January 13, 2011
Whether they will ever empathize with their victims or not, I’d like criminals to LIVE without some of the key advantages society has to offer.
Not for an eternity. Just long enough for criminals to EARN A SOCIETY’S TRUST and keep societies PROTECTED IN THE MEANTIME.
It’s not perfect justice. If human beings COULD have protected themselves according to the wisdom (discovering what’s good and not-so-good) they’ve attained, I suspect we would have. We just haven’t had the resources to do so.
I think this approach to crime would be THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO, for the criminals and their keepers. And atoning for the mistakes of another? That would not be a responsible thing to do!
October 27, 2009
Check out this video on what kind of “God” cannot logically exist…
I remember when I wrote about these ideas sometime ago in my novel-in-progress. The end result was, however it came to be, that I couldn’t think of “God” (I was a christian at the time) as being the creator of all things ex nihilo (out of nothing), but rather the creator of all things in the sense that he/she worked with material already existing. So, “God” to me was a “God” that could NEVER have been “omni-present”, nor “omni-potent” (unless whatever is, logically, the most powerful being ever to exist could be called “omni-potent”).
These changes in my theology also included a limitation of “God’s” knowledge. I couldn’t see “God” as a supreme being living outside of time. And assuming time is never without an end, it was impossible for me to picture “God” with the ability to know the future. And so, my novel-writing process led me to re-interpret my theology into one of many “Open Theist” interpretations.
I never even considered the fact that I had stepped into a “liberal” understanding of christianity (though I had yet to see the bible as a strictly human artifact) . From my perspective, I was only trying to see God in a logical manner because I assumed he/she thought of him or herself as logical. Even when I started reading Brian Mclaren’s books while entering into the “Emerging Church” scene, I never realized that I had liberal leanings in my christian faith. Looking back, I can see now that I could have easily labeled myself a Liberal Christian much earlier than I did – which was right after I left the church for good.
October 5, 2009
I’m excited about the kind of freedoms Emma will enjoy in her future. She seems to be showing signs of the kind of strengths her mother has, which makes me beam with pride. Emma has a wonderfully intelligent and articulate mother who refuses to except ridiculous cultural restraints.
1 Timothy 2:
11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.
12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
15But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
I’m so happy that Emma lives in an era where a proper recognition of the potential freedoms (spiritual, political, cultural, etc.) and already existing strengths among women has improved so much. There’s still plenty of room for improvement… and yet, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I hear from others in the future that Emma has helped them personally or professionally to embrace strengths they didn’t know they had, and live healthier lives (mind and body) as a result.
I know this is highly probable because I’ve seen examples of this kind of empowering influence demonstrated by her mother.
January 10, 2009
What is this video telling you?
First of all, it’s obviously an allegory. Flies don’t grow back half of their bodies when they’re cut off, or disappear into a painting. For that reason (and the title of the video), the fly is our clue to understanding what the video is about. And remember, it’s an allegory, so the video is not saying, ‘Don’t kill flies.’
The beginning of the video introduces a contemplative, sword wielding warrior who sees the life of a fly in his practice area to be his enemy (a destroyer of the peace the warrior possesses), and assumes the life of the fly should, therefore, not exist.
I’ve interpreted the fly to represent all enemies (destroyers of the good we possess) that live within our environment, or our selves. And, to destroy what we believe to be our enemy multiplies evil rather than saves the good because any living thing we think to be evil is never without possessing good (life itself, for example). Therefore, destroying our enemy makes us an enemy of good too, and subsequently, multiplies the evil rather than saving the good.
A fine lesson, in some respects. Although, anyone’s welcome to present a different interpretation.
Where I take issue with what is being taught in the video is when a fly lands on a beautiful painting and transforms into something beautiful within the painting. And the warrior learns from the fly that to overcome the presence of a living destroyer of peace one must create an ideal (heavenly) reality apart from the one actually experienced. Then, by using some mental gymnastics, the warrior re-interprets the not-so-ideal (earthly) reality as an ideal one. In other words, he deluded himself of what is really going on – a la mysticism!
Why? Why take the mystic route? Why must we think we can know or even imagine the one and only, highly improbable, ideal reality, and think it should, and WILL, replace our lowly earthen reality soon, making EVERYTHING completely good?
Why couldn’t the warrior direct his efforts to a realistic pursuit of peace? Like trying to gain a better understanding of his present reality, achieving a greater awareness of the good that is within his enemies, finding what already exists to be “heavenly” within our earthen reality? No, instead, the mystic hides by overshadowing the real with an illusory veil, whitewashing what he or she doesn’t want to work through.
And we can find this happening throughout many of the religious communities, people who believe in a supernatural reality that sets themselves apart from the rest of the doomed world. Just recently, a Pastor explained to me that people who continually reject God’s goodness are creating their own irreversible destiny for complete evil. And God will “honour” their choices, while “redeeming” the lives of those who didn’t reject God’s goodness.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s admirable for anyone to want to change the life we have for the better, moving it closer to an ideal world (however unlikely an ideal world is). But until humanity is able to actually calculate a highly plausible future, we have no reason to assume that the universe will bow to our wishes.
The universe does not revolve around us. And yet there are many who believe that “God” (Creator/Creation or just Creator) made the universe suited for humanity, like a womb suited for a baby. Even in the empirical sense, some believe the whole universe (especially the planet earth) was ‘fine-tuned’ for humanity instead of humanity being ‘fine-tuned’ for the universe.
Look, I’m not saying there wasn’t a time in the journey of our species that we shouldn’t have thought and felt as if a loving, superior consciousness created a universe (or “womb”) for the benefit of our maturity. What I’m trying to draw attention to is that first, we all know there is a time when a child recognizes that he or she is not the center of the universe, and second, we also know that there is a time when a child outgrows the physical, mental and emotional needs to remain cuddled in the center of a loving, superior consciousness.
November 30, 2007
I just finished reading Philosophers Without Gods (subtitled – Meditations On Atheism and the Secular Life) edited by Louise M. Antony. It was a good read. Funny thing, though, while I read it I couldn’t help but think about another book I read years ago (which I may have to visit again for old times sake). And speaking of re-reading, there may be a few chapters from the former book that I might have to give a second read as well.
One common subject discussed (and apparently written about in a novel I never seem to get back to), is the assumed non-existence of morality if God were not to exist. I was getting tired of hearing about this subject (especially from Christians) until I read the last line in the last chapter, written by Jonathon E. Adler. Adler turns the tired adage “If God is Dead, Everything is Permitted” on its head by writing: “If God is Alive, Everything is Permitted.” These words stood out to me more than anything else he wrote in the chapter.
Saying that everything would be permitted if God didn’t exist means that not only would you be able to do whatever you wanted, but everyone else would be able to do whatever they wanted to you. Really? Would anyone let anyone one else do anything to them? Come on, let’s be realistic here.
But on the other hand, does Adler have a valid point? If God exists, is God permitted to do everything? Now let me clarify. I didn’t ask – if God exists, doesn’t he permit himself to do anything? I’m talking about the human perspective, a perspective we can all acknowledge exists.
God is free to do anything without question from his followers. According to his followers, God is accountable to no one. Why would he be if he is believed to be omni-benevolent? His holy and perfect righteousness affords complete trust, doesn’t it? What could be considered by non-God-followers as evil committed by God will always be considered by his followers as a righteous act perceived as evil by non-God-followers, who need reminding of their human ignorance and fallibility.
For example, I have yet to find an adequate ethical justification for the genocide acts condoned by the God of the Old Testament. Why is it wrong to commit genocidal acts in the twentieth century, and yet permissible (and justified “for that time”) millenniums ago? Or, why is torture considered wrong by most of the world, and yet is accepted as a valid form of ethical reckoning in the afterlife for anyone who is not a follower of a certain religious creed?
I don’t see how the same evil behavior committed by human beings becomes “good” when it is committed by God. Calling inhumane acts “Divine Justice” doesn’t make them just. But no true follower of God would ever say they don’t permit God to do certain things.
And so, for God, from the perspectives of his followers, everything is permitted.
November 17, 2007
We limit our freedoms just enough to protect our valuables (people and possessions). We do this by creating laws (moral laws) and hiring those with interest and skills to maintain these laws.
It must be tough to be a law enforcer. There’s so much pressure to protect and serve those in the immediate community, including the law breakers – especially when the law breakers may cause you physical damage! Is it possible for cops to be trained so well that they are able to avoid any physical abuse? I wonder how easy it is to transform into a law breaker when attempting to be a law protector.
I think it’s so unfortunate what happened to Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver Airport. It truly reveals the imperfections and fallibility of our police force. It would be great if there were cops who were completely trustworthy, invulnerable, and powerful enough to help the troubled or stop any hurtful actions of another. But there’s never been a cop capable of doing that.
I do wish, since I’m not on speaking terms with God anymore, that theists would convince God to care enough to take on the policing profession. It wouldn’t infringe on our “freewill” because we’d be using our freewill to arrange for physical protection – a strategy we’ve used for years. But with an all-loving, all-powerful cop, we’d be much more successful.
So far, God is not for hire. Which is baffling because imagine how many people would start believing in his existence – or worship him – if he did become a cop. But then, believers (or God) might object to an unceremoniously empirical study of his work. And maybe that’s why God doesn’t intervene. Because it would destroy some of the required faith to believe in God’s existence, and maybe believers want the freedom to apply more faith in God rather than embrace sufficient evidence.
November 12, 2007
Yesterday, while others were on they’re way home from church, Becky and I had our version of church moments as we listened to a CBC radio program honoring all those who have fought for our country. While driving on the highway with a Tim Hortons coffee in hand, we heard spoken word and song expressed in what we thought to be a deeply spiritual form.
I love the principle behind Remembrance Day – don’t forget the heroes who fought another’s desire to silence your voice, some of them dying while fighting to maintain our democratic freedoms. And don’t forget what went wrong to require such an unfortunate sacrifice. To me, Remembrance Day teaches us an example of what to do and what not to do. To me, remembrance is about learning who we are and who we want to be.
But sometimes, there is this crazy notion that we should want to forget the problems of the past. Even when forgiveness has been found, and reconciliation is on its way, it still isn’t enough – we should want to forget any trouble that ever existed. We should want to make attempts to turn back the clock before everything went wrong in order to achieve a child-like innocence of bad choices and unfortunate mistakes – while maintaining/seeking wisdom. You’ll find this contradictory notion taught from the Christian Bible in churches:
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 (NASB)
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 1Corinthians 14:20 (NASB)
For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. Romans 16:19 (NASB)
These verses are more examples to me of irrational thinking. How can you be wise and ignorant of evil at the same time? It’s not possible. And no matter how hard we pursue nostalgic ignorance, our world is not such that we can reverse experiences of it. Not until we die will we lose, along with our life, memories (attainable or not) of the evil that resides with the good. But, of course, Christians believe in the afterlife which adds an incommensurable dimension to reality.
I don’t struggle so much over whether the afterlife exists than what Christians are hoping to gain from it…
[A Virgin, a Child, and a Lamb – along with the Dove, these ultimate symbols of innocence are most predominantly found in Christianity.]
Lately I’ve been describing to others what I, as an atheist, imagined to be a most ethical heaven. Interestingly enough, my responses from those people so far are that they consider my Heaven to be their Hell. This is because I said I’d like to think of heaven as the best learning environment for everyone to develop a healthy, mature, moral mind of their own (with God’s help if they wanted).
This moral mind of our own would mean that heavenly justice would involve more truthful rememberings, and therefore, a more truthful self-awareness of what are the wrongs we’re responsible for committing (intentionally and unintentionally). It would mean finding the feeling of shame in our expression of the word “my” when it precedes the feeling of guilt in our expression of the words “own hurtful actions”.
We can make people/criminals feel guilty for doing wrong in-the-eyes-of-another, but we can’t make people/criminals feel shame. Shame starts from within us. And it’s a means of personal change initiated by oneself. And the change can only be for the better when it’s understood (through increased skills to empathize with our victims) that disappearing will not benefit those we’ve hurt. Nothing can erase the damage done. But the best compensation for our victims is gaining healthier relationships. And the best way for victims to receive justice is to help the wrong-doer find their own true shame.
For some reason, those I’ve talked to would rather have the traditional Hell described in their scriptures than the heaven I’ve described above. Their kind of Hell inflicts “justice” on those who don’t love Jesus more than their own family.
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 10:37-39 (NASB)
Yes, these people should definitely be banished into some kind place for torturous punishment, adding to whatever hurt they (like all of us) have already done to themselves (feel the sarcasm here). How does this make any sense? And Christians have told me they are able to live with this idea because in heaven…
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 (NASB)
In essence, their conscience will be exchanged for a life of purity, while next door…
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Revelation 21:8 (NASB)
To me, the pursuit of immaculate memories is a denial of significant markers in our lives that help define who we are and how we’ve come to be who we are. To me, identity is more than just the existential present us, it is also the essential us that has remained throughout our journey. I will not give up my memories of the trials we’ve overcome, nor the memories of our sacrifices to overcome them. Our personal histories are not renewable, they cannot be redeemed. Its unrealistic to make amends for the memory of past sins, nor atone for them.
Falsifying our personal history by censuring it is a crime. History should reveal the world of the adult along with the world of the child, memories of the good, and bad, in all.
April 28, 2007
Lately, I’ve been wondering about the Christian value of “free will”.
I’ve read and had conversations with many Christians who argue for the existence of free will by saying something like – you can’t truly love someone if you don’t have freewill (as if the choice itself rather than the act authenticates love). Nevertheless, if God couldn’t (or wouldn’t) look into the future of possible Universes to decide which one he was to create, and – if the present Universe is not completely governed by the laws of causality, then – there would seem to be room for the ever-popular “FREE WILL”.
According to bible-based Christology, the volition or will of a Christian will be sacrificed to God when they enter into heaven so that God can make it perfect, thereby – making it so that God’s followers will always choose what God wants.
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12 (NASB)
10After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5 (NASB)
I suppose, if I knew that someone who was all-good, and had the power to give me a righteous brain-washing (and was willing), I’d consider having it done for the simple purpose of stopping myself from harming others and myself. But I have a hard time imagining myself handing someone control over every facet of my mind because I’ve never met anyone THAT trustworthy! (And as you can see from four previous posts of mine, I don’t think the God presented in the bible is “all-good”.)
I use to be a Jesus follower…
[The bible paints a metaphor of the body of Jesus followers as a virgin betrothed to Jesus the bridegroom. And whenever Jesus followers die in this world they walk down the afterlife-isle to be married to Jesus – a match made in their heaven.]
..but I left him at his altar of thought control.