Before we get started, I have three things to say about myself.
1. I usually drive with my hands at 2 and 10.
2. I don't let people merge if they chose to wait until the end of their lane to
3. I'm looking forward to watching Lindsay Lohan become one of the great
actresses of her time.
As though solely to add a disclaimer to
the notions I'm set to present, that had to be said. They've been on my mind.
People get pretty uptight about their impressions of God, don't they? The
Thirty-Years War, the Hundred-Years War, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and
other such memorable instances have been either spawned entirely out of
religious differences or have used religion to escalate their scale to what we
know today, because, really, people are scared about the concept of something
that controls everything, and they're going to be sensitive if an idea comes
along to threaten their impression that they have a good grip (and thus a
modicum of control) on the subject.
Hell, think of what happened to Karl Marx. He came out and said "Hey everybody!
You'd be much better off if you'd take your fate into your own hands and take
responsibility for what happens in your own life and your own society!" To make
a long story short, shit didn't go well for him.
And people try to justify their own beliefs by thinking they're the only ones
who assign a moral value to maintaining reverence and obedience to what they
perceive to be the one form of existence higher than man. Personally, I've never
understood (that is, I've never found viability to) the argument that you're a
bad, evil, corrupt person if you don't believe. The way people interpret the
answers they get from atheists, as it enters their minds, becomes "I do not
agree with you, and I think you are stupid," even if it's phrased as innocently
as "I respect your beliefs and defend your right to have them, but I do not
share them." And if a debate starts between two people who believe different
things about God, well, things get even messier.
George Bush Sr. even said that if you're an atheist, you're not really an
Arguing about it is tricky, because everybody seems to believe that their own
book is the one that's actually right, and the only proof they have is what
their own book says. Essentially, the argument is like somebody calling you up
and saying he's the president of the United States because he says he says he
is, and take his word for it, because he's the president. How can you use your
book to convince somebody that your book is not full of bullshit?
Now, some of you are probably getting angry or resentful reading this, and want
to argue with me, but why? People tend to really, really hate reading things
like this because it makes them feel like they're being attacked, but I haven't
said anything about anybody being right or wrong at all. People are just touchy
about it, and that's usually a good indication that they haven't really thought
it all through, because their ideas have been working for them and they have no
desire to change them. Really, who continues questioning after they've found the
answer that works best for them?
Man, none of that was really my point. Looks like I'm going off on neither a
sine, nor a cosine, but instead, a tangent.
People freak out over their own concept of God, but I've found that with six
billion people believing in a divine presence, we end up with six billion
different concepts of God. Some people believe he's flesh and blood and floating
through space, some people think he can be any size, some people think he's five
foot six, some people think he's old, some people think he's young, some think
he's timeless, some think he's all about hellfire and punishment, some people
think he's all about fluffy clouds and candy shops. Debates upon debates are
launched about whether or not he exists without clarifying which impression of
him they're debating about.
One of the most common aspects needed for people to define God is that he's
alive, but really, we don't even have a good definition for life yet. What's
alive, what's not? Is a mindless bacteria alive? Are ghosts alive? Are fetuses
alive? How about sperm cells? Some bodies continue moving after death (think of
chickens, who can live for more than a week after their heads are cut off,
mantises, who keep having sex after death, and ticks, who keep eating after
their bodies are ripped from their heads). How can anybody find a definition of
life that clearly defines it from death and also keeps it separate from chemical
reactions, such as fire? Fire can be seen as alive. It consumes, it grows, it
produces waste, and it reproduces itself. How is fire not alive, and yet,
mindless jellyfish are?
The most common argument is based on cellular existence. If something doesn't
have functioning cells, it's not alive. So.....if God is ethereal and in all
places at once, how can he have cells? How can he be alive?
As a young man, I wanted to strip away the unnecessary predispositions and be
able to get to a concept in its purest form, so I started looking for the key,
inherent qualities of a divine being, and really, I couldn't find one. People
can't even agree on the basic qualities that would make a being recognizable as
God. What if it's discovered that one being made the cosmos, and another made
life as we know it? And what if both of them served one master? Which one would
be God? You might have an answer in mind, but it might not be as common as you
A moderately thinkin' man, depending on how far into this he was willing to get,
and what answers he was comfortable with, might say "God would be the one who
made them" Really, though, don't you think that the most praise and
recognition would go to the one who made life? That's what God seems to get the
most credit for. That's the concept of God for what I'm going to go out on a
limb and say is the good majority of people. For many people, there's one key
thing that makes them say "THAT is God."
But can't all three be?
As I grew older, I started to reconcile my differences with the faith-based (and
upbringing-based) religions by taking their common interpretations of God to
represent something that is not a being, but a force. Why can't the laws
of physics be God? Einstein had proven that gravity and velocity were the same
thing (long story), and was well on his way to tying other forces in as well, on
the way to a unification theorum that would prove all forces are the same thing.
Even if you need to believe that God is an intelligent being (and was extremely,
extremely bored for a backward eternity until he decided to create something),
why can't he exist within the forces that move us and guide us?
Most people would point to whatever book that was predominant in the region
where they grew up, and say something like "But it says here that God told Billy
to go down to Fifth Avenue and pick him up some cheese sticks!" Well, how does
anybody know that he spoke through a voice of sound? It's said in just about
every religion that the word of God is ineffable to man; why couldn't the voice
have been a force of nature that suddenly provided Billy with a clarity of the
necessity to go get a loaf of Wonderbread?
Of course, I could be terribly, terribly wrong, and God could really be a
pissed-off dude with a white robe and a big ol' ZZ Top beard (gotta look
fashionable if you're God, y'never know, you might not be able to get by on
reputation alone) who's going to smite the shit out of me for speaking the
impression given to me by the world he created, knowing when he created me that
I would get that impression. If so, God's a prick, and I'm pretty much fucked
Yes, people used to hate me for this. I would say things like "If God knows
everything, and knew everything when he arranged for me to be created, and knew
what I would do and say to any given circumstance, and knew all the
circumstances I would be under, where does the free will come into it?" I
wouldn't say it to mean "You're wrong and I'm right on a subject you're
sensitive about, ha ha," but instead to get some feedback and new ideas for
myself, or, at least, to give people a chance to refine their own concepts.
Hopefully, they'd come back with a good answer, but instead, they took offense.
I'm just trying to throw some ideas out, and maybe, just maybe, somebody
would say "No, because....." and make me go "......oooo, good point!"
At this point, I feel compelled to give Anthony Rosano of Mountain Home High
School credit for making me give up religious debate as a hobby and end it on a
positive note. We were having a discussion, and he made a point about the power
of God as a presence on Earth, and I made a point about whether it was God or a
man's faith in God that created a perceived miracle, and all he said was "Good
point." He kept true to his religious beliefs, and I think he's the only one, in
my life, who's ever done that about a religious issue. He was stumped, he
shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and patted me on the back.
That was just about the most psychologically educational experience I've ever
had, when he did that. I dare say it brightened my life. He was comfortable with
his own truth, wasn't going to drop it in the face of logic, and showed me that
all the arguing I'd done, I'd done in vain. People don't debate to learn, they
debate to win. So I stopped.
At this point, I end my devil's-advocate, obsessively-neutral stance and open
myself up for firebombing by hate groups.
Being that perceiving God as a force made it pointless to speculate any further,
I decided to pick up speculation based on him being a guy. Y'know, like, a dude.
One who stays true to the Christian Bible as it stood after hundred of years in
the world's linguist recycle bin, English, becoming damned-near unrecognizable
as far as word-to-concept fidelity, AFTER being re-translated from English to
English, AFTER being translated from Latin (a language that provides only
transliterating, not translating, due to its native speakers being dead for
centuries), AFTER being translated from another dead and highly figurative
language, Aramaic, into Latin. Hell, think of how many figures of speech we have
and use in our daily lives, and how many outright, literal words have entirely
different meanings when taken out of context, and come out into Portugese or
German in a completely fucked-up, backward meaning.
But anyway. Let's assume for a minute that the consensus of belief is what
defines reality, and a kingdom is defined by land, as opposed to the
collaboration of loyalty, and thus, Heaven really is a place that can be
traveled to, and God really is a guy who smites people and helps you pull out
that queen of diamonds to make a flush, and makes the other little league
baseball team lose because they weren't praying as hard as you were. No, let's
vague it up. Let's just say he's a "living," intelligent, all-powerful(ish)
dude. Here, I'll scribble a surfboard onto him. The waves in Heaven gotta be,
Anyway. There he is. Hold that thought. Yes, let him keep the surfboard. Dammit,
let the man surf!
When I was getting back into a relationship with Amber (my girlfriend), Chad
(one of my best friends) asked me to leave the room while he talked to her and
drank. He gets philosophical when drinking, and wants to talk about love
sometimes, bless his ol' heart. He has a long chat with her, I whoop Greg's ass
on Soul Calibur 2 in the other room (or he whoops mine, I can't remember which
way the pendulum was swinging that night). Chad finishes up talking to Amber,
and takes me outside to talk to me about the same thing he was talking to her
He looks me in the eye, and says "I know you were bitter about what happened
between the two of you last time, and I know you wanted to make her suffer. I
also don't think you're the kind of person to pull the kind of bullshit you
might be, so lemme tell ya this. If you're getting back into a relationship with
her just so you can fuck her over and put her in the kind of pain you were in,
I'm going to beat the living shit out of you."
And I said "If you weren't the kind of person who would beat the living shit out
of me for doing that, I wouldn't want to be your friend."
Cut back to God. Still got his surfboard? Alrighty then.
Now, how often do you hear me say that something's a new concept to me? Huh?
Fucking never. Well, this one is. I've been sitting on it for less than a
month, because I haven't really done much thinking about it since I came to the
conclusion of "Even IF God's the kind of arbitrary prick who wants to punish me
for being the best, nicest, most giving, gentle, supportive, and moral person I
can be without subscribing to whatever regional, man-governed religion I was
born into, there's nothing I can do about it, since pretty much every religion
says that every other one is evil, and they're just about all run by people who
make money off of it."
So when I thought about what I said to Chad, later on in the week, I applied it
to religion. I started wondering if things aren't exactly what they appeared to
be. The general consensus about God is that he's wise, so I tried to apply some
reasoning to the Western impression of him. Now, look at the reason the
bloodiest wars have been launched: God. The reason so many crazy serial killers
slaughter families: God told 'em to. Charlie Manson. God. David Koresh. God.
David Duke. God. David Humphrey. Dew. David Alan Grier. Comedy Central. The KKK.
God (read up about 'em). The Alamo. God. 9/11. God. The Taliban. God. The very
tables flipped over and moneychangers attacked by Jesus. God. We're talking
about the ultimate method of exerting corrupt force on people, the thing they're
most sensitive about and will contribute thousands of dollars to, just to feel
spiritually safe (I'm not saying this is you, I'm just saying that the midwest
is full of people like this, as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart would gleefully
We're given images of God casting down just about everyone. Those who drink too
much, those who have too much or not enough sex, those who have sex with the
wrong people, those who eat too much, or are too slow, or think too much of what
they've accomplished, or who allow women into church, or who fail to sacrifice
the right number of white sheep, or who talk out of turn, or damned near anybody
who does anything, such as going to the bathroom. In many variations of
Christianity, life is expressly meant to be lived in fear, awe, shame, and
guilt, and those in power are to be obeyed without question or hesitation. We're
given images of a god who would kill a happy, faithful man's family, destroy his
home, strike him with leprosy, and take away his life, just to prove a point to
somebody who's considered "evil." Tell y'what, I would not want to be Job.
In fact, all the images I'm presented with, and all the atrocities committed in
the name of God have spawned a curious little scenario that appeals to the small
part of me that's willing to entertain the possibility that this conflicted,
fragmented collection of loosely affiliated religions that dominates this
hemisphere, happens to be right-ish.
Perhaps this is all just a test to see if a person is so needy for validation
that he would ignore the atrocities he commits. Or, better yet, to consider
himself spiritually bulletproof because he can confess it all and get away with
anything. Isn't THIS the greater evil? Isn't it evil to cross a continent
and commit genocide just because the brown people on the other side of the
mountains think your messiah is great, but think another's just a bit better?
Richard the Lionhearted sure didn't think so. Ol'
Robin of Loxley sure didn't think so (if, of course, he did exist, as documents
are conflicting about that...personally, I like to envision a Dread Pirate
Roberts situation happening).
So I started wondering, would a God that a moral man would be willing to follow,
tolerate worshippers like that? If I wouldn't want to be friends with Chad for
letting me get my emotional vengeance on Amber, would I want to worship a
God....who would want the kind of worshipper....who would worship the kind of
God that many people perceive him to be?
And what if THAT is the great test? To be willing to GO TO HELL FOREVER in order
to defy a God who commands people to do the evil things that I read about in the
Book of Numbers? That would be the ultimate test of faith, and I think I would
be much more prone to follow a deity who would put people through that kind of
test, who punished those who let conformity drive them to beat up Muslim kids on
the schoolyard, and attack arabs who brought food and supplies to the families
of the victims of 9/11. And punish the people who are actively lobbying to have
congress enforce a religion on the people of the United States. The Helmses and
the Thurmonds. A God who punished those who worshipped such a dark and
disgusting version of himself.
Yes. I think I would go surfing with that God.
I'm not saying this is what I believe. I'm just putting some ideas out here.
Til Next Time!