My dad and my dad’s dad were Lutheran ministers, and my dad’s brother taught theology at a Lutheran seminary. Lotta preachers on the paternal side of the tree. (Lotta teachers on the maternal side; mom and sis among them. I grew up with preachers and teachers.)
All of which gave me something of an insider view of religion and the organizational church. It also provided a cornerstone I’ve built on through much of my life: a reconciliation between the Yin of my science side and the Yang of my spiritual side.
One interesting place the two meet is Pascal’s Wager.
“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!
Despite 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!
Not 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!
I’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:
Last week I went a few comment rounds over on the Moment Matters blog under the Breaking Prejudice on Atheists post. The post’s lead topic — that a study showed that atheists are just as caring as theists — doesn’t surprise me at all. Atheists, after all, believe that all meaning in life comes from within and that the universe is a cold, empty, uncaring vastness dotted with little sparks of life here and there.
Now, I’ve always found fanatical atheists to be just as annoying — just as wrong (in my view, obviously) — as fanatical theists. If you are incapable of acknowledging that your worldview is not factually based and therefore could be incorrect, I basically consider you to be… well, insane. That is to say that the reality inside your head does not correlate accurately with the external reality.
But what I wanted to write about today was the idea that agnostics are indecisive. As an agnostic with spiritual leanings, I think that is bullshit.
One of the things that strikes me about the idea of God is how universal that idea is. To the best of my knowledge, every society in every age has had some sort of spiritual core belief.
I used to state this as the assertion that every society believed in some sort of god or gods, but it was pointed out to me that Buddhists don’t actually have a god. They do have some metaphysical entities, and more importantly, Buddhism is certainly a belief in a metaphysical reality that transcends this one.
So the question is: if humans universally find themselves finding God(s), what does this mean?