Uncommon Sense

September 19, 2021

The Purpose of Human Existence

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:58 am
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I continue to write about this because I see questions galore on Quora and Medium about “the purpose of our existence at the material/physical level.” For some people just the miracle of our existence is insufficient, there must be a grand scheme behind the scenes that we are helping to fulfill.

Allow me to throw a bucket of cold water on this idea through a favorite tool of Albert Einstein’s: the thought experiment.

Here is how it goes: for a period of 24 hours, human beings disappear and leave no trace. Along with us disappearing, so does all of our superstitious claptrap: souls, ghosts, etc. . . . all gone, but for just 24 hours.

What purpose or purposes do you think would exist once we were gone? I suggest “all gone.” Of course if we left behind written records alien archeologists could decipher them and discern that we believed we had a purpose in the universe. When they stopped laughing, they would recognize that our species hadn’t really been around for long when it fell.

Before the 24 hours elapses and we come back, ask yourself: how would the rest of the universe be affected by our disappearance? I hope you would see that there would be no effect of any note on the rest of the universe.

Purposes are things we invent. We invent them for ourselves, as individuals, and sometimes we band together in groups around a shared purpose. Shared purposes can also be very large, such as winning a total war in your country against an invading force, but it takes a large number of people to shape that purpose and keep it going.

The desire that there be some outside purpose for the existence of humanity as a whole, is the wish for there to be some supernatural agent which will take responsibility, rather than us taking responsibility for ourselves, as it were. Which of these two beliefs is the child-like one? Is it any wonder that so many religions ask you to “become like a child,” because if you do, then you de facto accept a belief in the existence of that deity, all because you didn’t want to take responsibility for yourself and for a few people around you.

The seeking for a grand overall purpose for all this is an egotistical juvenile search. If you just look at your life openly you will see that you have many purposes you have created all by yourself: you have the purpose of being a good parent, for example, or an exemplary worker, or a purpose to make a shitload of money, or a purpose to be the best player at you local poker game, or. . . . If you have a goal and act upon it, you have a purpose. If you want a purpose, establish a goal and start acting upon it. Go around and tell people your purpose(s) and you may even find people who share one of them and will help you meet it.

Should you decide to search out the grand overall purpose of humanity, be sure to wear your diapers.

September 17, 2021

The Power of Prayer

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:03 pm
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I saw a powerful photograph of NYFD’s Chaplain Mychal Judge’s body being carried out of the wreckage after 9/11. He insisted on staying in the lobby of the East Tower to pray for all of the valiant firemen and policemen working to evacuate the building. He called upon Jesus and God to “end this now.”

Of course, the building fell on him, killing him.

Death by irony, apparently.

So many people, good at heart, dying from delusions. Could not his prayers be heard if delivered outside? Did God think that people wanted more destruction and chaos and that He should “bring it on,” such that prayers were needed as a kind of poll, to get Him to change His mind? Ah, it is a mystery.

As for rewards coming in Heaven, apparently the good priest is being lined up for sainthood. (Don’t hold your breath, as he was gay.)

September 12, 2021

If God Does Not Exist, Everything Is Permitted

Filed under: Morality,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:30 am
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“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” This quote from The Brothers Karamazov (by Dostoevsky) is frequently invoked by those who believe in God. Without faith in a god which lays down the rules, their argument goes, we are doomed. “How could we possibly know the difference between good and evil without God,” they ask. (Apparently they haven’t read Genesis 1-2)

But . . . is it so?

If you look at European culture as it has been spread around the world as “western civilization,” has any act of depravity not been observed to have been enacted by Christians? I could have asked if any act of depravity not been enacted by Christians in service to Christianity, and the argument would have been no weaker, but I am sticking to generalities.

Those who “fear God,” as Christians claim, seem to have committed the most egregious acts, so where did the permission come from to do those things? (I can hear the apologists lining up to claim “No true Christian would have . . .” but that is clearly not true.)

Well, maybe it is not so much a matter of kind but of extent. Maybe far fewer atrocities have been committed because of this god’s restrictions. Here we have a lot of good data from around the world: basically, the more religious a country is, the higher the rate of crime, including assaults, murders, etc.

What about states within the United States? Again, when it comes to nearly all standard measures of societal health: homicide rates, violent crime rates, poverty rates, domestic abuse rates, obesity rates, educational attainment, funding for schools and hospitals, teen pregnancy rates, rates of sexually transmitted diseases, unemployment rates, domestic violence, etc. the correlation is solid: the least religious states in America tend to fare much, much better than the most religious.

Correlation is not causation, of course, but there is no evidence for the contrary opinion that those who do not accept god belief are less moral, because all of the data points the other way.

I guess I should point out that Dostoevsky was writing fiction and he was putting those words into a character’s mouth for a reason. If the character were a naïve, young, newly-converted Christian, they would mean one thing. If they were in the mouth of an authoritarian government official, they would mean another thing, no? (Authoritarians love them some authoritarian religion, as it removes blame off of them and onto some deity.)

On top of this, consider Yahweh’s list of permissions. No such thing? Okay, then Jesus’ list of permissions. Again, no such thing. Drat this is hard.

They did say “do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” but what if you are a masochist and like being humiliated and beaten with whips? And most cultures do not list the “golden rule” this way, they list it as what has been called the “silver rule:” do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (The assignment of precious metals here was obviously done by a Christian as gold is universally held in higher esteem than silver.) But, the majority of the cultures favor the silver rule formulation. They are telling us what is not permitted, as opposed to telling us what we are permitted.

If only permitted things could be done, we would still be living in caves or grass huts. The operative principle in our culture is “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” Basically, if you try something that hasn’t been “permitted” and it works, you will automatically be forgiven, so it is better to not ask for permission as it might be withheld.

And, think about it. If one is only allowed to do “permitted” things, one is a totalitarian subject. Again, this is part of the control mechanism which is this religion, part of the “obedience above all else” ethos embedded within it.

How would you like to have to solicit permission before doing anything? Would you resent that? I think you would, as it is an enforced child-like position you are forced into. You have no personal autonomy. (I remember refugees coming from Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, and they showed zero initiative. They had been trained to wait for orders. They were nice young people by the way, just trained differently.)

Of course, there is still the debate over what is permitted in Christianity and what is not. Go back a couple of hundred years and slavery is permitted, even supported by various Christian religions. Today, slavery still exists but is considered illegal everywhere. Did Yahweh/Jesus change his mind as to what is permitted? If this happens again, how will we know? Are we supposed to accept the word of Christian officials? They do not exactly have a good track record.

The statement above is either vacuous or no longer has any meaning, if it ever did. It is being used as cannon fodder, being fed to Christian soldiers as if it were real ammunition, rather than blanks.

The Two Most Basic Questions In Religion

Filed under: History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 am
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I was reading a Medium.com post (Occam’s Razor) that began:

Let us start from the two most basic questions in religion:
• Can we prove there is a God? No.
• Can we prove there is no God? No.

My first reaction was: are these true? I suspected that neither was. Regarding the second, current descriptions of the Christian god often are self-contradictory, which “proves” that that god cannot exist, as well as does not exist, but it is the first question I wish to address.

Can We Prove a God Exists?
My first thought was sure, we can. Well, the god itself has to do the proving, otherwise it is just another god believer flapping his gums.

Just have the god show up to be examined. While we interact with this god, scans show that there is nothing there! This god can tell us what we are thinking, with extreme accuracy. This god can tell us what will happen tomorrow. This is done by making a written description or a recording of the events of tomorrow and sealing them in a box. After tomorrow comes and goes, the box is opened and we can see whether this god knows the future! (He could throw in winning lottery numbers for a lark.)

This god could heal sick people while being scanned. It could regrow amputated limbs to silence all of those annoying critics saying it couldn’t do that. It could tell us that it was receiving a prayer from a believer in Iowa and could share that prayer word for word. Then we could call that person and quote her prayer back to her and then the god could answer her prayer while she was on the phone! (Look, little Timmy is all well!)

Need I go on?

A topper is that this god could do this simultaneously in 100 countries around the world.

Is that proof enough? Just have your damned god show up and stand and deliver. How hard could it be? Why is the task of proving its existence left to us? It should do the job itself, being the only entity which could.

August 2, 2021

The Man Behind THE MAN

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:18 am
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Question: Who did the most to shape the concept of the Christian god? You are probably thinking of Paul or even Jesus, but they are not even close . . . it was Plato.

Plato’s philosophy revolved around the idea of “Forms.” Forms were the perfect example behind every real example. So, if we were to draw a triangle, say, on a piece of paper with a straight edge and a sharp pencil, we could only draw an imperfect representation of a perfect triangle. Perfect triangles are beyond our grasp. For Plato, all things had a Form, a perfect state which, of course could not, be found as they exist in an abstract state but independent of minds in their own realm. He could have said, beyond space and time, but I don’t think he did.

Since men were “things” there had to be a perfect Form for humanity, of course, and guess who that was. Plato’s supreme god is unlike the fickle, jealous, quarrelsome gods of the Greek pantheon, his god is distanced from compassion for human tragedy, because compassion is a passion or emotion. For Plato, the character of the true deity is not merely goodness, but also oneness and while he didn’t make the connection himself, it also represents perfection. Being perfect, the supreme god is without passions, since passions involve change from one mood to another, and it is in the nature of perfection that it cannot change. This passionless perfection contrasts with the passion, compassion, and constant intervention of Israel’s God.

It is hard to imagine how Plato’s god could create the sort of changeable, imperfect, messy world in which we live or even have any meaningful contact with it. While the Hebrews had a god who walked around with them, tenting as it were, Plato’s god wouldn’t be caught dead doing such things.

Plato’s philosophy was, of course, bankrupt, but it did frame out a god piece for humanity. Plato took the idea of an absolute, that doesn’t exist because there is no incremental path or set of corrections from being imperfect to being perfect. An absolute might be an imaginary goal that gets us to stretch ever closer to something near perfect, but one has to realize that the absolute of anything is an imaginary thing. Plato not only stated that all absolutes were real, but had a residence where they could receive mail. But Plato’s realm of forms would have to be static as if all things are perfect nothing could change.

I don’t know if Plato worked backward from a concept of a god as a perfect form of man to which we could never measure up and then applied that scheme to everything else or whether the idea grew from the idea of imagined absolutes and just found a natural connection between man and the concept of a god.

If the god of Plato is God, then there could only be one (I heard that from a guy who called himself The Highlander) as anything different had to be less than perfect. And, like the other Forms, this god couldn’t live amongst the hoi polloi, now could he? He had to live “an abstract state but independent of minds in (his) own realm.” But as a special thing, you could go join Plato’s god in his realm when you die, presumable as the perfect form of yourself. Of course, this Form of you would go on forever, because it is static with nothing changing, not your shape, position, behavior, nothing. Maybe this is why there are so few descriptions of what the heaven waiting for us are actually is. (Welcome to Static City, the City That Won’t Change on You!)

 

March 31, 2021

The Role of Tradition in Culture

Back when I was in college I got my hands on a set of “The Story of Civilization,” then about ten volumes I think, and read them. I then found and read “The Lessons of History” from the same duo. These are brilliant expositions on the “big picture” of human history and, I am sure, full of mistakes and flaws as are all works of history, but glorious nonetheless.

I ran across a quote or summary of a point made in The Lessons of History; here it is:

“It seems arrogant to doubt tradition too much, to think that your supposedly brilliant mind could develop a better solution in 30 or 40 years than humankind has developed over thousands of years of working together. For this reason, it’s quite possible that we discount how useful and powerful religion can be.” (Will and Ariel Durant)

It “seems” arrogant? Hmm. It might if there were tradition minders woven into the scheme of our culture, but traditions happen willy-nilly, especially religiously. (Yes, I am aware of massive convocations held to determine what dogmas and traditions will be in this or that church, but most of these meetings are stage shows for the spectators rather than real working sessions. Most of the decisions of such councils were already made before they convened.)

I often refer to traditions as “the ways we have always done things,” not as a disparagement but as a reminder that traditions are cultural memories. So, that crafts and arts and knowledge not get lost over time, they are made into “traditions,” that is something important to remember. A son learning a traditional craft from his father might be cheeky enough to ask “why” during a training session but was liable to receive a slap for his challenge. A good father reinforced the importance of this knowledge/skill being transmitted and made it “special” in the mind of the son.

So, traditional knowledge was passed from father to son, mother to daughter and from uncles and aunts, too. This was knowledge too important to be left to chance: what plants are poisonous to eat, the hunting grounds for certain animals and the techniques used to hunt them, the techniques used to knap rocks into tools, etc.

Now, these “learnings” were hard to come by and dangerous if lost, but as the pace of change has accelerated, are lost at an ever increasing rate. Why? Because the traditional knowledge became irrelevant. For example, when tools made of metal became commonplace, being able to make cruder versions out of stone became less valuable. The convenience of email and texting has made letter writing a less important skill.

Tradition yields to change over time and that is normal. So, in the phrase “It seems arrogant to doubt tradition too much” the key words are “too much.” So what constitutes “too much?” Discarding useful things has consequences, but sometimes it spurs rediscovery or even invention that betters the whole situation. I suggest that possibly what is being said is that tradition is not something to discard casually.

And that brings me to “it’s quite possible that we discount how useful and powerful religion can be.” I wish they would have said “religion is” because there is a large gap between “can be” and “is.” In any case, religion is the embodiment of tradition. Although these traditions seem to be far much less pragmatic than flintknapping, or basket weaving, or growing the Three Sisters. (Which is why religions horned in on other, more useful, traditions (Blessing the crops, blessing the harvest. marking the changes of season).The Durants (both dead now) were on the whole religious positivists, that is, all in all, religion has been a positive force in human society. I, on the other hand, see religion as a control mechanism to coerce the labor of the masses to serve the interests of the elites, both religious and secular.

In the context of religious tradition, therefore, do we ask: “Has this or that religion become a tradition passed over? Is it time to discard it?” This question is being acted out in American culture right now. The rise of the “Nones,” people who participate in no religion has been accelerating and now the Nones outnumber the most popular religious sect in the U.S. (We’re No. 1!; we’re No. 1!) What few people know is that a majority of the Nones still harbor some sort of belief in a “higher power.” They have not thrown off the shackles of supernatural nonsense, they have just thrown off the shackles of “houses of worship.”

I am one who thinks that superstitious nonsense is not at all helpful as it is all make believe. The comfort religion supplies is based upon being familiar, for example. To get to the place where we can discard the tradition of believing superstitious nonsense, we have to discard religion, a reinforcer of superstition nonsense first, so I guess progress is being made . . . cautiously, as the Durants would advocate. Instead of Shakespeare’s “First, kill all of the lawyers,” we are at the “First, defund all of the priests” stage.

Progress marches on!

September 23, 2020

We Are Oh-So-Kind . . . to Ourselves

I was reading an article about some Native American archaeology and came to this statement “In the 1800’s, European settlers drove ancestral Wichita people from their native lands, leading to the destruction of their villages and communal traditions.”

I have made this point before but am still struck by the terminology.

If someone invaded your community and forcefully ejected you from your homes and farms, killing many of you in the process, would you refer to them as settlers . . . or invaders? Was not this land already “settled?” In this instance they are talking about a “city” of possibly 40,000 Native American inhabitants.

But European “settlers” “drove” the people off. It sounds like they are referring to cattle or buffalo which could be “driven” to another location.

By what right were these things done? Oh, God told them it was okay for the Europeans to make war on the indigenous peoples they encountered, in order to bring Christianity to the natives. Gee, you’d think this was an educational mission instead of a land grab.

At the time, Europe had recovered from the repeated decimation of the population of Europe due to the Black Plague and other plagues and was overpopulated. The “European settlers” were searching for land, land that could be tilled, land that could be mined, land that could make them rich. They came as soldier-farmers. They didn’t work in their fields without their guns nearby, because the people they stole the land from wanted it back.

These were not settlers. They were an army of invaders. And we are descended from them.

And President Trump wants our schools to teach that we did nothing wrong. Sure we took their land, but we gave them the Bible. From Mr. Trump’s perspective, this was a great deal, and American deal, an exceptional deal.

And the winners of the deal get to write and re-write the history any way they want. Mr. Trump’s way is what we will get if he is re-elected.

 

 

August 25, 2020

The Cancel Culture—Real or Imagined?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:43 am
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On the Vridar web site, Neil Godfrey was reviewing a compilation of essays in honor of biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson.

He began with “Why a volume of essays in honour of Thomas L. Thompson? The opening paragraph of the Introduction explains (with my highlighting):

Thomas L. Thompson has been, for the past five decades, behind some of the – if not all – major changes in Old Testament historiography, if we consider that his criticism of the patriarchal narratives, the exodus and settlement and the United Monarchy were each at their own time forerunners of what later on would become accepted in the field (Thompson 1974, 1987, 1992, 1999).

See below for those four titles. The first, 1974, was met at the time with such opposition that it left him “unemployed and unemployable for ten years”. The 1992 work precipitated his expulsion from Marquette University.”

Thomas Thompson’s Significant Books (I have read the fourth.)

Historically, the largest exponent of the cancel culture has been organized religion. If your beliefs contradicted theirs, you lost your job, in Thompson’s case multiple times, or had a hard time finding a job, or you lost your freedom by being locked up, or even your life. (Burn, Heretic, burn!)

The telling feature in this case was that Thompson was being punished . . . for being right. His heretical opinions have become “accepted in the field.”

August 9, 2020

The Light Bulb Comes On

Filed under: History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:50 pm
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Note I just responded to a comment on another of my posts on this same topic, so I finished this up and am posting it now. S

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I am reading a rather fantastic book, not that it involves fantasies but rather dispels them. That book is The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. The author placed a number of facts in a row to point out the obvious conclusion. I knew all of the facts already but hadn’t gone where they led.

Here is the argument.

The Israeli state story is that the ancient Hebrews, millions of them, fled captivity and slavery in Egypt, then wandered in the desert for 40 years finally being delivered to the Promised Land, only to find out that while it was promised, it was also occupied. So they waged wars of annihilation against the occupants of the land they were given, so they could move in.

That’s the story as laid out in their Bible, they say.

But, we now know that the Hebrews were never in Egypt proper in large numbers and certainly not there as slaves. (Egypt did conquer and rule over the “holy Land” several times and did collect taxes so “being a slave to the Egyptians” is not an unthinkable thought.) The Exodus, however, didn’t happen. The 40 years didn’t happen. If it had their main encampment would have had millions of graves left behind as almost all of the adults leaving Egypt would have died at that camp. Millions of graves? No. Hundreds of thousands of graves? No. Thousands? No. It did not happen.

But in the Bible, Israelites are repeatedly warned away from the beliefs of the pagan cultures that their god had them slaughter and the evil influence of their foreign religions.

What is going on here?

Instead of the Hebrews invading Canaan, they were Canaanites already. They differed hardly at all from the Canaanites that get so lambasted in scripture later.

So why all of the badmouthing of the “foreigners” and their religious practices?” Here is an excerpt from this book that shows why:

“Thus we see ‘the systematic turning of traditional xenophobic rhetoric … against the traditional religion of Israel’ so that in the end Israel’s religion was ‘alienated from itself.’ In this view, biblical authors, in listing the worship of, say, celestial deities among ‘the abominable practices of the nations,’ were just using fear of the foreign to purge the indigenous.”

It wasn’t foreign religions that were being opposed, it was the religion of the indigenous Israelites that was. The indigenous Israelites worshiped a panoply of gods, mostly Canaanite, because they were Canaanites.

This was in the time of King Josiah, who was trying mightily to consolidate his power by reducing the number of gods he had to answer to. (Note Since Josiah took the throne at the age of eight, I assume it was Yahweh’s high priest and Josiah’s advisers, etc. were also involved.) Here’s another quote from the book:

“Josiah had priests take from Yahweh’s temple and burn ‘all the vessels made for Ba’al, for Asherah’ and for ‘all the host of heaven’ (which in this context means deified celestial bodies). He removed horses used in sun worship from the entrance to the temple and ‘burned the chariots of the sun with fire.’ He wiped out shrines built for ‘Astarte the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites’—and, as a kind of exclamation point, covered these sites with human bones. Josiah also banned mediums, sorcerers, household gods, idols, and miscellaneous other ‘abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem.’ As had Hezekiah, King Josiah tore down ‘the high places’—altars across Judah where various gods might be worshiped. But the altars themselves weren’t the only target. According to the Bible, Josiah “deposed” the priests linked to them, emphatically including priests who ‘made offerings to Baal, to the sun, the moon, the constellations.’ And beyond Judah, in the former northern kingdom, Josiah went further: he “slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.”

Josiah ruled Judah (Israel had been destroyed) from 641/640 BCE to 610/609 BCE so you can see that Judah wasn’t what you might call monotheistic at this point. The Temple in Jerusalem had “vessels made for Ba’al and Asherah and all the host of heaven” in it. (The host of heaven, hmm, were they Yahweh’s offstage audience in the book of Genesis? Seems so.)

The “high places” that were destroyed (along with the priests who officiated there) were outdoor altars on hilltops where gods other than Yahweh were worshiped. (This is all in the books of Kings in the OT (Oneth and Twooth, Doanld.), btw.)

As I mentioned in a previous post, kings preferred monotheism because it increased their leverage over the priests, or priest, they had to relate to (and control).

So, the story of the conquest of Canaan was written as political cover for the effort to make the indigenous religion of the vast majority of Israelites into foreign religions that could be snuffed out in favor of the religion the elites wanted the people to have. (Effing elites!)

The people didn’t want “Yahweh alone,” the people didn’t create the “Yahweh alone movement” and scripture didn’t support it . . . until . . . until Josiah and his gang of Yahweh priests started doing a bit of editing.

You may be aware of Josiah as the king who “found” a lost book of the Torah. The story goes, according to Wikipedia: “While (High Priest) Hilkiah was clearing the treasure room of the Temple he discovered a scroll described in 2 Kings as ‘the book of the Law,’ and in 2 Chronicles as “the book of the Law of the LORD given by Moses.” The phrase sefer ha-torah (ספר התורה) in 2 Kings 22:8 is identical to the phrase used in Joshua 1:8 and 8:34 to describe the sacred writings that Joshua had received from Moses. The book is not identified in the text as the Torah and many scholars believe this was either a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy or a text that became a part of Deuteronomy.”

The book of Deuteronomy stresses the uniqueness of God and the need for drastic centralization of worship . . . surprise, surprise. If Jews could only sacrifice at the Jerusalem temple, then the “high places” altars became less and less of an option.

Ah, as they say, hah.

July 24, 2020

Oh, Wow!

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:17 am
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From time to time I like to check in to see what the other side of the god argument is saying, so I bit on this book: God’s Grand Game: Divine Sovereignty and the Cosmic Playground by Steven Colborne.

This chap seems to be taking all of the god claims to heart and looking seriously at the consequences. I believe his viewpoint is: it is all true and you will agree with me if you just follow along.

Here is all of Chapter 4 (This is as far as I have gotten as this is a bit f tough sledding.) I also hope that doesn’t violate fair use regulations but as I am not profiting from this I suspected that it is not.

4
God in Inanimate Objects

It is easy to see how God is active in living creatures, but it is perhaps somewhat more difficult to envisage what ‘God is doing’ in the case of inanimate objects, like tables or books. When I look at a table and investigate its nature, an obvious question arises — is God making the table be, or can the table be without involvement from God?

The table existing without involvement from God would have to mean that there is some part of the cosmos in which God is not present. But this cannot be, as God by His very nature is omnipresent. Therefore, there must be a sense in which the table is ‘in God’, or, put another way, God’s being must permeate the table. It is natural, then, to assume that God is holding the table in existence. The table appears solid and stable, and it is perfectly possible for God to create these qualities in the table. God is, after all, omnipotent, so holding a bunch of atoms in place for a few hundred years does not pose the slightest problem.

Another aspect of God is that He is wholly in the parts as well as the whole. This means that each individual part of the table contains the fullness of God. It should not be hard to imagine, then, that God, in His infinite power, can create subtle change in such objects over time. We are talking, for instance, of objects like the table fading in colour, becoming infested by woodworm, or drying out. If the smallest particle is just as present to God as the whole table, then God can affect change on any level.

One might naturally ask, what would become of the table if God’s involvement were taken away? Could it exist without God? We have already established that God is everywhere, so we would have to conclude that there can be no table without God.

Taking all of this into account, should it not be possible for God to make major unexpected changes in the order of things? For instance, if God wanted my table to vanish before my eyes, is this not possible? Remember, we are saying that God is holding every particle of the table in existence. I would have to conclude that, yes, it is as possible for a table to vanish as it is for a man’s pain to vanish, as I described witnessing in the chapter “How Do I Know God Exists?”. God could remove a table from existence in a flash, if He desired. So why, then, do we not see more instances of this?

Well, it is perfectly possible that God likes order. Perhaps regularity is one of the things that gives God pleasure. This is understandable if we remember that God has all of eternity at His disposal. God might like to make some things appear and disappear (like a flash of lightning), and cause other things to remain for hundreds of years (like a table). Evolution (in objects as well as animals) may well please God, as the unfolding of His will and His plans provide our creator with anticipation and something to look forward to.

Λ Ω

So, if I burn a table on a bonfire, I am burning god? (Throw on a beef steak and burn him at the steak?)

The table is maybe a bit too weird a place to start. How about: “God, in His infinite power, can create subtle change in such objects over time. We are talking, for instance, of objects like the table fading in colour, becoming infested by woodworm, or drying out. If the smallest particle is just as present to God as the whole table, then God can affect change on any level.”

We have to ask, why an omnipotent god would use his powers to stick the atoms of every fricking object in the universe together? This has to be incredibly boring stuff. He is omnipotent and this is what does with his powers . . . hold the atoms of a table together? If he were to get distracted, would the table fall apart?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have such a god create universal rules regarding the stickiness of atoms and use those to hold the atoms of things together. We could call them, I don’t know, chemical bonds, for short. No? I do note that none of the properties of the Christian god is that he is “all-intelligent.” (What would that be in Greekish? Omni-smart? Omni-percipient, Omni-éxypnos?) Maybe he is dull enough that he thinks he has to hold together every damned thing. Why use gravity to hold together stars and planets when . . . you can do it yourself?

As to my question: if he were to get distracted, would those objects fall apart? This is apparently how he makes things disappear or appear out of nothing, as we have all seen happen, like . . . never. Really, this has never been seen in all of human history and you’d think that in one of those “I am the Lord, your God . . .” moments this is a trick that would be really convincing to bystanders, not to say any persons who were disappeared and then reappeared. Imagine the conversations later! “I am telling you Shalom, you disappeared for like a quarter of an hour and then you were brought back. Where did you go? Did you get to see Heaven? (. . . or Hell?)”

Again, it makes sense that all of the sticking together of parts be on automatic and then God can just overrule the rules whenever he wants to make things appear and disappear, no?

Does Occam’s Rule apply to gods?

Amazing, absolutely effing amazing, s    i    g    h   .

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