Wednesday, January 27, 2010

God, gods, and gawd...

I don't believe in God.  Not the way most folks talk about it.  Some supernatural being looking down at us from some extra-dimensional space in the sky, reading our minds to make sure we're all being good little boys and girls as if it were a great cosmic Santa Claus with a really big carrot and stick set?  An omniscient, omnipotent being that needs our worship as if it were heroin and our slavish devotion was its next Big Fix?  Not buying it for a second.  And I'm not sure what's more unsettling when you get into the whole heaven and hell thing.  If you're a good person and follow all the Do's and Don't, or at least pretend you'd like to as long as you seek forgiveness and keep a little Jesus in your hearts, you'll to heaven.  Where you'll spend the rest of eternity bowing and scraping to the almighty Slave Master.  Sounds positively joyful.  And Hell?  What a stupid idea that is.  Do the wrong things (such as being gay, questioning all this, or--gasp--being born in the wrong place and time) and you'll suffer forever in a lake of fire.

Maybe it's me, but this God fellow sounds like a complete asshole.  But, wait, there's more.  He's omniscient, omnipotent, and all-loving.  Yet he not only tolerates suffering, but in the Old Testament, he all but demanded it.  He promoted slavery, genocide, and rape.  Nice fellow, eh?

Now several of my closest friends (and my wife) are pagan.  Some folks just roll their eyes at that and all I can say is I hope your face gets stuck that way.  Still makes more sense to me than Christianity, but just about anything does at this point.  And, no, don't try to "explain."  I don't distrust Christianity because I don't know anything about it, but because I do.

Now I can accept little 'G' gods better than one big 'G' God.  Why?  Omnipotence is a ludicrous notion, particularly when attached to all the rest of it.  Little 'G' gods are associated with one or two aspects of nature--human or earthly--rather than EVERYTHING THERE IS.  Makes more sense from that point of view.

So am I pagan?  At one time I defined myself that way, then "pagan by default."  These days I'm just pagan-friendly.  Agnostic humanist pantheist is the way I describe myself, as far as that goes.  I don't know anything  more about the ultimate nature of the universe than anyone else and I'm not going to pretend otherwise.  That's why some brands of atheist get on my nerves as much as heavy duty Christian crusaders.  Because they act as though they know the unknowable.  God/no God, afterlife/no afterlife.  I don't know.  But I am pretty sure there's more than just the material world out there because of my own personal experiences.  I've seen and experienced shit that defies "rational" explanation.  Unless one, of course, expands one's notion of "rational."

When using a generic "god" phrase, I substitute "gawd," for the 3-letter version because I'm deliberately suggesting no religious affiliation with the word.  "Gawd" only knows, or "By gawd."  Silly, but I can be that way sometimes.

So that's my current rant on religion... and the lack thereof.  I don't care what anyone believes until they decide it should somehow affect my life.  Guess again.  Keep your religion to yourself.  Gawd wants it that way.


sherlock said...

I disagree with you so strongly, I'd be way to arrogant and closed-minded to bother discussing it with you. Besides I'm 17 and you're 20-30 something and would tear me to pieces. I don't really feel like being torn to pieces.

But the debater in me ignores all that, so here we go.

You misinterpret "christian crusaders". As annoying as we can be, try to realize where most of us are coming from. (I say most of us because like any group, we have our bad apples. Like every single pastor you've ever seen on t.v. Ever.) We honestly believe that those who have not "accepted Jesus Christ" are going to hell. If you thought you saw someone about to get hit by a semi-truck, would keep quiet because you didn't want to offend them? Since we honestly believe that, we are motivated to try to do something about it.

I have to get reaaally nitpicky about the gay comment. Just because someone is gay does not mean they are going to hell. While the church is split on this whole topic and we could debate about it for months, the bottom line is this. The Bible explicitly states that homosexuality is a sin. Just like any other sin, stealing, cursing or drop-kicking your neighbors kitty. That's all it says. It's not some special blacklisted sin that automatically sends you to hell. Christians sin all the time. I drop kick kittens and curse quite frequently. Now if you believe that people are born gay, you're gonna have a problem with this. But Christians can be and are quite frequently extremely loving towards gays. I know what I'm talking about in this case, I have had first hand experience with the issue (I'd rather not divulge details.)

One last thing. True Christianity is not about being a good person. It isn't about following some list. (that's called legalism) It's quite the opposite. The idea is that true conversion cultivates a heart that loves God and wants to follow his rules.

Sorry to preach at you and I hope I didn't offend you. But if I write a post about Agnostic humanist pantheis..'s... your welcome to give me you're perspective on the issue. haha

Saje said...

Hi, Sherlock. You have to understand, first of all, that I don't CARE that you've been told we're all going to hell. Hell is a ridiculous concept in complete opposition to the notion of a just and loving God. It's like locking a child in his room until he's 18 for breaking a lamp when he's 7 because he threw a ball in the house when he KNEW he wasn't supposed to throw a ball in the house. Except much, much worse.

You can't expect me to believe an "all-knowing" deity would subject a person to a permanent punishment (eternal torture) for a temporary transgression simply because he didn't grovel enough.

Saje said...

And that takes us back to the whole "Believe in me..." nonsense. To quote Carl Sagan, "Faith is a damn sloppy way to run a universe." There is not ONE passage in the Bible revealing a single element of knowledge unavailable to the people of the time. In fact, any time the Bible runs up against pure, peer-reviewed science, it fails. There are people who don't believe in evolution because it's not mentioned in the Bible. Either is the speed of light or radiation, but so what?

What really galls me about Christianity is the exceptionalism it induces in some folks. You get shit like "I survived that plane crash when 200 other people died. God saved me." And what--bitch-slapped those other folks straight into a grave? What makes YOU so special? It's called chance, dude. Your faith was probably not any stronger than half of those others... it may be NOW, but there is often another term for "faith." It's called "delusion."

But even more annoying is the athletes who'll stand up and say things like "God helped us win that (insert sport here) game." Yep, that's God. That almighty sports cheater in the sky.

There are those who live their faith with respect for those around them without engaging in this crap and I in turn respect them for that. Like I said, I don't care what anybody else believes until it impinges on my life... saying something as patently ridiculous as "God wanted us to win" makes me want to hurl a brick.

According to the way Christianity says everything works, Mahatma Ghandi and Carl Sagan are roasting in Hell right now. And any number of sleazeballs are allegedly whooping it in heaven (doing the whole groveling before God thing because that's what the people who wrote the specific parts of the Bible said the afterlife was all about... all the time)... just because of a timely deathbed conversion/repentance. "Well, Jim, it seems that Al Capone got the ball through the goal the last instant before the buzzer. He scores. He'll be partying in heaven tonight!"

And the gay thing? I believe that homosexuality--and many other variations of sexual orientation and identity along the continuum--are part of the natural order. "I made you this way but I'm going to punish you for it... for eternity... because that's just how I roll." For most folks who are gay, I don't think there's a decision involved. They just don't experience opposite-sex attraction or emotional attachment the way you and I do. They can PRETEND, but why should they? Because of religion? And, no, Christianity isn't the only religion that condemns it. It just happens to be the specific religion trying to assume the mantle of authority in MY country and pass laws affecting MY neighbors based on its own narrow and biased viewpoints.

The OTHER thing about Christianity and its exceptionalism that pisses me off is that a lot of Christians are all about "prayer in schools," and "Christianity in the public sphere." Hey, assholes, if you want to allow all these other religions to do the same thing, I could accept it. But if a Wiccan, for example, wanted to share a few of his or her beliefs in your kids' school, you'd light up like a kerosene soaked scarecrow. And I hate to say this, but it's pretty much all or nothing. You're NOT that special."

All that aside, Sherlock, I appreciate your comments. Thanks for posting.