Monday, November 26, 2007

MIcrosqueeze and My Day as an Atheist

If you remember yesterday's post, well good. Here's the deal:

Microsquish is using Vista as a new OS to make all your old programs obsolete and not transferable--which means, if you buy a computer with Vista already loaded, that you will have to pay all over again for Word, Norton, whatever programs you have purchased in the past.

This is their dastardly approach.

Bill needs the money for his malaria vaccine, apparently.

Ka-Ching!

Do not buy a computer loaded with Vista unless you're wealthy and willing to fool around for a long time with your software.

I shall take my new computer back, for which, being out of the box, Circuit City will likely charge me close to $200. Yes, Matilda, I put it back in the box--but the box was unsealed! Woe is me.

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Yesterday I did a thought experiment and decided to spend the day as an atheist. Nothing really happened except that I didn't pray to give thanks; I just felt grateful for certain things.

The hope of heaven and fear of hell don't work on me in any case. As I say, I believe because I can't convince myself it's not true. The best result of the day was that I felt less guilty, not so quick to condemn myself as a one falling short of the spirituality I once hoped to achieve. Also, there's freedom: If there is no God, it's up to me to decide how I'm doing. And for a manic-depressive in chronic pain I think I'm doing pretty damn well. I have love and work that I love. I gather delicious wild mushrooms whether they evolved or some great hand was behind them. Who cares?

I should say that even as a Christian I believe in a type of evolution. One argument for that position is the poor design of the human spine, especially the lumbar spine. It didn't change enough when we went from four legs to upright, and I could design a better back very easily and reduce the chances of chronic pain and millions of work days lost to back problems. This fact argues that God just let the process go and learned from it, that perfection is a process of perfecting without achieving perfection.

If we imagine there could be no sin except among angels prior to our appearance on the globe, biological life reflects a trial and error approach. God is omniscient as to what is, but I doubt he is capable of predicting, prior to the union of sperm and egg, what kind of human being will result. And there are many more areas for his ignorance, which makes me believe in limited omniscience--why God had to become Christ in order to have an experiential knowledge of human nature.

If God exists, he spent 500 million years, minimum, trying to come up with consciousness from matter.

Recently the fossil of a sea scorpion over eight feet long was discovered; imagine, an insect bigger than man! Did God hope at one time that the insects would be the dominant species? Or fish? Or birds? No one can say. Going back in time I certainly wouldn't bet on wimpy primates without claws, physically weak, prey to leopards and snakes and man-eating birds.

Man's greatest achievement is agriculture. God's greatest achievement, according to dogma, is when a new heavens and earth will be created--made possible by Christ's incarnation, of course. Good thing earth is still included. I can't imagine a paradise without trees and trout.

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Historically, if Christ rose from the dead and performed the miracles, it behooves us to pay attention. I'm convinced the history is accurate for the most part. Many early Christians died rather than admit that Christ didn't rise from the dead.

As for my loved ones, like my recently deceased daughter, Rachel, it is enough to carry her memory in my head and think fondly of her. That she and I will only be dust for centuries to come makes no difference in my feelings toward her. I don't love her or any of my children or sibs or wife any less for not believing in God. So what is the advantage of faith beyond a comprehensive world view? "He makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust."

The one dividing line is when we are truly in need, what I call "fox hole faith." That is, it's said there are no atheists in a fox hole. Under severe stress we regress to infancy and want some Mommy figure to intervene, to make it all better, issuing in "prayer" while an atheist in a fox hole calculates his chances and uses his intelligence for survival. Perhaps his deliberations might actually be harmed by prayer; perhaps reliance on some supernatural being might also undermine self-reliance and consequent escape. The fear that the atheist would shoot his fellow for food in a pinch I find laughable. Friendship, a worldly thing, would prevent that, not to mention the army code and the human code which does not depend on the Bible for us to know, as Confucious and others have laid it out very well. And Kant says morality is in effect hard-wired; there's no way to avoid it.

Being an atheist doesn't turn one into a sociopath. But it may increase the appreciation one has for life and friends and love, knowing that they are evanescent, knowing that there is no future but now, a damn good reason to dandle your grandchild on your knee for an extra half hour.

So here is my challenge: Convince me how life would be worse, especially my life, in real time if I deconvert to atheism, because I'm stumped. I thought it would be horrible, that life would be bereft of meaning. It's not. In fact, atheism could help my career, as I would be more aggressive in promoting my writing in the hope of having a reputation that might outlast my life.

So, for you who have finished this first-draft ramble, I'm curious as to your opinions. I have met many agnostics more charitable than Christians. That doesn't make Christianity untrue; it only implies that becoming a Christian, in my experience, does not necessarily make you a better person. Often believers become more obsessed with salvation than good works. Christ's ultimate judgment between the sheep and goats depends on their works. "I was in prison and you visited me."

If an agnostic performs the above, according to Ct his works won't save him and being a better person is only relative. I tend to disagree. I prefer an unbeliever who acts in a Christian way to a Christian who doesn't any day of the week. "I was hungry and you fed me."

Not that agnostics and atheists are so great as a group: "I was in prison and you spent all your money on a new Volvo and a trip to Hawaii."

Enough. Or not enough.

Kiloneutral,

Craig Erick

5 comments:

  1. I think man created god for the same reason that god created man:

    So he wouldn't feel so lonely.

    The only time in my whole solitary life during which I have grown to genuinely love my solitude, my aloneness, I never felt lonely until that weekend in October while my father was dying.

    The waiting room windows faced a century old church with a circular blue stained glass window. I felt like the god I didn't believe in was watching me.

    I took my mother to that church for vespers because I knew she would find comfort there since she is a lifelong, unwavering, except for a few years when the parish we were attending was headed by the unkindest priest on the face of this earth, Catholic. It was a cavernous old church. I was hoping to walk in there and feel the way I had felt as a child. I wanted to feel god's presence. But I felt nothing.

    It's the only time since I lost my faith when I was nineteen that I felt, powerfully, the absence of god.

    I'm okay being a non-believer. I feel a spiritual connection with the natural world that is as powerful and moving for me as my literal belief in god was when I was a child.

    But I miss believing in god sometimes. And Santa Claus.

    The only reason you should become an atheist, CE, is if you really don't believe in god. Actually, you don't become an atheist; you just wake up one day, and you are.

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  2. Or Craig, you could become a Pagan, Wiccan like many northcoasters. I was raised high church Episcopalian but came to realize it was mostly the candles and music I loved...nature is what I believe in, keeps me going now.

    Pat

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  3. What an interesting experiment, CE.

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  4. Masale.Wallah3:42 PM PST

    A lot of computer manufacturers are giving buyers the option of either having Vista or Win XP (the older OS from Microsoft), in light of the terrible reviews that Vista has gotten. I know Dell is giving this option for all new purchases. You should check with Acer/Circuit City if they'll give you a similar laptop, only with Win XP.

    Also, there is an open-source (and free) alternative to Windows Word, and Microsoft Office in general, called Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/). It's very stable, widely used and compatible with Word. You should be able to open all your old Word documents and edit them without a hitch.

    Regards..

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  5. Thanks, Masale, I've boxed it up and am ready to return it. The penalty is 15%, the price of wisdom, apparently. Good to see you, Sam, sorry I've been avoiding blog cruising. Trying to write seriously.

    Laurel, I agree with you to an extent: "You just wake up and.."

    But what if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Are there any consequences but a last laugh?

    Pat, there's no shortage of spiritual alternatives up here. Today a friend told me that his teacher, in a previous life, had an opportunity to kill a bunch of Puritans but passed--and now she regrets it!

    I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh while explaining their faith, and my friend didn't laugh once today. But it wasn't faith so much as his personal myth.

    Reincarnation. Of all the silly slug-inhabiting philosophies I ever became a monkey over!

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