A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

End it now.

Someone I can only describe as a troll posted a video of Alan Watts giving his speech beginning with "You are a fluke. You are a separate event, and you run from the maternity ward to the crematorium and that's it." He goes on to scold non-believers for envisioning such a cold, dark world where nothing we do matters so we may as well just commit suicide now and get it over with. It's a very dreadful speech focusing on the inevitability of death and how non-belief gives us nothing to live for.

This is my answer.

Did you ever enjoy a meal or a dessert? An event or activity that gave you pleasure? But what's the point, it's over now. The impermanence of the things that give us joy is a reason to not go on living according to the worldview of this troll. Only a god invented by humans is sufficient to give us a reason to live, a god that tells us not to live for this world but the next one.

I enjoy a good meal or a dessert. I look forward to activities or events that give me pleasure, not because they're impermanent but because they happen. Those experiences become part of the tapestry of my life. Good things are ephemeral yes, but so are bad things. My life is not a tale of woe punctuated by occasional spots of happiness. It is a mosaic of high points and low points with no more of one than the other. There are people I love and who love me, there is art and literature to uplift me and challenges to overcome.

I take this world as it is, not how I insist that it must be. As time passes I will lose those I love and eventually they will lose me, but I will die knowing that I have lived in full the only life available to me. Life is precious to me not because there's another one to look forward to after death but because this is the only chance I have to make an impact with what I say and do.

The value of my life is not measured by the moments of pleasure or joy I experience, nor the sadness. The value of my life is measured in the richness of experience that I share with those around me. If I have contributed in some way to the whole of experience, however small, then my life is an unqualified success. Any person who felt loved or appreciated by me is a success. Any person who was inspired by something I said or was given something to ponder by something I wrote is a success. Each one creates a ripple that can spread out creating new ripples of their own. Progress is not defined by great events or achievements but by the steady progress of those little ripples coming together to form a wave.

I have no reason to commit suicide. My life will end in the fullness of time when events converge. I might die of a disease or an accident or simply old age. I could die because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is the way of life. But I have reason to keep on living, keep on struggling with the obstacles in front of me and keep on learning so that I can meet each new experience with the courage and vigor of the last one. I have more ripples to make before I'm done.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The wall of separation

Years after the issue should have been settled, I'm still hit with claims that the Establishment Clause in the US Constitution isn't really there because it wasn't explicitly stated as a "wall of separation" as Jefferson's letter clarified.

I find it ironic that so many people who complain about my criticisms of the Bible or their religious beliefs being "out of context" are nevertheless willing to ignore the context of the US Constitution.

God is intangible, unknowable and ineffable. Except when he isn't.

I am so tired of presuppositional arguments, whether or not they're acknowledged as such. One of the fundamental flaws I criticize about religious belief is when believers want their cake and eat it too. More to the point, their arguments rely too heavily on special pleading. And no, adding caveats to the definition of a god does not bypass special pleading.

For example: if a god does not leave any traces for us to observe, then we have no reason to assume that anything we see supports the existence of this god. If this god is unknowable and incomprehensible, then we have no reason to assume anyone understands anything about it and can accurately represent it.

So which is it? Is a god knowable or not? If not then the discussion is closed. If so then show us examples that clearly demonstrate how this knowledge is valid and not human bias.