In my last post, Truth about Truthwalker, I talked about how my opinion doesn’t mater, and how I I’m not likely to change the world, so I’m not going to work my butt off on a project that has very unlikely pay off, its a poor investment.
What I am NOT going to quick doing, for the most posts, is blogs like the one I did on nuclear power, where I spent several weeks educating myself on it before I formed my thoughts about it. I’m not going to make statements that can be argued with, for the most part, because it doesn’t matter. No one who wants to disagree with me will choose to understand what I am saying, and no one who agrees with care why, as long as I agree.
I’m going to blog my opinion and not facts. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, everyone is NOT entitled to their own facts. That way I can still get ideas out, I can still write, and I can still share, but I don’t have to take hours of time away from my family doing research no one is going to read anyway.
Often this will make posts a lot shorter, and probably more frequent, as I just sort of machine gun out all the weird ideas I have throught out the day.
So, a quick explanation of why I haven’t written much. I realized the key to happiness. I tried to fight the realization. I tried to find holes in it. I tried to disprove it. But the more I thought about it the more I knew it was right.
Happiness is feeling powerful.
We are happiest when feeling powerful, and most miserable when feeling powerless.
We have shallow friendships because having people around that we feel better than makes us feel powerful. Shallow friendships (which will be the balance of most of the people we are friends with in this life) are like knick-knacks. They give something to do while you putter around, and make the place more interesting.
We have meaningful friendships because those are the few people who by their commitment to us enhance our power.
People form into groups to get access to power.
Religion is all about power. The question every religion answers is what must I do to have access to divine power?
Religious groups complain about the state of society because they look back to a time when they had more power, and feel the lose keenly.
I have very little power over the world.
I thought before I wanted to change the world. I can’t. It doesn’t mater what I think about abortion or murder or government. I don’t have the power to write policy so my beliefs about these things change nothing on the whole.
I’m not rich, I’m not famous, I’m not powerful. Thus no one cares what I think, particularly if I disagree with rich, famous people in positions of power.
The only things I have power over are not system wide, they effect mostly just me. I have some control over my attitudes, and much control over my actions. That’s it. There is no point in knowing a ton of stuff that I can’t do anything with.
My parents right now are really hurting over me becoming an atheist. I feel bad. I don’t like hurting them. I considered not telling them at all so it wouldn’t hurt them. But I knew it would come up sooner or later, and that they would have to be told. I, personally, would rather be told that someone disagrees with my core beliefs at the beginning, rather than have it hidden from me for years. I think that the distrust and lies of omission hurt more than the disagreement. For them, we’ll see.
But having grown up a Bible thumping fundamentalist and now being an atheist, I would like to prevent other parents suffering the way my parents are right now. And I think I know how. I offer the following in total seriousness, my guide to people in the Church on preventing atheism in her members.
I know that if some pastor reads this, he could very offended. This is not a joke me. I am not saying it to be offensive. I am truly offering this as advice to pastors and evangelists. If you don’t want people to de-convert like I did, listen to me. Some of these things are going to be hard for you to read, because they are very irreverent. Remember the person you are attempting to save has no idea what you hold reverent.
(1.) I can’t stress this enough. You must truly believe that some people are called to be God’s and some aren’t. No, seriously, you have to accept that. (Romans 11:7, Acts 13:48,)
(2.) As such, you must accept that fact that witnessing consists of laying the facts on the table. If the person is called by God, they believe them, if they’re not, they don’t. (Romans 11, Acts 4:4, Ephesians 1:13)
(3.) Accept the fact that the “facts” are ridiculous. Talking donkeys (Numbers 2:28), the sun stopping in the sky (Joshua 10:13), floating cities (Revelations 21). Don’t pretend that they make sense on their own, because they don’t. They make sense only to the Chosen. Don’t pretend it’s all about Jesus. It’s not. Jesus only matters if the Bible is true. If it’s true when it says “Jesus Saves”; it’s true when it says sheep copulating in front of spotted sticks makes spotted sheep. (Genesis 30:38-39) Pretending this sort of thing is rational will make someone doubt their sanity. Admit frankly that these things are irrational, on purpose, because God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise. (First Corinthians 1:27, First Corinthians 2:14)
(4.) Don’t lie when you witness. Make it clear that you are going to have to believe the whole Bible to be a Christian. (2nd Timothy 3:16) When it says that a woman who files a false rape report must be beaten to death (According to Deuteronomy 22:25, the penalty for rape is death. According to Deuteronomy 18:18-19 a false witness must face the punishment that would have been given to the accused.) or that priests can’t have bruised testicles (Leviticus 21:20) you must accept that and believe that it is really important or it wouldn’t be in there. The ideal witnessing method would include every odd claim and bizarre thing in the Bible. Let new believers know what they are getting into so that when someone presents them with this data, they aren’t surprised. Surprised believers feel betrayed by the church.
(5.) Don’t explain God in terms of personal relationship. A reasonable person would expect a personal relationship with supernatural being to involve supernatural actions. But that’s not how God works. Many believers will go their whole life and never see a single “New Testament” style miracle, like a regeneration of a limb, or reanimation of the dead. “Personal relationship” misleads people into thinking that God shows up regularly on human terms. He doesn’t, and people who expect it will become disillusioned. It takes several years of normalization in the church before the phrase “personal relationship” means “vague feelings in response to readings of scripture or singing of hyms”
(6.) Don’t explain God in terms of love. Love to normal people does not include the statement “…or I’ll roast you alive forever.” Explain God purely in terms of salvation from deserved misery. People who think they are sinners will get it. People who don’t consider themselves deserving of eternal damnation when they are presented with the idea are NOT savable, because they don’t accept the truth of God. It takes years of time in the Church before people accept the idea that the Divine death threat “Love me, or I’ll kill you.” is a moral highpoint, not low point. You can’t protect new converts from this truth, so tell it up front and don’t evangelize in terms of “love”.
(7.) Accept that fact that God says “Love me, or I’ll burn you alive forever.” (Romans 6:23, Mathew 5:22, Mark 9:43, and many, many more.) Yes, that is a gross oversimplification. It’s still what he says. If you disagree, you’re not savable; it’s that simple. Either you don’t believe that God commands you to love him, or you don’t believe that he cast those who don’t in to hell. Both are basic doctrine.
(8.) Accept the fact that God can do whatever he wants. Do not pretend that God is held to any standard, even the standard he reveals in scripture for himself. (Job and Eccleisaties) He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He has ordered the slaughter of woman and children (Deuteronomy 3:6). It was holy, and if you disagree that all the actions of God are Holy, then you don’t accept him as fully God. In which case, you aren’t savable.
(9.) Do not reason with the converting, it makes lousy converts. If a person can be argued into belief, they can argued out of it. Further, it creates a false expectation that the faith can be reasoned through. It can’t. By definition, the supernatural does not follow the rules of the natural. As such, tools of analysis like reason or science won’t work on it.
(10.) Science is the universe in the absence of God. Science is the study of nature. God is supernatural. Accept the fact that science is merely the absence of the miraculous or demonic. Studies, science, and reason cannot be trusted. They are rough approximations of the universe that are accurate only because God does not manifest miracles all the time, and the Devil, unlike God, is not everywhere at once.
(11.) Going from that, only studies which confirm the church’s point of view are true, all others are false. This is called data mining. Make it clear to the converting, that data mining, like homicide is bad only when people besides God do it. In this way, Christians can trained to see data mining as bad and spot it (as they have on the global warming debate), but are not left with the idea that it would wrong for the church to do it. If they thought data mining was intrinsically bad, they will be disillusioned when they find how much the church does it.
(12.) Don’t teach apologetics. Ever. Most De-cons were trained apologists. Apologetics teaches people that God can be found with reason. Any god that could be found through human facility is not much of God. It encourages people to think that the Bible is true because of evidence instead of authorship. Elevating evidence over God is idolatry. Further still, where there is evidence, there is no faith. The conversion of people with an interest in apologetics or converted by apologetics cannot be trusted. They believe that God is reasonable. God isn’t. They aren’t savable if they don’t repent of this false belief about God.
(13.) Don’t teach them to witness to people of other faiths. It seems like a good idea: teach believers about other religions so they can witness to people of those faiths. But it’s a terrible idea. (Exodus 23:13, Deuteronomy 13:1 through 8. ) First, it works from the idea that there are specific arguments that can talk people out of specific faiths into believing the true faith. But as said before, those reasoned in, can be reasoned out. Reason is an idol. Second, since there is only one way to God, all other ways are tricks of Satan, and meditating on them is meditating on the Satanic. The usual approach to this is to data mine the information about these religions, but this is not a perfect strategy. Should the believer meet a person of a different faith and find that Church data mined the information on that religion they will feel hurt and betrayed.
Its so much easier to define yourself by what you hate rather than what you love. Hate reveals almost nothing about the man who does the hating. A man may hate for many reasons, but he will only love because his heart moves him to do so. When you are honest with people about what you love you are honest at the most core level, you reveal your identity. I talk about what I hate so much specifically to avoid revealing my identity.
This is because I have something to hide. I grew up in the Fundamentalist Christian movement and came of age among radical charismatics. My friends and my memories are all made up of these people who are passionately religious, despite the fact they share opposite sides of the Christian path. I have betrayed them all to chase one thing.
That one thing is this: it is more important to me to know the truth than to belong to a group of people who claim they have it. Truth is more important to me than any person, group, or judgment. I decided to understand God by understanding martyrdom. I don’t really understand God, but I do have a handle on believing something so much that it was worth your very life. Truth is that which conforms to reality. Truth, I have decided is worth my life.
If this sounds beautiful, it can be. It is often very lonely. Truth, to me, is bigger and better than Faith. In fact, I hate faith. Faith is not an acceptable way to understand the world, it is merely a bridge to fill the gaps between what you know and what you don’t know. So that is my dirty secret…
I don’t believe anymore.
I still know what Christianity claims, I just don’t have faith in Christianity to represent God to me, or anyone else. To those who I have hurt by my pussyfooting around and talking about what I hate (blind faith) instead of what I love (searching out truth) I’m sorry. Its just hard to be open with people you care about. Only people you really love have the capacity to hurt you. I haven’t been open about this because I didn’t want to deal with the flak which will result. The statement “I don’t believe anymore” will make people who have previously claimed to love me suddenly reject me. People who have trusted my perspective for years will suddenly and ironically distrust the destination my perspective has taken me to.
For that cause I have hidden my disbelief for about 6 months to a year now. I could explain in detail exactly what I mean by “I don’t believe anymore.” Obviously, I still believe in some things. But I am not going to explain which right now. A precious few of my friends will read it and say, “If that is part of the road you have to walk, walk it well, and I will still be your friend.” Most however will chose one thing they want to know if I believe. They will ask. I will say yes or no, and they will decide if they are going to pray for me or weep helplessly depending on the question they ask.
I will say this about my love. I love truth. I love the search for truth. I love these things more than I love my own life.
Today I am going to rebuttal myself. I posted a blog called “Why I am crappy Christian and proud of it” or something a bit ago…
Well, first off, I’m not proud of it. I am ashamed. And I am not so much a crappy Christian as profoundly immature Christian. I said I don’t want to call myself a Christian because I am not ready to drink from the “martyrs cup” yet. And I am not, so that much is true. But a brother pointed out to me that no matter how holy my desire to not call myself a Christian might be, by not calling myself a Christian I removed myself from the day to day dialog of life about God and Reality, and that meant I was held to a lower standard. He said further, that I was right to recognize my failure to be a good Christian but that seeking a lower standard would do nothing to address the root issues of why I couldn’t meet the standard. He’s right. but…
Well, first, I’ve not the right to say “He’s right, but…” He’s just right. Having accepted that he is totally correct, I want to explain why its so hard.
I hate U.S. Christianity Inc.
Its a dirty little cage with tarnished bars. The goal of US Christianity Inc is nothing less than the total destruction of God through a Randian twist of destroying man. The shittier USCI can make man look, the worse it can make God look by association. US Christianity Inc hates anything that inspires anything other than insipid nostalgia for a nonexistent past.
“Christian art” is an affront to both Christianity and Art. A photo can tell the truth about the way something is (though far to few do) but Art can tell the truth about the way something feels. If what Christ saves you from is life of misery, where is the misery in their art? Where is the brokenness. I see the blond haired, blued Jesus with the kids on his lap, I see the pathetic broken man on the cross. Where is the triumphant King? Where is the Holy Vengeance? Where’s the man who pours out wrath? Where is the master of the four horsemen? Well, he doesn’t go well with peoples living room furniture so we wrote him out of the story.
“Christian Music” is pure unadulterated crap. Now, my brother plays in Christian band. He plays metalcore, because he finds a lot of lost people at metalcore concerts. They get up on the stage and talk about being broken and hurt and miserable and addicted and then they sing about Jesus and how with Jesus they don’t need toke up anymore, or hurt themselves anymore. They do an alter call after the show and pray for the people who accepted Christ and try to hook them up with local ministries. They don’t do this at nice clean Christian concerts by the way. They do it opening for garage bands. They did 200 shows this year. Without a label. They work their butts off and spread the Gospel and pay their way. I respect that, and thats not what I am talking about. I am talking about people like Jessica Simpson, who’s parents tried to release her on a Christian label but decided not to because they couldn’t get enough of the boobs they had paid good money for onto the album covers. I am talking about “Our God is an Awesome God” rearranged for choir with the drums edited out.
“Christian Business” is the most perverse. Non-profit agencies clearing millions. Pastors with private jets. Televangelists. “Christian bookstores” which buy the artless kitsch mentioned above from Chinese slave labor and sell it for 1000% markups. Christian Radio stations which use a non-profit loophole about repeater stations to own more of the airwaves than Clear Channel. (Ever wonder why you can hear KLUV in every city in the US?)
US Christianity Inc holds out a pathetic worthless vision of what it means to be human, and thus a pathetic worthless vision of what it means to be the God who made humans. I hate it all. Hate it with a passion, as I should. Its crap. It replaces the living God with idol of kitsch in a temple of consumerism. It is, to be frank, exactly the sort of thing that God punishes people with the “Three C’s” for. (Capture, Captivity, and Cannibalism.)
I hate it. Yet, I must not lie. Despite the fact that Christians have made the name of God a mockery, I cannot “un-mock” God by pretending I am not his child. SO, I repent. I am Christian. I am a lousy, weak, stupid, and angry Christian. But I am a Christian. I will no longer secretly mock my brothers and sisters for their weakness and stupidity. That too is sin. No, from this day forward, I will call them out on their hypocrisy and seek to eliminate the same from my life.
Einstein believed that there was one single guiding principal that allows all of the fundamental forces between elementary particles to be written in terms of a single field. He called the rationalization of this belief Unified Field Theory. Its not much of step to link the theory to the idea that there is single theory which could explain how all of physics functions, from the tiniest sub-particle to mass of whole galaxy, from gravity and magnetism, to quantum glue and particle spin. In effect it would explain all matter and energy. The first mention of this theory was by a Polish science fiction writer who called it “Ogólna Teoria Wszystkiego” or the Theory of Everything (ToE).
Everything that exists in this universe has name, its called reality. Philosophers have been searching for one single guiding principal of reality as long as there have been philosophers. The search for the Theory of everything is the search for Truth. Truth with a capital t (capital t truth or CTT). Plain old run of the mill truth is defined as that which conforms to reality, but reality is specific to the context of the reality which is being examined. That which is true about pie is not necessarily true about pi which explains why there is some truth in relativism, but ultimately relativism isn’t true.
What the philosophers and quantum physicists seem to be searching for is some truth which transcends context, some truth that just keeps enlarging to encircle everything that exists. Ultimately, everyone who wants Truth is looking for that One Thing. The thing whose sum is greater than its parts. All of our highest ideals represent that which is greater than the sum of its parts. Is not a great man made of the same amino acids as a merely adequate man? Thousands of men have played billions of notes over the centuries, yet there is only one Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Some philosophers believed that Art would die when cameras and mass production made realism cheap and reproducible, yet Art remained as any deep thinking artist could have said would happen. Why? Because greatness in an artist has little to do with reality. Photo-realism is a mere technical skill; the mark of great master is knowing how to make people feel what he intends, which involves weaving reality and un-reality together. Though man cannot agree on what parts of reality are great, we all seem to intuitively agree on what the idea of greatness is.
Greatness is the quality of being more than the sum of constituent parts. When we search for Truth, we are seeking greatness. The Unified Theory of Everything is the search for something so great, that it doesn’t change with shifting face of the reality it describes. That is Truth.
I believe in Truth. I know thats not fashionable anymore. Thankfully, Truth does not change with fashion or whim. It is not because we wish it so or not so. Truth is. By definition Truth is much bigger than I am. I want to hug Truth in one day, I want to wrap my arms around it right now, but I can’t because anything that I can wrap my arms around in a single moment is most likely not even close enough to be Truth. So I seek Truth the only way I can.
I think Truth is not a destination, but journey. I think it is a cobblestone road and I think that every cobble is little contextual truth. The truth that light is light and dark is not is not less or more true than the truth of God’s existence, nor more or less important. I think that real satisfaction with life comes from Truth. The closer one places his life inline with Truth the happier and simpler his life becomes, and one aligns with Truth by accepting truth.
I love truths. I’ve sought them my whole life. I want to live true to Truth. This has always made me different than most people I meet, but because I never accepted it at my very core it never had the chance to change me as fully as it might. I loved truth outside of my religion and politics, but within religion and politics, I had to accept various hypocrisies. Hypocrisy is the act of condemning another person for an act of which the critic is guilty. Hypocrisy is flagrant departure from truth.
Since, truth is that which conforms to reality and there is only one reality, holding people to one standard of how to act on reality while holding yourself to another is based on a lie. Namely, that you are special. The fact which conforms to reality is that you are not special. The universe will not give you different rules that it gives everyone. You will obey the laws of physics whether you are aware of them or not. You are not special.
But I had to believe that I was so special that I was infallible. To honestly assess the systems of faith I held would result in clearly seeing the failures inherent to those systems, so I had to carefully not asses them. Similtaneously, I believed that unexamined life was valueless. Resulting in the further lie of not only being infallible, but having special insight into truth and knowing without examination with truths were worthy of examination. Honestly, I think most hypocrisy is an attempt to “legislate” away another hypocrisy.
Eventually this can only lead you to believe in magic. The special exemptions pile on top of one another creating an identity founded on the idea that you are totally exempt even from anything that you haven’t personally defined. Logically, the only direction this can go is that your thoughts make reality, you can make what is real inside without physical work, merely by the power of belief.
But of course, I couldn’t really change reality by wanting too. Eventually, truth lead me to truth. I sat down with the systems of faith I had, and analyzed them. Of course, they fell apart. Gradually, I met God in all this, and I began to see scripture. It was funny. So much of what had seemed so contradictory in the way of God was not His hypocrisy, but mine. God was consistent within His own definition of Himself, he simply disagreed with the way I preferred to define Him.
Its been a great blessing addressing those last to prime holdouts of lies in my life: my faith in God (religion) and my faith in man (politics). When I let go of what I wanted to be true and accepted what is true, the great storm of my life quited. Like a graphic Renaissance fresco, hidden by blue-nosed Victorian under plaster, as the chunks of hypocrisy and self made lies fell of, my world view becomes more beautiful. The deeper I lived in truth, the less odious God became to me. I’ve even begun to want to love God, this Master Craftsmen who built the reality that dwell in, which is exciting.
The unexpected side effect of all this is growing sense of alienation from those around me. When the pursuit of life’s truths, even the simple ones, is more important to you than which group you belong to, no group fits anymore. There is no handle to grab a hold of my identity with anymore.
I’m started to want to know Christ, but I am not a Christian. I love the stars and the moon and the trees, I believe they are important and spiritual, but I am not a Pagan, or even a hippie. I’ve read the Koran, but I am not Muslim. The truths in the religions I study are far more important to me than the opinions their adherents. So I don’t fit in anywhere anymore.
That’s OK with me, its just a weird feeling. Tonight we celebrated New Year’s Eve with a lovely Catholic couple we know. I looked at the crucifixes on their throats, on their walls, and on their refrigerator door and I wished I could have one simple thing that could tell the world who I am, and attract people who share my path to me, a simple symbol that represented a whole code, a people, a way of life, and a single purpose. Sometimes I when I look at a menorah, or a crucifix, and even, once in a great while, an ichthus (the “Jesus Fish”) I feel this deep, aching longing to be part of.
But, I sigh, I will not belong to them for all the wishing, because wishing does not make reality, even when I wish it does. Truth remains, and hopefully always will remain, more important to me than belonging to a group who claims to have it.