Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tell Me All Your Thoughts On Blog

I haven't been blogging much lately. Truth is, I'm not much of a blogger. I had a lot I wanted to get off my chest early on, and I said it. But now that it's said, I have a harder time coming up with things to write about. Sometimes I'll vent when I'm angry, but I just haven't been angry much lately. And when I have, it's still all things I've written before, so why bother. There's also a zillion other little reasons I haven't written, mostly involving other interests and a general lack of time.

A micro-update on my life: We're out of money, in massive debt, and there will be no Christmas this year. We're quite depressed about the money issues. I've been trying to empty out the attic, to sell some stuff on E-Bay, but there's just not a whole lot we want to part with. No sense selling something that you know you're going to buy again when you have money again. Especially when it's a hard-to-find collector's item.

So, anybody been to the Creationist Museum yet? Here's some pics from one visitor. I really want to visit it sometime, for the same reasons this guy did - just so I can laugh at it. Did you know that all dinosaurs were vegetarians? Yep, even the raptors. See, according to Creationism, all the animals in the Garden of Eden were vegetarians. They had to be, as meat-eating requires killing, and death hadn't been invented yet. When Eve ate the forbidden fruit, part of the punishment was that the Dinosaurs all dropped dead (how this was a punishment, I don't quite get). I'd be interested in knowing how many people consider themselves Creationists, then visit the museum, see what Creationism really means, and change their minds.

I try to be respectful of other people's religions and philosophies. I really do. And I try not to write too many anti-religion blogs, because I don't like reading other people's pro-religion blogs. If I'm going to object to fundies spreading their word everywhere, then it would be hypocritical of me to impose my non-relgion on other people.

But total Christian Fundamentalist Creationism (believing that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, etc) is just so baffling to me. The concept of a "god" is at least scientifically explainable. We're more powerful than other creatures on this planet. Our technology would look like magic to primitive people. So it stands to reason that there could be other people in the universe, technically advanced enough to appear godlike to us. Anyone who's played SimCity knows how much fun it is to build a civilization, and scientists now know how to grow a human from scratch. So I see no compelling reason to dismiss the idea of a Supreme Being.

Every thinking Christian knows, there is nothing anti-religious about belieiving in evolution. Science and religion CAN go hand-in-hand, if you don't take every Biblical word literally. And why should you? It's been translated and retranslated and mistranslated so many times over so many years. Much of the book is written like poetry. Even if every word was directly dictated by God personally (and no one believes that), He would still have been writing it for a more primitive culture, who couldn't understand a lot of the concepts we do today.

How explain to primitive people the concept of microscopic bacteria? It's easier to just say, "Don't eat unclean foods." How do you explain to ancient people the connection between unsafe sex and STDs? It's easier to say, "Save sex for marriage." A lot of what we decided was "moral" was actually just practical ways to keep society (at the time) from falling into chaos.

If the Bible had been written this century, it wouldn't have said, "Don't eat pork", it would have said, "Make sure you cook pork for at least this amount of time, make sure you keep it refrigerated, make sure you don't leave it on the counter, etc." The modern Bible also wouldn't tell us, "Save sex for marriage"; instead it would tell us ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy and disease.

Some religious zealots think that AIDS was invented by God to punish gays and other "sexual deviants". I think they're getting their cause and effect mixed up. Disease was already here, probably a side effect that God just couldn't iron out. Unable to stop the disease itself, God tries various methods of keeping people from spreading it. Reliable condoms hadn't been invented yet, so He had to make rules for human sexual behavior.

Of course, this would mean that God wasn't truly omnipotent. Does it really matter? Personally, I would much rather worship a Creator who had put a lot of work into the universe. Yeah, sure, be thankful that God granted you life, but does that really mean anything when he did it just by snapping His fingers? That cost Him nothing. There's nothing wrong with calling him omnipotent, because His power is so great that we mortals could never conceive of its limits. But that doesn't have to mean He can do absolutely anything. There's even parts of the Bible where God seems to be unable to stop certain events, or is surprised at something that happens (can someone all-knowing ever be surprised?) Worshippers rationalize this by saying, "God works in mysterious ways." I rationalize it by saying, "If there is a Supreme Being, he's not technically omnipotent."

I have been accused of thinking I'm the only one who has life figured out. I promise you, the only thing I know for certain is that I don't know a damn thing. I don't know if there's a god and I don't know if there's an afterlife. So please don't accuse me of looking down on religious people. I really don't. Everyone is entitled to their own philosphy of life. There are a lot of things in the universe that are simply unknown, and probably always will be. People don't like unanswered questions, so they fill those gaps with whatever they can find. The only time I really dislike religion, is when people use the name of their god to justify what I consider to be immoral behavior. And that's what trips people up - what I consider immoral obviously isn't going to be universal law. But I keep my beliefs fairly generic, and follow the ol' medical rule, "First, Do no harm." If you believe that people who are different should have different legal rights, then you are immoral. If you want to take away my rights, simply because you don't believe in my philosophy, religion, race, or sexual orientation, then you are doing harm.

For the most part, I am perceived as a bleeding heart liberal. This is because I believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

By "Life", I mean all human life, and some animal life as well. I get sick of hearing people complain about welfare, by saying crap like, "Why should my tax dollars pay for his liquor" and so on. Yes, some people abuse it, but I challenge you to find any system of anything that people can't abuse. A few flaws doesn't mean a system is bust. A system is defined by the people it helps, and welfare keeps some people from starving to death. If we allow our harsh capitalism to starve people who weren't strong enough to keep up, then we're not really guaranteeing life. I'm not saying give everything away free; in fact, if I were Queen of America, I'd probably do away with a lot of the government aid we already have, even ones I've benefitted from in the past. But for people to overcome the hardships in their life, the first thing they have to do is live.

"Liberty" and "Pursuit of Happiness" may as well be the same thing, in my opinion. Everyone should have the right to do anything they want, provided they aren't harming anyone else. I think most people can agree to that, or at least they think they do... until an issue like gay marriage comes up.

In reference to religion, a while back someone asked me, "What if you're wrong?" I assume the full question to that would be, "What if you're wrong, and there really is a God, and every word of the Bible is true and literal, and the fundies are right, and homosexuals are evil, etc etc etc?" Well, what if?

Once upon a time, I justified my Christian beliefs by figuring that I wasn't losing anything by believing in God, so I might as well do so. If it turned out I was wrong, so what? If there was no God, there'd be just as little an afterlife whether I believed or not. I'm out nothing either way, so might as well believe, rather than risk eternal Hell. Of course, I wasn't the first to come up with this philosophy. I later learned that it's called Pascal's Wager, and there's more info about it here. But to sum up, it looks like this:

Just looking at it, it seems to make a lot of sense. If nothing else, 1B (Hell) is just too great a risk for anyone NOT to become a believer, so if you have nothing to lose, why not believe in God?

But it makes a few illogical assumptions:

1. It assumes that there are no negative repercussions from believing in God. The whole basis of "what have you got to lose" conveniently forgets that a lot of people do live rougher lives because of their religious beliefs. There's closeted homosexuals who never find a fulfilling relationship because they think their sexual orientation is a sin. There's starving people in third-world countries who continue to have children they can't feed, all because Catholic missionaries told them that birth control was evil. There are countries at war because each believes in a different God, which often turns out to be the same God wearing a different hat. There are people missing out on some of the world's greatest literature, because their pastors told them those books were evil. There are people denying their children much-needed medical care, because they believe God is going to heal them. There are people destroying the environment, justifying it with the belief that the events of the Book of Revelation are near.

2. It assumes that one can simply say, "I believe in God" and it'll happen. Can you really force yourself to believe something, all the way to your core? And will that really fool the Supreme Being? There are a lot of things in life that I want to believe, and I would very much like to believe that all the pain in this lifetime will be rewarded in the next one. I'd also very much like to believe that I'll win the lottery. But if wanting something really bad magically made it happen, my life would be a lot different. I'll admit to being a bit nuts, but I'm not nearly crazy enough to believe in a magical man in the clouds. At least not without some sort of proof.

3. "Believing In God" is not so black-and-White. Which God? Which religion? Which denomination? There's a zillion religions out there, and each one has many denominations, sects, and other subsets. Is there any evidence that your religion is the correct one, or do you just go with the ones your parents taught you? Of course there can't be proof, because religions are built on blind faith. But when two rival religions tell you, "You have to believe and have faith without proof", how do you decide which is right? What happens if you pick the wrong one? Some people claim they felt a calling to the right religion, but I'm better at noticing and interpreting my mental rationalizations than some people. Some people experience a euphoria when they first go to church, brought on by the air of excitement in the room, and the attention they get from the other churchgoers, and they interpret that exhillaration as the moment that they were saved by God.

So, to answer the question, "What if you're wrong?", I'd have to say that I can't be wrong. I'm not saying there is no God, I'm just saying that I don't have any compelling reason to choose a religion. I haven't made any claim that I know what happens after you die. I can't be wrong because I haven't actually said anything to be wrong about. All I've said is, "I don't know." And while I may go on from time to time about GLBT rights, I make no guarantees about any potential gods agreeing with me. Of course, I could counter with a thousand counter-questions, most centering around, "What if you picked the wrong God?", but I've tried that before and I rarely get a straight answer.

Oh, I just remembered another reason I don't blog much: I never know how to end them.