When I started this blog back in 2011, it was always my intention to write about the Yin and Yang of our physical reality and a putative metaphysical one. Call it programming if you wish, but I have a life-long commitment to the perceived reality of the latter. I have a faith, deliberately irrational though it be.
I also have a life-long commitment to science and the physical world, and I’ve never had much trouble reconciling the two. That’s the thing I’ve been wanting to write about; how a spiritual life is not contrary or exclusive to a scientific one.
In fact, I believe they are the Yin-Yang of a complete person.
“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!
Two 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.
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!
A while ago, a popular mass-produced beer had some commercials that revolved around the line, “Why ask why?” While most beer commercials seem on the stupid side to me anyway (one brand’s only selling point seems to be “coldness”), those especially bugged me. Actually, as I recall, the commercials were pretty cute; it was the idea that asking Why? is pointless that bugged me.
I believe that asking Why? is a uniquely human trait. Animals accept existence; humans question it. And while there is a certain important Zen-like quality to accepting existence, I believe the questions are also important.
Science is really nothing more than the process of asking Why?
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:
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.
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.