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.

 

 

Odds Are…

What are the chances that life is illusory?  What are the chances that God exists only in your mind?  If anything is possible, then the odds are good that any of these suggestions are reality.  And because of the quantum world, even contradictory actions can occur simultaneously without cancelling each other out.

So, is everything possible?  Quite possibly, everything could be possible.  Is it possible to win the lottery?  The odds may be against that happening, but it could happen.  If I were to draw 13 cards from a deck of cards, the odds that those cards would be all spades, consecutively drawn as:  A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2, would be astronomical.  But it is possible.

If everything is possible, could something also be impossible?  In other words, is it possible for something to be impossible and still everything would be possible at the same time?  Of course it can through the magic of quantum mechanics.  Therefore if everything is possible, including some things being impossible, then this is a complete set of possibilities.  There is nothing out of the realm of possibility within the universe.

And that makes sense since matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our universe, so that everything within our universe must be a complete set since nothing else can be created.  The deck of cards (matter and energy) within our universe was created outside the universe, leaving us with free will and random chances in how the cards were both dealt and played.  If everything is possible, then there can be no complaint about your failure to be a good person or to reach your goals.

And being a good person or reaching your goals is not a miracle provided by God.  God gave you the cards, but you played them and thus must accept the consequences for your choices in life.  The key to miracles is in transforming your mind.  It doesn’t matter whether you utilize philosophy or religion or meditation.  You mind must leave the universe and become connected with God, who is outside the universe.

Scientists and doctors have case studies where patients have been pronounced as brain dead, but were later revived and brought back to life.  Those patients consistently have reported that they were still aware of events even after their brains stopped functioning.  In effect, their consciousness continued into the afterlife.  And this is both possible and impossible, depending on your perspective.

As I have written many times, our species would be infinitely fortunate if we died and our consciousness ended at the same time.  That would be the best case for mankind.  But unfortunately the odds are against that happening.  Since nothing in our universe can be destroyed and also assuming consciousness is something in our universe,  then our awareness will not terminate when our bodies die, just like we have been told by those who have died and then have been resuscitated.

Even though some religions promise eternal lives for true believers, please be careful what you wish for.  If your goal is just to have eternal life, this could be a hell within itself.  Can you imagine being stuck for eternity in the same room with your enemy or even an individual who irritates the hell out of you?  Eternal life without first unifying with God could be eternal damnation.

So if you die and are still thinking, then you had better quickly become one with God or you will be lost without a guide through the chaotic journey after death where anything is possible.  And this might become your personal Judgment Day with you inflicting more torture and pain on yourself than God would ever do.

Introspective Thinking

Have you ever stopped to think about how you are thinking?  It is really quite unique.  Your senses detect everything going on outside you and bring it back inside you for evaluation.  For example your eyes view the world like you are watching a movie.  Your seat in the theatre is somewhere inside your body as you watch the events play out on the big screen.

Your thinking is also somewhere inside you.  It is not surprising that we are focused on ourselves.  Everybody else is outside our movie.  They are actors, and we are the primary customer.  The price of the movie ticket is our life, so we expect to receive the rewards and benefits from that payment.  Other people don’t view life from our perspective, so we are more important, of course, from our standpoint.

When we look in a mirror, we see ourselves more as an actor than as a paying customer, but our thinking is still generally focused on us as an individual, who is more important than the rest of the world.  But what is the reason behind this introspective thinking?  Some people may ask why do we even exist?  It seems that nobody has an answer, but logic tells us that free will is given to us as part of our internal perspective on life.

We make choices every day.  Many of our choices are made to improve our quality of life.  Some of our choices are very poor and lead to consequences during our lives.  Others are bad selections that will have to be dealt with after our lives are over.  Many hope that there will be no afterlife since they don’t want the consequences.

However, it is more likely than not, that there will be something waiting to judge us since otherwise, free will and introspective thinking are quite absurd.  There would be no reason for them.  Otherwise, we would simply react instinctively like others in the animal kingdom.  If our universe has design, free will has to have some reason in the grand design or it makes no sense.  Why are we the only animal with introspective thinking?  Why are we given the freedom to make decisions if there are no evaluations of those selections?  There is no logic for free will without consequences.

Even though quantum mechanics centers on chance activities, our visible world that tests our free will is based on measured decisions with consequences.  For every action or choice, there is an equal and opposite reaction or consequence.  This does not appear to be the case in the quantum world, which provides many opportunities in its game of chance.  But quantum mechanics does not negate God and consequences.  In fact, God could have created the quantum world to keep our universe recycling for eternity, which could be a punishment, in and of itself.

How do I know that afterlife exists at all?  In other words, how do I know what happens when the movie of our life is over?  Will I still be sitting in the seats in a darkened theatre?  Or will the projectionist start another movie?  Or will I walk outside into another world?

Quite frankly I don’t know, but I am reasonably certain that if our thoughts do not end with the movie of our life, then there will be consequences.  How will the consequences play out?  Again, I don’t know.  We may be thinking in a dark, empty theatre, punishing ourselves for all the bad choices we made in life.  Or we may be starring in a new movie, being punished through a process of reincarnation.  Or we may meet the Projectionist or the Creator, who has consequences awaiting us.  But as long as there is any chance at all for their being consequences, then we should work harder on making good decisions.

Evolution for Afterlife

We are all familiar with Darwin’s theories of evolution during life, but very little has been written on evolution after life.  If you believe that there is nothing after life, then you will not be interested in this discussion; however, you might want to read this just in case there is something waiting for us after we die.  Since it is impossible to say with certainty that there is nothing after we die, it might be good to at least think about the possibilities.

You have heard stories about parents who wanted their children to have a better life and sacrificed their own lives to provide an education and whatever else they could to give their children a better chance than they had.  Evolution is a part of that process.  Survival of the fittest is one of the evolutionary principles that generally create a better and stronger species.  The weaker and less efficient members of that population die or don’t reproduce.

We know that Homo sapiens was lucky to become the dominant species.  If the dinosaurs had not suffered a mass extinction, mammals would not have had the opportunity to flourish.  And our species was nearly wiped out several times, but it fortunately survived the eruption of Mt. Toba and the ice ages.

So even though we consider ourselves as the ultimate species at the top of the evolutionary peak, this is not true.  Consider the source of that belief.  Our species consists of very fragile animals that cannot survive in extreme conditions.  The species has only existed for a short period in geologic time.  Our selfish tendencies will eventually doom us.  We would rather satisfy our individual needs than do the right thing to protect our progeny.  An example is our inability to preserve our environment for future generations.

We attempt to improve ourselves during our lifetimes, but our humanness limits our ability to evolve into selfless creatures.  Perhaps the best we can hope for is that we would sacrifice our lives to protect our children.  So, it may be that any significant evolution of man must occur after death.  Assuming that we are still conscious after death, we may have the opportunity to evolve into a much better entity.

The Bible indicates that there are three Heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2).  We can only speculate on these different Heavens, but there may be three separate tests for each Heaven.

The first Heaven probably is the obvious one where Christians go if they believe in Jesus who died for their sins.  But Jews and Muslims also know this Heaven as a place where believers of God are admitted.  Other religions and beliefs are not excluded from this Heaven.  This destination is not an exclusive club for Christians, Jews, Muslims, or any religion.  But your choices made during life may be a part of the judgment, including analyzing your actions as evidence that you actually believed.  So, this Heaven perhaps is the easiest to reach as long as you believe.  There may be a clear division between believers and nonbelievers.  The Bible refers to an abyss between the two groups.  Near-death experiences consistently refer to crossing over.

We apparently will retain at least some of our senses to detect this Heaven.  This is the Heaven that has been seen and heard by those who have had near-death or death experiences.  It probably is a beautiful and peaceful place, but still should be within the confines of God’s created, closed universe.  This is where we may see and talk to relatives and friends who predeceased us, angels, and Jesus and Abraham, all in recognizable human form.  This probably is by design so we will feel welcome and will not be afraid of unfamiliar forms and entities.  The face of Jesus will be comfortable and familiar to us, so we may see Him here.  But the face of God might be more hidden from us in this Heaven.

The second Heaven may require an evolution of spirit, going from selfish, centrist thought to “big picture” thinking.  In other words, you become less important as an entity as the whole becomes more important than your part.  This Heaven, more than likely, is reached through your thoughts.  You may find the mid-Heaven quite a bit more difficult to reach since there may be temptations in the first Heaven that impede your progress.  However, if you become one with God, you should be able to avoid selfish and prideful thoughts.  Some religions teach this unification, which is critical in order to evolve and transfer into the second Heaven.  Reaching this goal requires much more than a belief in Jesus or God; it requires a complete makeover of your personality, focusing on the universe that is beyond you.  I have no idea about the structure of this Heaven, but it probably is still within the border of our closed universe.  We may be judged by our actions in the first Heaven to determine if we will be permitted to transition to the second Heaven.

The third Heaven probably is God’s universe, which is outside our known universe.  The law of conservation of energy basically states that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in a closed universe.  So, God’s creation probably occurred outside our closed universe in God’s kingdom.  The transformation that is required to reach this kingdom may be of such a magnitude that I would be surprised if many souls ever made it.  In fact, the Bible, including the teachings of Jesus, is very clear that only a very few make the grade to reach God’s kingdom.

Pastors rarely will discuss the three Heavens and even less often will mention the difficulty in reaching the third Heaven, God’s kingdom.  It would be too controversial.  The pastors would be run out of town.  Most believers only want to hear about the first Heaven, which is the easiest destination.  So, ministers focus on how members of their church can reach the first Heaven.  It would be difficult to sell Christianity or any other religion if people had to work too hard at it.  So, don’t expect too many articles on evolving from the first Heaven to the second and third Heavens.

The significant evolution of our spirits must occur after we die.  My wife and I look forward to the Heavens as a challenge.  We will do our best and reach as many Heavens as we can.  We believe we have a chance to reach the second Heaven, so we will prepare ourselves as much as we can during our lifetimes to be ready for whatever happens.

If there is no afterlife, then all will be still when we die, and we will not suffer from our beliefs.  However, if there is an afterlife, then we will be well served by our preparation for consequences.  The free will that God gave us must have some significance.  As religious existentialists we believe that free will without the consequences of God would be quite absurd.

Also, it seems logical that a creation must have a Creator and that a design must have a Designer.  If I were an odds maker, I would say that it is more likely than not that there is a God.  If I were a gambler, I would place my money on God not only because of better odds, but also because of the consequences if you are wrong.  Even if the chances of there being a God were one in a million, I would still bet on God because if I’m wrong, it will not cost me anything.  But if I don’t pick God and I’m wrong, it will cost me everything.

My wife and I have taken a vow of abstinence for the past twenty years.  We will die without having sex again.  This may seem a bit extreme, but believe me, getting to the other Heavens requires extreme effort.  It will not be easy, no matter what religion and beliefs you have.  You must be willing to sacrifice yourself and your desires.  My wife and I study the Bible together as we prepare for our final days.  We are not perfect, but we work toward reaching the final goal.  If you get halfway toward your goal each day, you will never reach the goal, but you will keep edging closer.

It is interesting that many people do not like their lives, their work, their sex lives, their sex (male or female), but there are days when my wife and I find that we don’t like our species.  We apologize for this, but sometimes, we like our dogs better than humans.  In fact, we hope God has animals in the first Heaven.  We feel confident that the second and third Heavens require a complete transfiguration from our species into something altogether different and, of course, becoming a better entity through the evolution for afterlife.  Good luck.  We all will need it.

The Passing of the Greatest Generation and its Values

Tom Brokaw wrote a book in 1998 called, “The Greatest Generation,” about the American generation that survived the Depression and went on to fight for freedom in WWII.  Brokaw wrote in his book, “… it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.  He believed that the men and women in this generation fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”

We are losing this WWII generation on a daily basis and as they pass the baton to the younger generations, I wonder if this older generation’s values are being passed along or are they being passed over.

Former president Jimmy Carter wrote about this in “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis” in 2005, which was “dedicated to our children and grandchildren, for whom America’s basic moral values must be preserved.”  Carter wrote, “I am convinced that our great nation could realize all reasonable dreams of global influence if we properly utilized the advantageous values of our religious faith and historic ideals of peace, economic and political freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

What is causing this erosion and endangerment of our former values?  I call it a “creeping extremism.”  You see it increase every day as extremists throughout the world are committing egregious acts without significant consequences from moderates who used to be in the majority.  Extremists have begat extremists, so that they are becoming the new majority.  This is polarizing our world, removing the moderates, who in the past made our world a better and safer place to live.

What is happening to the generations that follow the Greatest Generation?  Well, they have not had the same moderating influences.  Going through a depression will significantly influence your value system.  I remember my father and mother both believed in “doing the right thing” no matter what the consequences might be.  They were selfless and made moral decisions based on how their actions would impact others.  Today’s generations, without the moderating influences of major economic and wartime pressures, are selfish and their moral values are based on how their actions will impact them.  It’s all about me and not you.

Now, these are generalizations.  Clearly, there are some members of younger generations who are wholly committed to serving society and not themselves.  But it is a matter of percentages.  A great majority of the younger generations have not gone through economic deprivation and therefore have placed themselves on a high pedestal.  They believe that “greed is good.”  If these individuals were asked to give their lives for their country, I suspect I know what most of them would say.  And their question would be, “What is in it for me?”

The problem with extremism and fundamentalism taking over the world is that it will lead to worldwide totalitarianism.  There are those in powerful positions today who believe that they should control the world for themselves, not for the benefit of others.  There is a big difference between philosophical Marxism, which is designed to benefit the working class, and the real-world communism, which controls and subjugates the working class.  The new world leaders will want the rest of us to be completely under their control.  When “freedom” is no longer important to the masses, it will be replaced by “free” government entitlements.  The masses will become addicted to the government and just like drug addicts will give up their freedom for a fix.

So as we lose the Greatest Generation, I pray that moderates within the following generations can maintain some modicum of control to protect our children and grandchildren for a few more years.  However, I think the most we can hope for is to preserve democracy for the remainder of this decade.

Doing the Right Thing the Right Way

I watched the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl tonight, which had the four top ranked college teams in the country, and there are some very talented players at this level, many of whom will be drafted by the NFL in 2015.  Oregon and Florida State provided an excellent game, even though many of the players from Florida State didn’t shake hands with the Oregon team members.  Alabama and Ohio State provided another great game.  All four teams had very talented players, yet something was missing.  What was it?

It was heart.  Others call it intestinal fortitude.  Without this quality, players will do the wrong thing or do the right thing the wrong way.  I watched talented players make arm tackles and touch and push offensive players to the ground.  It was almost like they had a big NFL contract waiting in the wings and they couldn’t afford losing millions of dollars with an injury that might come from making a hard tackle.

They know how to make textbook tackles, but the runners broke tackle after tackle without much of a problem.  That is not to say that the runners were not huge and gifted, but it does say that nobody wants to tackle low anymore.  Most defensive players tackled high and tried to wrestle runners down with their arms.  Nobody… I mean nobody drove through the runner and wrapped them up with their arms and pounded them into the ground.

Bear Bryant was rolling over in his grave as his Crimson Tide allowed Ohio State to run through a vaunted Alabama defense.  My high school coach played football under Bear, and he had drilled the technique of making fundamental tackles into all of us.  I weighed 120 pounds, but was able to crash my body into 250 pound fullbacks and wrap my arms around their legs and pull them into me, driving them into the ground.  The rest of our team followed suit.  We all were willing to sacrifice our bodies for the sake of the team.

In the 1960’s, I remember my football coach being approached by two guys on our team before wind sprints at the end of practice.  One told my coach that he had a broken nose and couldn’t run the wind sprints.  Coach asked him why he thought he had a broken nose.  He said that his friend told him it was broken.  Coach asked him if his friend was a doctor.  He admitted that he wasn’t, but he was sure that he couldn’t run with his nose being in the condition it was in.  Coach asked him if he ran on his nose.  He gave up and ran the wind sprints.

I know this was a different time back in this decade and none of us had any hopes of receiving multi-million-dollar offers to play in the NFL, but I just don’t know how much intestinal fortitude is out there today.  I know that there is a lot of independent talent, but do players still have what it takes to win as a team fueled on something more than individual effort.  As I watched these defensive players use just their arms to attempt to bring down quarterbacks, I wondered how inspiring this had to be to the other team members.

Even though intestinal fortitude comes from individuals, it is contagious and infects the entire team, so that the team will follow the little guy who gives everything he’s got to give.  Before you know it the entire team has guts.  Everybody on the team is willing to do the right thing or at least attempt to do it the right way.

As I watched many Florida State players walk off the field without shaking hands with the winning Oregon players, I couldn’t help but think:  that team has no guts… it just wants glory.

Talent is important, but guts bring glory.