Rational religiousness, oxymorons all of you!

I still don’t understand why people feel they have to choose between Judaism, Christianity or Paganism, or any other supernaturally-based religion. If you believe in a God or Gods at all, why not believe in them all?

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I can understand atheists: if you don’t believe that any God or Gods exist, you just don’t believe. This is actually rational and sound, regardless whether you’re right or wrong in the end. You have a fair, 50/50 chance of being right. But non-Christian Paganists, or non-Pagan Christians, or any combination of the various God-worshipping religions … to believe in the possibility of even one God at all is a tremendous leap of faith, but to believe that you, personally, are able to accurately discern which of the many religions is correct and which God or Gods actually exist is either ignorant hubris or outright stupidity.

This all might sound like an argument in favor of atheism, but I feel that’s a cheap exit that shouldn’t be taken by anyone of intellectual integrity. What I actually wonder is why more people don’t argue in favor of omnitheism.

I have generally self-identified myself as an igtheist Lutheran. However, I’m not fully committed to that label, as igtheism is a very strong position that simply defers the conversation of God’s existance. More accurately, I’m an apatheist Lutheran: I enjoy being part of a community of Christians who value a personal understanding of faith and their relationship with God. It just so happens that my relationship with God is one of irrelevance. But, the people I commune with, many of the values we individuals share, our concern for the world and each other … these things I value.

However, pushing forward from apatheism to omnitheism is a huge leap. Am I “missing” something by not incorporating Gods into my life? How will I ever know if I don’t try? What do I have to lose by trying?

Apatheism is a very convenient position, but life without risk yields little reward. Clearly, I need to do more deep thinking about this and make some decisions.

Do you identify as an apatheist? Have you wrestled with the conundrum of whether to make the leap to omnitheism? Do you have a story to share? I’d love to hear from you.

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still

8Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
     rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
9Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
     teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

— Proverbs 9:8-9

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Reconciling creation and evolution

Often, the pro-creation or anti-evolution argument looks to the first chapter of Genesis as its basis, that God created all kinds and so nothing evolved from something else. What strikes me as odd is the presumption that this same omnipotent God is bounded by what we perceive as time. Why is it hard to accept that God conceived of–not literally “created”–everything at once but that some would only come to manifest at a certain point in time? This would indeed have all scientific appearances of evolution, of one kind of beast becoming another, but God still having done this magnificent deed during the act of creation.

Even in Genesis, God “evolves” woman from man, taking a part of him and creating something new that did not exist before. This is absolutely testament that evolution happens and that God may indeed be at the center of its happening. Yet, pro-creation arguers insist that evolution doesn’t happen? This is absurd at best.

Similarly, the pro-evolution arguers insisting that such miraculous events could occur purely by random chance seems too optimistic for my tastes. We have very little evidence of “evolution gone horribly wrong” which would inevitably need to happen much more frequently than evolution getting it right to get us to where we are today. Yet, the fossil record is clearly lacking this proof. Apparently, the evolutionary stasis in the observed fossil record is clear.

Scientists have coined the term punctuated equilibrium to describe the short bursts of evolutionary improvement that happens. Why is it so hard to accept that these apparently miraculous core changes to a species wasn’t guided somehow? Believing that these rare and unlikely events, which now seems to not stem from constantly failed random attempts, can happen repeatedly is like winning the lottery every time you buy a ticket, and repeatedly buying tickets and winning every time! Sorry, that kind of luck is … Godlike, to say the least.

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What is your favorite Bible verse?

Next week, our third grade Sunday School children each will receive their own Bible, which this year, my older daughter will be included. Part of the process involves parents selecting their favorite Bible verses and highlighting them, so that when the children read through their Bible, they will be able to share this with them.

Now, I imagine for most parents who have gone through Sunday School and otherwise grew up in a church already have a bunch of favorite Bible verses. For me, this isn’t the case; I was only baptized at the end of 2005. I suppose I could skim through and try to find meaningful passages, but for some reason it just seems wrong to do that.

So, I put out a call to my Twitter friends asking for their favorite Bible verses and several people responded! Here’s the first few responses that came in:

  • Micah 7:8 – “8Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.” [from @jaymartinez]
  • Proverbs 31:8-9 – “8Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. 9Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” [from @jerseymomma]
  • Leviticus 24:15 – “15And speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin.” [from @jgrossberg]
  • Exodus 21:17 – “17Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death.” [from @jgrossberg]
  • Matthew 6:28-34 – “28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you

LOL meme makes John 4 better

The gospel lesson this past week was on John 4, where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman. Our church uses this lectionary insert which uses the NRSV translation of the Bible. As our pastor read the gospel lesson, I couldn’t help but LOL at verse 11:

11The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?

The first thought my mind produced, was, “Jesus, you has no bukkit.” I couldn’t help it, my mind went into full LOL mode. This was the internal dialogue that went on inside my head:

JESUS: GIMME DRINK.
WOMAN: LOL! WTF?
JESUS: GIMME DRINK, NAO!
WOMAN: O RLY? U HAS NO BUKKIT. HOW U GET WATER?
JESUS: YA RLY! I DRINK UR MILKSHAKE! I DRINK IT RITE UP! WE CAN BE BFF!
WOMAN: NO WAI! GIMME WATER!

JESUS: I BEEN WATCHIN U FAP.
WOMAN: OMG! I SEE WHAT U DID THAR.

Yeah, pray for my immortal soul, or something.

(Before all you bright people point it out, yes, I know about the LOLcat Bible and there’s even a translation for John 4 already.)

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Choosing a church like you’d choose a supermarket

I like to describe myself as an igtheist–one who doesn’t care whether God exists or not.

However, I attend a Lutheran church every week, and I play guitar for the children’s choir and sing in the church choir. I do this because I really like the people in the congregation, as well as the opportunity to share my love for performing music and singing with people.

How do you go about choosing a church? Think about it this way: choosing a church is like choosing a supermarket. Some folks go to the nearest one to their house. Some stick with a particular chain because they prefer it for whatever reason. Some go to the one that sells at the lowest prices. Some go to the ones that offer the highest quality product. Some go to the ones that give away free food samples.

Going to church is not so much about believing in God than it is about liking the community of people that attend church at a specific location. Your criteria for choosing a church will likely differ from someone else’s, but in the end if you go to church, go because it provides you with the value you’re looking for, not as a statement about your belief (or lack thereof) in God.

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Evolution vs. Creationism, again

elfs (yes, that Elf) wrote in his LJ today about Ashley Evans’s rant and it helped me clarify some thoughts I’ve had for a while but couldn’t express in words.

As much as I tend to believe that some theory of evolution is more likely to be correct than some formulation of a creationist myth, I think it is fair to say that there’s a non-empty “gap” in The Theory of Evolution. I can explain why with one question: Which theory of evolution is The Theory of Evolution? The fact that I can ask that question demonstrates the flaw.

Is it Darwinian natural selection? Punctuated equilibrium? Something else entirely?

Ironically, while I said I tend to believe some form of evolutionary theory is correct as opposed to some creationist myth, I have a hard time accepting that any of the currently expressed theories of evolution to be the actually correct one, either.

But, I trust, through good science and rigorous discipline, we’ll continue to iterate towards the correct one.

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God’s motivational power is astounding

My friend Steve and I talk about all sorts of stuff, but a snippet from today’s exchange I really wanted to share with everyone:

Steve: My coworker, who’s an orthodox Jew, believes ideas like CD players came from God because he can’t conceive how ideas like that can come from mere mortals. I tried to explain to him that ideas are a dime a dozen and the important key is actually doing it.

Dossy: Right. Motivation comes from God. 🙂 Because, mere mortals left to their own devices would just sit around naked and masturbate. You know, ’til we got kicked out of the Garden of Eden … and we realized being naked and masturbating was Not Good.

Dossy: That damned forbidden fruit.

Ah, any time you can mash up a world’s creation myth with masturbation, you’ve accomplished a masterwork. I’ve met my quota for the day.

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Life according to Heroes, the TV show

The season 1 finale episode, Parasite, aired recently.  In it, there was an incredibly insightful piece of dialogue between Nathan Petrelli and Mr. Linderman:

Linderman: You see, I think there comes a time when a man has to ask himself whether he wants a life of happiness or a life of meaning.

Nathan: I’d like to have both.

Linderman: Can’t be done. Two very different paths. I mean, to be truly happy, a man must live absolutely in the present and with no thought with what’s gone on before, and no thought of what lies ahead. But a life of meaning, a man is condemned to wallow in the past and obsess about the future. And my guess is that you’ve done quite a bit of obsessing about yours these last few days. (Nathan pulls out a gun) Now you can’t have any of my pot pie.

Linderman is certainly the God-character, holding unique knowledge about the nature of reality which has so puzzled all of the other characters.  As mortals, we’re constantly torn between the two ends of the continuum, seeking out truth and meaning but also trying to find happiness.  It’s very clear that they are indeed on two ends of a continuum and our very struggle is what keeps us in the middle of it.

I guess this quote was especially relevant given my recent state of mind.

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Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13

I’ve been reflecting and introspecting lately, especially around the subject of love. Perhaps it was no small coincidence that at this past Sunday’s church service, the second reading was taken from 1 Corinthians 13. Verses 4 through 8:

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It hears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. […]

Love is hard for me to be. Love is worth it.

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