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#76512 - 09/14/01 01:53 AM Deep thoughts: God, good/evil, humans, evolution
Just Call me J Offline
Member

Registered: 07/14/01
Posts: 204
Loc: Inland Empire, California
Prepare yourself. I've been thinking some incredibly deep thoughts recently, so this topic has finally given me a forum to express what is on my mind. I almost posted it to BlackLeaves' topic, but it hit so many far reaching areas, that I felt it deserved its own topic. Keep in mind, this is all my opinion. Yours may vary.

Probably the greatest (and worst) thing that God did, was create humankind with free will.

I believe that within humans are the capacity for great evil and depravity, but also the most wonderful acts of charity, sacrifice, and love. As deep as the depravity runs, good runs at LEAST as deep the other way (and I'm beginning to believe it's deeper).

The terrorist attacks make that clear. It took a very small group of individuals to create this horrid atrocity. But look at the outpouring of support in the aftermath.

I don't even want to suggest that suffering or terrible events like this are good things, but we must never stop believing that good things can come out of the worst tragedies. As you and I heal from these disgusting acts committed upon us, we become more human than many of the automatons out there in the world that go through life without any challenge. Or those that were challenged, but failed. We are more human than we were, before we started to heal.

I've read so many stories of regrets on this board, and now that healing is occuring, those behaviors are being left in the past. The lessons we learn, come at a great price. But that should only prove how valuable those lessons are.

BlackLeaves, I sympathise with your situation. I feel fortunate that my religious upbringing focused on the "love" side of Christianity. I never had to listen to a "fire and brimstone" sermon in all my life. I wasn't made to feel small, or worthless, though the prayers we read in church always made mention of admitting that we are sinners.

As I grew older, my problem with Christianity came from the Christians. Or rather, from the people that were so full of themselves as Christians, that they judged, condemned, closed their minds, and forced others to accept their thinking (basically acted so un-Christian, that I wondered where they got off making the claim).

I've decided to come back towards Christianity, but I'm kind of starting from scratch. I won't accept any particular view of the religion, unless I read it in the bible with my own two eyes. There is so much structure (Dogma, if you will... and you should see the movie by Kevin Smith by the same name) that was invented by people that I doubt its importance in the big scheme of things.

As someone that actually DID have a particular prayer get answered in a somewhat dramatic way, I can concede that it may have been wishful thinking. But I don't think that the point of religion or prayer is wish fulfillment. God is not a Genie. God is the creator. God put the wheels in motion. God designed what that motion would be. And then God handed the keys to humans, and said, "Take good care of the place."

The thing that has been jumping out at me as I read the bible or hear a sermon, is how much God speaks like a parent. Since I work with 4-12 year olds, I began to see the pattern of God's speech, much like my own interactions with my kids. I tell a kid what the rules are before we go to an activity. If they aren't following the rules, I might warn them to stop doing it or suggest another alternative. I'll let them know what consequences await them (usually a loss of some privilege, or missing the chance to stay up for a later bedtime), if they persist. I can't force the kid to behave, as much as I wish that I could; I am not in control of their behavior, they are. And if they still continue, then I follow through with those consequences, just as I said I would. And you should hear some of these kids howl and carry on, when they earn a consequence, that they had ample time and warning to avoid.

The parallels between what I do, and what awaits humans after death isn't a fair one, since the prevailing view is that we're going to burn forever in a horrid place of suffering, if we're not perfect. But it sets up the rules of the game fairly well.

I also realize that looking to God as a parental figure can be problematic, especially given that most of us here were hurt by that parental figure. It's the image that has always worked for me, though. It just became more clear, after working in my field for 4+ years.

God gave humans free will. We can act however we choose. I really don't know if God ever personally acts on this earth any more. But I think God's influence can be felt in every kind act performed by every person on earth, and that God's face can be seen in every natural wonder there is to see, from the sky at night, to the grandeur of a mountain peak, to the miracle of life in the most barren regions. I don't know if it is God's place to intervene. God created this world we live in; created us to live in it; told us what is good to do, and what is not. Isn't that enough? The rest, God leaves to us.

Honestly, I try not to think about whether the life I lead will lead me to heaven. I want to live the best life possible, because that seems the best use of my time. It makes me feel good to do it. If I earn the reward of eternal life in paradise for doing it, well, KICK ASS!! If there is no "great reward," and death really is the end, then I won't know what I'm missing anyway. If I get sent to eternal torment for living that life... well, I'll be confused as hell, literally! All that resides in God's judgement, and there's really no room to argue (unless "Defending Your Life" is accurate), even if we disagree.

We can make this world as wonderful, or as horrible, as we wish. Humans, like many mammals, are unique in that we require a long period of care as we grow, in order to survive in a dangerous world. We don't have the fangs or claws of the other mammals for protection. We don't even have a thick coat of fur to keep us warm. It is our brains that allowed humans to overcome these seeming weaknesses, in order to become the most dominant form of life on the planet.

It is also kindness, and cooperation that made it possible. Humans that survive, will do so because they adapted to their environment. They tried new things. If that new thing worked, then they learned something. If it didn't then they learned something. If they do the same thing again and again, with no success, and still they try the exact same thing, then they haven't learned anything at all. A smart human will learn from their own successes and failures. A REALLY smart human will learn from OTHER people's successes and failures. This is the way that the human species will evolve.

If we are constantly thrashing about, doing the same thing we've been doing for the last 3500 years, then we haven't improved. When the old ways that don't work, give way to new ways that do work, then mankind approaches it's potential. We take many things for granted now, that wasn't always the case: the world is round; Earth orbits the sun, which is one star within a galaxy; that galaxy is but one out of countless many more. These foundations have allowed for the understanding that the universe started as a single, distinct spot, and then immediately began expanding in all directions (better known to scientists as the Big Bang Theory, or in churches as Creation).

Maybe we'll learn something new in the next 50 years that will change our view of the universe again. When it does, our understanding of the universe, and of our place in it, will have to change as well.

I credit "Stephen Hawking's Universe;" the New International Version Student Bible; California public schools; Socrates, as explained by Plato; a host of movies and literature too numerous to mention; and my family and friends for the seeds of the ideas expressed here. They were 27 years, 4 months, and 24 days in the making. And they are still developing. I'm not even saying I'm right. This is just what makes sense to me.

I hope that some (any) of this is helpful to you. Religion is a tough subject. There's a lot of differing opionion on it. It seems silly (and now downright tragic and maddening) to be killing each other over who is right and who is wrong.

Jeremy
We're in this together.

_________________________
We're in this together. - Nine Inch Nails

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#76513 - 09/14/01 09:42 PM Re: Deep thoughts: God, good/evil, humans, evolution
Anonymous
Unregistered


Jeremy,

I like your emphasis upon goodness, for I, too, believe that it is a powerful force in the universe. Moreover, it is my personal belief that the essence of Spirit is inside each and every one of us, making us all spiritual beings.

Although I was raised with a strict Catholic upbringing, I rejected this dogmatic, rule-laden way of life when I was in my early twenties...it was anything but loving and kind. Now that I look at the world from a spiritual perspective, I believe that each of us expresses Spirit in our own individual and unique way.

There is a wonderful song that says it best for me:

It's in every one of us to be wise.
Find your heart, open up both your eyes.
We can all know everything without ever knowing why.
It's in every one of us, you and I.

DD


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#76514 - 09/15/01 08:29 PM Re: Deep thoughts: God, good/evil, humans, evolution
UrsoBear Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 91
Loc: Washington, DC
Hi, Jeremy.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us here. These are indeed deep thoughts, and I daresay, more than many 27-year-olds are thinking about. (If that sounded like a veiled compliment, it wasn't. It was a clearly stated one. Heh.)

A couple of thought phosphenes emanating from my own gray matter: like Dyanmite Don, I too am a grateful, recovering Roman Catholic. I've always had a real hard time with this heaven / hell business. Either you're going to spend eternity in hell like a hog sizzling on a spit, or you're gonna be bouncing around on fluffy clouds in angel drag, strumming harps and sporting a bad perm, depending on whether you were A) baptized; B) born (again!); C) performing a sufficient number of good works; or D) fill in your preferred answer here, depending upon your fave branch of Christianity. (I'm only dealing with Christianity here for the sake of simplicity, and I'm not going into the weirdness of "limbo" and "purgatory", which always freaked the shit out of me in catechism class in the Catholic church!) To me, the idea that we get one shot, and one shot only to get it right (or worse, wrong!) always seemed to me like God was being awfully persnickety the day she laid out the rules for all of us. I mean, seriously. What a bitch!

At one point, you compared smart humans with REALLY smart humans. I would add that REALLY, REALLY smart humans don't even have to observe the successes and failures of other humans. They intuit on their own; they see outside the box; they make leaps of logic with flashes of brilliance we call genius (assuming we are even smart enough to apprehend what they are trying to tell us at the time).

As for the whole good vs. evil thing, I'm afraid I'm not the guy to talk to about that right now. My brain has been betraying me so badly with the bipolar disorder for about 9 years now, and then the obscenity of the flashbacks of my childhood abuse began surfacing about 2 1/2 years ago, so the moment I feel a sense of goodness or balance in my life, it is swallowed up in either the evil of the blackness of bipolar depression or the terror of the overwhelming flashbacks of childhood rape -- or both. Check back with me on that one, won't you?

On another topic, I will state again, unequivocally, that your essay here (yes, it is an essay) is a fine piece of writing -- both expository and persuasive. It's well organized, well thought out, with individual points supported with specific examples which support the whole structure. You need to keep doing this kind of work, Jeremy. This is good for other people. And it's good for you.

Mick


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