinion. Many were action dramas packed with fiction, emotion, and story.

I could also make a list of songs I like, such as Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum, or Jesus is Just Alright by the Doobie Brothers. I don’t dismiss things simply because they involve religion, beliefs, gods, spirits, demons, or all opinions different from mine, but I have limits. Who remembers the line, Venus, goddess of love that you are? Anyone take that literally?

Religion is a big part of the world, history, and human life, especially in America, like it or not. Music and theater have become significant aspects of religion. I can deal with it. I don’t understand why people think such facts may be upsetting. Reality is not.

A friend who shares many of my opinions recommended The Two Popes movie. A few nights ago, my wife and I watched it.

This is a movie about two real people, old men who found themselves leading the largest single religious denomination on Earth: 1.2 billion Catholic people—about half of all Christians, the other half being sliced and diced into nearly 500 denominations and nondenominational “independents.”

When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005, a friend asked my opinion of that. I said he would not have been my first choice. Now, almost 15 years later, I still would not support him for Pope, not that anyone cares what I think about Popes.

Pope Benedict XVI never recovered from being who he was, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger; a bishop, cardinal, priest, and a devout Roman Catholic from the conservative right wing of the Church, and something of a semi-unlikable jerk. In February of 2013, he became the first Pope in 700 years to resign (or step aside), rather than die in office. Pope Benedict is 92.

This movie is about the interaction between Pope Benedict and the Argentinean Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who eventually became the now reigning Pope Francis. The latter man being from somewhere left of center, but with roots in a conservative order called the Jesuits, which may have set some cognitive dissonance loose in his mind. Flashbacks of Bergoglio’s life include romance, violence, and political intrigue. It seems the man has regrets, as does the other Pope.

I liked this movie for several reasons: it’s unpretentious, involves the human condition, and shows how human differences can be managed, albeit with limited success. The Roman and Vatican scenes are worth seeing, if less than amazing on my 60-inch LG television.

I recommend the movie to everyone. It’s for people of all religions and of none, old folks and young (maybe not children) might enjoy it, both men and women, gay and straight, stubborn and flexible will find something to like or to protest, but especially both currently active and apostate Catholics should enjoy it (all my opinion). Of course, some folks dislike pizza and ice cream. Some may not agree with my assessment. They can write their own review.

The acting is mostly great with Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI and Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (later Pope Francis). There are cameos by both real Popes.

While this is a biopic drama, it is about the relationship of two of the most powerful men on earth who see the world through diametrically different lenses for the same reasons: god, holiness, mankind, and the human condition.

It’s on Netflix. Give it a go but don’t expect manufactured dystopian drama. There are no battling Titans or walking dead, but some violence is depicted. These are real people with human emotions and experience with past trauma.

It’s not as much fun as Secondhand Lions, also about two old men (and a boy), but The Two Popes was worth my 125 minutes to sit through the PG-13 drama. It’s a good movie and I’m not the only person who thinks so. Thumbs up.

Bill

It’s All About How We Feel

All life is full of an unbalanced distribution of pain and suffering. Few, if any of us, intentionally seek out such afflictions. Yet misery finds us. Most animals, certainly humans, avoid these troubles. Unfortunately, many find suicide to be the only recourse to end hopeless permanent misery. While virtually all cling to life, the US suicide rate is at its highest point since WWII (lowest among people of Asian and Pacific Islander groups, highest among Alaskan native people).

Pain has its place. Doctors have denied me relief medication so as not to mask symptoms. I’ve sought medical treatment due to the pain I felt, which signaled something was amiss. I’ve sought support to alleviate my emotional distress, and many of life’s lessons came in the form of pain or shock.

Often, people who become chemically addicted had been seeking pleasure, pain relief, or withdrawal mitigation provided by the substance, either medicinal or nonmedical. Much the same can be said of social addictions. People often help us to feel better.

The goal is the pursuit of feeling happy, whatever that happens to be. A problem is the lie of some drugs, especially alcohol, provide in the form of temporary relief followed by dependence. While relief is the intent, loss of control accompanied by legal transgression is often the result.

And then we have the perverse, unwise, and often injurious idiom, no pain, no gain. I much prefer, listen to your body.

But I want to mention how religion, particularly Christianity, looks upon pain and suffering.

I was religiously taught that experiencing pain and suffering was good, perhaps blessed. While my secular world never supported this acceptance theory, my elementary school teachers, who were Catholic nuns, emphasized the suffering, sacrifice, and martyrdom of saints: holiness.

The passion (read suffering) of Jesus is emphasized dramatically as being caused by human sin. Thus, much, but not all, of Christianity is enamored with pain and suffering. I won’t over-do that here. It gets deep. There must be books and books about the art and science of suffering. Some even claim that one’s suffering contributes to the quality of one’s art.

Like most Catholics, I was taught to offer it up. They could have simply said, just deal with it. But on the mystical road to God works in mysterious ways, one must make life’s pain and suffering serve a useful purpose. That’s religion. And let’s not leave out the it’s your fault, and you should feel guilty and repent. Penance. More suffering which ironically may include prayer.

Fortunately, none of the physicians working in pain management tell their patients to do that, although many cautiously allude to it. However, I have not recently checked any Catholic hospitals.

I have had discussions with my medical providers about some of my pain, and we jointly decided I should endure exercise pain and work through it as it is the best alternative to dangerous surgery. Most properly done exercise is beneficial. I agreed, but dang! I wrote a poem about it.

Still, my goals are to feel good or at least free of most pain and suffering, to remain healthy, and to live as long as reasonably possible. I ascribe to the idea that there is a long enough or too long, but we only seem to know that point when we reach or pass it.

Religions want to tell us what and how god is, and how we should feel about life, death, and god. Some seem to want it both ways. The health and wealth folks are into get mine here and now, but most Christians and Muslims seem ready to accept that heavenly gratification will happen after we die. That is when we will be truly happy and pain free—and dead. I mean cold stone dead.

Many have decided that god is all for the good, and whatever it is they chose to believe is what they want to believe because that is what makes them feel good. And that’s my point. We all want to feel good. They see the wealth and well-being of theirs juxtaposed with their own suffering as God’s will or his mysterious ways.

Be it religion or reality, it’s all about how we feel. I feel as though I am championing the obvious, but for some, this is controversial.

Bill

God ≠ Religion ≠ God

Belief in a god or other spirits does not require practicing a religion. I emphasize the difference between the two things: a belief in a god and doing some religion. Religion makes the rules for dealing with that god, and in some cases other gods.

If something like a god exists as a spiritual or physical deity, with or without interest in humanity or any of Earth’s flora and fauna, then he, she, or it must exist outside of human contact or detection. If not, we would be able to detect a god and the whole question of existence goes away.

Then, we are left to fight over religion, something we have done for thousands of years. There could be anything out there. But, if no god exists, which seems likely without contact or detection, religion becomes pointless as rules for interacting with something nonexistent, which is silly.

Over the years, gods of one kind or another have been given names. You’d think they’d come with their own names, but they need us to name them. Think about it. Why would they need names anyway? Is it so we can tell them apart? We had to name them.

What ever happened to these gods we named: Baal, Isis, Osiris, Saturn, Furrina, Venus, Odin, Thor, Mars, Jupiter, Diana of Ephesus, Pluto, Nin, Istar, Sin, and Mami, to list only a few of the many who were worshipped and believed-in by millions of people? Admittedly, a few gods got their own planet.

Many people claim to believe in some god (usually it’s Jesus in these times and parts of the Universe) yet choose to practice no religion whatsoever (often because some church or preacher pissed them off). They, along with atheists and many others in between, are called nones because we mark or write none for the question that asks what religion you are.

I’ve never seen the question asked like this—Do you believe in any god or gods? That is unless it’s being asked by someone like employees of Pew Research while conducting a religion survey. Many of us lie about that part and say yes when we don’t believe. Back in the 1950’s if you wanted to file with the Draft Board as a conscientious objector, that was the first question asked.

The question usually asked is of what religion do you consider yourself a member, or something very similar. But that’s no big deal.

A bigger deal, which is much more interesting, is that there are many people participating in and practicing religious rites and rituals of one kind or another (even preachers, priests, and other ministers), but who do not believe any god exists. Some of these closeted atheists should win Academy Awards.

Other atheists are made to feel welcome at places like Unitarian Universalist churches and are comfortably open about their disbelief (I honestly don’t get this, but I’m far from an expert). Most others are faking belief (Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, you-name-it) as best they can for whatever reason they may have.

I stopped believing in a god before I stopped going to church. In fact, over the years I was on-and-off or hit-and-miss as in I’ll try this religion thing one more time. I think that’s the case for many other people. The sequence often goes like this: belief based on what we are told, doubts from thinking too much, disbelief as doubt grows, hanging in there, and finally leaving the faith/church/cult/whatever.

In my case, during the process of my deconversion (not a fan of that word, but that’s what it’s called), I held a senior leadership position in my large Roman Catholic parish (aka, church). Before I left, I was on the threshold of moving on to a new job in another state. I waited until I moved. Then, I simply did nothing. It was easy, if a bit semi-deceptive.

I thought it was better and easier to let my term expire quietly and move on rather than to go through all the business of resigning early and trying to explain why. As part of the process of finding a replacement for me, future leadership candidates asked me a lot of personal spiritual questions that I dodged or declined to answer. I recall saying, I’m not the person you want to ask that question of. I was lying. I knew the answer, but I avoided embarrassment for us both. They didn’t understand, of course, but it was better than don’t ask me, I no longer believe any of this (expletive).

Three or four years passed before I openly and clearly said that I am atheist. Before that, I knew, or at least thought I was. But saying the words to any other person seemed scary. I was wrong. It was not scary. It was just the opposite. It was a relief and not something I should have been worried about. If friends and family can’t handle the truth about me, that’s on them.

If I lost any friends I’ve not noticed. Certainly, some relationships have changed, but so what? I’m sure there were some believers who added distance between us, but others would privately confess to me that they were also atheist or some form of unbeliever, or that a loved one of theirs was.

Only a few centuries ago, Christians killed fellow Christians, Jews, and Muslims over religious differences. Now many Muslims seem set on killing the same three groups, including fellow Muslims (it’s a religion of peace, don’t ya know?). In some places, Hindus and Buddhists seem to be at it.

They are all united in that they all get their holy tit in the wringer if you’re atheist. The problems and shortcomings of religion, while denied by many, are obvious to most people if it is not their personal religion of choice we are talking about. But do they ever consider how foolish it all is if no god exists? Religion becomes a symbol of mankind’s stupidity over the eons.

Therefore, I don’t spend much time hammering religion. I can, and sometimes I must make my point. But the key question should be do you believe in any god? If so, then religion is rightfully a secondary issue. If not, then religion is immaterial.

What religion am I? It’s immaterial.

Bill

Angry with or Afraid of God

I understand. Anger is a normal, if often unhelpful, human emotion. Likewise, fear can be disrupting and controlling, or it may keep us safe. Yet, despite experiencing such emotions since childhood (still do today), I have never experienced those two, or any others I can think of, like love, regarding what I considered a god.

If someone had called me a god-fearing man, I would object. I was not afraid of god, though many people wished I was. Through various stages of my life and maturing religious beliefs, I cannot recall ever being angry with any spirit, even the devil himself.

I’m certain that being raised in the environment where I was, being up to my ears in the Roman Catholic Church, its traditions and dogma, left me with a concept of the Christian gods (Father, Son, Holy Ghost; all one god) that is different from how others might imagine the same god.

For most of my life, I have been a man who essentially believed in a god to one degree or another, or tried to. Much of my personal religious effort was focused on growing; on believing stronger or more ardently than I did. I said the prayer, Lord help my unbelief, so many times; more often when I realized which way my theism was going or had gone, which was south. The prayer (of course) changed nothing.

One day a friend told me that she was angry with god because her first marriage ended when her husband left her for another woman. Then her second marriage was to a man who eventually died from alcoholic liver disease (he was still alive when she told me this). I remember wondering how she could blame god for the problems in her life which were caused by the men she loved. At the time I pondered my own faith. Would I ever have enough faith (belief) in god to feel such anger toward him? Today, I doubt the sincerity of her anger.

I was able to share neither her emotional experience nor her theological logic. She is now on her third marriage and, as far as I know, god got it right this time, or maybe the third time adage applies.

I have never been angry with Santa Clause for not bringing me what I had requested; nor at the tooth fairy for leaving such paltry sums of cash under my pillow in exchange for baby teeth. I have never been angry with unicorns because of their preference for human females, nor at leprechauns for not sharing their rumored wealth. I may have mumbled the words, oh lord, why me? or what did I ever do to deserve this? But I was never angry with god (or the Catholic Church) for worldly misfortunes befalling me or those I loved. My atheism is defined by my skepticism, not by my anger or temperament.

Since the time when I said (and wrote) I am atheist, I’ve learned that the concept of disbelief is so foreign to many who believe in god, to one degree or another (just as I did), they attempt to rationalize it by thinking that I really do believe in god, but I must be angry with him for some reason. My friend on her third marriage turned to the refuges of church and religion and to god for solace during her difficult times. She has not embraced atheism or rejected her church (former Catholic now Episcopalian) and religion. If anything, she has become more involved in all of that.

For me to be angry with god would require greater faith and stronger belief than I’ve ever had. When I get angry at anyone, I may cut off communication, but I know they still exist (unfortunate in some cases).

I have always rejected most religions as do most Christians. Now I simply reject all religions more fervently than in the past. When I de-converted, I needed to add only a few religions to the list.

While I remain furious at the Catholic Church hierarchy for how they handled and continue to handle all sexual abuse (cover up), so are many practicing Catholics (although far too many play apologists and make insanely poor excuses for the priests and bishops).

If I discover one day that I am wrong and god exists, I may ask, what the fuck were you thinking? Depending on the answer I get, I may then become angry with god. Until then, I see no reason to waste my emotions on the invisible (and nonexistent) man in the sky. Either he is not there, or he doesn’t give a shit. Either way.

What is the meaning of life? What is our purpose on earth?

I dug into the conclusion of Sam Harris’s book, Waking Up: A guide to Spirituality Without Religion, for those questions. They’re common. Religious people of all sorts use them to challenge nonbelievers because they are so esoteric and intended to flummox. There are others with the same intent. Religious folks think, no god means no meaning or purpose. Interestingly, people who do not believe in any gods see it in the opposite way, particularly regarding religion.

No one need answer such questions, but we certainly may. I personally would enjoy such a discussion with almost anyone. If my life has no meaning or purpose, just WTF have I been doing for the past six decades?

Questions like this remind me of memorizing the answers in the Baltimore Catechism during early elementary school. Two relatable questions from that book are:

Question 6: Why did God make you?
Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever (sic) in heaven. (life’s meaning?)

Question 9: What must we do to save our souls?
Answer: To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart. (life’s purpose?)

Catholic grade school children had to memorize the questions and answers word for word and were given grades on the subject.

I would paraphrase a quote often inaccurately attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, Preach the gospel. When necessary use words. There is no evidence that he ever said that, but it is a good point whoever said it.

I also like a phrase that writers attempt to apply – show, don’t tell. I cannot change the world, what other people think, or undo the past. But I can (for the most part) choose my behavior and actions. I hope you understand my meaning and purpose.

For both the meaning and purpose of life, we must live into our personal meaning and each of us create our own purpose by making the one life we have something of greater value. I think we should be caring with nature and other people. We should embrace life’s natural compassion, charity, community, and contemplation. We don’t need religion or a god for that. In my opinion, they get in the way of thinking.

As nihilistic as that sounds, reality is not subjective but how we interact with it is.

Nobody knows all the answers. What’s the meaning and purpose of life? I have my thoughts … so do you. I create my purpose of life and it is to live the best life I can. If you need more than that, good luck. Questions about life’s meaning should be multiple-choice. I feel like the meanings of my life are the same as they’ve always been. It has nothing to do with any god and never has regardless of what the Catechism said.

Philosophically, there are people who make the claim that life has no purpose and is meaningless (i.e., nihilists). Yet, those people go on living for some reason. I wonder why. Maybe their purpose is to run around telling everyone else how meaningless it is. I disagree even though many inside-the-box believers insist that such claims to meaning and purpose without god and religion are pointless.

If other people need god or religion to give their life purpose or meaning, who am I to take away their crutch? I know from my experiences with reading and talking to others that admitting the truth about god and religion changes little about life’s purpose and meaning. In many cases, life becomes more meaningful within the reality of this one life and this one world, right here, right now.

And if you are up to it—-