I go because my wife goes, I am, at least for the big picture, an agnostic. By the big picture I mean what created the universe and infinity and so forth, Albert Einstein's quotes are quite refreshing in this regard, he recognizes that we humans are incapable of understanding the world because we lack the senses necessary to understand the universe. So I believe that we cannot know anything since we are not all seeing and all knowing creatures.
Transcendentalism makes as much sense as Buddhism, all false constructs we agnostics suspect, but don't know for sure. But since man is incapable of understanding only a pinhead of the known universe, we cannot know. We can only believe that either there is or there is not a Supreme being, which is not within the realm of human understanding.
As to the small picture, I believe most religions exist to help people maneuver through life and largely to help others, not all but most; the NY Times recently had a story about how humans are born with an innate desire to help others. This was proven by studying infants before they are able to speak or understand the world they inhabit.
Infants desire to help and participate in helping others. And most religions exist for this primal urge, with some notable exceptions that exist primarily to help the founders of that religion. Certain fundamentalist TV shows and Scien-tol-orgy come to mind although there are others. But no religion is free from human faults. And Christianity is largely a collection of pagan ceremonies that were adopted to bring certain groups into the fold. The eating of the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ being one notable part of the religion that I despise as it reminds me of cannibalism. Perhaps Christianity brought some cannibals into the fold at some point. Christianity does have its weird and odd rituals that historians might guess at the reason for their existence, but too many false constructs are created although I enjoy hearing the attempts to create good constructs that try to make the odd seem good, and our minister, a Harvard Divinity School graduate is at least as capable of construct as was Emerson in the "Divinity School Address". For the first time in my life I listen to the sermons, we have a minister I can understand and who I can enjoy listening to, as he makes some creative and unusual arguments that no minister in my limited experience has ever argued and tried to apply to what is relevant in our lives today. No one who came out of law school with a love for a good argument could find the sermons uninteresting.
But since we both go in solidarity with each other, at least I do, we decided to join a UCC church that is "open and affirming" meaning that it accepts gays and their right to live together in marriage as other people can. There is only one UCC church in our area that has met evolution and forged ahead to create a better church. But I remain agnostic in the big and little picture, but partipate because I believe that NY Times article and since reading it I have become a participant in the food bank, in carrying non drivers to their doctor appointments and am going to do more. That is church for me. Helping others.
As to racism, I grew up in the South. Eradicating the last vestiges of racism may be impossible, but I have made much progress, the only time I intentionally exhibit such behavior is when we have a Clarence Thomas or other traitor to his people and the American people (Clarence seems to claim no people), and then I pull out the tools that I learned from other southerners but never accepted as a part of my life. But this is a political blog and the Christian rules largely go out the window when it comes to political opponents, who I know will do unto me so I do unto them first. Clarence has stood with the evil participants in creating a construct for the nation that hurts people. So I blog about him in a nasty way. Alito and the others will get similar treatment, if not by me by others here on the blog.
Karl Rove started it and we cannot end it as long as the other side remains so evil. John Deans favorite construct, the authoritarian structure of Dr. Whatever I forgot his Name says to be nice to them. But politics demands that we follow certain rules.
So there I deviate from the golden rule, just as Jesus did when he turned over the tables of the money changers. Jesus never had a money table but if he did he would be mad at Jesus for doing such a thing to him. So Jesus didn't follow the golden rule always.
Jesus was following the "do unto the evil ones as they deserve". So Jesus was not at all like Dr. King or Gandhi. He took action. He fought against evil. As we should too.
Sorry for so long an explanation, but unless one explains the constructs around which he builds his agnosticism, he cannot be understood by others.
Although I find it hard to be a fighter like Jesus. How would he turn over the tables of the money changers of today. I shudder to think at how he might approach those tables, housed in huge buildings. But alas, I cannot be Jesus in my personal construct of the universe, at least not there. I cannot go there.
As the Jesus of the past and presumably the present would be immediately tried and convicted and perhaps executed for turning over those "tables". Following him there leads to what we in America perceive as evil behavior and what our laws call evil behavior, actually they call it terrorism.
Ask Jesus why he did that. I am calling on those who regularly talk to JESUS - what is he saying. JOE BAGEANT'S SCREAMING MAN SAYS: KEEP YOUR OWN OPINIONS OUT OF THIS AS MOST IDIOTS WHO SAY THEY TALK TO JESUS ARE JUST PLAYING GAMES IN THEIR HEAD TO JUSTIFY THEIR OWN SELFISH BEHAVIOR. TELL US WHAT JESUS SAID AND KEEP YOUR DAMN STUPID EGO AWAY FROM JESUS YOU FOOLS (don't care if calling them fools is a sin as they are indeed). And not one of them can quote JESUS although our church says he is still speaking. Maybe we don't listen or maybe it's not on the news these days.
And what would Jesus do now.
Nothing has changed I guess. Maybe Jesus has returned and we don't recognize him. I do seem to recognize some folks who might resemble the money changers and those who are turning over the money changers "tables" as JESUS Did. So maybe he is back. I dunno. But play around with these ideas and they can lead you to some strange endings.
But I'm agnostic. But that Jesus, he's quite a study. Not at all like he's often portrayed.
There was nobody named Jesus, by the way. That's a Roman name, derived from Greek, and the guy was neither Roman nor Greek. Calling him a fighter for turning over the money tables in the temple is false, he struck no person. He merely took steps to clean his sanctuary of filth.
Mike, your response was in English which didn't exist then. So can you speak Greek and Roman and can you give us a response in the appropriate language to show that you aren't miming another person's construct of the events?
Explain to me how those old scrolls are inaccurate in what they say. I know that the apocrypha has some weird, weird stuff, I've read a good bit of it, (youngster Jesus is a juvenile delinquent of the highest order in those documents - he's a real killer kid) but whether the person described in the documents ever existed is a question that has baffled the studious for tens of generations. So how do you know? I'm agnostic. I say you can't know. You weren't there. But give us a source.
Jesus also ran all the cattle and sheep and other animals being sold for sacrifice out of the temple. He used a whip. He was quit violent with those creatures and he also whipped the money changers. After he drove the money changers and the animals out of the temple with the whip. The verse does not say he spared the money changers from that ship. The verse says this:
John 2:14-15: "And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changersí money and overturned the tables." No time to grab your money when the whip is being popped on your head.
So if anyone has a desire to go enter the local finance or payday loan company with a whip, well, there you are. What would Jesus do? I gave you the answer. No guns allowed.
And if anyone says that those money changers are not in the temple, remind them that the conservatives say the whole country is a Christian nation, thus the whole country is a temple according to those right wingers. I can't see it being interpreted any other way. On purpose.
Buck, let's keep the conversation in English, of course. So the name Jesus is wrong, because to know the true name and the meaning of the name is important and the Romans did everything in their power to suppress that knowledge. I can give you translations but you should read the Hebrew for yourself. The closest transliteration might be YShVA. The Y (Yod, actually) is an abbreviation of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH. So a fuller spelling is YHVH-ShVA. In Hebrew, I AM WHO IS Salvation.
As for his title, do you know the meaning of Christ?
Well Mike, I could say it means the anointed one but I prefer the
American definition which means shopping. You see the mas means the mass of people who go out to buy gifts for each other and Christ means the shopping they do during that period. Merry of course means the way the shopkeepers and store owners react to this period.
An unusual construct, I know, but often this is style and method of the reasoning used by many, particularly those of a fundamentalist bent to describe their interpretation of the text of the old and new testaments. You know, beat your wife, (it's in there) intolerance, hate, a whole host of other nasty stuff. It's in there.
I'll stick with the Beatitudes. Or the Jefferson Bible. Or something less provocative.
But let me ask you. Since you're a marijuana advocate, does the Bible say it's OK? It must be in there. I haven't smoked any years but this back pain is getting out of hand and I don't have anything to help me with it other than non addictive and not that helpful pain killers. Since I'm not allowed to take NSAID drugs because the doctor said I might die due to a bad ulcer I had a long time ago, I don't have many choices. And getting anything strong is like pulling eye teeth, whatever they are.
It sure is in there, on the first and last page.
Genesis 1:29, Revelation 22:2.
And to let there be no confusion, it is there in Exodus 30:22-25, the ingredient called Kaneh-Bosm in the holy oil of anointment.
Excuse me Mike, for the marijuana question. I mixed you up with our regular who has the marijuana blog and just clicked on your blog Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and saw my mistaken belief that you were him Your blog has won many awards but I don't read it daily as everyone should, so I don't know about your stance on marijuana. But we do have a regular Marijuana blogger who has a blog that advocates the legalization of marijuana. And with my back the way it is, I'd like to try it and need a biblical reference to make it OK with the fundamentalist jurors I'm likely to get when they arrest me for doing same. Until then, I'll leave it alone.
Why waste part of your precious lives discussing nonsense?
There are over 2,000 religions, don't like one try another, but remember a "god" that would allow 6,000 languages and 2,000 religions is not a "god" but a "devil" that enjoys stirring people up to argue, murder, etc.
The American satanist religion can clearly be seen at xmas when all of the worshipers worship Mammon. Probably the most popular "god" in the world as worship extends to all continents and most people, even the Islamic sects.
The traditional primitive religion worshipers of previous religions worship at easter in the northern hemisphere, which used to mark the end of winter and the planting of crops.
Sorry, born hillbilly, hearing "it's god's choice" whenever something bad happened did not give me a firm base for "believing" in any benevolent "god."
We have to rely on Paul to inform us about Jesus, and Paul came along quite a few years after Jesus' death. Here is what we are told about Paul:
Paulís direct encounter with Lord is dramatic. On the road to Damascus, he comes face to face with the Son of man. In his encounter with the Risen Christ, Paul decides that this event makes him and anyone else who has seen the risen Christ an apostle (I Cor. 15.8). The Light blinded Paul and he had to be led into the city.
Clearly, Paul was mentally ill (or a real con artist) and relying on his insights and observations to advance a religion is, well, lunacy.
Christianity is a fraud; too bad people are so emotioanlly needy that they can't see how absurd it is.
I'm not going to play around with Pauline metaphysics because they are silly and confusing and often wrong representations.
If you want to play games, by all means, feel free. It's your choice. As I said, Paul NEVER MET Jesus. Read Thomas if you want to understand better.
Agnostic: An ATHEIST WITH NO BALLS!!!!!!
I don't think so, Zarathustra. An Atheist says there is no God. The Agnostic just couldn't care less.
No, an atheist says, "I see no evidence for a god, therefore I lack belief in a god (in contrast to the agnostic theist/agnostic atheist's "I don't know if there's a god, I just believe/don't believe.")" in response to the claim, "There is a god." It's safe to say most if not all atheists also couldn't care less whether or not there's a god. It's the sniveling, weak minded, arrogant godbotherers who see fit to cram their religions down everyone's throat that gets peoples' care meters humming.
Well, this atheist says that you cannot know such things because the animals have more senses than people have. Birds know when to fly North and South and butterflies know where and when to fly their thousands of miles yearly flights. And we humans don't understand how they know it or how they know when and where to do it.
I could go on and on, but if we are unable to understand how the animals do such things (there are thousands of other examples that we can point to and others we don't even know about), then how can we possibly understand any semblance of the nature of the universe. Man is constantly inventing new machines that allow him to see things that could not be seen before, a small portion of the stars and the constellations and the marijuana patch that one might grow in his house with grow lights are all now made visible by machines. But man is still inventing these machines to help him understand the universe but this agnostic believes that we only have a thimble full of information and the bucket that we need to drink from is as big as a galaxy. Therefore we lack the senses to decide such things as to whether or not there is a God. We are not even as aware about our spot in the galaxy as some animals are. You are very welcome to differ with me. Show me where I am wrong in my beliefs if you like as I would enjoy that.
But some of us find a great deal of humor in religion, Samuel Clemmons style. That famous "conservative" blogger Jon Swift was one of the best online raconteurs on this and many other subjects until he quit publishing. But many of us try the raconteur method of laughing at the foolishness of their fellow man, but take seriously the obligation to help others. So that is church for me helping others. And I have to do more. Much more.
I have no criticism of anyone on the subject of religion as long as they don't intrude on others and by that I'm not talking about writing something that everyone can decide to read or not read. I'm talking about making other peoples lives miserable by telling them what they have to believe or by intentionally causing hurt to others, as no one else can see into the mind of another. I think we are all individuals and are free to believe what we like, but forcing those beliefs on others or hurting others in the name of a God (or of an ideology) is when the line is crossed.
As to religion, the Soviets were atheists and I don't know that this quality helped or hurt their society. In some ways religion helps our society (much charity is associated with religion and President Carter is a good example of this) and in many other ways hurts it (some of the Blackwater personnel killed in the name of the Devil they claimed was God; gays are often hurt by the "religious", the fanatics especially and so forth and so on).
Except for the harm they may cause through their belief system or ideology, I care not what others believe as everyone changes every day through learning - at least the people who are still alive do - when one ceases to change, one ceases to live. So while I breathe I hope that my fellow man will improve. And I remain optimistic over the long, long term about that with some caveats.
Evolution goes on in a slow steady process. If we humans don't straighten up and quit hurting others and our space in the universe, the monkeys or even the cockroaches will eventually surpass us. The evolutionary process may already have us marked by our behavior for our own destruction. We have invented the means to do it and it's possible and even likely that we will. Maybe we can turn around before its too late. Only an optimist can believe that humans will do it in time though, before it is too late. But I remain so because the alternative is too terrible to contemplate.
Atheism is profoundly destructive, akin to a form of philosophical nihilism. That isn't to deny the right of people to disbelieve, but you are part of a consciousness which transcends your limited self. Truly, you are God, and you create your universe, together with all other parts of yourself.
I said atheist in that first sentence didn't I. No, I'm agnostic- I mixed up my term and from reading the article you can see that. Whether that is destructive or not is a personal matter for each person to decide and I don't judge. I just explained in that column why I am agnostic. I say you cannot know because you are just a flicker of consciousness in a sea of life with a body form that we perceive to be real.
I find agnosticism refreshing as I don't know what I cannot know. So I don't waste time trying although writing it out publicly helps me to come to grips with my thoughts. It would be refreshing to hear how others come to their atheism. Mike, I don't agree that it is destructive. The atheists just believe what they believe and I believe what I believe. And you have the right to believe what you believe. But I cannot decide for you or for anyone else. We all perceive the universe differently.
Nihilists just believe what they believe, too. Nothing wrong per se with believing that nothing exists, that nothing matters, that we are a flicker of consciousness, as you say... but we are part of the consciousness itself, the flicker is not different from the flame, and we each contain the whole within our own frame of reference.
But you are not an atheist, of course. Agnosticism is the right view to take in the absence of personal knowledge, but that knowledge can be found within yourself, try Zeteticism. :)