Effect Measure

The triumph of logic and the logic of Triumphalism:

Comments

  1. #1 herman
    November 25, 2007

    Please read this post from last week regarding religion by
    an atheist.

    “How can any sane individual not realize that the God of the Bible is schizoprhenic? He spends a couple thousand years being Mr Artist, creating all these neet toys and fossiles (many of which we’ll never see). Then he spends a couple thousand years as the world’s nastiest jackoff, finally creating a son to be butchered by the local heathens… and he’s all Mr Goody-Goody again.”
    And now, he’s obviously slippled into a diabetic coma, since there’s been no sign of him for the past 500 years or so. The sickly saccarine Christ years pushed him over the edge.”

    Perhaps this atheist would also like to build a coliseum, put Christians in it, and feed them to the lions,
    to watch them get their guts ripped out.
    Last weeks blog on religion was the ultimate in filth.
    I know atheists love to imagine Jesus as a jack off and Moses as a homosexual, and they think it is very funny. If someone called you the nastiest jackoff, would you think he or she was just joking, and not feel insulted?
    Atheists on this blog state as follows: Since religion is evil, God does not exist. Does this statement make sense?
    Is that all they have to say? Are all of us supposed to now accept there is no God, because religion is totally evil?
    Where did atheists get all of this hate and hostility? Are we supposed to admire them when they say God is a pervert?
    Why cannot atheists stop all the hostile crap, and explain in a rational way why God does not exist? Is it because they are incapable of doing so?
    Can you please explain what is evil about Buddhism?
    Buddhism makes no statement regarding whether or not God exists. But it has plenty to say about what ultimate reality may be. Can a scientist claim to know ultimate reality? Quantum physicists make no such claim. Just look at the uncertainty principle.
    All you who use scientism to prove God does not exit are deluded. You cannot prove through science there is no God.
    There is still mystery in the world science cannot explain. What existed before the big bang? So how are we so superior to those who lived 2000 years ago, and used myth to explain what they could not understand?
    This blog, with all it’s dogma and hate against religion, gives atheism a bad name.

    Posted by: Lurchgs | November 19, 2007 5:20 PM

  2. #2 herman
    November 25, 2007

    Sorry, Lurchgs posted all the stupid crap about being a jackoff.
    Herman wrote the post.

  3. #3 Ruprecht
    November 25, 2007

    The earthquake that razed cities and killed thousands is an Act of God. Finding a baby alive in the rubble only means His aim was a little off. Cut Him a break, nobody’s perfect.

  4. #4 K
    November 25, 2007

    God cannot be proved or disproved. What can be proved is that a god who is powerful, works in the world we live in and is loving does not exist. One might make the case for a weak god, a detached god, a mean and cruel god. But a simple quick look at the world around us disproves and engaged, loving powerful god. That problem has paid the salaries of an endless string of theologians who try to make such a god believable. Read Matthew’s sermon on the mount and then read Joshua, and then read the news and the problem will be apparent.

  5. #5 herman
    November 25, 2007

    k,
    Process theology maintains God is weak. So does John D. Caputo, in his book the Weakness of God. Therefore, God is not able to control all the evil in this world.
    Perhaps whether or not God exists is not important. What is important is to investigate the philosophical quest of Ontology. What is true reality? Scientists do not have the answer and never will.
    This is a subjective quest, and each individual needs to find the best answer they can. Or perhaps they will use dogma like the atheists on this blog, and use the time to insult, state nonsense, and ridicule those who believe God exists.

  6. #6 MartinC
    November 25, 2007

    Herman, have you been touched by his noodly appendage?

  7. #7 Michael
    November 25, 2007

    Revere,
    This video is a little over the top. I speaks to those who are already atheists and probably just pisses off those who believe in a traditional god. You have a fine record of help and intellect on the web. This video reveals that you are not perfect.

    I am in a constant state of learning and ambivalence regarding my faith in a god. My life experience tells me that the physical world we see around us is not the whole story. I don’t know what the whole story is. But, I have experienced events that were clear indicators of a deeper fabric in our universe that we rarely glimpse.

    Although I have no faith in a fatherly god that takes care of us all the time, I felt somewhat put down by this video. Creating a dialog between atheists and believers might be a better idea.

  8. #8 abc
    November 25, 2007

    I think the video was great.

    Michael, I think you’re in the wrong place if you’re expecting religious sensitivity. “Life experience” doesn’t count for much in science, your “clear indicators of a deeper fabric” notwithstanding.

    To an atheist, religion seems quite ridiculous, as if adults never grew out of believing in the Easter Bunny. Except no wars have been fought in the name of the Easter Bunny, to my knowledge, and the Easter Bunny doesn’t try to discourage the use of condoms and birth control. Why should we be tolerant of and sensitive to something that causes so much pain and suffering?

    The only reason to have a dialog between atheists and believers is to make more atheists, as far as I’m concerned.

  9. #9 adam
    November 25, 2007

    If you did know the answers to every mechanism in the universe would that make you godly in itself as this is the quest of science and would be robbing “god” of his own powers. you would understand what “god” knows but with the ability or inability to manipulate all mechanisms as “god” does. I see “god” as having the knowledge and the power to know and manipulate everything, which at it’s essence seem’s outlandish because everything in the universe is in motion and constantly changing, it would require such broad supervision even down to the nano scale. He would have to oversee trillions of mechanisms everyday and still make good on priorities to humans because as we all know humans are the only ones in the animal kingdom who believe in “god”. Not to sound like a satanist but i would scorn a god if it just manipulates a universe to apease humans.
    So that said it points that the belief in god and the bible are writtings of long ago “wise men” to create a following of one type of being, the human. It has seemed the following has lasted thousands of years, adopted to the powerful to keep the following going as a type of “god” manipulation. Maybe religion is the god itself along with the following of it. It’s the most powerful force on the human mind that i know of.

  10. #10 herman
    November 25, 2007

    MartinC,
    Why don’t you say something intelligent wise ass, instead of the ridicule, as usual?

  11. #11 herman
    November 25, 2007

    MartinC,
    Are you another of the nastiest jackoffs, like your other atheist buddies?

  12. #12 the chaplain
    November 25, 2007

    Wow, Lurchgs’s rant, via herman’s comment, speak volumes. It’s interesting how some Christians and believers of other faiths keep asking why atheists are so hateful and seemingly want nothing more than reasonable discussions, etc., yet they feel free to tell us we are going to be tortured in hell forever, or deserve to be slaughtered as infidels because, in the whole vast universe of inquiry, we disagree with them about a handful few issues. Nice examples of civic discourse, those are.

    What is it with the faithful who insist on frequenting atheist blogs and then getting all pissed off about the content? If they want to engage in civilized discourse, they would serve themselves best by posting articulate, neutrally worded questions in the place of self-righteous rants.

  13. #13 STH
    November 25, 2007

    Michael, the video is over the top for a reason: it’s making a reductio ad absurdum argument. Christian dogma is absurd and self-contradictory, as the video tries to show.

    My question to you is why would you be offended by this video or the argument it’s making? It isn’t misrepresenting Christian theology, merely pointing out the contradictions in it. If you think those contradictions are illusory, then make your argument. If you can’t, then don’t complain when people speak the truth.

  14. #14 STH
    November 25, 2007

    “Creating a dialog between atheists and believers might be a better idea.”

    The thing is, that’s what atheists are doing, and that’s why believers are so pissed off about it. Up until now, it’s just been a monologue and the theists can’t stand it that we’re finally getting our say.

  15. #15 MartinC
    November 26, 2007

    Herman, us believers must stick together and not belittle the beliefs of each other no matter how ridiculous they sound. We have what atheists lack, namely FAITH – the ability to accept the most preposterous notions as facts while simultaneously dismissing all empirical evidence to the contrary. As a great man, just as real as the FSM or Jesus, once said, “Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true”.

  16. #16 K
    November 26, 2007

    Herman, a weak god works as far as explaining evil. But then what good is that god and why worship him. Surprisingly people can be kind, moral, decent, etc without believing in God. So a weak god is not necessary for that function. Have your weak god if you will. I will just look inside and find personal compassion and try to act on it as much as I can.

    What is true depends on your meaning of truth. Science give a meaning to that – that which is reproducable. Our own minds do that all the time. If we keep hitting our head on a door we determine that hitting your head hurts and that you are taller than the doorway. One can do that by moving through the doorway without ducking – or more scientifically by measuring the doorway and measuring yourself. Works every time as far as I know. Lots of truth there. One experiment that is ongoing is death. So far every human that was born over 150 years ago has died. We can conclude that we will likely die too. It is that knowledge and the lack of knowledge about what it is like to be dead that drives humans to TRUTH. Something to believe in that can never be known or tested. Its just fear of death that creates the gods’ nothing more. Yet death is just extended unconsciousness – we mostly like sleep, we don’t mind be unconscious during an operation. Nothing to fear – just how it happens is to be feared.

    For myself I will be glad to return to the sweet nothingness of being unborn – vs the eternal bliss of the soul – much too borning IMO

  17. #17 herman
    November 26, 2007

    MartinC,
    Please tell me which of these you do for entertainment: pour gasoline on cats and set them on fire, or burn books like the Nazis. Or maybe you like to beat up and rob your grandmother.

  18. #18 MartinC
    November 26, 2007

    Herman, you don’t sound particularly ecumenical at the moment.
    The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not advocate any of those particular activities and until you mentioned them I had never considered trying even one.
    Which do you recommend?

  19. #19 revere
    November 26, 2007

    Herman: You are getting close to the line with these comments. Give it a rest so I don’t have to do it for you. If the important thing is foryou to make your point, you did it long ago and the discourse is now becoming distinctly uncivil. Take a deep breath and move on.

  20. #20 herman
    November 26, 2007

    Revere,
    Please tell MartinC to call it a wrap. I apoligize and will not make more comments.

  21. #21 Caledonian
    November 26, 2007

    Ever notice that ‘Christian behavior’ is incredibly rare among people who claim to be Christians? They’re usually MORE full of hatred and contempt than non-Christians, in my experience.

    Of course, that might have more to do with being part of a dominant social group than being Christian per se.

  22. #22 Michael
    November 27, 2007

    I have no reason or motivation to convince anyone else of my evolving vision of our universe. How could anyone presume to tell someone else “how it all is”.

    I felt somewhat bad about the video because I know some Christians I am sure would be offended. These Christians are people I like and respect. I do not share their faith, but am in no position to criticize it.

    I agree that making extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, especially when you are trying to convince someone of the existence of a supernatural being. I am trying to convince no one. Evangelizing religion or atheism seems arrogant and silly to me.

    We each have our own view of our universe. If we are really thinking about this place where we live, that view is probably evolving. We each have a right to our own view without an omni-directional background noise of evangelism.

    I really enjoy hearing someone’s story about their own spiritual journey. I enjoy it most when they make no effort to make their journey mine.

  23. #23 K
    November 27, 2007

    Michael, many fine Christians who I like and respect, refuse to see how their practice and preachings hurt people. Mother’s day sermons seem innocuous – but by universally praising motherhood, abused children assume that it must be them that are bad and wrong. They sit in the pews and invisibly hurt. ETC. By using resources to build churches and pay preachers they “steal” money that could have gone to social service programs. A Bible and a house to meet in should be enough – the words of Jesus (who should out rank the prophets and Paul as he is after all God, the incarnate son of God, God in the flesh) are mostly plain and don’t need a university educated person to interpret. Jesus spoke to the uneducated people of Israel without needing a theologian to explain his words. Just sit down and read the Sermon on the Mount and then follow it. What theologians are needed for is to explain why we don’t really have to follow the clear instructions of Jesus.

    Since explaining that to Christians doesn’t work (as they want to continue having comfortable lives) why not a bit of pointed sarcasm. It won’t work either (as they want to continue having comfortable lives)

  24. #24 Michael
    November 27, 2007

    K,
    I find it difficult to find any fault with your last post. My point is really that sarcasm will probably hurt more than help.

    We all have our comfortable homes and most of us don’t plan to share our homes with the homeless. This is in direct contradiction to the Sermon. I do not try to rationalize my selfishness with some quote from the Bible. I realize I am selfish, and only share some of what I have.

    I do not share your concept that Jesus was the son of god, anymore than that you are a son of god. Maybe we all are. I do value his Sermon and parables. Some of these have extra levels of meaning. I don’t believe he was an ordinary man. But, I have no clear idea of what he really was.

    Organized religions always formulate rules that become no better than banning nail clippers on airliners. Atheists most often have a rule that there is nothing present in our universe that has not already been discovered by science or is about to be. I find religious rules and atheist rules to be silly. Compare our knowledge now to what we understood as a species say 10,000 years ago. Then try to imagine what we might know in another 10,000 years. Then perhaps assume some other species on another plant has evolved and pursued science for several million years. Our current state of learning seem very lame in comparison.

    I think that our current state of learning and consciousness is extremely limited. To make broad statements about a supreme being, the lack of one, or life after death, still seems arrogant to me. My wife and I love reading books together and then try to apply that knowledge to a better understanding of our universe.

    We have just discovered Plato. This was not something I learned about studying to be an engineer. I realize most people probably already have studied his writings, but it is a whole new view point to my wife and I.

  25. #25 abc
    November 27, 2007

    What’s this rule you say atheists have about science and the universe?

    I think one of the things about religious people that ticks me off the most is this view that we atheists see no mystery in the world, that we live these cold, miserable, rigid lives. How ridiculous! Our world is full of mystery and wonder and beauty, and the more I know about it the more impressed I am. What is science, really, but a process of discovery? And a joyful one, at that. It seems to me rather ungracious to attribute the amazing complexity of the universe to something as banal as a god.

  26. #26 Michael
    November 28, 2007

    abc
    I have several friends who are atheists. Dawkins has become a version of the pope for them.

    Each of these atheists not only support the idea that there is no god, which is a very supportable proposition, but also believe fervently that there will never be any evidence to support deism or the idea that today’s supernatural may some day become part of our natural world.

    This is the same to me as the irrational belief that god saves people from disasters and satan is the one who caused the disasters.

    What I am trying to articulate, not very well I see, is that the atheistic faith that there will never be any evidence that reveals a deeper fabric to our universe is ubiquitous. I find that atheists and religious zealots both have firm irrational faith in their positions. The idea that a scientific work might reveal breathtaking new realms of our view of reality is anathema to both atheists and religious zealots.

    So, abc, tell me your mind is open to the possibility that there may someday be objective evidence to support the idea of life after death. I bet you do not accept this possibility. Now, this is the irrational belief system that I find irritating and the atheist’s rule that you questioned me about. This rule is as important to atheists as the Christian rule that belief in Jesus will forgive all sins.

    I believe in questioning everything. And then, questioning it again and again.

  27. #27 revere
    November 28, 2007

    Michael; I’ve pretty much stayed out of this, but your comment made me curious. What would count as evidence — and here I mean public evidence, not some personal testimonial of enlightenment or rapture — that would establish the existence of a deity. The question of “life after death” is more complicated because it requires prior definitions of life and death. Similarly with “deeper fabric.” String theory is certainly deep and could be construed with a fabric for the univererse. I that’s what you mean, we are talking past each other. Let’s just stick with the deity.

  28. #28 K
    November 28, 2007

    Michael, just as there are all sorts of religious people, tolerant, intolerant, etc. there are all sorts of atheists, agnostics and scientists. So far, as far as I know, no scientist has ever wanted to put anyone to death for not ascribing to their particular scientific view. They have designed weapons to be put to use to kill people that politicians want killed, but no one is advocating the death of those who ascribe to string theory vs some other theory. That might come, but religions have readily (often in cahoots with politicians) killed other innocent people, often with relish and extreme cruelty. Atheists and agnostics have often kept their views to themselves for their whole lives out of fear of death. Now that it is mostly safe to express these views, can you blame them for being a bit aggressive about them? A lot of suppressed anger over having to suppress valid views of the world. Atheists don’t need converts to gain favor with God, they do however feel a need to establish that it is OK to challenge the views of religion, that it is safe to do so even through sarcasm. What a relief for those of us who have kept our views quiet, not through fear of death but through fear of ostracism, to watch a funny video that lets us know that we are not alone in our thoughts and feelings.

  29. #29 Michael
    November 28, 2007

    K,
    I understand better now why atheists might want to be aggressive about their belief and evangalism. Millennias of severe oppression might have quite an effect.

    Revere,
    What I am trying to say is that one day there may be public proof that for instance consciousness continues after death. That proof would need to be clear evidence (communication) with that consciousness, with information that could only have come from what was a person who had been alive and was now clearly dead. If this evidence was found to survive scientific challenge, that would mean that there is much much more for us to discover about our world.

    An atheist could not accept that this would ever be a possibility. At least most atheists would not consider this possibility.

    My own experiences in life, have effected a view that there are unlimited possibilities. Lightning was once an expression of an angry god. We have changed our concept about lightning. We will change many concepts as science and human thought evolve.

    Revere, the single event in my life that has colored my view since then follows: It is simply my story and has no scientific proof.

    I went to a meeting of about 10 people. There was a woman there who was reputed to be able to cure people of disease and disability. I thought this was something I wanted to see. I had no interest in going to some tent meeting where money was passed amid cheers of “praise Jesus”. I watched as this woman whose day job was a dishwasher at a medical university where I too worked. She began massaging the leg of a woman who did not have use of this leg. The leg had been damaged in an automobile accident. It was about 3 inches shorter than her right leg. I watched this event with dispassionate eyes. That leg returned to a length that matched her right leg. The woman who was being worked on was able to walk normally after this event. This woman was crying and tried to give money to the older woman who had done this. The money was refused.
    I approached this woman intending to ask her how she could perform such a miracle. Before I could get the words out she turned to me and said “There are no miracles, only natural events that you do not understand”.

    I realize that relating this event in this venue makes me an idiot to every atheist here. However, this is what happened to me. Unlike many people I do not immediately claim that these events are proof of a god. What I believe is that there are events that occur that are beyond our understanding. What this event represents is a mystery to me. This event shows me how little I understand the universe in which I live. Given time, these events will probably be explained by boffins much smarter than I.

    The suffering and cruelty in this world makes the idea of a fatherly god pretty tough to accept.

  30. #30 revere
    November 28, 2007

    Michael: I think you have the wrong impression of atheists. Most of us don’t care about or think about religion much. It’s not relevant to our lives. We reject supernatural explanations because we believe in public evidence. I never think about God except when the world around me prompts me to. If you saw a miracle cure, I wouldn’t think you were an idiot. I’d think instead there was a natural explanation for what you saw. That’s all.

  31. #31 abc
    November 28, 2007

    Atheism is not a faith, Michael. It is a lack of belief, not a belief system in and of itself. I spent the same amount of time considering the possibility of an afterlife or a god as I do the possibility that I’m really just a brain in a vat somewhere and this is all a hallucination. Sure, I can’t completely rule it out, but the likelihood that any of the above are true is so infinitely small that it would be a colossal waste of time to think about it at all.

    I’m not really sure what you mean about “new realms of our view of reality”. What about the invention of the microscope, or the telescope? Science is always looking for new ways to look at our existence, and by discounting the supernatural it actually makes progress in finding them. Maybe it makes me an ber nerd, but I really do find views of the microscopic world breathtaking–no need to stick any harps and angels in there.

  32. #32 Michael
    November 28, 2007

    Revere,
    It was made clear to me by the dishwasher, that what I was seeing was not supernatural. It was simply something natural that I did not understand. This whole incident made me think that what we once thought of as supernatural was simply an event we did not understand. I too believe there was a natural explanation for what I saw. I just have no idea what that explanation might be and probably would not understand it if someone who knew tried to explain it.

    abc,
    Your analogy of a microscope is perfect. That instrument made us aware of a whole new realm of reality. It brought understanding of all sorts of diseases that we completely were ignorant of before this instrument became available.

    What I am trying to say is that the invention of instruments is not over. There may be something new that comes along that opens up yet another whole world to us. One of these instruments may help explain events that were previously thought of as supernatural just like lightning was once a supernatural event.

    That new instrument may play havoc with our current view of physics. Just like physicians were leeching and treating bad humors to cure disease, the microscope and a lot of work improved our ability treat disease.

    Again, my point is that our preconceptions of our universe are very likely a lame excuse for reality. When I have a dialogue with my neighbors who are atheists about this, they all claim that the basics of the universe are already known and there will be no more dramatic breakthroughs in our understanding. Therefor the idea of us discovering that our consciousness is made up of yet an unknown energy, is impossible.

    I think I have now thoroughly beaten this to death.

    sorry, I was just trying to clarify my thoughts.

    I can’t wait to hear more from the physics community about “surfer” who formulated what looks like finally a “theory of everything”. I hope it is not a flawed dead end.
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071117-upon-further-review-surfers-new-theory-of-everything-severely-deficient.html

  33. #33 K
    November 29, 2007

    Michael, I come from a religious background. I loved the humanity and ethics of Jesus and so tried very hard to find some way to make an omnipotent god be a good god, but the evidence is against it. So I finally gave up god and after a brief period of a sense of loss I found that I was still me, still capable of moral, ethical, caring thoughts and actions. I found the world unchanged and I got over my sense of loss. What I gained was a freedom from boring and often horrible sermons, I gained several hours a week, I gained a new perspective that is better than the past perspective. No one could ever pull me back into a religion again – I got free. (Although not necessarily free from guilt – that pounded in at an early age is hard to shed).

    I don’t know if there is an existence after this earthly one. I hope not. I like sleep. I liked being unconscious during an operation. I didn’t mind being unalive for all the eons I was unalive before I was born. The hope for something more is largely about fear of death. Amazingly those who are suffering and near death begin to welcome it with open arms (I was a Hospice volunteer for 10 years).

    Since people who don’t believe in gods of any sort and don’t concern themselves with an afterlife can be moral caring people, why not let it go and just deal with what we can know in this life. Plenty of opportunity for moral caring people – atheists, agnostics, and believers – to do something about the massive inequality in this life.

    Religion, while supposedly providing for the poor in fact usually gives believers a way to think that their prosperity is warranted, while telling other poorer believers that they will be rewarded in the hereafter. As often as not it works against equality and justice as it works for it.

  34. #34 Michael
    November 30, 2007

    K
    I find it rather weird that we both worked as hospice volunteers. I worked for several years in the 80s as a volunteer at a hospice for people with aids.

    My reaction after seeing so many of my brothers die, what was often a very hard death was to curse and dare god to show himself so I could show him my shotgun. After three years of this I became a basket case. I wanted to kill god.

    I found myself trying to talk patients out of dying. Maybe if I gave the medications exactly on time and forced them to eat enough they would not die. Somehow I felt I had to stop all this myself because no one else was stopping it. I became unfit as a hospice volunteer.

    I became completely paranoid about the health of those I loved and was guilt ridden for surviving. I found no solace in my Catholic faith. I left the church. That god had forsaken me and my friends.

    My wife helped me through this and suffered out my irrational behavior. I still hear the voices and see the faces of men I had come to love.

    I still believe in angels. I worked with some. Their love and work helped make our “boys” a little more comfortable as they died.

    I think love is a powerful force that is not currently measurable by science. Why would people voluntarily suffer to help others. Some people sacrifice their lives for strangers. This behavior is not very Darwinian.

    I am at a loss as to what is going on in this universe, but I still cannot accept that it is all just mechanistic. A lot of sound and fury that signifies nothing.

    I agree that morality is something independent of religion. It is an innate sense that exists in most of us. Again, probably not Darwinian.

    But I have looked into the face and held the hand of those who are dying just like you did. Somehow I came away with a different sense of what was going on.

  35. #35 paiwan
    November 30, 2007

    I put my comment in this column, sorry for the confusion.

    ————————————–

    In my opinions, the life experience has to deal with the paradox of merciful and fairness.

    You may experience to have a competent teacher with pretty fair rating system. His appraisal is reasonably precise, therefore you have ascended your knowledge greatly. You have appreciated for his instruction. Nevertheless, he never remember your name, he/she is so detached and logic and cold. Here comes your mother, luckily you have one. She accepts your idiosyncracy, she trusts you even you have failed hundred times, supports you almost un-conditionally. That is source of you passion and love. This is what we have grown up.

    We survive as a species of competencies and passion which originating from fair instruction and unconditional love, symbolized in Heavenly Father’s justice and mercy. Our life is learning to integrating this paradox, thru numerous mistaken unbalances, but we are capable to keep moving on. This is the driving force of scientific work and faith of renewing our capacity.

    I personally accept Martin Buber’s advice, ” Those who are truly entering into the world are truly into God.” In his book ” I and Thou”, he advised, we do not need to look for God, once we stretch ourselves to serve the world with our total gifts and resources, then we will touch the hand of God.

    The American poet, Wallace Stevens has a note as bellow: Last night I spent an hour in the dark transept of St. Patrick’s Cathedral where I go now and then in my more lonely moods. And old argument with me is that the true religious force is not the church, but the world itself: the mysterious callings of nature and our responses. What incessant murmurs fill that ever-laboring, tireless church! But today in my walk I thought that after all there is no conflict of format but rather a contrast. …..The priest in me worshipped one God at one shrine; the poet another God another shrine. The priest worship Mercy and Love; the poet, Beauty and Might. …… As I sat dreaming with congregation I felt how the glittering altar works on my senses stimulating and consoling them; and I went tramping the fields and woods I beheld every leaf and blade of grass revealing or rather betokening the Invisible.

    Martin Buber also says that the person delect the term of God is thrilling and brave, because he lives the reality of the experience of Thou without a term.

    What do you think?

  36. #36 K
    November 30, 2007

    Michael, I am sorry to hear how disturbing your Hospice Experience was. I was well prepared. As a 16 year old I was volunteering at a nursing home that had previously been a poor house (if you haven’t heard of poor houses do google it – an interesting part of American History). I helped feed, push wheelchairs, etc for a variety of patients – some stroke, some Multiple Sclerosis, some just old age. One lady I loved had had MS for years – she was at a stage where she was totally paralyzed and hardly had enough breath to talk. When they moved her she would scream from the pain of the bed sores. Another patient I cared about who had MS but was just in the wheelchair bound stage. When I learned one day that he had died the night before of a heart attack I could rejoice that he didn’t decline further before death. Perhaps that prepared me or perhaps I was just born with different emotions. I cared about all my hospice patients and loved some dearly. I was glad to ease their journey into the inevitable, glad Hospice helped with pain control, and glad they were out of the “we must make you live longer” part of the health care establishment.

    I believe that science is finding that animals do have “altruistic” behavior – even some bats who drink blood – they share blood with other unrelated bats who didn’t score and then those bats share with them (or get cut out of future sharing). Science is finding elements of what we call moral behavior in animals and we will find I think that our behavior is an extension of behaviors found in the rest of the animal world. I have just purchased but not yet started to read “Moral Minds, How Nature Designed our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong” by Marc Hauser. I expect he will make a plausible case for the title of his book.

    If we take away the romantic music, love between man and woman is not so hard to explain via Darwin.
    If you take away the emotionality that our societal memes supply for love, sacrifice, etc, I think that any of those are explainable via Darwin
    Does that mean I am a soulless person with no emotions, no love, no caring. Hardly. People who are cared for feel cared for whether or not you do it with grand emotion or rather matter of fact. I think we find it hard to think about “love” in relationship to evolutionary theory, but I suspect that all our societal relationships come from our brain programs and those are part of our evolution and will make sense “bye and bye”.

  37. #37 K
    November 30, 2007

    Paiwan, I think theologians have too much time and too little reality to come up with anything that isn’t hopelessly meaningless. What has thou to do with little girls in the far east being sold into sex slavery? What does the thou experience do about relieving the hunger pangs of a child in Darfur?

  38. #38 Michael
    November 30, 2007

    K,
    I think part of the difficulty I faced was that the hospice where I worked was for people who had been abandoned by their families. Their families did not visit because they considered the son or brother who contracted aids to have committed evil. We who took care of them took on that role of a missing family. I remember a nun who ran the place. Her name was Kathy. She lost her sanity before I did.

    So, all the physical and emotional care necessary, was provided by 5 people. We would care for each patient for an average of 6 months and then they would die. It was our job to carry out the bodies after death.

    I remember an event that really put me over the edge. A mother who had never visited her son showed up at the door an hour after he had died. I was the only care giver there and had to try to explain to her that it was too late to visit. She became angry with me. I had already bagged him and did not want to show her the body. He had died of Kaposi’s Sarcoma. The people who die of this look very very bad at death.

    Yes K, the attraction between sexes that is called love, is certainly not that. However, I believe that real love can develop from this relationship.

    I have a long time gay friend who married when he was 36. He wanted a family and loved a woman named Mary. She worked with him and knew he was gay. Their family has grown and their children are thriving and in college.

    I have been married for over 40 years now. I dearly love my wife, but she does not match my sexual preference. We grew up together and have always been close. I find the confusion in the English language between love and lust to be somewhat irritating.

    My wife and I both share a strong motivation to discover more about our world. She reads to me every day. I feel a force between us that cannot be measured. Someday maybe it will be measured.

    Maybe the belief in the power of love is what I need to get through the day. Each of us probably has life experiences that effect our view of the universe. In the end, it won’t make any difference who is right about this. If there is only blackness at the end of our lives then any arguments are just more sound and fury. Or, if we find ourselves inhabiting some sort of spirit world, the argument will still have been pointless.

    Living by the words of Jesus makes some kind of sense to me even for those who do not believe he was a god. It would make the world a lot better place. Sadly, it seems like most Christians love the fire and wrath of the old testament. That document would have me and my friends put to death in the name of god. Exodus 35:2 has god commanding everyone who has worked on the sabbath to be put to death. Following these instructions would solve our energy and over population problems completely.

  39. #39 paiwan
    November 30, 2007

    K and Michael,

    Greetings to you especially and others. Great sharings to read your personal hospice experiences.

    My religious background was Presbyterian, well instituted by English ( Scotland) missionaries, our families have incubated many ministers. Perhaps, evangelical but not fundamentalist type. But I had many fundamentalists friends who were from different denomination mostly from the US.

    Even though, I had not attended my presb. church for 25 years, I had wounds there and found that the numbing program deterioating to become almost like a club for market.

    As a loner, I have to read and to work. Now I attend Catholic Mass regularly. Scott Peck said it right ” Sometimes we are called to be in Church, sometimes we are called to be out.” His book- ‘Further to the road less travelled’ did help me a lot.

    My work’s place near Burma, a beautiful place called Phuket. Our project hires Burmese workers who are living in hardship. During this crisis in Burma, monks died, I have participated in their gathering and I cried with them in several occasions. I posted 24 times in BBC Have You Say and published 14 times. English is not my first language, you can tell.

    Every day, I pray. God knows me more than I know myself. God is the source of my strength and my salvation. And I believe that suffering has meaning, life is full of love and reverence.

    Everyone is in different stages of spiritual journey, it does not matter. God has un-conditional love for everyone. Perhaps a lot of bath water that we need to throw out, but you also like to throw out the baby?

  40. #40 K
    November 30, 2007

    Michael, you certainly did have a different Hospice experience. Mine was with people who were at home and had at least one family member to care for them. One lady had late in life returned to church. She had watched two husbands die of lung cancer – made longer and more painful by attempted treatment. So when she saw the signs she did not seek out treatment until she was in some pain – at that point they put her directly into Hospice. Her children did a very hard task keeping her at home as they all worked – so they took shifts. I was the relief shift. Only once did I see any church folks come and then only to visit. Yet at the funeral the preacher attacked the children and told them they would not go to heaven with their mother if they didn’t come to Christ. I can handle many things, including death, but hypocrisy I cannot. I stuffed it tho and just affirmed to each of the children what a great thing they did for their mother.

    However I later went to a situation more like yours. I worked in Mother Thersa’s children’s home in Port-au_prince Haiti for 3 mos. Every day several children died – usually at night so I didn’t see death much, just the bed already filled with a new child. These were not orphans, just poor children, but often their parents could only come once a month or so and would make the difficult trip only to find their child had died. Others of course went home. The saddest thing was that there was one orphan, a child abandoned at the doorway. He got fat and happy, loved by the nuns – an adoption was arranged with a couple in Germany. All that remained was the aids test – it was positive and so he stayed to die rather than leaving to live. Since there was always something to do, I did not let myself worry about what could not be done. However what wrenched me was to realize that the situation was so dire in Haiti, that the good of saving lives, created more overpopulation and poverty. Loosing my bearings on what was good perhaps gave me as much pain as you experienced. To give up God was hard, but to find that good is not an absolute and can have evil on the other side, that was hard. But I can live with that now too.

    Regarding such things as love altruism etc, we look at those from our world and find them extraordinary. However we evolved in a Hunter-Gatherer world. Bonding, sharing, justice, equality, etc were all essential values to keep the tribe functioning. At that time most humans could not survive outside the tribe, so all these bonding, caring emotions were needed to keep the group from dissolving due to other emotions such as greed. That doesn’t diminish them, but IMO explains their origin. Thinking of myself as a hunter-gather stuck in the wrong world, has helped me immensely in figuring out my reactions, good and bad to many situations.

    You are right about the Exodus verse – that would go a ways to dealing with population. The sabbath is of course Saturday eh?

  41. #41 K
    November 30, 2007

    Paiwan, thanks for your story. I admired the monks and the people standing up. It must be hard to see what is happening.

    I am not adverse to people getting strength and comfort where they can, I myself think that when you pray you create your own strength through your belief in God. I believe that if God existed you would not need it because a loving God would not allow such a world with so much pain and strife. But I cannot prove God does not exist. But I have found no rational for such a God to allow this world to be this way while still being loving and I want no part of a non-loving God.

    Yet I hesitate to say that to someone who needs all the inner strength they can marshall to do the good they are doing. So don’t mind me – just do what you are able.

  42. #42 paiwan
    November 30, 2007

    Hi K,

    It seems that you need pastoral care more than me. At this moment, we have no formal one. Can we call Michael, or Revere end ? Laugh. So many people love you!

    No preach from me today.

    Peace and love

  43. #43 Michael
    November 30, 2007

    Paiwan, K
    It has been a very good conversation. I have learned more. K and I have found the idea of a loving all powerful god to not work for us Paiwan.
    K, I am amazed at your resilience and dedication. You have been through so much and come out in one piece. I admit to being envious. Sometimes I feel like a train wreck in slow motion. I felt bad when I had a 19 year old die of aids. I can’t imagine watching children die. I remember the 19 year old, Charles, raged against the idea of losing his life before his time.

    I wish we lived in a world set up to bring out the best in us instead of also finding the worst.

    I go to an Episcopal church now. Not because I share their faith. I go for company and because my wife wants to go. The Episcopal church is in the process of tearing itself apart over the gay issue. Again, it is old testament versus new.

    Our priest is a gay woman. It makes me feel pretty comfortable. However, like all churches they have a written orthodoxy that makes little sense to me.

    I go to church for social reasons and do yoga at home to pray. Yes, K, it helps me with inner strength.

    I bet you find some strength at mass Paiwan. I used to. And Revere if you are still reading the mail. The fact that our country (USA) is now legitimizing torture is sickening. I foolishly thought that at the very least we would give lip service to the humane treatment of prisoners.

    I was interrogated while I was in the military (a long time ago) and a prisoner. I still have a limp and constant pain from this. I find it incomprehensible that we are now behaving like my captors did. I just don’t know how America got to this place. Maybe the truth really is that we are no better than every totalitarian country we love to hate.

    I can’t get away from the idea that we will all pay for the behavior of our leaders. We bombed the Japanese and the Nazis back to the stone age for the sins of their leaders, maybe we’re next. We can only blame our own silence for the bold viciousness of our leaders, just like the German silence.

  44. #44 paiwan
    December 1, 2007

    Michael,

    I now am amazed by the authentic communications that on this blog have emerged, yes we can share both disarmingly and exaltedly. Thanks, Michael.

    My deep religious experience is remembering Jesus’s last sentence,” Father, why you have forshaken me?” To our generation to experience self-denial and to be denied by others is rather common.

    Forgive me that I am a book worm, so I like to remember the composer of “Jingle Bell”, his life failed all the professions that he had contracted, and yet has left the beautiful song for us.

    I am 57, and still struggling to start a business that I like in a foreign country. An idealist like me, my backgroumd people have not bet me much, so I have a decade in denying myself, my profession and my future.

    For me, Christianity is not the gospel of “success”, in fact is the attitude of facing possible failures. Misery, like the story of blind man in the Bible, Jesus says, he was born to glorify God.

    For me, to sustain my entrepreneurship has witnessed providences, so many unexpected helps and people in a new country.

    My Burmese friends, some were the fled refugee in 1988 failed demonstration, they were students in that time. I see some has contracted with alcohol , some maintain high hope to re-build their country.

    K. we live with questions, and leave the time in God’s hand. So called -in spite of. And we affirm that life is good- mine, yours and the dying persons that you have taken care of.

    Jesus has died in a humiliated condition and yet shown the way to God, God has made him alive and become part of Him. This creative imagination now become a universal experience also ecumenical.

    I do not believe that Jesus die, his blood clean my sin, so nothing I need to do for my salvation. I believe Jesus has shown the way of life. I have been inspired by his demonstration and choose the same value, same risk, perhaps the same path.

    Michael, spiritual growth will not increase your gratifying capacity but will empower your competence. The competence of suffering for the larger, your caring for your country’s decency is one of the best quality of civility.

  45. #45 Michael
    December 1, 2007

    Paiwan
    I am not much of an idealist. I once imagined myself on a path of spiritual growth. I am 65 now and just try to get by with enough yoga and prayer to get me through the day.

    I admire your tenacity to work as an entrepreneur. I have never done this except perhaps when I was 11. I sold candy and pop to the army AA gunners at Kadena air base during the Korean war. They could not leave their posts after an air raid for long periods of time. I could sell candy and pop for double the PX price. I never made as much money as that until I got a real job when I was 20.

    I worked at a medical school for 20 years and saw a lot of drug abuse. It is hard to see good people taken by an addiction. It usually took a lot of abuse before they lost their jobs.

    As I said before, I lost faith in a fatherly god that takes care of us all. I hope that there is something better for us to aspire. I have seen angels on earth doing work that must require some sort of heroic motivation.

    Think of all the work K did keeping people cared for as they went to the edge of life. I have no real logic to my belief. I could not hope to convince anyone, but I believe there are some sort of higher motives at work in some people. I think of the dishwasher who worked in nephrology who would spend her evenings working on sick people for zero compensation. I think of Sister Kathy who gave everything she had to care for dying people.

    I think Jesus was right about just about everything.

  46. #46 paiwan
    December 2, 2007

    Michael, K

    I hope that others would participate, at least not annoyed by my sharing. ( If it does, please let me know.) I notice that Revere has posted a new Sermonette , but I can not listen the video clearly. He says that he does not know when he will come back, serious! Today�s mass, we sung a hymn � I know my Father�s house, it is not far away�.� This Phuket church has increased more people gradually. I felt today we sung with touch.

    Everyone indeed is a spiritual being and has spiritual hunger, as Augustine�s words, �God has created a space in our heart where nothing can fill it except Himself.� I experienced that if I try to replace something in this space, addictions this one that one will make me empty.

    I understand that the word God has been easily abused, for instance fundamentalists. Three years ago, Phuket was hit by tsunami and died six thousand more in hour. After that, many voluntary relieves arrived. I participated two days with Buddhist�s NGO, they did not use the word-God, but very similar expression. No one is perfect, I mean any institutional religions.

    Historically, church has contributed as much good less than bad. Bishop Tutu has a very famous joke, � When white people came to South Africa, they had bible, and we had land. After prayer, they have land and we have bible.�

    Church could be an idol. I have found that spiritual journey has been a very difficult lesson for me. I agree with Michael the existence of angels, and I say the grace is given, sort of serendipity.

    My job is in commercial research, selective breeding for virus resistant strain for shrimp production. So, evolution, genetics and metagenomics are the areas that I have to research. It is very pioneer area. Even sometimes I speculate that one day my work can be used for bird flu prevention model. Now I have done it in shrimp production in Thailand. ( The shrimp that you eat in the US, about 2 % is from my selected shrimp babies, interesting?)

    Basically my work is very scientific and demands research always. Personally, I have found that skills and spiritual reflection are conducive to my work. Wish to share more in the future.

    Lately I read Sigman Freud story in New York Times, in his late seventy, Freud abondoned his atheism. Very interesting article. Carl Jung seemed more advanced than him in spiritual experience.

  47. #47 K
    December 3, 2007

    Michael, I don’t think watching babies die is harder than watching 19 year olds die. 19 year olds are looking forward to life with plans for good things to happen. Babies don’t have such dreams and don’t know that they could die. What was hard with the babies was the days that parents were allowed to visit. Those whose parents didn’t come cried because they were not being held. Those whose parents did come cried because their parents left. It was a heart wrenching cacophony.

    Paiwan, I cannot leave the questions in God’s hands. As long as Jehovah is described as a loving father by Jesus (you sure don’t get that impression of him from the OT) and Jesus is supposed to be God incarnate, then I expect such a God to act at least as caring as a decent human father. While human fathers let their children suffer a bit for the sake of learning, what human father would let one of his children be sold into sex slavery.

    The argument that this is the result of sin and necessary for humans to have free will doesn’t work. Why should an 8 year old be paying for the sin of Adam and Eve. Even human justice systems are better than that. As for free will, I would gladly give up my free will for a more human will. Animals are said to have no free will and I don’t seen any of them unhappy because they lack it.

    I have read theology till I was sick of it. All nice tries to excused God for what he has done. It is far easier to live without a belief in God. My morals didn’t change one bit when I became an unbeliever.

    I am sure the Reveres feel put out to have it suggested that they can’t have morals because they are atheists and that probably motivates many of the Sunday Morning Sermonettes.

    However I always feel uncomfortable in arguing my position with a person of good will who also has a faith in God. I don’t mean to disturb the thoughts of people who are moral and well meaning. I don’t mind at all however arguing my position with smug, meanspirited Christians who ignore Jesus and live in their minds in the worlds of Jehovah as described in Joshua.

    At any rate I will stop at that.

  48. #48 paiwan
    December 3, 2007

    K and Michael

    I am glad that K comes to dialogue. Because I was thinking language and culture background would cause mis-understanding, sometimes I think it has sense of humor, nevertheless perceived sacarstic. In fact, sometimes I want talking to K, I feel having light heart, so forgive me my playful habit if you felt offended.

    Only after my 50, I suddenly found that I could be proactive to choose the church to go and theology book to read. I would be stupid to stay in a situation not good for me long. The food I choose to eat is my responsibility, so are books and friends. Some friends harm you more than help you, you can decide to be close or away ot to help them.

    I can sense a bit the pain of Michael when he saw Charles died, but I can not really understand how deep was the pain. I suppose there were not many Michael’s friends understood either.

    My fiance Nid is working for World Vision as communication staff, after tsunami project, she has been working on projects of HIV and people traffickering from Burma to Thailand’s reports. One day, my American friend Jerry visited us and shared the history of traffickering African people in the US. History always repeat. Now M. L. King’s birthday is national holiday. In a great country, we experience the grace prevail over the sin.

    To learn my English well, I have to read good articles from New York Times and speak with whom of first language, perhaps more than 20,000 hours. So, K. good theology books and good pastoral care are part of the skills to upgrade your potential where I sense it is boundiful to serve Him well. K, am I right that your energy is very full?

    K. We do not leave questions to God. We live with questions to show that we are engaged. But we can not expand ourselves to overtake the position of Creator. His time is beautiful, but God need us as partners. I have friends of evengelical background sometimes have the difficulty that they pray and want something happens in a certain time. But the time is not in our hand, if we do not learn this, we will end up with mental problems, for instance depression. I have this difficulty also, I pray for the vision in business to be realized, and it always delayed based on my agenda. Oh, a big lesson for me! His time is beautiful and never delay.

    Michael, child sometimes is the angel in disguise to us as parent. Their rebellions show how great parents’ love could be. We human beings have rebellions against God so long, so we can imagine God’s love from this perspective.

    Every Sunday, we attend the mass to ask forgiveness from God. In fact, we are not truly believing that we are forgiven. I now feel only God’s love can re-make us totally new every day. Yoga and meditations are good, but not enough. My opinion.

    At this moment, I feel that I like to say Peace and Love to you two.

  49. #49 K
    December 3, 2007

    Paiwan, nothing you said offended me. It is my fear that I will offend you as I feel strongly that a powerful, loving God does not exist. I feel that if a powerful God exists, that God must ask us for forgiveness. But, if as you say God needs us as partners, how can he be powerful. If he is powerful and wants us as partners, he should at least show his good will and protect innocent young children from harm. He is given credit for saving a child in a disaster, but not given the shame for not saving other children. I don’t wish to take away from you that which comforts you and gives you strength, but I expect that if you gave up belief in God you would find you were exactly the same person with your strength and love and good-will still with you. I did.

    But I am glad that you feel positive towards me and Michael across many miles.

  50. #50 paiwan
    December 3, 2007

    K, Michael:

    K. So, I am glad that you are not offended by me. I am not either. Let us maintain this deal of relating to each other in caring, compassionate and respect.

    I just sincerely hope that our upbrings in religious background will become the valuable legacy for us thru our efforts in fine tunning of our world view. So, we are broken enough to be empowered by the higher order. So, when days pass, we feel like the song: We are like eagle, flying into the sunshine.

    The first miracle of Jesus in wedding perform in our life and we are turned into good wine. People will say, you are so different, they serve good first, but you kep the best until now.

    All the best.

  51. #51 paiwan
    January 5, 2008

    The seeking in the process of discovery demands a very potent and health mind. If we discover something, it means that the thing is totally new to our understanding, nevertheless it is not invented.

    The journey of discovery, IMO it will make the person more competent, maybe not very gratifiying initially , because it should conquer the anxiety and narcissism. Ultimately, the outcome is a joyful one.

    The real challenge, from Rollo May, he said,” There is a real danger that humanistic movement colludes with human narcissism in failing to confront the issues of evil in ourselves, our society and world.” What do you think about his advice?

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