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Yet Even More Religious Shorts - by John Prytz

Of all of those Big Questions central to philosophical concepts that surround life, the universe and everything, the realms of theology and religions and the nature of deities continue to fascinate. Opinions proliferate in books, articles, videos, conversations in bars and pubs, and in fact anywhere and everywhere two or more humans are in proximity. There's the pro side; there's the anti-side. There aren't too many fence-sitters. I'm in the anti-camp as the following fourth installment of religious short pieces illustrate.


Contents:


Imagine There's No Religion

 

A Godly Concept

 

Arguing God from Pure Existence?

 

Arguing God from Religious Experience?


Is God Outside of Time?

 

God vs. Physics


Why Assume There Is A God?

 

Defending God’s Honor


The Improbable Origin of Moses: Exodus 2: 1-10


J.C. vs. "The Donald"

  

Imagine There's No Religion


Imagine the following: Destroy every religious text of any persuasion in existence; eliminate every religious institution; sack anyone involved in organized religion (or even disorganized religion); purge the name of any and every deity ever proposed, and then for good measure wipe clean the memories of every person with respect to anything and everything to do with religion in any shape, manner or form. Let’s turn the entirety of humanity into a flock of another kind, just like real sheep who presumably have no concept of all the sorts of things religions go on, and on, and on about.

 

Firstly, that would make for a much more peaceful planet, but that’s not my real point here. If the human race all of a sudden had no inkling of religion and associated rituals like prayer, deities, and thou shall nots, and miracles, and associated baggage - the slate wiped clean – would we invent it all over again and if so would it all be in the same old form as we know it now?

 

All of our religions cannot possibly be correct, but all of them could be wrong. Assuming that’s the case, could there be out there a really bona-fide god or gods – supernatural deities – with some sort of associated baggage that we have no comprehension of? Say these hypothetical supernatural entities have never made contact with Planet Earth.


A Godly Concept


I spotted a book* a while back and looked over the dust jacket. It was regarding the afterlife, and the jacket said something akin to God was One; and you were part of His oneness; and your afterlife with God was outside the realm of time and space. And I thought to myself what a load of utter claptrap! God is One – One what? Who knows; the book jacket didn’t say; it’s not explained for those thinking of buying the book. If there is an oneness, then that implies there must be a two-ness and a three-ness and a four-ness and so on down the line. If you exist in an afterlife outside of space and time then whatever you are in that afterlife, you have no volume, no area, no length – you are a zero dimensional dot point. Further, nothing can ever change in that afterlife since there is no time which is what gives substance or reality to change.

 

God does in fact have one ‘All’ quality. He’s an all-nothing. God, the supernatural deity, doesn’t exist. One line of evidence in support of that is that God hasn’t struck me down dead by lightning by writing and posting this! So you see, blasphemy is a victimless ‘crime’. And no, I don’t hate God. You can’t hate something that doesn’t exist.

 

*Spong, John Shelby; Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell; HarperOne, New York; 2009.

 

Arguing God from Pure Existence?


Now you think you can have "eternal" life and that you can live "forever" and have "eternity" in Paradise. That sounds an awful lot like infinity to me, a concept you radically dismiss. That aside, don't you think you're going to be pretty bored after the first couple of million years or so of your "eternity"? Now do please enlighten me, a poor sinful non-believer, just what will you do in Paradise to keep boredom at bay and to earn your keep? Presumably you won't have 72 virgins to keep you busy and once you've mastered the harp, well you've mastered the harp and need a new challenge.

 

Personally I wouldn't put too much stock in Biblical promises on the grounds that the Bible is just another work of mythological make-believe; a 'novel' of historical fiction. Still, I'd rather believe your version than my version, yet a little bird keeps reminding me that if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. Caveat emptor is the required logic that needs to be adhered to here IMHO.

 

Arguing God from Religious Experience?


So you've experienced God! How nice. Untold millions have also experienced their version of a god and accounts of those gods cannot all be correct as they are often contradictory. Religious experiences would fill encyclopedias and prove nothing other than we are psychologically prone to have religious experiences. The brain appears to be hardwired for but not of necessity monotheistic beliefs or experiences but for spiritual experiences in general, including polytheistic ones. And further, these multi-thousands of religious or spiritual experiences haven't advanced our understanding of reality - other than our understanding of neurological / psychological reality.

 

Of course tens-of-thousands of others have claimed to have experienced alien abductions - do you believe them? Millions have experienced ghosts - do you believe them? Lots of people claim to have experienced telepathy or been able to engage in telekinesis. Do you claim to be able to bend spoons with your mind? Numerous people claim to have been reincarnated. Many people believe in astrological experiences based on astrology columns in their daily newspaper or on 'professional' horoscope forecasts. Maybe you've experienced Bigfoot too and had out-of-the-body experiences. If so, why should we believe you? Claims are a dime a dozen. Personal experiences count for absolutely nothing unless you can back up your claims with solid evidence. And extraordinary claims (like experiencing God) require extraordinary evidence. To date, on any sort of credibility scale, religious visionaries and experiences rank as close to zero as makes no odds.


Is God Outside of Time?


There is one scenario where being outside of space and time makes perfect sense. If we 'exist' as virtual beings in a simulated landscape, if we survive and thrive as just a computer program, as software created by a Supreme Programmer, then as far as we are concerned, that Supreme Programmer exists outside our virtual space and our simulated time. That's akin to how we are outside of the space and time inhabited by our virtual characters in our video games and related simulations. However, the bottom line is that we still exist in a virtually real space and in a virtually real time, and presumably, in fact of necessity, our Supreme Programmer, assuming we 'live' in a Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe, would therefore exist in some sort of real space and time that would be a space and time separate and apart from our virtual space and time reality. Time and space could be different for programmer and those programmed, but certainly it could never be of a non-existent nature for either.

 

God vs. Physics


"Things" have certain powers. Things have structure and substance. Things with structure and substance are physical things. Physical things can have an effect on other physical things. Non-physical things, like Wednesday, have no structure and substance. The concept of Wednesday cannot have any physical effect on say a billiard ball. A billiard ball cannot have any effect on the concept of Wednesday. So, non-physical things (concepts) cannot affect physical things, and vice-versa. God being, according to most theists, a non-physical entity (a concept with no structure and substance) that 'exists' outside of space and time, cannot have any effect on or create or destroy physical things. However, non-physical concepts can have an effect on other non-physical concepts. The concept of a God might give you the concept to be a more moral person, but that is not imposed on you by a non-physical God but rather comes from within.

 

So here we have this omnipotent entity, this Maximally Greatest Being, who is non-physical, who has existed for all eternity (but not infinitely so), and in a timeless state to boot. Then for some totally unexplained reason this entity crossed over the Rubicon into time by creating a physical cosmos, but not an infinite cosmos, out of absolutely nothing for no apparently good reason other than "what the heck; why not; I'm bored" (my quotes). Do you, the reader, have any comprehension of how utterly ridiculous that sounds? If you came across that scenario or concept for the very first time in a novel, you'd be right to question the author's sanity or drug use.


Why Assume There Is A God?


The question has been asked: "why does everyone assume there is a god???"

 

Excellent question! I certainly don't think a supernatural deity commonly referred to as "God" actually exists. The problem is we don't know for absolutely sure and thus it is interesting, even fun, to play around with the concept. Of course if everyone assumed there wasn't a God (or any other supernatural deity or deities) then there would be an awful lot less spirited discussion here on "Closer to Truth" and no doubt on thousands of other forums throughout the Internet. Then too, if everybody assumed there was no God there would be a lot more peace and tranquility in the world, but that's another issue.

 

However, there is something positive to be said for the concept, note the word concept, that God exists. That concept keeps a lot of people employed and a lot of other people, the great unwashed, off the streets on Sunday morning! The concept of God has also inspired, truth be known, a reasonable amount of rather nice music and other artistic works. Finally, it would appear as if we are mentally hardwired to have the concept of a deity or deities as part of our worldview, and thus we have to deal with that concept like it or not.

 

Defending God’s Honor


It never ceases to amaze me that there are those who feel they need to defend God’s honor against, in their words, blasphemers and blasphemy (in my words a victimless crime), often demanding barbaric punishments (including the death penalty) against those, who, again in their words, ‘blaspheme’. People love to lord over other people; the more the better and if you can do it under the guise of religion, so much the better since obviously God’s on your side. But you’d think an all-knowing and all-powerful God, assuming there really is a God of course which IMHO is highly doubtful, could look after and defend Himself and smite those who gave Him the verbal, written or otherwise Big Finger. It almost seems as if God’s defenders don’t actually believe God can or could or would defend Himself and therefore this suggests that perhaps they don’t really believe a wrathful or vengeful God actually exists at all.

 

If I call Superman a poof, well that’s libel and slander and blaspheme. But Superman can defend himself and punch my lights out (he doesn’t need your help) or can file a legal complaint and initiate legal redress. If someone else files the complaint, that someone and the prosecution will need to not only prove that Superman actually exists, but was actually offended.

 

There can be only one offended party and that is the recipient of the blaspheming. If that party is not offended or takes no action, then nobody else can act on that person’s (or deity’s) behalf, nor has the right to without the offended party’s permission. Blaspheme laws are just an excuse for humans to exert power over other humans. End of story.

 

The Improbable Origin of Moses: Exodus 2: 1-10


Superman as an infant was put into a rocket to save him from certain celestial doom (Krypton goes boom) and sent to another world (Earth) where he was discovered and raised by a average American family. Moses as an infant was put into a more primitive convenience to escape doom of a different kind where he was later discovered and raised, but raised not by Mr. and Mrs. Average Egyptian, but by pharaoh’s daughter no less. Now what are the odds of that happening? Baby Moses among the bulrushes, or just deep in the B.S.? Superman is fiction, we all know that. Want to place a bet on Moses’ origin being equally fictional?

 

Further to the issue, here's an interesting paradox. In Exodus 2: 1 we have a marriage. In Exodus 2: 2, that marriage produces a son who will become known in due course as Moses. The narrative then proceeds with the well-known story of the placing of the baby into a boat made of bulrushes floated down the Nile to be found by Pharaoh's daughter, etc. So, therefore, it is reasonable to think that Moses was the firstborn of the before-mentioned marriage. But almost immediately in Exodus 2: 4, there's a passage that the baby Moses had a sister who was watching all of this narrative. Like where did she come from all of a sudden and out of the blue? So was Moses the eldest child or not? The sister of Moses was only identified by name for the first time as Miriam in Exodus 15: 20, and then only identified as the sister of Aaron, but Aaron of course was the brother of Moses (identified as such in Exodus 4: 14). All up, there's something screwy somewhere with the origin of Moses. By the way, that origin story of a baby being put in a basket and floated downstream is yet another example of a direct steal; pure plagiarism in the Bible. Take for example the origin story behind King Sargon of Assyria. An exact origins copy but Sargon came first chronologically.


J.C. vs. "The Donald"


Here's a thought experiment. Substitute "The Donald" for Jesus. Now "The Donald" (i.e. - Trump, Sr.) has taken personal credit for a multitude of things that he had absolutely nothing to do with and "The Donald" has claimed that he is the best and the brightest with respect to so many things that it would take way too long and take up way too much space to list them all. We've all seen clips on T.V. or the Internet where "The Donald" says "Nobody knows more about (fill in the blank) than me". So "The Donald" has the Midas Touch and "The Donald" is thus always praising himself as well as having all around him praise him. Apart from that, "The Donald" has a dedicated hardcore of followers - disciples - for which "The Donald" can do no wrong. Now, the interesting thing is that if "The Donald's" hardcore of True Believers or to put it bluntly, disciples*, were to be the only ones to write up the history, the life and times, the achievements of "The Donald" and these were viewed 2000 years from now, well you'd have to say that such texts would be fake historical news and alternative historical 'facts'. So, what about those Gospels in particular and the New Testament in general? Fake news? Alternative facts?

*It's not going too far out of bounds to say that there are followers of "The Donald" who literally worship him.



Science librarian; retired.

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