Monday, September 26, 2011

Satan and the Problem of Deceit

I was a Christian once - someone who believed in Jesus Christ.  My transformation into a sort of deist has been forming over a period of ten years and has increased in pace in the last eighteen months.  What brought me to my current theological understanding of life was the slogging through millions of questions where there was no good answer and then moving forward to the next question where I discovered something of the same conclusion.

The fact that there was no good answer is not a conclusion in itself.  It just displays the nature of philosophy and theology in general.  We cannot see what we are wont to believe in and thus must take a bite out of a thing called "faith".  I am convinced this "faith" is decidedly personal.

It didn't used to be that way.

Growing up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church that leaned heavily on Bill Gothard's ultra-legalistic Institute in Basic Life Principles, I was taught that there was only one correct way to think and believe.  Faith was clearly established in the inerrant and infallible text of the Holy Bible.  The fact that hundreds, even thousands of other factions and groups used that exact same holy book, coming to different conclusions - at times, diametrically opposed - did not matter in the least. 

They were wrong.  Everyone else was wrong.  We held the keys to true righteousness.  After all, the way was narrow and tough, unlike the easy, wide way that led to ultimate destruction.

Faith was not personal at all.  It was supposed to be and was preached from many a pulpit as such.  But it was a cookie cutter faith.  You were expected to adhere to exact principles and formulas in order to have the kind of faith that provided you with guaranteed eternal security.  Any slight deviation from this faith was cause for concern for everyone who caught wind of the manifestations of your backsliding.

The worst offense of all was questioning.

It wasn't the questioning that was the problem.  Questioning was simply the symptom of a much deeper issue.  Just the fact that you were curious about the "maybe this isn't all it is cracked up to be" caused those around you to issue the warning:

"Satan is a master deceiver and you are allowing him to deceive you by questioning".

There is a simple problem with this factual statement.

First, we cannot see Satan.  There is no proof that he exists.  We cannot see God.  There is no proof that he exists either.  We have no possibility of establishing that every single word in the Holy Bible was written through the hands of men by God himself.  Even if this were the case, the contradictions and paradoxical natures of much of the theology within its pages would steer any logically thinking individual to a conclusion that seems quite obvious - we just don't know about what we should know.

Since we don't know what we should know, being that there are many interpretations for each of the thousands of verses in the Bible, there is no foundation from which to be deceived.  To say otherwise is to claim that it is possible to have the correct interpretation of all questions that can be answered from Christianity's holy book.  This is a tall task for any reasonable person to conclude as fact.

So, if we have no clue, but only the best ideas of God from the hands of mere men and women, like you and me, faith is decidedly personal and there is absolutely no possibility that we can be deceived.

A Great Letter to Dougy Boy

This brought tears to my eyes due to the honest truth.  In your face, Dougy!

Dear Doug, You Make Me Mad

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Problem With God

I don't have a problem with the idea of God.  I have a problem with taking the God of the Bible literally.

Way back in the early days of humanity, God was necessary to explain things like our origin, why the stars hung in the heavens, why there were two different sexes (one with boobs and one with moobs when they ate too much), why an apple fell from a tree on some dude's head, and much more that couldn't be explained.

Little by little, we have removed the need for God in most of those explanations of life.  We know why the stars move and what moves with them, even how to wish upon them.  We have a pretty good explanation of how they got there.  We understand gravity.  We understand how the sexes appear in the formation of the human race in the womb.  We have a decent explanation of our origins. 

As society, specifically the human race, has progressed, we have learned much.  Knowledge has increased and the ability to discover more knowledge is continuing to evolve.  God has been reduced to matter to only three basic ideas, in my view:

First, the origin of the human race.  Did God create the world?  Did it evolve?  Did God help the process of evolution along?

Evolution is constantly evolving and growing.  We are consistently seeing new discoveries and explanations of the science over the wires.  Problems with the idea are explained away using logic, philosophy, sarcasm, and even bitter rhetoric.  On the other side of the "debate", creationism, or the disingenuously named, intelligent design paradigm, uses reasoning, logic, and philosophy to try to prove that God did the job.  Creationism's main focus seems to be to prove that evolution cannot have happened, but the science seems to be against it.

In my view, there is not yet a preponderance of evidence - like with gravity where I can drop a hammer and hit my toe, wherein I discover two laws - the law of gravity and the law of pain (not to mention the art of blue streak issuance).  But, when there is, God will be reduced to the last two areas of life where he is needed.

Second, the morality of man.  Where does man get their laws of rightness from?  Is it from God?  The Bible states that God's law is written on our hearts.  But what law is that?  The law of stoning children when they give you the evil eye?  The law of killing hundreds upon hundreds of animals in a single day to appease the vengeful anger of a jealous supreme being?  Or, the law of love?  Doing what is right to your fellow man.  Caring for others.  Not killing one another.  Not raping another person without their permission.  Realizing that child prostitution is wrong.

But, does the human race really need their morality from God?  The argument for this type of morality is that it is absolute while everything else is relative.  So, put two people together and ask them a question on spanking.  Do you think their answers will come anywhere close to an absolute law?  Say they both base their answers on the Bible.  There is still no guarantee that there will be a consensus.

I posit that mankind CAN and does inherit morality from others that came before.  Many people who have no belief in God or any deity for that matter are much gooder than myself.  If there was a heaven for gooderness, they would be at the top of the heap and I would be as small as their left pinky toe in comparison.  People do not need God to be good people.  Moral people.  Believe me when I say that some of the most horrible people I have ever encountered in life are those that claim to get their morality from God himself.

So, God is now even unnecessary for morality, as well.

Third, the afterlife.  We have no idea what the afterlife, if any, will be.  Nobody has been there and back to tell us what to expect.  Sure, we have things like "23 Minutes in Hell", and "60 Minutes in Heaven", and "Where I Sent My Mother-In-Law", but those can be chalked up to fanciful monetary ventures.  We have ideas of what to expect from worldwide literature.  Will we be reincarnated?  Will we end up in a dungeon beneath the earth?  Torment for eternity?  Purgatory?  Heaven?  What is heaven?

I can't say much about this idea because all of it is, and has to be, conjecture.  We just don't know.  Only God, whomever he is, can know.

Which leads me to the god of the Bible.

According to the Bible, God created this earth so that man could be made in his image.  Apparently, he wanted man to worship him.  After all, he is a jealous God and cares only for his own worship, and yet loves mankind, even though he created hell for most of mankind to burn forever, though he wants none to perish in it, even though he bothered to create it to destroy naughty peeps in the first place.  He designed the creation to be good and yet knew that man was going to sin, so planted a magical tree that was forbidden.  Man ate the fruit, as he knew man would and then, he threw them out of the garden so they wouldn't eat the eternal life tree - that he himself planted.

Then, thousands of years of suffering, that he designed into his creation, passed by with nary a sign of lasting redemption.  Redemption had to be done on an annual basis - though only for a few select individuals - by killing animals and spilling their blood for him.  This gory being then allowed his only son to die for all mankind, who needs to be washed in the blood of Christ to be perfect for God. 

So, we now are supposed to love this man, Jesus, who separates us from the vengeful, jealous, wrath of God, only for such a time as we are on this earth.  We are to believe on him, just so that we can have a path to God's heaven, that he created for only a select few, so that we can then be reunited with this vengeful, jealous, being - for eternity.  If we don't do this, we must suffer an eternal death, away from the vengeful, jealous, wrathful, supreme being, where he wanted us to be anyway, being that he is omniscient.

So, can THAT god be the one in the afterlife?

I sure hope not.

If there is a God, I hope the canonical consortium of ancient texts got it wrong.


I apologize if I have alienated some of my thirteen readers, but I don't want to sugarcoat my thoughts.  I have always been one to conform to the thinking of those that I desire to love me.  I would rather be honest in my assessment of life and its mysteries, if mysteries are what they are.

Finally, the argument of "How dare you question God's intentions!?  Surely you know that his ways are not our ways!!" is much too convenient for me to take it seriously.  I will not go through life, consistently numbing my mind to the irreconcilable, paradoxical nature of the orthodox Christian god.  It is just too improbable.