That's the spirit of the whole thing, isn't it? A place to discuss whatever is on your mind - ask questions when you have them, propose theories or explain thoughts when they come to you. An open place for conversation among many diverse individuals.


If you would like to join our community, please leave a comment, and we will be sure to add you as an author. You're also welcome to join the conversation on Twitter, just search 'weekendphilosophers'. All questions can be directed to

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What if God was one of us? What if, indeed!

Thank you - I don't think I could have asked for a better response to my God question. That was exactly what I was searching for - a different perspective on a complicated topic. By the way, I looked up that verse in Romans - intriguing, definitely raises some questions...then again, we could devote our entire lives to attempting to interrupt the Bible, be none the better for it and probably wouldn't find ourselves much further than where we began. Either way, I'll quote it during the third section of my post here today and then ask some of the questions it raised in my mind - originally I was going to comment on it, however my comments kind of led me into a mini-rant and I'd rather not bring that here, so I shall digress for now. Anyways - my plan for this post is to break into three parts - my own background and subsequent beliefs, a response to things in your post that struck me, and then Romans 13:1-7 and the questions is brings in my mind.

So thusly, I feel I must explain myself. My mother's family is deeply Methodist, my father's side is Catholic (although, only on Sundays). I was raised Methodist, going to church weekly until I was four when my parents divorced, then church only on holidays or sparingly, at best. Eventually, of course, not at all. In eighth grade, when I was living with the Kooys, a strongly religious family in their own right, I found myself yearning to join them and thus I set out on a quest to deepen my own, at the time, barely casual faith - a passive belief in something greater than myself. However, as I read through the Bible and the many "How I Can Understand the Bible" or "Scientific Evidence of Biblical Events..." books, I found myself more and more dragged down by questions. Every answer I found only gave way to more questions - it was a quagmire and eventually, I had to give into my rational mind - there was no God. This was sometime in the 9th grade and I became a true atheist. This led me to the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, as even while abandoning my faith, I was still plagued by the questions were there truly are no answers. Naturally, I was misled to the writings of Nietzsche under the pretense that "God is dead." In time, I came to understand that Nietzsche was saying, God was a creation of feeble men who thought little of themselves and thus created a greater being to hold responsible for their blunders and their triumphs. "God is dead" was merely - to my understanding - a statement that we, as humans, had evolved and advanced scientifically, past the need for such a deity which could serve no purpose in the (then) modern world. He urged readers to drop their empty faiths as it served no purpose towards the further hood of mankind. Then came Ayn Rand, who even furthered this concept in my mind, while not directly religious, the thought of man as the highest of beings not a creation or means of some higher power, but rather an individual greatness. I may be misinterpreting both of these philosophers, actually, it's very likely, especially since they are often listed as opposites on the philosophical spectrum - however, the mind see whats it wants, no? During these influential high school years I also had many conversations with a coworker of mine specifically on the existence of God. He was a young man studying to be a minister, not just some random Taco Bell employee who happened to have insight on the subject. While I don't think I'd ever admit it to him, out of pride I suppose, I think these conversations with him directly led to me becoming much more agnostic. Even with the Big Bang Theory, we are still left with the same questions - what started it all? The initial spark? I'm not saying there is a who involved as that would imply a conscience being intentionally created something, which intentionally or accidentally, led to all life and everything else that is. Now that's a big concept, no? Then comes the question of how do we even know how or dare I say if, this being wants to be worshiped? The Bible seems too clean and simple to be realistic, yet simultaneously completely unrealistic in the perfect image of life for any mortal being. To me, it seems like telling a kid to be good for Christmas or they'll get eternal damnation, I mean a lump of coal. This raises the question are people 'good' because there is a consequence otherwise, because there is a promised rewards, or because it is of free thought that they act the way they do? I'd like to think that most people who answer the third, but I highly doubt it would be honest. Of course, all of this is just the tip of a spiritual iceberg - whose to say there is an afterlife at all? You see the can of worms this has opened up - I look forward to an intense debate stemming from this topic, but for now I shall stop myself and move on to the next part.

Again - I want to thank you for your wonderful post. First, you're the second person to suggest vanilla vodka and root beer to me, so I guess I'll have to try it. Generally, I prefer my vodka straight and no flavor, but I'm up for trying anything once. Moving past alcohol, which is a wonderful topic all it's own, we have the true heart of your past. Now I must admit that while I think I understand the concept of everything, it's difficult to wrap my mind around certain emotions regarding your religious problems due to the simple fact that you come from a different background on this front. Also, I think it is necessary to include a slight disclaimer stating that many people hold very strong religious beliefs and in this open debate atmosphere there will more than likely be some toes stepped on, so it's important to clarify that nothing is to be taken personally, nor should anything be an intentional personal attack - this is when the friendly part of our welcoming message should be most noted. Religion is different for everyone and it's very personal - respect each others opinions, and don't be afraid to state your own.
The first thing that stuck out to me that you felt you missed out on (and I'm not saying you didn't) is being part of a group with a common purpose or idea. In my experience, this isn't religion that you are describing, but rather a cult. I've always felt that religion was meant to be a personal passage - at least in the Christian sense, which is the face of religion we are discussing here. I always pictured church as the guidance counselor in high school - just helping you along the path to God, but not a necessary element to spiritual growth.
The next tidbit that I noticed was your inability to have faith in concepts like love and trust, and for that I feel for you. While I don't entirely know if that stems from lack of religion, something else, or a combination thereof, I do know from personal experience that it takes a huge leap of faith to be able to do either. I wish I had words of wisdom for you, but those concepts are so young in my own mind and complex even to, I'm sure, the wisest of men that I couldn't even being to explain anything to you. I always wrote them off as part of growing up, something that comes with age, but it's different for everyone, I'm sure.

Side Topic #1 - What is the true source of love? Trust? Where do they stem from and how can one truly grasp either?

The next two slices I think I will discuss together - your use of nature and it's shortcomings and the belief that you are an end in yourself. I find both of these ideas far more inspirational than you, it seems. The miracle of nature - the fascinating triumph of the growing world around us - the trees, rivers, mountains, whatever - it's all part of a perfect system that fixes itself as it goes along, it's an entirely efficient machine that shows little sign of entropy, something humans constantly are fighting, but nature has little trouble with always just works. I can see where one might feel lonely or detached, but if you're looking for answers to questions without them, humans can't help you anymore than a tree and at least the tree can't hurt your feelings. Then comes the concept of you being an end result of some great system and yeah - there's some pressure there that I can see and could easily make anyone feel like a disappointment or an insignificant being in the grander scheme, but it goes deeper than that. This is where Rand's writings led me, so I'll do my best to explain my perspective, maybe it'll make you feel better about things. First, let's drop the end result of some great system part - too much pressure there and for no apparent reason. Second, the idea of being a disappointment can go too, we're are all still young if you put it in perspective, there's no rush to change the world. Thirdly, let's change our idea of what changes the world - you don't have to invent the Internet or anything, hell - doing what we are doing right now is a change, this conversation, word for word, has never happened before - we are way ahead of ourselves in my mind. You have to look at yourself as an end - a significant member of the human race and you can accomplish anything! Look at everything men have created in a mere 10,000 years - dinosaurs reined the planet for millions and millions of years and they evolved into birds - that was their greatest accomplishment. Every person in history was, at one point, just a child with some crazy ideas - from the greatest inventors, to the poorest peasants, we all start in the same place and we can all accomplish anything! We're not working for some divine power or towards some promised life - no, we're working for ourselves and that is all. It may seem empty, sure, but I love that sensation of complete control over my fortune, no destiny or fate controls my decisions. Yes, I might have a bit of a God complex...

Side Topic #2 - The Sims (and Sims 2, etc...); God complex, storytelling aspirations, or some deeper motive? What sells the game?

Being in complete control over my life really makes me feel more comfortable than any religion could possible offer me.
Finally you say "religion is this magic healing power that can give people hope" - in my life, religiously I have never felt this. Maybe I just haven't had a traumatic enough life, or I've been desensitized to dramatic events by television, but I have never required great amounts of hope that required some religious belief to fulfill. Honestly, I can't even see a situation that unbearable that I would have to turn to God - I suppose I can't actually predict how I would act to any event, but I feel pretty safe in saying that I wouldn't have to turn to God to help me along. Regardless of how bad anything gets, it can - no, it will, get better in time One just has to march on, keep your head down and get through whatever the storm is that dragging you down. It seems ridiculous, to me, that simply thinking that some greater power is purposely testing you via hardships will make it any more bearable. In the end, we are all truly alone...

Side Topic #3 - Watch Donnie Darko. Discuss.

...It is possible I am taking advantage of my religious upbringing and I just don't admit it to myself, maybe I do have more faith than I am even realizing, I can't say for sure, but that's my two cents.

Finally, Romans 13:1-7
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been establish by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who so will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what it is right and he will commend you.
For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants ,who give their full time to governing .
Give everyone what you own him! If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Side Topic #4 - Doesn't this sound like George W's personal mantra?
Side Topic $5 - Greater good or personal gain? Are they truly one in the same as capitalism assumes?

Now I did write quite a bit of a response, originally, to these verses, but I realized that it quickly became a rant and I didn't like that, so I will leave it with you all and respond to it later - I will say this, however. I agree with the last past - pay what you owe, that's just logical. The rest, however, seems to be a bit of hogwash to me - question nothing of how the government is run? Maybe it's because I'm American, but that's the most absurd thought I can think of - our minds naturally question everything around us, to deny that ability to be applied to the society in which we live and work for, that's insulting, really - probably why I ended up ranting. Anyways - that's all for today, sorry for the long post - later. Ta.

No comments: