Random philosophizicalizamination

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 do so.
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 American.

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 think.

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 anyway.

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, like, awesome.

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 about.

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 attest).

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' Rob-From-The-Rich-And-Give-To-The-Poor-And-Kill-Them-Heathen-Niggers 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!


The Lies We Tell Children

Dave's Online Journal