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.

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.

Walk a Month in Their Shoes

It might prove interesting to live another person’s life for a month.  I wonder what it would be like to move from your comfortable three-bedroom suburban home into a one-room apartment with a common bathroom that you share with three other tenants.  Would your new neighbors consider you an easy target for robbery or rape?  Would you be able to survive for a month?

With drugs and alcohol in widespread use, society’s protections are breaking down even in the suburbs.  But moving into a neighborhood with very high crime and drug use will raise red flags even higher than you could have imagined, coming from your middle-class background.

Now, liberals might say that this is exactly what you need to experience for empathy, while conservatives might say that this is exactly what you need to experience to throw these people in prison.  However, the truth is more likely that you need to experience this new type of living in order to understand why you are not liked.

We typically want to be liked, so we work hard to be kind and generous, expecting the same treatment in kind from those recipients.  But after living in the seedy side of town for several weeks, you will come to resent those who live better than you do.  And if they come into your neighborhood with free food and warm clothing, you will see some of them patronizing you.  Instead of liking them, you will despise them.  They will appear to act like they are better than you.  That does not leave a good taste in your mouth.

If you walk a mile in a poor person’s shoes, you will return home with blisters because your feet probably weren’t tough enough to use their cheaper shoes.  And if you see others walking with better shoes, you will not be happy for them.  You will dislike them and their shoes.

So, what does all this mean?  Well, perhaps it simply means that good people on earth should not expect those who continue to commit sins to like them.  Why should they?  The good people remind them that they are leading a bad lifestyle.  And since the bad people may have an ugly future ahead in the afterlife, they should at least have the best of times on earth during their lifetimes.  They should be able to sin as much as they want on earth, because if they are already sentenced to be punished after death, the consequences will not be that much different by continuing their sinning.

And sinners should be able to torture and make the good suffer on earth if the opposite applies after death.  Why should the good get the best of both worlds?  If the good go to Heaven and the bad go to Hell after death, then the bad should be able to experience Heaven during life and the good would experience Hell as long as they live.

And please understand:  I am not saying that is the way it should be.  But  I am saying that if the good stood inside the shoes of the sinners, they might have a completely different perspective of how bad people view good citizens.  They not only don’t like them, but they sometimes want to hurt them and make their lives miserable.  Walk a month in their shoes and you may find out why.

So, why should the sinners stop sinning?  If you have committed sins, it may even be easier for you to continue committing those same sins and even higher sins.  So, why stop?  Well, I suppose that the best answer is because none of us know what happens after death.  The best case for a hardened criminal is that nothing happens at death.  Everything just stops.  However, that is not likely in a recycling universe that has no end.

So, assuming that something happens when we die, what could it be?  Well, most likely we will still be aware of our surroundings.  It probably will be different than what we experience during life, but we may still be thinking.

And if we are still thinking, what will we be thinking about?  We probably will not be distracted by television, family problems, work issues, spousal demands, or whatever else fills your day.  We may be thinking about all the bad things we did during our lives.  Thus, if we had stopped sinning, we at least could feel good about ourselves.  And of course, if we believed that Jesus died for our sins, then we might not think about them at all.  Quite frankly, many Christians would still regret and recall their sins.  It is natural to carry remorse for your bad acts.  But you should still turn all your sins over to God and thank Jesus for His sacrifice.

Even if you gave all your sins to God and did not recall the bad choices you made during life, you would still have to appear before your Creator on Judgment Day.  Nobody knows how this judge-alone trial will proceed, but there most likely will be consequences.

So, the bottom line is that we all should examine ourselves and not our neighbors in order to prepare for both the rest of our life and our afterlife.  It is much more important for you to walk a month correctly in your shoes.  And however you walked in the past may have consequences, but you can minimize that punishment by the way you walk in the present and future.  And if you unify with God, you can walk with God.

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Better Person

Some days were better than others, but I was constantly working toward becoming a better person.  In the beginning, I focused entirely on myself.  I tried to straighten myself up and iron out all the rough edges.  But I found out that I was not permanent press.  My life was never smooth, so I found that I was applying more pressure and heat from within in my efforts to iron out my rough patches.  It was very frustrating as the wrinkles kept returning.

Finally, I realized that we are human.  That is how we are made.  We can’t change that.  Only our Creator can change any of that.  In order for me to straighten up my life, I had to reach out to my Creator.  I had to become one with God in order to become a better person.  I could not do it by myself.  Unification with God was the only way to be a better person.  Once God is in your life, you instantly become a different and better person.

When you attempt to become a better person by yourself, you end up comparing yourself to other humans.  You settle.  You see your neighbor having extra-marital affairs, so you congratulate yourself for avoiding that.  You feel like you are a better person by comparing yourself to others in your neighborhood.  If you are better than most of your neighbors, then you must be a better person.  That is not becoming a better person.  That is settling for what you are.  Instead of improving yourself, you measure yourself against other humans and attempt to make yourself feel like a better person, rather than actually being a better person.

However, when you hook up with God and bring Him into your life, you are starting that journey to becoming a better person.  In many ways, Jesus was a Gnostic.  He became one with God like the Gnostics.  But Jesus took the unification to the highest level.  He became God.  That is the next step beyond unifying with God.  He was God.  I believe that can only happen with perfect humans.  Since I am a poor wretch, far from perfect, I can only become one with God.  But that is good enough to start down the path of being a better person.

If God is inside you, you immediately become a better person.

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.

Why Do You Think You Are a Good Person?

Whether you are a religious person or not, most people like to think that they are a good person.  There are exceptions, most of whom populate the prison system.  But as a general rule, we like to consider ourselves as basically good.

But why do you think you are a good person?  Is it because you compare yourself with your peers and you come out looking pretty good?  Or is it because your good traits outweigh your bad traits?  Or is it just because you want to be a good person?

Late in 2014, I started a “Virtues” chart on myself.  I included topics like: Bible, reading, writing, thinking, meditating, praying, no-anger, truth telling, kindness, humility, patience, love, service, and joy.  I gave myself one point for doing something each day that fulfilled any of these categories.  The first week, I was a disaster.  The second week, I moved up a little, but it took me over a month to get out of the single digits.  I had to focus on doing these things or I failed to address them.

I started thinking:  Gee, I thought I was a pretty good person until I evaluated my actual performance.  The truth is that we all think more of ourselves than we probably should.  We have a tendency to believe that we are good people since we haven’t robbed or killed anybody recently.  The problem is that we all have a tendency to rock along with daily activities, distracted from accomplishing anything outside your work and family zones.

For example, you can lose your patience and temper at work or home without too much difficulty.  But you are so busy trying to complete your assignments at work or to run your kids from school to soccer practice, you forget that you were not as good a person as you thought.

I truly believed that I was a really great truth teller.  But when I tested myself, allowing a point only if I told the truth all day long, I failed miserably.  Without this test, we are like golfers who take “mulligans” and don’t count “wiffs” as strokes.  We think that we tell the truth because most of the time we do not lie.  But those “white lies” or stretching the truth to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings are still lies.

Another one was “no anger.”  I rarely got to check this one.  I had no idea how angry I was since I was only angry a few minutes out of a long day.  I thought I was right on target: a good person who did not get angry.  However, those short bursts of anger were sufficient to keep me from getting any points.

The last category was “joy” which is significantly more than being “happy.”  I have not achieved this goal yet.  You should know it when you reach joy, but there are just too many things in life that interfere with that ultimate connection.  I came closest when I was content with my daily activities and was turning in after a long day.  But then my wife would ask me something like, “Did you take the garbage out?” or “Did you know Johnnie got a ‘D” today?”  But there is no joy in Mudville – our mighty egos have struck out.

So, do you still think you are a good person?