The Theory Has Holes

sent in by a Pennsylvanian agnostic

I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for 12 years. I was obsessed with the idea that praying to Jesus was the only solution to every worry in life. He was my hero. What I was taught about Christianity is that it's about love, kindness, and self-sacrifice and getting rewarded with your own personal invisible super hero who will protect you through life and reward you after you die. The first part are good ideas to live by, but what gets mixed into that is magical properties that seemed to work all the time a few thousands years ago, yet you never see work today. When was the last time you saw a "miracle", something that defies all known understanding of the physical laws of the universe (and wasn't performed by David Copperfield or Blaine using clever tricks)? Once I started being exposed to other religions, books, and movies I started realizing the alternative explanations had about as much proof behind them as the one that had been forced upon me in early childhood. So, with a cynical eye, over the past 10 years I've been looking for alternate explanations for what I used to believe.

I've never seen anything miraculous, but the ability to control the way people think seems a likely motivation for the invention of this idea of "God". Didn't the Church and state used to be more intertwined? I think it's likely a lot of it was made up. Maybe it was those History Channel specials that explain how the Bible was basically just a bunch of manuscripts the early church leaders arbitrarily threw together and decided to call the "Word of God". Maybe it was the way the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Jesus was debated in the early Church. So, because some people with their limited knowledge a few thousand years ago decided something, that makes it literally true today? -- Of course, it might not be that malevolent. A lot of the people who perpetuate it are just afraid of their own deaths and the uncertainty of the world they live in. --

I'm not saying everything Christianity claims is false. Some of it could have just been exaggerated. Other parts could have been due to alien influence (assuming aliens from other planets or wherever even exist), and the lastly the supernatural events could be true. I don't claim to know everything about the universe. I only claim not to believe it's all described by a single, short-sighted religion.

Besides, I've reasoned recently how can there even be a single all-powerful being who created the universe? I've thought about what it was like before the universe (all of it) existed and decided that the idea doesn't make sense. So, the universe must have always existed. I've also thought about what's beyond the universe and decided that idea doesn't make sense either. So, the universe must be infinite. In an infinite universe, for every being that's powerful, there's some other being that's more powerful. Look at all the different species on earth. Now, just imagine a being evolved by a few more billion years, possibly able to tap into physical laws that we haven't yet discovered (are fireflies, electric eels, or even birds magic? didn't we used to think the sun revolved around the earth?). If some simple people with no technology encountered an intelligent being like this, wouldn't they have called it a "God"? Just imagine what some isolated tribe in a jungle somewhere thought the first time they saw a piece of 20th century technology in action. They'd think it was magic. They could be convinced the person using it was some sort of god. Imagine what else lies out in the universe.

-- Here's a question. Why does an all-powerful and benevolent supernatural being require worship from lesser beings like us? If it's all-powerful then it doesn't need worship, and if it's benevolent then it wouldn't want worship. So, any being that pretends to be a "God" or "god" would either have to be a liar or a tyrant. --

-- Here's another question. If "God" is perfect and loving and creates all life, then why are there birth defects? I understand everyone can't be super good looking or super smart, but why screw someone over so severely? I think a better explanation than "God" is that the basic chemical and physical processes that define life aren't concerned with complicated ideas like perfection or love. --

I'm not an atheist. It's obvious to me the universe has many properties and rhythms I only partly understand. I'm interested in breaking the chains of a single, limited religion and exploring the possibilities one day at a time.

Pennsylvania
USA
Joined at birth
Left at 18
Was: Catholic
Now: Agnostic
Converted because: Born into it
De-converted because: Lack of evidence

24 comments:

Diane said...

You know, I am having doubts to.

I see a lot of holes in it as well.

But I don't know if I deal with it, because my friends on campus would ridicule me.

Its easier to let it alone.

But should I really confront the doubts? What difference will it make.

Anonymous said...

diane, if your friends will ridicule you for being yourself, maybe you should find new friends.

Bentley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bentley said...

In the beginning there was God and God was perfect.

Now God being perfect, created the entire universe in just six days, without any tools or instruments, he just used his thought, he willed the universe to exist and it was perfect.

Now before all this, God lived in Heaven with Satan and it was perfect, but God lost control of Satan, and Heaven became unperfect or corrupt, so God kicked Satan and his angelic followers out of Heaven.

Now God created the Heavens and Earth and they were perfect, but SATAN whom was not perfect corrupted the Earth and deceived the womman whom God created to be a help mate for Adam. So now, all of humanity is to pay for the sins(disobeying God's command) of two people that were deceived by the very evil being that this God created in the first place.

Now we're supposed to worship and jump through hoops and pay a preacher to tell us how wonderful we are for believing in such foolish nonsense.

This goes against every persons own common sense and reasoning.

But one must have Faith that it's true, one must override their own brain's common sense and ability to reason and accept the fable and falsehood as being true.

If you can make yourself believe something that could not possibly be true, then you will enter into the kingdom of God.

Why can't so many see that it's all force fed garbage?

Santa was the childhood myth, invented to control children and their behavior.

God and Jesus is the adult myth, invented to control adult behavior.

Earle said...

If every person on earth will eventually croak,and as some people say when your time comes there is nothing you can do about it,then god must of got upset with jesus for raising the dead,when their time to die came about.Wouldn't that have screwed up GODS scheme?

Ian said...

"Why does an all-powerful and benevolent supernatural being require worship from lesser beings like us? If it's all-powerful then it doesn't need worship, and if it's benevolent then it wouldn't want worship. So, any being that pretends to be a "God" or "god" would either have to be a liar or a tyrant. --"

That's the exact same conclusion I came to after a lot of thinking. Good for you Pennsylvanian agnostic!

Lobo said...

its too bad all of your concepts about God are so small and limiting - you think you have good questions but don't ask people who know how to explain and when you get an answer you say 'yes but...' and bring another issue - you're not looking for an answer - just bashing - you are too afraid to dig deep enough since if you find more of the truth you'll be respensible for knowing what you know. You have may started with sincere and good questions but now have become so cynical you gloat in raising questions you don't pay attention to, you ridicule and don't want to believe. If you had the balls, you'd ask someone who really knew and have the gus to keep talking to them over time to get questions asked and admit when they are right. I just don't think you have the balls.

steamboat_willey said...

PA:

You said the first part of Christianity are [sic] good good ideas to live by. By "first part," I hope you meant to stop after love, and kindness. Self-sacrifice, means giving up values for things that are of lesser value or no value at all. It's demanded by altruists, and it's detestable. People at this site find it particularly distasteful when it means giving up the value of reason for anti-values, like surrendering your mind altogether to things that clearly don't make sense.

"Getting rewarded with your own personal invisible super hero who will protect you through life and reward you after you die" is clearly fantasy. I think I detect a bit of sardonicism in your change from traditional church language to comic book language.

Thinking you're being protected through life is dangerous and conceited. How could you be protected when hundreds of people ended up floating face down in Louisiana last year, and young men are dying in our supposedly holy war?

I won't let one of my daughters leave the house with somebody who believes he has a guardian angel. He has to know he's 100 percent responsible for keeping her out of an accident, and police find St. Christopher medals on corpses all the time.

steamboat_willey said...

Dear Lobo:

Good answer, for a fundie. PA needs to give up his questions and let somebody like you do his thinking for him, then be responsible for the answer you give him. Don't forget to hand him the collection plate when he caves in due to fear of independence.

"Pennsylvanian agnostic" said...

Lobo, I don't limit "God". I said the universe is infinite, and I accept it has order. The Christian "God" can overlap with that definition, but I don't want him to be greedy and hog it all too himself.

Speaking of questions. I have more, and the answers I've heard before tend to be a little too convenient (it's as if the theory is self-justifying because it has something to hide):

Why doesn't "God" prove "His" existence? Because we must have faith. I guess this is meant to keep people ignorant and stop them from questioning much further.

Why doesn't "God" prove "His" existence right now with a miracle? Because no one must test "God". I guess this is also meant to keep people from questioning further.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Because "God" has a plan. This statement is meaningless because it's obvious. It's like saying "tomorrow is another day". Of course it is, but that doesn't explain anything about what happened today or why there's any reason to be good. (The real reason to be good is that in many situations it will cause you less suffering later on, but this makes "God" irrelevant so what's the purpose of "God" again?)

Why didn't "God" do what I prayed about all last week? Because "God" answers prayers the way "He" wants to. This statement basically means that prayer is a waste of time because the outcome is arbitrary. There's no cause and effect. Okay, maybe if it's used as a form a meditation, but then the Jesus version of "God" becomes irrelevant since you're really praying to the master "God" who cares no more about humans than about hurricanes.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Lobo: why are you attacking this person's character, and not addressing the actual issues? Since you opened the door, I get to point out that you are the "gloater" and the arrogant one. Oh thou more evolved than the rest of us.

"Pennsylvanian agnostic" said...

I'm not done. Here's another question that never gave me a satisfied answer.

I'm not a vegetarian, but why is it okay to kill animals for food but not okay to kill people? Because "God" said it's okay for people to eat animals (somewhere in the Old Testament) and because animals don't have souls. Again, the first part of the answer is too convenient and basically meaningless, and the second part can't be proven (from what I can see, animals are just people with smaller brains). I think we eat animals because they're a good source of protein and because we can kill them with certainty that the animals' families won't try to take revenge.

If Christians would only be more honest then I might take the rest of what they say more seriously. The way they purposely don't explain everything reminds me of the way parents don't explain things to young children for fear that the child won't understand or will then be better able to question the parent's authority. Keeping the child ignorant and confronting him/her with threats (of damnation) is more effective. Christians want to treat themselves and the rest of us like children.

steamboat_willey said...

Right on PA. Keep those questions coming. Lobo can't answer them, because you already have the answer. The propositons you are questioning don't make sense.

By the way, I always shared your idea of the universe being infinite in time and space. It's hard to picture it otherwise, but physicists have alternate models that can be used to make predictions. Scientists are now proposing that our universe is part of a "multiverse" that could include other universes not obeying the same laws as ours. They propose that black holes might connect our universe to others.

We don't kill other humans for food, sport, etc. because it is wrong and uncivilized. That is obvious to a reasonable person, and God didn't invent the rule not to murder. That rule and otherss resulted in the invention of God.

"Pennsylvanian agnostic" said...

It's a continual issue. From time to time these questions turn into arguments when I talk to my crazy Christian mom.

She's so into it that in the past when I've mentioned various uncertainties in life (unrelated to these issues with religion), she's on more than one occasion told me not to worry because she prays to "have the blood of Jesus washed over me". I always found that disturbing. It's like some sort of magic chant.

Sometimes I don't know who to blame. Jesus apparently didn't write anything down. One possible theory I have is all he did was say a few things that got misconstrued by a bunch of nuts. I'm thinking of the movie "Life of Brian".

A Kansas Citizen for Real Science said...

Well, Penn agy, its sounds like whats going on here is some issues with your parents, especially mama.

Probably some counseling would help there.

As to your conclusions that the universe is infinite and has always existed, this WAS at one time the consensus of mainstream science, but the majority view now seems to be that the universe has a beginning (they call it the big band) and is consequently limited.

Hell, the whole damn thing could even collapse back in on itself.

Or maybe not.

They don't know, and thats OK, just wait around and a scientific theory that fits your psychological hang ups will come along.

.:webmaster:. said...

That's the strength of science, it changes and grows with the accumulation of new information.

I mean, who would want a "science" that blindly ignores any findings about the vast age of the Earth, or the gradual appearance of increasingly complex forms of animals in the geological strata, or the fact that chimps and men have nearly identical DNA? Who would trust a "science book" that maintained the that the Earth is the center once rose magically from dirt, or that the Sun makes a daily revolution around the Earth, or that invisible demons are responsible for sickness, disease and mental aberrations?

.:webmaster:. said...

God of the Gaps

boomSLANG said...

".....just wait around and a scientific theory that fits your psychological hang ups will come along."

Creation Science 101:

"Good morning class....

God did it.

....Class dismissed!"



Lol!

"Pennsylvanian agnostic" said...

God of the gaps, huh. The idea of explaining all unknown physical laws through "God" is interesting. I was recently using "God" to explain all the known ones too. (now I'd rather refer to them generically as the rhythms of the universe in order to distance myself from all the other inaccurate/unproven superstitions)

I got the impression a while ago that there was some sort of a personification going on with this idea of an omnipresent, omniscient "God", this technique of taking the whole universe and calling it a single person. I don't have a problem with this meaning of the word "God" because I've recently become fuzzy on the definition of a "person". To me a person is just a set of physical processes, so if you take the set of all physical processes everywhere then I guess you could say that's a person too. (On a comedic note, isn't a corporation considered a person under the law?)

-- Strangely enough, I think I vaguely remember hearing this idea in Catholic school of all places. It was called "anthropomorphizing the transcendent" in a religion class in high school. It was part of a class that taught the origin of Judeo-Christianity, including the trend in history to move from multiple "gods" to a single "God". A trend? That seemed kind of arbitrary. I think this was when my faith first began to crack. --

Anyway, I think Christianity has ignored the observable facts and mislabeled the Person's personality based on an imaginary world they created around the Person. Christians are to "God" what a stalker is to a celebrity. They obsesses about and put "God" up on a pedestal and pretend he's perfect and meets all the expectations they've dreamed about while ignoring the reality of his shortcomings. "Yeah, yeah, God is good. Yeah, yeah, God is great. What if God was one of us?"

R. Shelby said...

Penn. Agnostic,

I enjoyed reading your post. You asked the question:

Why does an all-powerful and benevolent supernatural being require worship from lesser beings like us?

This is the same question I asked myself over and over again while attending college. I got the chance to ask this question to a bible thumper that was handing out Jesus books at a college I attended. He had offered me a bible so I popped the question to him. After a few moments of pondering he replied, "I believe god created us because he was lonely." My next question would have been why god created cancer but I knew that I would only be wasting my time. If the bible had the answer the man handing them out would certainly have the answer. I refused his holy book and walked confidently to class.

As you witnessed an occasional jesus-jerk will leave an inane post trying to defend his belief of a tome that should be filed in the horror section at the library. This forum was clearly created for ex-Christians yet these people feel the need to try and spread their nonsense here. I do enjoy sitting back and watching our fellow agnostics charge in for the kill and see the Christians turn their backs and run.

R. Shelby

SpaceMonk said...

"I believe god created us because he was lonely."
So he wasn't perfect, and by trying to improve that he had to go thorough change - so he isn't unchangeable.
So he's no better than us.

"Pennsylvanian agnostic" said...

Sometimes I wonder if "God" is like Superman. When I was young I saw the Superman movie and thought he was invincible and had infinite strength. In later cartoons I noticed his powers had limits. He's still a good guy, but he makes mistakes. Sometimes I wonder if the lies and exaggerations told by Christians are justifiable in order to keep society in control, but then I remember that I personally like as little control as possible, so screw that. That would just be some kind of psychological dictatorship. I hope it's possible for people to be motivated to do the right thing without being threatened with eternal damnation.

Christians would call all this talk about "God" being imperfect and no better than us blasphemy. They might say we're being like "Satan" who wanted to be like or greater than "God", but it's the reverse. I want "God" to be like us, an advisor rather than a dictator.

Here's another question. Why do bad people go to hell? Because they would cause problems in heaven? If "God" was all-powerful and all-loving, then couldn't he forgive them and use his powers to create a private heaven for each one of them where they could do whatever they want without hurting anyone else? Maybe they'd get lonely, but it would beat the burning forever.

"Pennsylvanian agnostic" said...

This is just a follow-up. I started questioning "the Church" around age 18, but I didn't really consider I'd left Christianity until a few weeks ago when I posted this article (I'm 28 right now). I now feel happier and more content. Sure, there are various philosophies I still appreciate from the gospels, but I don't consider them to be ultimate and infallible. They're general principles that can be found in other sources too. The Tao Te Ching is one I'm fond of.

My mind no longer struggles to solve the contradictions. I no longer have to argue with myself about how it's wrong to blame "God" when bad things happen, because the argument is no longer relevant. I no longer have to argue with myself about why I should do the right thing because that's what Jesus would want me to do. I choose what I think is right based on conclusions I draw, not on the emotional blackmail of some grand authority that doesn't make sense. The guilt is gone. It's freeing and peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Good questions, Pennsylvanian Agnostic. I asked alot of questions such as these myself, but I think with continual searching they show themselves to be related to the flickerings of shadows on a cave wall.

I don't know, all I consider God to be is a description of the whole of everything, everything that we could ever possibly conceive. Now this everything must necessarily be self-consistent as it contains all that exists. God is not a magic man in the sky or else he is not God. God must be everything, the all, the encompassing whole, just like alot of eastern philosophers hold to as well, when they picture God as the central flame of existence, and we as the tiny sparks that have momentarily escaped and flown out of the center.

Many people have made God into their own image as if they can find something mightier from within, but this is no better or worse than the people who say you should be your own god. Ironic that the christians who condemn the new agers are only seeing their own shadows projected on the wall as they are doing the same thing. It's called fashioning your own image, and as you can see in the "good book" it's idolatry, so really their points are moot and their religion meaningless.

I say we take a good look at what might have really been meant by some of the ancient Hebrews in their mystical interpretation of God. God was "Elohim" the transcendent deity, both masculine and feminine, depending on practical need and a plurality indicating celestial beings. Then we go to Moses in front of the burning bush who didn't know what to think and took off his sandals before this mysterious essence which called itself "I AM THAT I AM". There was really no traditional concept for God so people had to fill in the blanks. For the Egyptians, they were fine with making up their own gods as they pleased to keep the people under control (sound familiar?) so that they could keep the people under their oppressive regime. Apparently their leader was a god as well, or as close as you could come to it, with a nice big title and loads of gold and decorations along with a monumental tomb built in his honor for him to lie in and be adored forever.

So they had all kinds of gods, which spurred Moses to wonder, "Who am I going to say sent me?" And YHWH said, "I AM THAT I AM," indicating, "It doesn't matter what he thinks of me, he's got enough gods already to keep him occupied, and I simply don't care to give him something to embody my essence with. Just say I exist, and he'd better let my people go." Thus, God is the most vague and yet most specific god so far, because first of all he/she says, "I just exist," and second of all, identifies with a people. In other words, "If you want to know me, look at my people. They're what I'm like." So it looks like first of all, we can never know God. But on the other hand, it looks like we can, because God is seen through the physical things around us, because God is everything. We can never know infinite knowledge, but just the message which is being sent through everyday, definite realities.

Where am I going with this? Well, just this: that either God exists or He/She/It? doesn't. But we do know that there has to be an encompassing whole, or else nothing makes sense. If there's not a composite then there's nothing. Because for every something there's a whole. You may say we cannot conceive of this whole but that's just the point. We are parts, and as human beings we can imagine what it's like to be us but our kidney or left foot can't imagine what it's like to be us, because they're only parts of the whole.

So we know that there's an everything, but what is that everything? The best we can figure out is that it's some essence that is flowing through everything, because if we didn't have contact with it then it wouldn't exist to us. But the fact that we have contact with it, that we have a history that knew some things and a future that will know more, and an infinite space that we can live and move around in shows that we are connected. And this essence that flows through everything and we all is some invisible substance like blood or oxygen that flows through and gives life, which is what the pantheists and Buddhists seem to be alluding to, along with every other mystical tradition out there. This essence in itself is knowable through meditation and the like. But why aren't we in contact with it then? Because, the answer is, we aren't aware that it's there and that we need to re-gain contact.

And re-gaining contact with this immortal, living breathing whole, which has always existed and will always continue to exist, is what I believe to be the purpose of life, and our never-ending journey. It is the "YHWH," the breath of life, and some people may call it the Spirit of the Living God. You see? We're parts of the whole, and He's the living whole, and so we're a part of this divine noble essence that incorporates everything without enslaving any of its parts.

Thus, the uniting of all religions and the idea that somehow we all have a part of this great reality and truth but have not accomplished wrapping our minds around it. Read Ecclesiastes for more of this, it's a mind trip.

And it'll keep you going forever.

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