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March 30, 2004

In response to:

And secondly, this "well, you're just being resistant to Christianity just for the sake of being resistant" and "the explanation behind everything rests solely on faith" attitude is just one giant Christian loophole--it allows Christians to brush off anything argumentative (such as, for example, trying to make sense of where dinosaurs fit into the story of creation and the evolution of man) by saying, "Well, we can never really know but I'm sure God will reveal the answer to these questions to us once we're dead and gone." It's like a giant anti-self-reflective loophole really.

I could say the same about athiests and their science "loophole", which seems to allow them to brush off anything religiously argumentative. I'm not saying that dinosaurs didn't exist, I'm saying that scientific belief is far from concrete.

In response to:

just a question: are you still looking for god?

Yes, but I'm more confused than ever about what exactly "God" is. I wish I could explain this better than I'm about to. I still pray, but I'm not sure who it is I'm praying to -- does my search for "God" require me to choose? Sometimes I pray to a person named "God", sometimes I meditate in an effort to get in touch with the "universal whathaveyou", sometimes I feel like I'm just talking to myself... Don't get me wrong, all these things continue to provide me with a sense of hope/love/etc. that I haven't felt before, but is it just the act, or is it something more? If it is, in fact, something more -- what? Perhaps the answers are still in transit, or perhaps they'll never come in a definitive enough way for me to wholly accept. I want the answers, though, I want answers that I can wholly accept, but perhaps this is asking too much. Perhaps the space between the answers I'm getting and answers I can wholly accept is meant to be filled by faith.

And, finally, in response to:

Dude, are you ever gonna post again?


March 22, 2004


The discussion here has waned of late, and this is upsetting to me. I take much of the blame, as I have been too preoccupied and busy to post anything of substance, but there have been some substantial and potential discussion starting/continuing comments in the past week that have been mostly ignored. One of these comments I shall repost here, as a jump-start effort:

Why is it always a battle between science and religion? One way or the other? Why can't there be a third possibility that proves both wrong and proves both right?

With religion, we're meant to believe that a guy on a cloud with a beard made two people out of stuff that was lying around. And then he got ticked off and flooded everybody but a few people. And then despite a long written history of deity-to-human interaction, suddenly shuts up for a few thousand years in order to make pure faith the cornerstone of His organization.

And with science we're meant to believe that humans, like all other animals we share the planet with, are a product of a process called evolution. Even though our species has made huge early leaps, rummaging for grubs one minute and in a geological twinkling of an eye, using simple tools the next. And they're not even sure if homo-erectus came from the Neanderthals or if the Neanderthals are just an off-shoot hominoid like apes, which means where did the Neanderthals go and where the hell did we come from?

So what if we were entirely wrought by another advanced civilization? A race that was here, but isn’t now (or maybe is)? After all, God doesn't come from Earth does He? How can He if He made it? So technically he's an extra-terrestrial. And wouldn't any fresh young human hot off the assembly line think a race that lives in the skies and has control over life and death are probably gods?

It could explain our early beliefs in polytheism. It could explain the missing links. It could explain why the Mayans and the Sumerians knew more about the solar system then we knew a hundred years ago even though they hadn't invented the telescope. It could explain how mathematically aligned pyramids comprised of nine-hundred ton stones ended up in Egypt, even thought the Egyptians hadn’t gotten around to inventing the wheel yet. It could explain contradictions in the Bible and other religious tomes.

What if the world was flooded by one being and a faction of creatures was saved by another? What if the Tower of Babel wasn't a tower to reach heaven, but a vehicle to reach a low orbit space station? What if Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in an "Independence Day" kind of scenario? What if Elijah and Ezekiel weren't taken up to God in a cloud of fire, but a ship with a big fiery afterburner?

I know most everyone hears that sort of thing and runs away in the other direction with their fingers in their ears. But all I'm asking is: is it really that much crazier than any theories we've come up with so far?

Personally, I'd like more a more substantiated explanation of this intriguing theory, although I realize that to ask for such a thing when dealing with spiritual subject matter is a bit absurd.

March 19, 2004

I am surfing the web tonight, so am going to post some links in lieu of another rambling post...

Evidence for God from Science


The Bible UFO Connection

And I shall leave you with a quote from a former American president:

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God." -George Bush, Sr.

March 18, 2004

I've still been making my way through the Bible -- over the past week or two I've gotten through Joshua and Judges.

Joshua is the guy who took over as leader of the Israelites after Moses died. This book is mostly about Joshua and the Israelites going all over the Promised Land and taking what the Lord promised them -- usually by force. God makes the sun and moon stop moving for a whole day at one point, which is really a pretty good trick. God also dries the Jordan River for a while so all the Israelites can cross, which is also a pretty good trick. Joshua dies at the end of this book, at the excessively ripe age of 110.

After Joshua dies, the Israelites have many different "Judges" lead them, although not too well. In this book the Israelites can't seem to stop worshipping these "Baal" and "Ashtaroth" idols, which really pisses the Lord off. Some of the leaders -- Gideon, for example -- succeed at turning them back to the Lord, but as soon as he dies, they go back to "Baal" and "Ashtaroth". Silly Israelites, won't you ever learn?

(Sidenote: How are the "Gideons" (of Bible in hotel room fame) connected to the Gideon of this book? Anyone know?)

Judges also has the famous story of Samson and Delilah, which I will summarize for you here. Samson is a meathead -- born very strong but very stupid -- with a strange affinity for riddle-making. Samson is so strong that at one point he takes out a thousand Philistines with a donkey's jawbone, which makes the Philistines angry and scared. Eventually, he falls for this Philistine woman named Delilah. The other Philistines offer her lots of money if she can find out why Samson is so strong. So, Delilah asks Samson how he got to be so big and strong. Does Samson ever wonder WHY Delilah asks him about the secret to his strength? Of course not, because he is a meathead. At first, Samson is smart and he lies to her, but Delilah acts all hurt that he's been lying to her, so Samson eventually tells her the truth -- it's his hair that makes him so strong. So, once he is asleep, a Philistine barber comes and shaves all his hair off, then gouges out his eyes for good measure. In the end, however, Samson gets revenge in the form of a suicidal temple destruction. What is the moral to this story? I am at a loss, but perhaps I am missing something. I think it says something about how barbers and hairdressers, while useful to most people, are not for everyone.

March 17, 2004

In response to:

1. "We are all sinners, and homosexuality seems to me to be just another sin."

I am slightly bothered by the second half of this comment. Yes, we are all sinners, but would you say that "heterosexuality" is a sin? If not, then why is sexual preference (in whatever form it takes) a sin in and of itself? (And here I open myself up to a litany of comments from various people who I'm sure will be more than happy to spout off why homosexuality is a sin--but stop, folks, I've heard it all before; this question is intended specifically for Jef in the context of his other remarks.)

As I think I've made fairly clear -- I don't think homosexuality (or heterosexuality, for that matter) is a sin. I was speaking from a Christian perspective for the sake of argument, although I should have made this more apparent.

My feeling is that if a person -- homosexual, heterosexual, whatever -- is a devout believer in Jesus Christ, they should be able to gain salvation just like everyone else. Anytime a religion based on love and acceptance begins to hate and exclude it should give one pause.

March 16, 2004

It's time to play with "'tolerance' within Christianity," although I have no idea where to start. There's so many different types of Christian, to use a term like "Christianity" defines such a widely variant set of beliefs, and thus levels of "tolerance." I use this as a pre-excuse for the rambling response that is sure to follow.

As I've said before, I'm extremely bothered by Christians who decry homosexuality, and of churches who refuse to accept homosexual members into their parish. They usually cite the Bible to substantiate their bias, but it seems to me that the Bible can be used to substantiate any sort of bias one chooses to have. The extremes to which some Christians go to decry homosexuality is disturbing, and seems to me to be markedly un-Christian. Will these people get into heaven? I sincerely hope not, and I fail to understand how people can justify spreading any form of hate in the name of Jesus Christ. We are all sinners, and homosexuality seems to me to be just another sin.

Again, though, I do understand that there are good and bad Christians out there, just as there are good and bad everything out there. Who is right and who is wrong, I wonder? There's no real answer to this question, which leaves me wondering what the proper way to believe in Jesus Christ is. Everyone has a different answer to this question, and I have found different unsettling aspects to every answer. Disagreement amongst Christians, or amongst believers of any faith, is a huge stumbling block on my path to spirituality. It seems to me that God, whoever he is, wouldn't want it this way. At the very least I think he would want all believers to get along -- to agree to disagree, if you will -- instead of condemning each other to hell for believing the wrong way, or in the wrong God,...

...or in no God at all, which shouldn't really bother anyone at all. If you truly don't believe in any sort of God, then why should it matter if people who believe in a God think you're going to hell? To be bothered by it almost indicates a shred of belief, and thus almost substantiates their damnation.

March 14, 2004

In response to this comment:

I guess you can't rely on Ha'aretz for correct information, because Bush never said that. Also, where did you find out that "5000 - 10,000 innocent Iraqi civilians" were murdered by American GI's?

The Bush quote can also be found at The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Information about Iraqi civilian casualties can be found at Iraq Body Count, ABC News, and The Christian Science Monitor.

As I procrastinate from responding to the topic suggestions, I post this:

"God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East."
--George W. Bush to (former) Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, 06.25.03 (Ha'aretz)

Statements like this, coming from the leader of the most powerful country in the world, are troubling to me. If America truly is a democracy, shouldn't it be the will of the people who elected him -- not the God he believes in -- who direct his foreign policy decisions? I have no problem with having a Christian president, so long as he doesn't have some unwaivering belief that his decisions are divinely inspired, and thereby dismissing outright any dissenting opinion from the people who elected him. I'm also bothered by the inherent hypocrisy at work here -- if Bush is actually acting in the interests of his Christian God, how can he possibly deride the Islamic Fundamentalists for acting in the interests of their God? I don't think that terrorist bombings are a good thing, but I also don't think that invading Iraq -- killing between five and ten-thousand Iraqi civilians -- was a good thing, either.

March 11, 2004

I can't sleep tonight -- I spent two hours lying in bed, thinking of everything and nothing, listening for God and hearing my own voice. Eventually I thought of something, something to write on here...

I think that some people need spirituality in their lives, not so much to assuage the fear of death, but to provide a sense of goodness and hope that their life previously lacked. Lying in bed tonight, waiting for sleep, I realized that I may be one of these people.

I wasn't a bad person, but I wasn't always as good as I should have been. I was a rather negative and pessimistic person, always looking for the bad in people, often feeling hopeless. I feel like if this search has given me anything, it's given me the desire to be a better person, the ability to see light through the darkest of times, and these things have made me feel happy, at peace. Not that I didn't feel happy before this search, just that now it feels more genuine. Something like that.

Don't get me wrong, I still feel like a mess much of the time, but maybe I'm making more of an effort to clean up now.

I am, obviously, speaking personally. Many people probably (I have no way of knowing) can find hope and peace and etc. without any help from spiritual contemplation, but I think that it shows some people a side of themselves that they never thought they had.

I've been very busy lately. Too busy to post, not too busy to look.

There have been two responses to my recent request for a topic, at last count:

How 'bout the topic of "tolerance" within Christianity? I was conversing with a couple people about this the other day. I don't mean the simple lesson that "we should be tolerant of fellow human beings" and whatnot, but moreso the implications that the word and the view itself has and the implications that an attitude of "recognizing the sin but accepting the sinful" has.


i'd like to hear your thoughts on morality good/evil from a faith-filled/spiritual perspective. even if you don't think you are faith-filled or spiritual i'm confident you can work in that frame.

These are, indeed, two good topics. Since there are only two, I shall answer them both, and thus grant both of you a ticket to heaven. Congratulations! I can't make any promises that the ticket will be accepted, only that I'll talk to some people and see what I can do. This also doesn't mean that the contest is over -- if I get another topic suggestion that I deem superior to these, then I will immediately revoke the first two tickets and issue a new ticket to the superior topic author.

I'm tired now, though, so you're going to have to wait for my responses.

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