Posts Tagged ‘God’

THE VALUE OF ENTERTAINMENT

Monday, July 20th, 2015

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”-Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Never underestimate the value of entertainment. Take, God, for instance.

Some claim that the angels convinced God to create the Heavens and Earth because He was bored. God bored? Why not? If God created Man in His own image, and Man can become bored, why not God?

Let’s say for the sake of discussion that God did create the Heavens and Earth because He was bored — but in six days? No way!

Admit it. Six days is merely a metaphor. Remember St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), no slouch when it comes to commenting on God.

When asked why didn’t God create it all sooner, he essentially replied, “Because there was no sooner.”

Imagine understanding the nature of time sixteen hundred years before Einstein! St. Augustine was right. Time exists only within the confines of the Heavens created by God. Hmpf! And we think we’re so smart; whereas, the sages were so dumb. Given our recent antics, maybe we’re the dumb ones.

Second question: Why did God create a seemingly cruel world of predator and prey in which His creatures eat each other in order to survive? For His entertainment?

Yes? No?

Yes, it seems cruel to us because God allowed Man — but only Man — sentience to understand his own mortality and the true nature of Mother Nature.

No, other animals don’t spend time obsessing about cruelty of predator and prey. Only Man does. Cruelty is a point of view — a point of view other species don’t have.

The fact of the matter is that Mother Nature probably is neither cruel nor kind. If anything, Mother Nature is disinterested — couldn’t care less; thus, God may not have created the system but merely created the seeds of the system — Big Bang and all that. Then, He sat back, pretty much staying out of it, and watched as the system further created itself with its paradigm on Earth of predator and prey.

Third question: Doesn’t “free will” make us the guilty parties not God? With human sentience comes free will; specifically, the capacity of cognition to modify context, behavior, and consequences.

If anyone is cruel, is it God or we ourselves? God allowed us the capacity to modify our own behavior. So, how do we use that capacity?

We continually design and develop new and more effective ways to keep ourselves alive as individuals while reproducing like vermin. Aren’t we the ones wantonly exploding our number, overpopulating the world, and destroying this precious planet — this planet, of which few exist in the cosmos, let alone in out Milky Way. That’s gratitude, for you!

At the same time, we continually design and develop new and more effective ways to murder each other and to massacre other species wholesale? Aren’t we the ones about to exterminate most of them and all of us in a wholesale mass extinction never before witnessed?

See “The Exterminators” below.

Witnessed? By whom? God, of course. Now, is that irony entertainment or what?

If this line of conjecture contains a shred of credibility, we might ask ourselves whether God really will find it entertaining when we unleash the mass murder of all aerobic life on Earth via a horrific nuclear holocaust. Why should He not?

Anaerobes will survive. Then, the show can begin again.

Fourth Question: Can we, as a species, survive our own predilection for self-destruction? Many, if not most, scientists predict that we’re five minutes from the proverbial midnight of total doom — more likely, one minute given Obama’s recent, suicidal Iranian Nuclear Accord. Is there an alternative to our self-annihilation? Possibly.

An alternative to oblivion? Sound promising?

Wait! Will it require thinking? Will it require effort? Will it require admitting truths while denying lies? Worst of all, will it hurt someone’s feelings?

Forget it! Why bother? Why not just continue to watch mind-numbing TV, or play a self-stimulating video-game, or send a meaningless messages to others who really don’t give a fig?

Then again, maybe survival is worth a try. Survive? How?

Via science. After all, we created the widely used science of physics, with which we’re about to use to destroy ourselves. Shall we try using the largely ignored science of human behavior to save ourselves?

Try perusing the semi-fictional novel, Inescapable Consequences..

Would God find our endeavor entertaining? Very likely, especially if we exist only as an antidote to His boredom.

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IF NOT FOR THEE

Monday, April 6th, 2015

“The Lord is my strength and shield, In Him hath my heart trusted, And I am helped; Therefore, my heart greatly rejoiced, And with my song will I praise Him.” -Psalms 28:7

Religion, Mathematics, and Science

In times of trouble, who comforts thee? What comforts thee? Whence cometh the comfort?

From religion? Mathematics? Science?

Remove the emotionally warm comfort of religion and the reassuring belief in God. Replace them with what?

The emotionally cold calculations of mathematics? In times of trouble, what comfort can be derived from solving mathematical equations or proving mathematical theorems? From the value of π?

The cold concepts of science? In times of trouble, what comfort can be derived from the concept of being mortal in a continuously expanding universe that, as will all mortals, become totally cold and totally lifeless? From the equation e = mc²?

From the early pre-historic era, in times of trouble mankind has sought relief in religion — in the concept of a god or gods — and the means offered by religion to gain that relief. Robbed of religion, where can you seek solace? In yourself? From others?

“No man is an island.” -John Donne (1572-1631)

In times of trouble, you may discover to your profound dismay that your personal reservoir of inner strength is sorely wanting. You may have been born alone, but do you want to die alone?

Man is a gregarious animal deriving emotional strength from others of his kind. Surely, there are exceptions — the hermit and the vagabond are two; mostly social misfits who offer society and themselves little. In times of trouble, what bonds others to you to the point of sacrificing their own interests in favor of yours?

“There are no atheists in foxholes.” -Aphorism

In times of trouble, most people in this world still turn to religion and to their god or gods, rising secular relativism in the West notwithstanding. Religion offers them a bonding with their fellow humans as can no other social interaction. Despite its defects grievously real, its persistence over tens of thousands of years testifies to its biologically adaptive value. Religion bonds the group. Religion generates strength within the group and within its members.

An Atheist’s Criticism of Religion

“Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” -The Recital (The Koran), The Spoils 8:36

“Biologically adaptive value?” the atheist may chide. “You characterize the murder and mayhem that always has been the hallmark of religion biologically adaptive?”

The atheist has a point. Wherein lies rebuttal?

Firstly, when murder and mayhem occur in the name of religion, generally at fault is not religion but its adherents, especially not Christianity — a religion of peace, at least theologically if not always operationally. Unlike believers in a Mohammedanism created as a religion of war, no rational believer in Christianity today can accept murder and mayhem in the name of religion. As it is said, many roads lead to the House of God, and God hears all prayers from wherever they may come — irrespective of language or format. If the religious, including the Mohammedans, will accept those concepts and respect others’ paths, even the paths of atheists, perhaps mankind can move toward living together without one religious group killing another — living together without disputing whose unproven belief is superior to whose.

Secondly, a fundamental fact is that God and religion are not synonymous. God is God. Religions are merely roads to God — roads constructed by men — roads often poorly paved — roads often running at cross-purposes with one another and even, at times, with themselves.

Shall we judge the wisdom of God by the vileness of mankind? Did not God give mankind free will based upon the biological capacity of our cognition to recognize our own existence and the place that our existence occupies in the cosmos?

Sadly, we have not used that free will always wisely. Consequence? We now may be on the eve of our own destruction.

Thirdly, if not religion, what? Science?

“Exactly!” the atheist may say, “Science has allowed us to progress beyond the mysticism and superstition of God and religion. In doing so, has it not confirmed the position that we’re doomed to eternal oblivion and that religion is nothing but the delusion of the doomed?”

Again, the atheist has a point. Wherein lies rebuttal?

Ironically, on this matter the atheists’ criticism can serve a valid purpose for the religious. By invoking human reason and promoting scientific advances, atheists can prod the religious to incorporate scientific discovery into their interpretations of the Bible. Science, however, is a-theological not anti-theological. Science is not atheistic, and atheism is not scientific. Science is neither the enemy of religion nor its ally. Science describes The How. Religion explains The Why. Science relies on logic and method. Religion relies on faith and hope.

Science offers no absolute truths. It offers descriptions, often hypothetical or theoretical, of natural events. Truly, the empirical physical and biological sciences and their derivative technologies have made magnificent advances; however, mistake not those advances as applicable to the so-called social sciences and economics wallowing in the mire of stagnation. Although empirical biobehavioral science and its technology also have made substantial advances, they remain largely ignored societally and individually with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Given their advances during the 20th-century, have modern science and technology destroyed religious belief among scientists themselves? Apparently not. In 1916, 40% of American scientists expressed a belief in God. In 1997, 40% of American scientists expressed a belief in God (www.templeton.org/belief/).

PART TWO

“As for man, his days are as grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; And the place thereof knoweth it no more.” -Psalms 103:15

Atheism

In the semi-fictional novel, Inescapable Consequences, two characters discuss religion. One, a physician and an atheist, says the following:

 “So, what did this supposed God of yours supposedly do?” “What do you mean?” “I’ll tell you what I mean! I’ll tell you what He did!” The Doctor was assuming the offense. “He created an intelligent creature … you and me and those such as we … without giving it any objective proof that its Creator even exists but giving it an awareness of itself and plenty of objective proof of its own mortality. He then added to its awareness a hard-wired fear of that mortality. What was the consequence? A creature doomed throughout its brief life-span to a morbid dread of its own inevitable deterioration then eternal demise without the solace of certainty in its Creator’s existence. This God is one to which you would give thanks rather than curses?” “You conveniently omitted that God initially created Adam then Eve as immortal beings. They’d have remained so had they not eaten from the Tree of Knowledge.” “What jerks! Why didn’t they eat from the Tree of Life? Anyway, it’s a convenient, Jewish myth concocted to shift the blame from the perpetrator onto the victims of this innate, time-bound misery of the human condition. Then, along came Christians with their added nonsense that this misery … ended only by dying, may I add … can be all to the good because it will gain the gullible … otherwise known as the pious … entry into some mythical paradise they call ‘Heaven’. Good luck! The bitter icing on this rancid cake are Muslims. They invoke their god, ‘Allah’, and a fantasized promise of their version of ‘Heaven’ to wage war upon the rest of the world. How, in God’s name, can you embrace both the superstitious ether of religion and the solid substance of science? They’re incompatible!” “In God’s name, indeed! Methinks the Doctor doth protest too much. Your emotional agitation suggests that you’re scared, disillusioned, and angry. You’re scared of ageing, scared of dying, disillusioned with the hope of an eternal salvation, and angry that you have no choice but to endure this seemingly senseless situation and your anxious anticipation while awaiting your fatal finish. Your behavioral response is to direct your unending frustration and impotent anger toward God by vehemently denying His existence and openly cursing Him at the same time.”

“Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” -Proverbs 16:18

What mental processes accompany someone’s renouncing God and religion? Anger, as asserted by the Doctor’s dialectical adversary? A sense of superiority? Do atheists and agnostics harbor a prideful sense of superiority to those who remain comforted or even feel affrighted by religion? If so, does that prideful sense of superiority offer them comfort? If so, comfort of what nature?

In times of trouble and denying himself the avenue of God to travel, where has a man to turn but family and friends? Sadly, in this era of Western familial disintegration and social alienation, seeking solace and support from family and friends often yields a poor return. To what extent did familial disintegration and social disorganization create the environmental context for the move away from the bonding power of religion and vice versa?

Christianity, Politics, and the United States of America

“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” -Lord Acton (1834-1902)

Heretofore in the United States of America, Christianity in its various forms functioned as a religious bond. Today, politics with its lust for power and lack of shame has become the new religion. Its consequence? The bitter fruit of a new and even more pernicious political corruption beyond simple graft into a total, tyrannical transformation of the American republic.

Gone is the age-old humility taught by Judeo-Christian religions in favor of the newly-found arrogance of relative secularism. Gone is the code of absolute morals resting firmly upon time and Scripture in favor of self-proclaimed, arbitrary, and fluid standards of conduct — standards shifting capriciously to reflect momentary whims.

In a godless society of self-proclaimed, arbitrary, and fluid values racked by political discord among competing and expanding minorities feeding off an increasingly dispossessed and shrinking majority, those who are troubled often meet only a solipsistic egocentricity characterized by either abandonment or attack. Can so-called social support-groups composed of strangers offer a comfort comparable to that offered by clergy and congregation — clergy and congregation whose solicitude reflects social reinforcement of a belief in absolute values of an eternal nature not relative values of the moment?

“The wicked walk on every side When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” -Psalms 12:9

Although there are now those who wrongly revise history to claim otherwise, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America created a republic based upon the now-invalid assumption of a moral and religious citizenry. Their newly-created nation represented a fusion of Christian morality and religion with a belief in the natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In recent decades, a citizenry continuously shifting in its demographics has strayed from that Road to Redemption in favor of a Path to Perdition led by pied pipers promoting Biblical sin for their own power and profit — promoting it by praising prurient pleasures. They have transformed a nation previously at an admittedly sometimes fretful peace with itself into a nation at war with itself — a nation on fire.

Behavior has its consequences. In the current context characterized by crass commercialism and libertine licentiousness promoting a passion for vulgarity unbridled as if it were a praiseworthy virtue, are not the consequences likely to be the traditional, Biblical wages of sin?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke (1729-1787)

Given the evolving national context, if not for a belief in God upon which the nation was founded, if not for the absolute moral standards provided initially by Judaism then by Christianity upon which the nation was founded, can this nation now on fire — this nation descending into the pit of mounting debt, serial military defeats, depraved social degradation, and outright tyranny — save social decency, traditional American ideals and values, and republicanism? Yes? How?

-End-