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.

 

 

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

One of the major complaints from atheists, agnostics, and even religious people is that God should not allow bad things to happen to people, especially good people.

Now, I would like to start our investigation into why this is a ridiculous complaint.  First of all, bad things happen to everybody, whether they consider themselves as good or bad.  And why do you believe that you are a “good” person, anyway?  If you consider yourself as being a “good” person, you are certainly less than humble, and most likely your pride has taken you to the “bad” side.  In other words, there may be no “good” person on our planet.

Perhaps, you would like to change the title of this article to “Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen, At All?”  This certainly avoids the difficult proof that you are a good person.  It focuses on God as being the culprit who allows bad things to happen to all of us.  We certainly cannot accept any of that blame!

Well, this takes me to my second point.  God, the Creator, more than likely, does not exist in His creation.  One of the few scientific laws is that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe.  In other words, creation occurred outside the boundary of our closed universe.  If all this is true, God can only create outside His creation.  And it is likely that God does not want to intervene or interfere in the evolution of His creation.

And my third and final point is that there should be consequences for “bad” people.  Why would God need to change that?  My guess is that God created the universe with “free will” and He allows us to make poor choices every day.  He does not prevent us from making bad decisions and also experiencing “bad things” because of those decisions, and most likely God will provide additional consequences outside the universe, if we are lucky enough to enter His kingdom.

Asking for relief from “bad” things that will happen to you is the same thing as asking for forgiveness for future bad acts.  It is a bit premature to request avoiding consequences in advance of your committing sins.  It is a much better act to thank God for the “bad” things that happened to you, hopefully making you a better person.  And also thank God for the “bad” things that will happen to you, reminding you to avoid those bad choices.

All this is the preliminary stage during your life, leading to the final judgment.  And again if “bad” things happen in the afterlife, then I will accept that as my fate because I was a “bad” person during my lifetime.

Now, many Christians will say that I am not a Christian because I believe that we all will face a day of consequences for our poor choices.  Christians say that Jesus died for our sins forgiving the bad decisions that we made during our lives, giving us safe passage to heaven.  I believe that too, except I must add an adjective… “…giving us safe passage to the first heaven.”

I am a Christian existentialist.  I believe that Jesus died for our sins so that we could enter the first heaven, which probably separates the believers from the non-believers.  Unfortunately, as Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 12:2, there are three heavens.  The Bible is very clear about there being a Judgment Day with consequences, which probably will be associated with one or both of the other two heavens.

Third Heaven and Second Death

I have been attending church for over six decades and have never heard a minister mention the “third heaven” as discussed in 2 Corinthians 12:2  or the “second death” as foretold in Chapters 2 and 20 of Revelation.  Since the Bible discusses “heavens” in many parts of the Bible from Genesis forward, I briefly wondered why preachers never brought this subject up. But then I realized that it would be controversial, perhaps even causing a loss of membership at that church.

Most Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins, so that they will have no consequences awaiting them in the afterlife.  Unfortunately for them, this is only part of the Bible’s story.  The Bible makes it clear that the first heaven is very accessible to believers through the sacrifice of Jesus and the grace of God.  But what is the second heaven?

There is no second heaven discussed in the Bible, but the second death is mentioned in Revelation four times (Rev 2:11, 20:6, 20-14, and 21:8).  Revelation is not easy reading, but it states that the second death is into the lake of fire based on the things you have done during life, Rev 20:13-15.  The Bible merely provides consequences for bad decisions.  It seems to state that if you were not deceived by the Devil and you did well, you would have a “first resurrection” (Rev 20:6); but if you were deceived and did not do so well, then you would be tossed into the lake of fire along with Satan (Rev 20:14).  The first resurrection should be into the new or second heaven since Revelation 21:1 describes the first heaven passing away at this point in time, leading to the second heaven.

In effect, the first death is not fixed in stone as the believers and nonbelievers are separated by a chasm.  The Devil will have an opportunity to deceive the believers until the second death becomes permanent, when all those who have been adjudged as deficient will fall into the lake of fire, Sheol.  The Bible also mentions the destruction of the heavens by fire before reaching a new or second heaven.  2 Peter 3:12-13.

The third heaven is probably not a place.  Paul describes it as possibly an “out of the body” experience.  2 Corinthians 12:3.  The Bible also says that the kingdom of God, probably the third heaven, is “within you.”  Luke 17:21.

In conclusion, the first heaven is probably the one that all Christians believe they will reach through God’s grace and the sacrifice of Jesus.  Then we undergo a more difficult test with a judgment being rendered based on our works during life.  It is a pass-fail test.  If you fail, you receive a second death in the bowels of Hell.  If you pass, you go to the second heaven where the final test is taken.

One of my ministers, who agreed to talk with me about the third heaven privately, told me that the third heaven is a final goal of returning to the Garden of Eden. The final test provides an opportunity for us to improve ourselves even more as we attempt to reach the last heaven, which is God’s kingdom.  The Bible is not specific about the requirements for the final exam.

How Much is Freedom Worth?

Have you ever wondered how much freedom is worth?  I believe it is like they say on the television ad:  “It is priceless.”

Freedom typically is not valued until it is lost.  In other words, we in America take it for granted.  If you were to travel to countries where there is no freedom, you might place a different value on our freedom.

The earliest Americans settled here in order to practice their religions.  So, the freedom of religion is the bedrock or the Plymouth Rock that drew our ancestors to this land.  Americans declared our independence and our freedom to enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The First Amendment to our Constitution states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Second Amendment provides:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It is interesting to note that when the first ten amendments were ratified in 1791, these were the first two amendments listed.  Some importance and priority may be mined from that fact.  Religion and worship of God were very important to our Founding Fathers and the early Freedom Fighters.  It was truly a “nation under God.”

After well over 200 years have passed, where are we today?  Even though freedom is still priceless, we haven’t had to fight for it recently, so it just doesn’t seem as important to Americans.  Certainly, our troops have fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but these battles on foreign soil have not been embraced by the public as wars to protect our freedom at home.  The closest thing to an attack on our soil was on 9/11.  However, Americans have returned to their daily routines and the average Joe on the street thinks more about getting a promotion than losing his freedom.  It is just not a thought that we have in America.

Yet, we have been losing our freedoms, a little at a time, but losing them all the same.  Under the First Amendment, has the federal government prohibited the free exercise of religion and has it abridged our freedoms, including speech and press?  Of course it has.  And nobody says anything under penalty of being insensitive to atheists, agnostics, and others who disagree with Christianity.  America will lose her freedoms when average citizens choose to do nothing about protecting them.

I attended a corporate meeting many years ago with employees providing lengthy briefings on the best course for the company for its future.  When the Power Point slides were taken down and the lights came up, the president of the company looked around and asked, “Is there any way I can do nothing?”

If American citizens do nothing, they will lose all of their freedoms.  And once you have lost those freedoms, the government will not give them back without a revolution.  Unfortunately, many citizens are like the corporate president who wanted to do nothing.  They would rather stay under the radar… not make any waves… keep silent… all things which guarantee the loss of their freedoms.

I can remember when Americans were free to say, “Merry Christmas.”  Now, it is insensitive to other religions.  However, freedom of religion embraces all religions.  It does not single out Christianity.  In America, you have the freedom to practice any religion.  You even have the freedom to not practice a religion.  It’s called freedom for a reason.  And restricting Christians from honoring the birthday of Jesus would be like restricting the Muslims or Jews from one of their religious holidays.

The first part of the First Amendment that restricts Congress from establishing a religion should not be taken out of context.  The primary directive is to not prohibit the free exercise of a religion.  Let’s examine the current prohibition on mandatory school prayers.  Doesn’t this federal prohibition restrict the exercise of freedom of religion?  Of course it does.  The argument is that mandatory school prayers establish a religion, Christianity, and interfere with the free exercise of religious beliefs for those who do not believe in prayers.

Let’s get down to basics and common sense.  Quite frankly, any time the government acts to protect the free exercise of religion, Christianity or otherwise, it will be assisting in establishing that religion.  The framers of our Constitution and Amendments were very focused on freedom of religion and less focused on preventing establishment of a religion, so free exercise of religion should always be the bottom line.

It is true that Thomas Jefferson wanted the church to be walled off against the state in order to protect secular interests, but James Madison wanted to decentralize the federal government, allowing the religions in America to compete without interference by the government.

If we are truly talking about emphasizing freedom of religion in America, then the separation of church and state should mean that the government should stay out the business of religion altogether.  This would mean that the government should not restrict any religion, including Christianity.

What is wrong with saying “Merry Christmas”?  What is wrong with saying “Happy Hanukah”?  What is wrong with “Fast during Ramadan”?  All these religions are free to compete within America, no different than businesses.  The government should not promote monopolies of religions or businesses.  That should be the extent of governmental interference.  That should be the extent of our government’s concern about establishing one religion over another.

Let me make this clear.  The government does not restrict advertising by businesses just because that company has a bigger budget for marketing.  Monopoly busting is when a large company is too big, thus reducing the competition.  Monopoly prevention is when two companies are considering a merger and the result would have a substantial cooling effect on competition.  I know of no cases where the government has prevented a company from competing through advertising because it would have a bad effect on competition.

It should be no different for religions.  Government should not prevent religions from marketing, which includes letting others know about their religious days and practices.  This would be a very negative approach to preventing establishment of religions.  America is so diverse and independent, it is not likely that we will see religions forming monopolies.  Religions are known for just the opposite.  They splinter into many different associations, rather than coalescing.

The two provisions in the First Amendment can cancel each other out if you read them literally and out of context.  The federal government has removed many of our freedoms, including freedom of religion and right to bear arms, because it is too big and bureaucratic.

What is the solution?  Well, it is just common sense as Thomas Paine penned in 1776.  The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution provides:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This amendment has been abused and ignored, but it tells the federal government to keep out of our state, local, and personal business unless it has a specific power to so intervene.  And there are not that many powers specifically granted to the federal government.

The key is to return the government to the people.  Citizens should emphasize government at the local levels, where the elected officials actually have a vested interest in their communities.  Typically, mayors and council members will do the right thing for their cities because they live in that neighborhood.  They may protect their communities for selfish reasons, but this is better than federal politicians who distance themselves from what is going on at the local level.  Many don’t care about their constituents, only thinking instead about lining their pockets.

Congress needs to focus the power of the purse on local governments so that we can downsize the federal government and retake our freedoms that were stolen by the feds.  This, at least, is the peaceful solution to the current problem.  Our freedom is certainly worth doing this.