Archive for December, 2007

Farewell Bender

December 22, 2007

 

Something happened last night around 3:30 am. My girlfriend and I were sleeping peacefully under the covers, surrounded by our menagerie of two cats and a dog. Suddenly, Bender cried out, jumped from the bed, landed on the floor, and then he was gone. One moment he was there and the next he was gone.

When I say he was there, I am referring to my friend, the one who reminded me every evening to put food in his bowl and demanded attention any time I was busy. You could never deny that Bender was there. He was the friendliest, most obnoxious cat I ever knew.

When I say he was gone, I don’t mean he disappeared. The part of him that was blood and bones on the inside, flesh and orange fur on the outside was still there lying on the carpeted floor of our bedroom, but Bender was gone. As I picked his little head up and looked into his eyes, I could see that something was missing.

If we lived closer to the clinic where my girlfriend works as a veterinarian, she could have put him on kitty life support. She could have hooked him up to machines, pumped air into his lungs, moved blood through his veins and fed him through a tube. That would have kept his body alive, but I know that whatever it was that was missing would still have been gone.

I have written much lately about the purpose of life and the nature of God, but it was a very rotund 2-year old cat named Bender that really made it sink in. Life is more than a body breathing in and out. It is more than eating and eliminating waste, more than chasing bugs. Twelve hours ago I looked into Bender’s eyes and he was there. Six hours ago I looked again and he was gone. His eyes were there, still warm and moist as ever, but the spark of his soul was missing.

Some people say that when the body dies, life is over. They say that the soul is a concept fabricated by the wishful thinking of those who fear death and want to believe in an afterlife. I don’t believe in the soul because I am afraid to die. Life is far scarier to me than death. I believe because I sense something eternal within me, something that inhabits this blood and bones, flesh and fur body of mine, something very much like the spark that was in Bender’s eyes before he died.

I don’t know why some people look into the eyes of a friend and see only the physical part of what is there looking back. Bender had a personality, an air about him that was more than met the eye. He loved me and made sure I knew it at the most inconvenient times. I will miss him.

The Purpose of Life

December 17, 2007

Assuming God created us, why did he decide to put us here in the material world? Assuming God exists in a spiritual realm, why even create a physical world at all?

The reason may have something to do with the definition of eternity and the intrinsic characteristics of time.

There are two conflicting definitions of eternity. One says that eternity is the endless passage of time, a state in which there is time without end. The other says that eternity is the absence of time altogether, a state in which time does not exist.

Why is this important? For two reasons:

First, because time inevitably produces change. If God is unchanging, he must exist in the absence of time. The only way something can never change is if it exists in an eternal present, with no past and no future.

The second reason this is important is because time is necessary for change to occur. If people have free will, we must exist in time so that we can experience the results of our choices. We must have not only a present, but a past and a future as well, so that we can change from what we were into what we will become.

My belief is that we are the creations of an unchanging God and given free will to choose to accept him or not. Because he exists in an eternity in which time does not exist, he created a universe in which time does exist, separate from his own, a place where people can evolve into perfect spiritual beings.

We are first created in the unchanging spiritual realm, are then born into the physical world to live a life which is really just a series of choices, we enjoy or suffer the consequences of those choices, we grow or decay as spiritual beings, and then finally we return to the spiritual realm where we choose whether or not to do it again, over and over until we finally perfect ourselves and become fully-functioning members of God’s family.

Therefore the purpose of life is change.

NOTE: This is a repost of my very first blog entry and it got no comments so I thought that I would offer it up again now that traffic to this blog has increased.

Does Religion have it Backwards?

December 9, 2007

In Religions: Godly Garbages, sulochanosho wrote:

The whole world may glorify and sanctify the so called holy books of religions and sermons. But that is just an act not less than that of a suicide venture and an explicit insult to the life force.

I couldn’t agree more, especially the part about people glorifying the holy books of religion. When people blindly delegate their spiritual belief system to the pages of an old book (or the words of religious leaders) they insult the creator. Why? Because if God created us in his own image (with intelligence, curiosity, reason, and capacity for logic), then he himself must possess these traits. Furthermore, it follows that he must value them as well.

How disappointing it must be to the creator when someone pushes these wonderful gifts aside to blindly follow the written or oral words of mere mortals, disregarding the tools that God himself provided to examine the world and discern the truth.

Here is a thought to ponder. Some people believe that their religion separates them from others, that they are “saved” and those they call unbelievers, infidels, pagans, and heretics are lost. In Biblical times, farmers used to “winnow” their harvested wheat by crushing the dry husk (chaff) off the grain and allowing it to blow away, lost in the wind. The wheat was then saved. Christians use that ancient practice as a metaphor when they refer to God separating the chaff (unbelievers) from the wheat (themselves). I agree! Unfortunately, I think they have it backwards. What if the religious among us are actually the chaff?

Perhaps God created religion to find out who among us would be willing to shirk the moral obligation to diligently seek him personally. Perhaps God wanted to see who would have the courage to reject religion and question the status quo (much the same way Jesus was reported to have done when he refuted the Pharisees). It is possible, even likely, that God gave us the gifts of intelligence, curiosity, reason, and the capacity for logic so that each of us would be able to find genuine faith and not have to accept the pale, man-made imitation of faith that we call religion.

You can choose to blindly be lead by religion. Or, you can choose to use your God-given gifts to question what has been handed to you by religion before swallowing it whole out of fear or laziness or lack of confidence in your own divinity. By testing the tenets of religion you can determine what is good and what is pure and what is true. You can transmute dogma into faith! If there is a day of judgment and I stand before God to account for my life, I want to be able to look him in the eye and say, “I may have been right, I may have been wrong, but at least I didn’t take the easy way out. If nothing else, I tried to find the real you.”

God is a Woman

December 6, 2007

God is a woman. Actually, it is more accurate to say that God is feminine. Before anyone gets upset, let me add that God is also masculine. Does it sound sacrilegious to say that God is both male and female? Before you reject the idea, consider that at the time when our present concepts of God were being formed we lived in a largely patriarchal world, and in many cases we still do. If God is both male and female, it seems likely that the feminine aspects of God were diluted over the course of male-dominated history. This is what created the modern interpretation of God as masculine only.

Why do I suggest that God is both male and female? Read on.

Have you ever created something? Of course you have. From time to time each of us realizes there is something inside – an idea, a movement, a song, or something else – that simply has to get out. There is something inside of you and it just won’t sit still.

If you’re a writer, it comes out as words on paper. If you’re a dancer, it comes out as a series of steps, and if you’re a musician, it comes out as chords and scales. The general idea is that something first exists inside the creator and is subsequently transferred from their mind into the physical universe through an act of will.

If you accept God as the ultimate creator, the same holds true for him on a much larger scale. God created the physical universe and populated it with life. There were a series of things inside God that simply had to get out, and we were one of those things.

Since God created us male and female, it follows that maleness and femaleness first existed within God and that they were subsequently transferred from her mind into the physical universe through an act of will. (That reference to ‘her’ got you, didn’t it?)

If you like to refer to the Bible, note that we were created in the image of God, so it follows that since we are male and female, then maleness and femaleness must be an integral part of his makeup as well.

This idea is further backed up if we consider that our understanding of God is bursting with attributes typically recognized as being masculine or feminine. For example, we ascribe to him dominance, authority, power, strength, invincibility, judgment, and discipline. On the other hand, we ascribe to her nurturing, caring, relationships, empathy, love, healing, and acceptance.

Throughout this blog, and in most of my comments, I refer to God as a ‘he’ only because by using the expected masculine reference I can keep readers on topic, rather than wondering why I used ‘her’ to refer to God. In my opinion, however, either reference is accurate and acceptable.

To Believe or Not to Believe, That is the Question

December 5, 2007

I recently posted an entry that asked whether you believe in God or not and why. I tagged it with religion and atheism among others, hoping for a balanced response. I got responses from five readers; three were believers, one was atheist, and one seemed agnostic with a lean towards believing. In this post I want to attempt some kind of analysis of the results.

Will Claybourne wrote: … how else would the earth have been made? There is too much evidence supporting God/the Bible, that nobody in their right mind could not believe in him …

This was an interesting comment. I’m not aware of any scientific, verifiable evidence supporting the existence of God, but one of the reasons I believe in a creator is that I cannot fathom how this world came to be without some intelligent mind bringing it into existence. The big bang theory? Sure why not? It makes as much sense as anything else we have been able to come up with. Six days of creation followed by the Garden of Eden? Maybe. I wasn’t there so I cannot say for sure.

One thing seems to be evident and that is that the world exists and we exist. If we follow time back to the beginning, whenever that beginning was and whatever form it took, the physical universe had an origin. (Even if you believe that time is circular, having no beginning and no end, some intelligence must have set up the system.) Where did the matter that comprised the big bang come from? Even if one can explain away the origin of the inanimate universe, where did the first spark of life come from? In my opinion a powerful creative mind brought all things into existence, although what form it took initially I cannot say. In other words, if the big bang theory is correct, then that is the method by which God chose to create the universe.

faint4b wrote: … I ‘feel’ Him. And those miracles that have happened in my life and family explain it all. …

andielle wrote: I believe in God because of the personal relationship that I have with this entity. …

These two commenters say they believe because of personal experience. This is the other main reason I believe in God. One of the things I have always prayed for has been that God would reveal himself to me in a way I could understand. In my youth I was a Christian fundamentalist. I honestly think that it was this prayer, fervently made over time, that helped me see that the church was more about control than about trying to find the true God. I succumbed to pressure from religious leaders, the Bible, and other church members into believing their fear-based dogma until the true God finally got through to me and broke the spell.

My creator showed me that I have a mind to think, eyes to see, and a heart to feel. Ever since then he has encouraged me to use these gifts to question my faith to see if it is true. I no longer believe something just because I am told it is so and as a result my faith is stronger now than ever before. Now I know what I believe, but even more importantly I know why I believe it. Unquestioned faith is weak and will not stand up when things get tough because its not really your faith. It belongs to someone else.

Ron H wrote: … There are two ways to find God: by wanting to find him, and by not wanting to find him. I started at the former, gradually receded into the latter, and I never found Him. …

This commenter is an atheist because he searched for God and never found him. I can buy that. I respect this person’s point of view more than that of a “religious” person who has never really searched for God at all, never really examined their faith. At least Ron looked and didn’t allow the words of a man in a fancy robe standing on a stage or the phrases written in an old book to replace his moral duty to search for God himself.

Don’t delegate your search for the truth to the church! If you want to find out if God exists or if your understanding of God is genuine, go to God himself for the answers. Anyone who professes to be a Christian has doubts. There is a reason for that. The true God, the one who created you is trying to get through to you directly. God doesn’t need a priest or a holy book to reveal himself to you. Religion is man-made and has twisted the original message. Ask God to reveal himself to you in a way you can understand and he will.

sulochanosho wrote: We need not believe in either of these dirty things: theism or atheism. Just LIVE your LIFE totally here and now. That alone is beautiful and GOD comes to you unasked!

Kudos! This is perhaps my favorite response because it best embodies faith in God. If God is truly transcendent, why do we need to worry about finding him at all? Don’t you see? By not worrying about it, by just living our lives totally, here and now, we leave it up to God to take care of the details. Even the Christian Bible says that we should have the faith of little children.

Do children worry about the details or do they just live their lives? They believe what they believe because they believe it. As they mature, new beliefs take the place of outgrown ones. As children grow, they are subjected to more and more reality until they become (in the best case) fully-functioning beings. Children explore their world and ask questions about everything. Isn’t this the ultimate purpose of life, to grow and mature until we become fully-functioning spiritual beings? Isn’t that what God wants for his children? So don’t worry, be happy, explore your faith and ask lots of questions. If the answers don’t make sense, go to the top and ask God himself.

Why Do You Believe in God (or Why Not)?

December 3, 2007

I was wondering why you believe in God, or why you don’t believe in God. This is an honest question, and I hope you are willing to give an honest answer.