Category Archives: Religion

How Big is God?

galaxy

“Space is big. Really big.”

When I started blogging here, one of the first bloggers I followed was Robin, of Witless Dating After Fifty. Over the years, she’s several times mentioned a great question her dad often posed when discussing religion with someone: “How big is your god?”

Last week my buddy and I were having our weekly beer- and gab-fest and our (typically very meandering) conversation came to touch on the problems with young Earth creationism — the Christian fundamentalist idea that the universe is only thousands of years old.

In fact, there’s a pair of real whopper problems involved!

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Morals and Ethics

mug-0As one ventures ’round the ‘web, a topic that arises time and again is the endless debate — or perhaps war might be a better term — between the poles of theism and atheism. I’ve determined, at least as far as my participation elsewhere, to recuse myself from that war. I’ve served my time on both sides, and I’ve pretty much heard it all, said it all, bought many tee-shirts and a couple of souvenir coffee mugs.

So this isn’t about the war itself, but about a topic that frequently arises as part of that debate: the idea of morality and/or ethics. A sub-question is whether those are different things, but the main question is how we define morality and how we ground that definition.

Here’s my stab at defining the difference along with some ideas about morality.

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Awesome Evidence

The Starry NightSometimes, when discussing the possible existence of God (or Gods), there is the question: “Where is the evidence God exists?” One problem with that question is that different groups (believers and non-believers) are seeking different kinds of evidence. It’s a bit like how different groups — often the same two groups — get stuck on meanings of the word “theory.”

Evidence can be probative, circumstantial or even merely suggestive. When it comes to the question of God, some require probative evidence to prove God’s existence. Others, believing faith is central to belief, require only circumstantial or suggestive evidence.

Here are some thoughts about evidence I find suggestive.

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Material Disbelief

collisionTwo things collided. I saw Leon Wieseltier on The Colbert Report and was enthralled by his view of modern social life. That moved a friend of mine to look for other YouTube videos of Wieseltier. She posted a good one that then moved me to look at more. Bottom line, I ended up watching a fair bit of the man last week. Still enthralled.

Meanwhile, after my last post about religion and atheism, a reader commented that she found the article so balanced she couldn’t tell on which side I stood. As an agnostic, that’s the goal. Yet, in one of the videos, Wieseltier expresses an idea that really grabbed me.

It has to do with on which side of what line I stand.

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Sunday Thoughts

signpostDespite the title, this post isn’t as strongly related to the previous three as the naming convention suggests. I don’t really have much to say about religious predestination. If anything, my views on spirituality are key to a belief in free will and choice. The religion I was raised in seems (at least to my eye) quite clear that we are allowed to choose our actions.

The connection to those other posts lies in picking up the thread of physical determinism — normally a necessarily atheist point of view — and doing a riff on religion, spirituality and atheism. This is the post I started to write last Sunday when my mind took off in a completely different direction.

This time I’m going to try sticking to the subject!

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Stuff That Makes Me Wonder

coincidenceNot too long ago my buddy and I happened to talk about how film maker David Lynch turned the book, Dune, into a movie. We’ve discussed it a number of times over the years; we both give it a low score (for reasons), but we also agree the book is a really tough film assignment. What makes me wonder is how, channel surfing that very evening, I stumble on the Lynch film just starting.

More recently, a chain of thought led to thinking about overly pragmatic people (of the sort many would consider ruthless). That sparked a memory of a Justice League of America story about how Batman completely alienates his teammates on the JLA when they find out he has files analyzing their weaknesses and describing ways to take them down. But what makes me wonder is how, channel surfing that very evening, I stumble on an animated movie based on that storyline.

And the thing is: coincidences like this happen to me a lot!

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Sunday Sundries

day of rest 1I have mentioned before that I like to observe a Sabbath of some kind, a day of rest and difference. Years of religious indoctrination cause me to see Sunday as that day. More than forty years of work life reenforced that view (although I often worked Sundays in my very first job). Ultimately the actual day isn’t important; it’s the idea of taking a weekly break from normal that I think is crucial to mental well-being.

There is also for me, not a religious component, but a moral one nevertheless. I observe certain restrictions on my Sabbath (I don’t watch anything violent, for example), and I try to connect with my gentler side. (I’m actually a gentle soul at heart. The world has had the effect of giving me a crusty, pointy exterior.)

So today, no Python, no POV-Ray, no math (no rants).

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Questions

project workI’ve been playing with Python and POV-Ray, catching up on movies, enjoying the continued nice weather, and even getting in some reading.  Yet it’s still weird how little I seem to get done considering the days are all mine.  (And I still haven’t fully shaken the sense that all this free time ends at some point.)

For now I plan to focus on project work—the previously mentioned Python and POV-Ray playing—so there may be a pause in the posting while I putter (possibly a plethora of pauses). Please stay tuned!

In the meantime, I have some questions:

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People, Things, Ideas

SMBC_2951I’ve gotten spoiled. Writing about the con carne topics is much harder than writing about the life stories and the off-the-cuff opinions. Meaty topics require research and fact-checking (and often I need to create the images). And I expect they’re also harder to read!

My intention here was always to write mostly about ideas with a fallback of writing about things and, to a lesser extent, writing about life (which is to say, about people).

Today’s post keys off a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoon I saw a while back. At first the cartoon spoke to me, but the more I thought about it, the less I agreed with it.

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Rick O’Shay

Back in the day, there was a comic strip that I really loved. It took place in the American old west in the small town of Conniption. The town was so small, it had only a deputy sheriff, Rick O’Shay. His best friend was a (reformed) gunslinger, Hipshot Percussion. The dance hall owner was Gaye Abandon, and the town doctor was Dr. Basil Metabolism. (Ya gotta love those names!)

The strip was called Rick O’Shay, and it was drawn by Stan Lynde.

Of course, we all love cowboys and the old west, but what made the comic a key part of my past was the spirituality of my favorite character, the gunslinger Hipshot.

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