A Few Ponderings: The Deathless Death of Man, The Hell-bent Heavens, and the Resurrection of Carl Linneaus.

An Uncharming Paradox

The evangelical Christian is little more than a vastly uncharming paradox, as he is hell-bent on his faith in a future vision of heavenly destruction — the end of times, as described in the book of Revelation, wherein Jeeeesus will return to us, so they believe, once more.

Such delusional dogmatists might accurately be described as being hell-bent for heaven.

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Man, the Wise

Even the name which our species has greedily awarded itself (homo sapiens, Latin for “man, the wise“) signifies an over-abundance of arrogance and hubris. Why could we not be more humble in our desire for self-taxonomy? Why not instead “man, the curious” or “man, the hopeful“? History has shown our species to be an audacious one, a rather fascinating and violent collection of mammals, but wise? I dare think not!

So, I hereby resurrect the good Carl Linneaus from his grave at Uppsala by the powers of my deranged imagination! Let us have a cold pint, Carl, down at the nearest Swedish tavern, so that we may earnestly discuss our Latin wisdom…

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Death, Conquered

The day humankind conquers death through the ingeniousness of medical science will, ironically, require the death of us all. Upon the attainment of immortality, that infinite condition of the Gods, we will have snubbed out the human man and replaced him with an immortal being. Man will have downgraded himself to the status of a God — and what a lowly god he will be! Although he will be no more lowly than the God of the bible or Quran, or the gods of Olympus and ancient Egypt. We will undoubtedly continue to pursue our own footsteps of endless folly, just as those ignoble deities of ancient scripture. Every hatred and stupidity will be committed to a re-cyclical progression, a savage history set upon mindless repeat. Like a single wave breaking upon the land, always to be followed by the ocean.

Upon the “achievement” of permanence and immortality, humankind will have, in a sense, come around full circle. Man started out believing that he was made in God’s image, when it is rather more likely that man created God in his image. Taking it another logical step further, upon acquiring status of deity, man will have finally created himself in the image of God.

His golden staff will be a sort of complex, technical crutch. His blinding light will be an artificial luminescence. His tissue will be sown to a bodily permanence by a freakish series of subatomic stitches beyond even Mary Shelley’s grotesque imagination. And finally His attained immortality will be an ever-strange zombification of His former humanity.

Man Bless! 

 

An Agnostic’s Diagnostic: Why I Don’t Believe in a Personal God

I should point out right from the start that I’m an agnostic. Agnosticism is what I regard as the intelligent form of incompetence. Because I cannot declare an affirmative ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, I cannot be held accountable either way. So, I remain a man happily incompetent!

One thing which I can say I am atheistic about (at least in my heart) is the idea of a personal God — that being defined as a supernatural deity whom created all of the universe with a singular purpose in mind, whom interferes with the daily activities of a little-known species called man, has created an afterlife of both reward and punishment, whom answers prayers, etc. I think that if there is a Divine Creator, It is greater and grander than the traditional notions which we plaster onto His image. I also note that I find it no coincidence that He is oft regarded as a male personality, since it is particularly men doing the writing of scripture.

I am atheistic about this idea because I think it’s absurd. The remainder of this article will be my attempt to express why I think ridiculousness is inherent in the idea of a personal, relateable Creator.

Firstly, why must such a Creator be regarded as a He? Why not a She, or an It? An It would be closer to the reality, if such a Thing exists. I find it highly doubtful that God would have a genitalia determining his sex. I also find it incredibly ludicrous that God would have a personality. One would think God would be far too busy with other celestial matters than to busy Itself with having one.

A personality is defined as such: the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

Why should God have a distinctive character? A character is a finite, limited construction of a conscious identity — I won’t say human identity, because there are other creatures, such as dogs, cats, etc. which are able to have an abundant about of characteristic attributes too. Any loving pet owner is apt to tell you so. We should also not forget there may be other conscious beings we Earthlings are not aware of. We exist in an infinite universe, so why not the possibility of there being extraterrestrials somewhere out there in the farthest reaches of space whom have their own brand of personality? I digress. The point is that personality is a limited construction of identity. If God is infinite, why would It choose to limit itself to such a finite, limited notion as an Ego? Such a choice would seem absurd, pointless, banal, etc.

Upon bringing this gripe up to my good friend, whom is very much convinced of the existence of a personal God, he responded as such: “If even I have been given a personality, why can’t God have one? Why should we take away God’s personality?” Well, to take away a personality, or anything for that matter, from out of the divine clutches of the infinite, eternal hands of God would require quite an ingenious feat of human trickery and robbery, no? Imagine sticking up God in a convenience store and robbing him of his personality. Of course, an eternal retribution of hellfire afterwords would make the committer of such a deed highly regretful. But if the act could be pulled off to success, what a legend he or she would forever be among mortals! Imagine being the man whom robbed a divine deity! Once more, I digress. In truth, a finite being could never take away from an infinite, eternal being.

In regards to personality, one seems necessary for the wholeness of a human identity. Yet it is not necessary for a God — a God being omnipotent, omnipresent, immortal — all those things which a human being is not. One would think God would transcend beyond such a faulted, limited concept as a personality. Perhaps humans like to attribute personality to God because of his overly infinite and grand reality — we secretly wish for the It to be a Him, for It to be smaller, to be more local and personally available. A prayer is not so much a request as a simple wish to be heard.

If God were to have a personality, It would be engaging in sheer costumery. It would be like wearing a funny hat that is far too small for your head and parading it around in the privacy of your home, where no other man can see you. Upon this image we may be left with a sense of the preposterous — that is the idea of a personal deity.

It is in my opinion that God is a lousy, three-letter word, a dirty concept of the human ego. We have created a God in our own image, not the other way around. As an agnostic, I cannot completely rule out the existence of God due to lack of sufficient evidence. But I can discern what is likely and what is rather unlikely. It is more likely that an eternal creator of the universe would be grander, more infinite in scope than our human conceits can possibly imagine. God may be like a bundle of higher spatial dimensions. One may try and try to imagine one extra dimension beyond three, but due to the limitations of our imagination, a failure to conceive indubitably occurs.

Personally, I believe that a lack of a personal, male authoritarian, judgmental and vain God (as so proclaimed in the Bible) makes life all the more precious. Because there is no afterlife to aspire to, we must then resign ourselves to aspire to this one. And that may not be so bad.

A promised eternity in the Lord’s Heaven? What a Hell!

I am grateful for this existence. I am grateful or this outlook, for these words, for my family and loved ones, for the John Coltrane record currently playing on my stereo, and for much, much more. The universe is mysterious, exhilarating, and to understate it, very very big. I am part of that very very big universe. I require no personal deity to pray to in order for my gratitude and appreciation for my participation in existence to be as such.

Also, never trust people — gods or otherwise — whom shamelessly wear funny hats when no one is looking. I’ll end with this quote from one of my favorite thinkers:

“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” Albert Einstein, “Religion and Science,” New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930.

Mahalo!

 

Ponderings: Bumper Sticker Idiocy & A Magic Morning

Bumper Sticker Idiocy

Bumper stickers are often a valuable source of insight into the deranged thoughts of the common citizen. I came across one the other day which read, “God is pro-life!” in big black capital letters set against a yellow, rectangular background. This is merely one of a great many bumper sticker proclamations of moral certainty, most of them of either a political and/or religious nature. Many people seem to have a very definite knowledge regarding the subjective values of God’s character — based upon, of course, the fundamental assumption that God has a character. I happen to find such an idea (that of a personal God in general) to be remarkably absurd and unlikely. One would think that a singular deity of the cosmos would not be so petty, so human as to resign his infinite scope to that of a finite, temporary notion of a human ego. It begs the question, did God make man in his image, or is rather more likely that man made God in his?

The most asinine bumper sticker I’ve come across, pasted upon the same vehicle with such mindless cliches as, “Jesus Died for Your Sins!” and “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” was this: “If babies had guns, there wouldn’t be abortions!

I had to think about that last one for a very long time. And the more thought I supplied to that statement, the more and more nonsensical and stupid it became. It seems to me completely futile to even attempt discussing my reservations, if I am to say it very politely, with that unconscious statement. Well! The pro-life crowd in general doesn’t seem very intelligent or gifted with the ability to critically think, do they? Let them resign themselves to asinine bumper stickers then. The eyes of the world will read, laugh with deserved incredulity, and pass them by for the silly, outdated primitives that they are. Meanwhile, the rest of us, those whom believe in that old hat — freedom of choice – will aspire to be the more sophisticated of barbarians. Mahalo!

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Magic Morning

Upon awakening this morning, she goes about the day seeing things in a far different light — a truer, brighter, more infinite light. The sun shines beautiful upon all things. The grass, trees, sky, and soil nurture her soul. The people, cars, buildings, garbage dumps, mortuaries, fire stations and libraries nurture her soul too. What she is seeing is her inner-light shining through her mind, propagating upon her reality. She see’s with the eye of elevation, the eye of a poet.

Sipping her hot coffee, she smiles triumphant because she is awake and alive in the river of time and absurdity. Her mind is in sync with the dawn. Her spirit is aligned with the rising of the sun. When the sun peaks in the sky, she peaks too. When the sun sets, or the Earth turns, she too sets and turns with it. A magic morning. A magic day. She has broken free of her self-imposed chains. She is liberated from the oppression of herself and others. She writes it all down into a wonderful poem, then paints a painting, then writes a story, then sculpts a statue of herself holding the world in the calm palms of her hands. She tells her friends about it, hoping to inspire. This awakened poet, this creative being, is a good example to follow.  Good morning!

The Phenomenon of Merica

The Phenomenon of Merica: A Critique of Mindless Patriotism

According to the fashion style of the common American citizen, the good ol’ US of A seems to have become an absurd novelty. More than ever, this country has become a big red, white and blue joke — and a rather distasteful one at that. I wonder if other countries manufacture t-shirts and ball-caps with their national emblem donning a pair of aviator sunglasses, sporting an AK in one claw and a New Testament bible in the other, the image complete with the nonsensical abbreviation, MERICA! in bold printed letters arching over the top. What is patriotism really except an exaggerated form of national egotism?

Mindless citizens (whom are probably voting Republican) whom most regularly sport such patriotic merchandise seem to have reached the summit of a fine balance: a nationalistic fundamentalism merged with a vague notion of personal values. I have little doubt that these values, the ones shouted at 4th of July stage shows, Tea Party rallies and sung in contemporary country-pop songs — namely, freedom & liberty — are nothing more than synonymous words attached to hazy, ill-defined conceptual images regurgitated through the mouths of their favorite politicians. The observation I am making here is, how often does the common citizen reflect upon what freedom actually means or implicates? Does freedom have an extent, or a limit? And what of liberty? And what of their intimate connection with one another, if any? Where does government fit into these ideals? Civics is a valuable educational field to explore, yet unexplored this territory remains by minds tethered to preconceived notions handed down to them by a nation-worshiping culture.

The answer to everything lies within the bible and the constitution (which they don’t read) so why ask anymore questions? Land of the Free, Home of the Brave has been a mantra of endless repetition for decades. Because it is a statement as abundant as the air we breathe, it must be infinitely true, no? Of course, we can’t forget the beloved national favorite: The American Dream. It appears as yet another empty phrase echoing in the halls of the unconscious, merely a concept to be utilized by the same advertising companies which manufacture flags, t-shirts, and needless products which any good American should purchase if he truly loves and has pride in his country. But what does it mean — this dream? Is it something to be pursued and uncovered, or does it exist as a natural supplement given to a citizen as his birth right? As George Carlin most aptly stated, “The thing about the American dream is that you have to be asleep to believe it.

I presume the mouth-breathing, red-white-and-blue-clad, beer-soaked alpha-primitives of nationalistic-religious fervor hardly ever attempt to fully define nor question anything at all. Of course, I know that this is only one sample of the American citizen and should not at all reflect the whole of the country. I am indeed discussing a stereotype, but it is a stereotype I have seen all too often in the flesh, which illustrates to me that it is a reality. Admittedly, the sheer amount of this particular unthinking attitude and dogmatic pop culture patriotism frightens me quite a lot. And I know it stems from a greater source, that infinite well inside of all human beings: namely, the well of stupidity. As the brilliant and humble genius, Albert Einstein had said, “There are two things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the former.

Moreover, what is evidently missing in these fashion (or lack thereof) style choices is a sense of integrity. The most deranged thing about this is, I think that people whom sport such stupid iconography of nationalism fully believe that they themselves have a great sense of integrity — a word which they are confusing, I believe, with senseless pride. This senseless pride extends beyond mere gift shop t-shirts, hats, and distorted bald-eagle relics however — it extends to bumper stickers, banners, signs, and blindly accepted inner values which promulgate further into the popular culture, like a deadly virus to the thinking mind.

I will end with one aphorism of my own:

In the land of the unconscious, home of ignorant, Freedom is a gas station and Liberty is a jeep!

 

Fairy Tale Deity

Humankind has a bad habit of inventing strange, absurd myths in order to secure a temporary happiness for their children — I am thinking here of mythical figures such as Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, etc. It is inevitable of course that our children will come to realize that these magical figures do not exist. Children come to the understanding that their beliefs have been mere lies, told to them by their parents, teachers and other authority figures, and that it was primarily their unquestioning faith alone which perpetuated their magical beliefs. We refer to this realization as (with some evident melancholy), growing up.

It occurs to me that we adults have yet some ‘growing up’ to do. As the eons pass, the Gods and their corresponding Heavens and Hells have steadily decreased in number. Monotheism is the last straw. Still, many of our “full grown” fellow species members are not yet ready to dispense with their remaining, singular Deity. Philosophers with their reason and logic have robbed them of their bouquet and they are left with but one flower, and it is wilting and sad looking.

Like children whom refuse to accept the footsteps and quiet chatter of their parents as they place presents beneath the Christmas tree, we adults refuse to accept the light which science casts upon the depths of the dark, as further evidence pointing to a universe devoid of a Conscious Creator is added to the mounting pile.

In fewer words, men are often voluntarily mentally retarded. We cling to our fairy tale Deity just as children cling to their precious Tooth Fairy. No more, no less. Perhaps we may one day inevitably wake up, but only once we have lost all our teeth and there is no quarter given…