Absurdity of Life

Scientists draw conclusions from evidence and facts, a posteriori, while religious teachers rely on faith and imagination, a priori.  Both believe they know the truth about life, but it is more likely than not that neither of them know the truth.  The truth is only known by the Creator, and He is not talking.  Thus, life is absurd because we cannot make sense of it.

Why do we live?  Why do we have free will?  Why do we have a conscience?  Why do we make choices if there are no consequences?  What happens after we die?

After admitting that life is absurd and still puzzling over it, we must logically conclude that life is quite absurd without something after life.  In other words if life were our only appearance in this play, then the play would have no denouement or ending.  This is because if life is to have any meaning at all, then all the choices made during our lives must be analyzed for a full accounting at the end.  Life, which is a test, is nonsensical without death and a grading of our work.  Of course, consequences complete the course.  This completes a design for life in our universe.

And life is absurd for all of us, whether atheists or Christians or agnostics.  We all are tested daily and we all fall short of making good grades.  Christians believe that they are making A’s and B’s, while atheists and agnostics are failing.  The truth is that all of us are failing.  However, the significant advantage for the Christians is that they may lead a better life by following the teachings of Christ.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees for anybody.  The consequences for our poor choices during life may be dreadful, disastrous for all of us.

I have seen Christians acting as bad or worse than atheists.  There will be no religious shield to protect those who have made bad choices during life.  We must accept our failings and step up to take our punishment, whatever that might be.  By accepting Jesus as our savior, we are in a better position to make good decisions.  But if you read the Bible closely, you will find that there will be consequences for our sins.

I have seen Christians repent of their sins on Sunday and then return to the den of iniquity for the next six days.  Then they return to church on the Sabbath to repent again.  This type of activity shows no true remorse.  It is merely a hope that God will overlook all the misdeeds and erase them because of one hour on Sunday.  This doesn’t even make sense.  It is another absurd myth of Christianity.

So, if there are going to be severe consequences for all of us, what can we do?  Even as a Christian existentialist, I honestly don’t know.  I suppose we can start by doing our best every day that we have left to do the right thing.  Each of us should try to be a better person.  I don’t believe that our judgment day will have a scale with good deeds on one side and bad choices on the other.  I think it will be much more sophisticated and complex than that.

My imagination tells me that we will probably enter a darkness that eliminates our senses.  Our own minds will probably punish us for all the bad decisions we made during life.  The denial of entry into God’s third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2) may be the worst penalty of all.  My guess is that those of us who have made a half-way decent attempt to make good decision will enter the first heaven.  But the subsequent heavens will be exponentially more difficult to reach.

And even though my musings may seem quite absurd, believe me it is much more absurd that we could live in a world of choices without any consequences.

 

 

Kierkegaard Got It Right

Soren Kierkegaard, sometimes called “the Father of Existentialism,” was a philosopher who attempted to appeal to both secular and religious readers.  Kierkegaard was the only philosopher who got it right.

Born on May 5, 1813, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kierkegaard was never politically correct.  He typically was not sensitive to others.  He was not liked by Scandinavians or, for that matter, by anybody else.  He believed in God, but Catholics, Protestants, and other believers turned against him.  He was an existentialist, but other existentialist philosophers spurned his writings.  Yet, Kierkegaard got it right.

It is like the story of a judge who made a ruling that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant liked.  The judge smiled and said, “Well, since nobody likes my ruling, that means I made the right decision.”

Kierkegaard champions our individual freedom in making choices over the religious or secular establishment’s restrictions on your decisions.  Your unification with God will not be assisted by a priest or minister or policeman or government employee.  It will be a one-on-one meeting of the minds.  You will become one with God only within yourself.

Your attendance at church and your giving to the church will carry no value into the afterlife.  You will carry nothing on this journey of death except what is within you.  And according to Kierkegaard, God must be your guide on this road, otherwise you will be lost.

Kierkegaard had two primary steps.  First, know yourself.  If you know yourself, you will be a strong individual who can resist the temptations of life.  Second, know God.  Only God has experienced everything and can assist you through the chaos of the afterlife.

It is important to know yourself inwardly and subjectively.  Know your weaknesses.  Pride must become humility.  Be independent, but humble in your individualism.  The highest goal in subjective ethics is to be humble.

Then let God inside your subjective self, thus allowing an objective spirit to enter your body.  This creates the synergy of subjective and objective reasoning.  The combination of a priori and a posteriori makes for perfection.

Once you let God enter your soul, your independent spirit will be lifted up to new heights.  This combination completes the person.  God’s objective, empirical knowledge is the final piece that finishes the jig-saw puzzle.  The highest goal in objective ethics is to become one with God.

Subjective consequences for your poor choices in life will be handed out by your conscience, but objective consequences will be administered by your Creator.

 

 

Can God Be Proven?

I cannot prove there is a God any more than you can prove that God does not exist.  Atheists typically announce that there is no God, but they rarely admit that there is no evidence for their belief.  Some religious adherents do the same.  But the truth is that neither side, no matter how strong their beliefs, can provide one bit of objective evidence for their positions.

That being said, I believe there is a God.  Why?  I know how little we know, so I rely on subjective evidence.  I know, a priori, there is a God.  I use deduction and inference and intuition.  If we were created, it is logical that there is a Creator.  If there is a design in the universe, then I can deduce that there is a Designer.

You may properly ask who created the Creator and who designed the Designer, and I would tell you that I do not have a clue.  But then I already admitted that I know how little we know.  So since I am so much in the dark on the creation and design of the universe, how can I be so arrogant as to believe in God?

As I said, I have to rely on my intuition that there is a God.  I think, therefore I am aware of my existence.  I think, therefore my instincts tell me that my existence makes no sense unless there were a God.  Why would I have a conscience if there were no consequences?  Why would there be a test without somebody to grade the exam?  Why would we have free will to make poor choices if there were no consequences?  As Christian existentialists might say, “Life is absurd… without God.”

But I also have a practical reason to believe in God, which may be the best reason of all.  One of my favorite stories is about a young boy who was asked by his parents to pick out a puppy.  One of the puppies in the store made eye contact with the boy and started wagging its tail vigorously and came running over to him.  The little boy exclaimed, “That’s the dog I want… the one with the happy ending.”  If I believe in God and act accordingly, then there is a chance for a happy ending.  On the other hand if I do not believe in God, there is no chance for a happy ending.

Even if the odds of there being a God were one million to one, I would still believe in God.  Why?  Because there are no consequences for believing in God and being wrong, while there are significant consequences for not believing in God and being wrong.

These are just some of my musings that I am sharing with you.  If you don’t believe in God, that is your right to choose.  I am such an advocate for freedom of choice that I would never interfere with your decision.  However, if you have not decided yet, I wanted you to have some more information that might be important in making your final decision.

So, is that your final answer?

Was I Predestined to Write This Article on Predestination?

When I positioned the seat of my pants against the seat of a chair and started typing, was this predestined to happen?  If I had writer’s block or simply decided that I wanted to work outside, would that have changed this moment in time?  Or was my writing already cast in stone and I had no option other than to sit down and wrestle with this article?

Predestination is a thread that runs through theology, philosophy, and science.  Religions have struggled with the question of whether everything has already been predetermined by God.  Some religions answer that God knows everything that will happen in our lives, but God permits us to make our mistakes.  Some say that believers and sinners are all predestined for those roles, while others say that only believers are predestined, leaving the others to choose during their lives.

Some pre-Kantian philosophers saw the past, present, and future as being rolled up into one huge eternal “present” from God’s perspective.  If God is orchestrating life from moment to moment, then everything is predestined to happen just as ordered by God.  Many of the pre-Kantian philosophers were more like scientists who examined predestination based on their experiences and what they understood a posteriori.  Kant’s theory was based on the innate, a priori, knowledge.  In effect, our behavior has a predisposition, but is not predestined.  We have a propensity to do the right thing, but we still have the freedom to make decisions.  God has given us both a conscience and the freedom to choose our paths in life.

Scientists have examined the control within our universe, which arguably is a form of predestination, but again I refer to it a predisposition.  For example, gravity and orbits may cause planets to circle our sun, but there are many variables that come into play as to how the solar system is positioned today.  And millions of years from now, it will look different.  The propensity for planets to orbit the sun does not preordain their future positions in the solar system.  The delicate balance of order and chaos within our universe can be upset to create an entirely different future.  Scientists can guess what the future might be, but they can never be assured that they are correct because the future is not predestined.  Quantum mechanics, by itself, assures us that there are many possibilities of what the future will hold for us.

Science helps us understand one aspect of predestination within our universe.  The theory of conservation of mass and energy which states that the sum total of mass and energy within our universe will always be the same is another way of saying that our universe is predestined to having a finite amount of mass and energy.  And it might even be argued that our universe is predestined to respond infinitely, perhaps alternating between the Big Bang and the Big Crunch forever.  Even though mass and energy may transform back and forth, the total will always remain the same.

This might be interpreted to mean that our universe has an edge that retains all the mass and energy within it.  In other words, we live in a closed universe.  If this were true, then the creator would have had to create outside that boundary.  The creation would have inserted mass and energy inside that closed system, so that it would only have had a predisposition and not a predestined universe.  The proclivity to do certain things in our universe does not eliminate chance, choices, and selection.

So, when I asked if I was predestined to write this article, the answer is a resounding “no.”  I may have had an inclination and a propensity to write it, but I made a decision to do so and took the action, independently of any outside forces.

 

Do We Know God Instinctively?

Do we know about God through our instincts or do we know God through our experiences?  In short, would we know God without others writing and talking about Him?

We certainly have no physical evidence of God, so we might argue that the proof is circumstantial.  In other words, we know there is a God since we know we exist, thus we infer that there was a creator of our existence.  We, in effect, know there is a God, a priori or through deduction.

It is important to find God through your own instincts because relying on what others say or do could be problematic.  Just because millions of people believe something has absolutely no value in the afterlife when it will be you thinking and interfacing with God one-on-one.

Only your thoughts matter from the point of death into the dark universe.  Only your beliefs will be important as you pass the event horizon into the new world.  What others thought about your life and your actions may not carry any weight in God’s realm.  They will not be pleading your case.  Assuming that you are still thinking at death, your sentence will be between you and the judge, your creator.

Are we motivated to believe in God as a way to better accept our mortality?  Are we motivated to believe in God by a religious instinct?  Are we motivated to believe in God because of a need to deal with our ultimate demise?  Did we create God to fulfill not only our basic needs, but also esteem and self-actualization needs as described by Maslow?  Are we conditioned by religious and political leaders to believe in God to help control our behaviors?  Are we hard-wired to believe in God based on our genes and other biological bases?

We may never know the answer for sure until we reach the point of death.  At that moment when we are brain dead, if we are still thinking, then we will know that our brain will decompose while our thoughts will continue on into a new arena.

You will have a great deal of control initially since the thoughts will belong to you; however, unfortunately, that control will dissipate very quickly as chaos will consume you.  We all feel that we can control most events, but the afterlife will not be one of those events.  Only God can be your guide through the afterlife.  It will be a completely foreign universe to us, so we will require a guide in order to survive the journey.

We need to leave our experiences behind when we enter the kingdom of the dead.  We must not think about the bad things that we did during life.  Christianity tells us that all our sins are forgiven.  That’s the same thing.  Don’t bring any of that baggage with you on the trip.  You have to let it go completely.

So God must be based on our intuition at the point of death.  We will feel his presence and he will be inside our thoughts so that we will unify as one.  When we die, we should turn our thoughts over to God.  That will not be easy, but it must be done.

Gibb’s Gut

A popular television program called “NCIC” has Leroy Jethro Gibbs as its lead protagonist.  He makes many of his decisions based on the famous “Gibb’s Gut.”  He may not know who committed the crime based on the hard evidence, but his gut instinct will point him in the right direction.

Homo sapiens will make many decisions based on instinct rather than reason.  This carries back to prehistoric times when our ancestors had to make choices within seconds.  We notice many of these instincts even today.

I will mention a half dozen things that appear to be programmed into humans:  (1) a startled reflex that awakens us probably dating back to when our ancestors lived in trees, preventing falling to the ground where a predator would snatch us up if we survived the fall, (2) a running instinct when we perceive danger, (3) sweating when we are afraid, perhaps allowing our ancestors to slip out of the clutches of predators, (4) getting “goose bumps” when we are afraid, which also stimulates our hair and makes it stand up, probably allowing our ancestors to appear larger and more muscular, (5) aggressive behavior, perhaps allowing our ancestors to compete more successfully for food and shelter, and (6) disgust with things that might carry disease, which would have been imprinted in our brains to protect us from contagions.

But there are two others that deserve additional study:  (1) a conservative approach that allowed our species to have a greater chance of survival in a predatory world and (2) a quest for security that also led to the same end goal.

First, man was programmed with an instinct to take conservative approaches to life.  By being hard-wired to avoid dangerous conditions, man had a better chance of surviving the predators that were lurking in the shadows.  Early hominids might survey the area for minutes before climbing down from the tree.  Early hominids might not wander too far from water supplies.  Early hominids might form social groups for additional protection.

The other subconscious adaptation was to seek security or control in a chaotic and unpredictable environment.  There have been about 30 billion species of animals over the life of the earth, and only about 99.9% of them still remain.  Homo sapiens almost went extinct about 74,000 years ago when Mt. Toba erupted in Indonesia, creating an ice-age, destroying both plant and animal life.  Humans were reduced to about 1,000, thus creating a bottle-neck for our species.  This is why all DNA in all humans is 99.9% the same.

Perhaps because of all the mass extinctions and the potential for chaos in the universe to extinguish our lives in a heartbeat, man needed to have a God to protect us from asteroids, super- volcanoes, polar reversals, ice ages, draughts, floods, and all the other potential cataclysmic events.

God may also exist because we are conservative and do not wish to gamble on what may happen after death.  There is no downside to believing in God, but there is a big problem if we do not believe in God and there is an afterlife.  This ties in to the second instinct to seek security.  God would be our security blanket, providing control in a potential world of chaos in the afterlife.  God is the conservative bet.  Even if the odds are a million-to-one against there being a God, it still is the best bet because if there is a God and you don’t believe in him, there are significant consequences.

Gib’s gut should tell you that you should believe in God since it matches your instincts.  We know that man has honored and worshiped God or gods for millennia.  This probably is part of our instinct to satisfy our craving for a conservative approach and security.

More than likely, there will never be any hard, concrete evidence proving that God exists.  The evidence will only be circumstantial.  The only proof will be what we find in our Gib’s gut.  One of our instincts, as we discussed earlier, is disgust.  We feel sick when we view a mutilated body.  We are disgusted primarily because we fear that it could happen to us.  We may be disgusted when we see dead bodies in morgues.  Again, part of this disgust is because it brings home our temporary position on earth.  We are disgusted if we have to face the fact that there is nothing after we die.  As existentialists would say, “We are disgusted because life is absurd.”  However, let’s take it a step further.  A Christian existentialist like Soren Kierkegaard would say, “Life is absurd without God.”  So we will not be disgusted if there is a God.

Thus, God appears to be a gut reaction to our living on earth.  We instinctively know that God exists.  Therefore, we are comforted in a chaotic universe.  Even if there is no God, the fact that God is imprinted in our minds is sufficient evidence of his existence.  He certainly exists in our minds, which may be the most important location for his existence if we are still thinking after we die.

Of course, we make many decisions during our lifetimes, and not all of them are based on reason.  Many choices are made based on instinct.  So, it is not unreasonable for us to believe in God based on a priori reasoning.  We can infer that God exists from his fingerprints of the Big Bang, DNA, and the controls within our universe.  If these fingerprints did not exist, then we would not exist.  Controlled existence is some evidence of a creator or God.

However, the bottom line is that Gibb’s gut tells us that God exists.