June 24, 2008 - June 17, 2008
Funny Enough -- part II
Let's Talk About God.
Or, How do we teach people what life is all about fast enough for them to actually live one?
Thanks to Rachel Lucas's little fracas with her blog and InstaPunk's conviction that he can reason the atheists off of their atheism (Here and here.), I've been asked to say a few words on behalf of God.
As you may have noticed from my previous post, I'm Catholic. So, I must have something to say about God, His existence, and what that means for you.
InstaPunk's effort is laudable and noteworthy in that none of his critics address the three areas to which he confined his argument. Three areas that a rational, honest proponent of atheism would have already considered and should be able to articulate why they pose no difficulty.
I find the topic much less interesting so I'm much less apt to provide a comprehensive treatment of it. There are others who go after the whole thing with more energy and more enthusiasm. Allow me to contribute a thought that may cast a shadow of doubt over the rationalists' enterprise – both those with faith, and those without.
Lately, I've been thinking about a question. Perhaps it will shed some light here – “How do we teach people what life is all about fast enough for them to actually live one?”
Rick in the comment section gives us a chronology: 24 years of real belief in God; 11 years of searching; and seven years of contentment – as an atheist. Now he is 42.
I'm going to fictionalize him into Roger so he'll be less likely to take offense. Roger will also be given three kids and a wonderful, supportive wife. Let's take a look.
Roger got married as a real believer, began searching when the kids were born and laid the “There is no God” speech on the wife and kids just as they're getting ready for middle school.
What happens to them? Does the wife follow along? Maybe she made all the turns with the eleven year search and agreed with the shifting conclusions as they were determined. Maybe not. The kids have been watching TV and playing video games during the search so the entire enterprise was probably lost on them and the conclusion seemed really exciting or really boring to them depending upon the temperament of each.
Eleven years is really quite an insignificant time relative to geological time or even in the context of say, 6,000 years of recorded history. Hell, 6,000 years is insignificant in geological time.
Roger admits as much when he reports that his physics knowledge needs a tune-up after a 13-year hiatus. This will mean a few more years of running down the books on physics and evaluating the possibly conflicting interpretations of the theories and then incorporate the new found knowledge into his life. The result? Who the hell knows.
What about the kids? Well, now they're at the university where they are learning . . . and incorporating that into their life. They will understand – after tens of thousands of dollars – that there are no answers only questions. Questions that really shouldn't be asked if you want to make a lot of money.
The bad news of course is that Roger will be about 45 or so once the physics stuff is looked into and, let's face it, Roger's time is almost up. Maybe he can pass on his insight to the grand kids. Really, if he's honest, he'll have to tell them that he is still searching and still investigating and that there have been many new developments that must be incorporated into his views and what they need to do is to keep an open mind and keep learning and keep researching – unless they need to make a living, then they should get a job that pays really well for a minimal time commitment.
Looking at this fictional Roger let's us see what the scientific-objective-rational-figure-it-out-for-yourself crowd really has in store for everyone. A lifetime of confusion.
In this confusion, inter-generational transmission of value and direction is lost. It must begin again with the next generation because they have learned never to accept anything which they themselves have not verified and researched.
My point is that this project is extremely difficult to sustain across time. Consider passing the quest to your children. You may be a reader and a thinker and may also be willing to spend three to four hours a day reading books – eight to ten on weekends wrestling with the nature of truth and how to apply it to your life. But, most people are not. They won't read. They don't read.
For people that don't read, they get the idea that it is all bullshit anyway from the people that do.
My first thought of the juvenile nature of such a quest came to me while reading Freud. He was regaling himself over the purity of his quest and his disengagement from all that had come before him and how he set out without a single conclusion to observe the facts as he found them. It was too loud of a toot on the horn. I thought, “What utter bullshit.” What an impossible dream. Nothing? What about his language? Surely he'd take that along. And, for the readers out there, you know all the perils of value and direction found embedded in a single word let alone a sentence or a paragraph.
No. Freud wasn't going anywhere without all the conclusions already formed in his mind long before his investigation was even begun.
This hints at the nature of reality itself. The nature of truth.
Nietzsche asked, “What if Truth is a woman?”
We can wonder, “What if reality is actually created by belief and not the other way around?”
If this is the case, the Creator no doubt knows it. If the Creator is benevolent He most likely told us.
Yes, it's true. Here's the bitter bad news:
Woods said on his Web site that he will have surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. He also wrote that he needs time to rehabilitate a double stress fracture of his left tibia, which he said was discovered just before the Memorial Tournament in late May.
And he revealed that he originally ruptured the ACL in 2007 while running at his home in Orlando after the British Open. He said he decided not to have surgery at that point, and he went on to win five of the next six events he entered (through his Target World Challenge in December).
Woods said no date has been determined for the surgery, which will be the third in five years on Woods' left knee.
said doctors have assured him the outlook is positive. Doctors have
told him that the stress fractures will heal with time.
Of course, the PGA is gamely trying to cope. Regularly scheduled
tournaments will be played as exhibitions for the rest of the year
since the results obviously won't count. There's no guarantee, however,
that any of the events will be televised; the networks are businesses,
not charities for sports without viewers. Otherwise, we'd see a lot
more coverage of curling.
Sorry. Best wishes to Tiger.
Hope you get well soon.
When guns are outlawed, onlyoutlaws
will have gunsforgo
the hassle of finding illegal guns and just use
Too many stabbings. That's a drag. My heart would, er, bleed for them
if I didn't delight in the chance to see that famed Brit intellect go
to work solving this problem. "Can't stab if you've got no knife, can
you, bloke?" some Great Expectations-looking
twit thinks. "Get rid
of all them knives, then. Righto!"
Uh, shouldn't that be "the perils of not
carrying a knife"? It's not as
if each knife is some kind of unstoppable projectile, flying like Robin
Hood's arrow toward a young hooligan hundreds of yards away carrying
another knife. Unless they're referring to the risk of puncturing your
scrotum with a knife in your pocket, like Mr. Bean with a Sheffield
steel fountain pen.
Youth summit. They didn't make any actual young people attend, did they? Now I'm feeling pangs of sympathy.
The name sounds lofty, doesn't it? Summit. The handful of kids in the nation who don't carry knives are led to expect an event that's part think-tank, part Woodstock. What they get is closer to a goddamn DMV seminar, where the pressure on everyone to pretend they're having a good time and saving the world kills their youthful enthusiasm stone-dead. Like a load of buckshot to the face.
I'm irritated. Let's skip to the punchline:
That's some mighty big stupid, doctor. Leaving aside the idiocy
of "only the point can kill" for the moment...
...can you see the implications of this "logic"? If not, come with me
into the terrifying mind of Lord Bottingham, future Minister of Public
Safety. Watch how his deformed, anemic morality cuts the rights of
man to ribbons, like Helen Keller pushing a lawnmower through a
rose garden while wearing one of those electric dog-shocking collars.
"Murder is dreadful. Simply unspeakable. Guns are used to kill. Outlaw guns. Problem solved! No further thinking required! Time for a snort at Boodles!
"Wait. Now kids [the most prominent group of murderers, evidently] are using knives instead of guns. Outlaw knives-- at least the keen ones. They don't need to be quite so keen, after all. Set a legal cap on how sharp a knife may be. Require all knife sharpeners to be rigged so they hone a knife only to an edge that can slaughter butter...
"What's this? Kids are using rope to strangle each other now? Guess we have to get rid of rope, too. II know, I know. I don't like the idea either, but we have to protect the beastly little bastardskids, don't we? From the other ghastly, common larvaekids, all of whom want to kill each other so frantically that inventiveness in homicide is the only sort of creativity they express anymore. The only way to stop them is to inhibit them, to render them physically unable to enact their fervent bloodlust. So rope's right out of the picture. Bungie cords too. You'll have to use something else, mate. But nothing that can ever harm a human being in any way. That's why we replaced all the real motorcars with dodgy electrified golf carts a few years back. Getting out and walking across every road with a greater than one-degree incline is a small price to pay for keeping the repellent low-bred spawn of cockney verminkids safe. Isn't it? Brilliant.
"Bollocks! Now the monstrous
are using cricket bats,
paperweights, and grandmama's objets
d'art to bludgeon random
passers-by to death. We've got to ban EVERY OBJECT WEIGHING MORE THAN A
KILOGRAM! Excluding, of course, nature and whatnot. (After all, igneous
rocks have more right to this planet than
we do, being way more natural.
By far.) We'll have to put spool after spool of razor
wire around each
tree-- to protect them, as well as us. From their heavy limbs and pokey
branches. And it's
high time to finally take down all those public sculptures of the
"heroes"-- Ha!-- of Brit military imperialism...
"Bugger! Now every bloody bastardchild under 18, without exception, is pushing his closest relatives into the razor wire! Bugger our war-mongering, imperialist heritage! We've got to cork all the razor wire... except we can't make corks anymore, because most of the equipment is illegal and our cork colony is right down the drains. Bugger the universe's random, cruel wit! Bloody hell.
"But... WHAT WHAT! We can still make Nerf. The Nerf works converted to all-Nerf production some time ago.
"We could Nerf everything! Nerf police boxes, Nerf carriageways, Nerf pencils and office cubicles, even Nerf kitchen bits!
"And everything we can't make out of Nerf will have Nerf padding, applied with super glue, so it can never be removed, for any reason! Brilliant!
"Finally, a consequence-free Britain! Utopia! An orange-coloured paradise! Island Nerf!"
Bloody brilliant. Brits...
Of course, it can't happen here.
P.S. Hey, Mal: There's a sliver of hope. You know the great thing about people with no stomach whatsoever for a fight? They have no stomach whatsoever for a fight. Thank GodAllah.
Something important has gotten lost in the American experiment.
Something we used to know deep down but seem committed to forgetting.
What triggered my own memory was Mark Steyn's last post before he went
on hiatus to mount a new offensive against the forces which no longer
believe in freedom of speech. He wrote this about
Obama and McCain:
Uh, yeah. Obama's a great talker. McCain's a great self-promoter. But is
either of them great in the
sense of the word that we all know underlies its constant overuse? No.
They're not great. They're politicians. Both of them. Which is mutually
exclusive with the real meaning of the word 'great.'
That's what Steyn is reminding us about. He explains in a later paragraph:
What is American exceptionalism? The notion, the conviction, that we're different
from every other nation in history. On what was this conviction
founded? In terms of politics, it was founded on the brand new idea
that a nation's political leaders were not to be blindly followed but
continuously suspected. Indeed, our best presidents have been those
who were self-consciously plain, keenly aware that their power was
largely an accident of timing and circumstance, that they themselves
were merely reflections of a national mood that could have been
exemplified by many others. They did not see themselves as messiahs.
And if they suspected other people did, they worked to disabuse the
majority of that impression. Washington set the precedent of retiring
after two terms in office, after
having turned down a proffered crown. Jefferson was too shy to play a
charismatic executive. Jackson was too human, too flawed to play at
being a savior. Lincoln probably came the closest to being truly great,
but his press -- the world over -- was every bit as bad as Bush's, and
he never knew he was being groomed for sainthood. And the record of the
"phantom amendment" proves that the Great Emancipator was also a sly
and potentially unscrupulous politician.
It's only since the advent of mass media that we have begun to see presidents as mythological figures -- Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and now Obama -- as larger than life figures, larger even than ourselves. It's all hogwash. The partisan critics of these icons have all been right to some degree. TR was a cartoonish personality, a blustering braggart making up for a sickly youth with oceans of overbearing bravado. FDR was an arrogant, ignorant snob, dumb as a brick about economics and blind to the sedition and treason in his own inner circle. He never did directly what he could do by stealth and sneaky tactics. Truman was a lifetime politician who lucked into the biggest political deal ever. JFK was a sex- and drug-addicted Irish mobster, heir of a ruthless clan that accumulated power with no thought about the values of democracy. Reagan was an actor who found a different way to be the star his talent couldn't achieve in Hollywood.
I've been thinking about such not just because I'm concerned about the cult of Obama. I've been watching the new attacks on Winston Churchill by Pat Buchanan and others, for example, which was at first surprising because I grew up in the generation which deemed Churchill the "Man of the Century," and then not so surprising as I remembered that Churchill was a politician, meaning that at least part of him was low, mean, unscrupulous, and self-obsessed.
It is an American act to challenge the putative greatness of the so-called great, especially when they're politicians. That's how we've avoided monarchy and aristocracy for close to a quarter of a millennium. It got me thinking. About greatness. Nobody who aspires to so much power and control can ever be truly great as a person. How do I know that? Because I've had the privilege of knowing -- in my entire lifetime -- two truly great human beings. I've known many more good human beings, but greatness is its own category. It's the kind of human quality you find yourself measuring yourself against, even when it doesn't seem relevant, and the measurement always makes you feel inferior. You know what I'm talking about. None of the excuses work when you're talking about real greatness.
So I've known two. My paternal grandfather. And my wife. Which makes me blessed among men. I've had the honor of knowing two people who were always who they were, without doubt or apology, and whose singular goodness survived every temptation and became, instead, an example of how one should respond to life's trials. Interestingly, the quest for power and authority never figured into their life plans. Instead, they managed somehow to do things for others, serve as un-self-conscious examples of virtue in its purest form, and enjoy the simple pleasures of a life that could not be summarized in a bumper sticker. I've known good men who were good executives, but greatness is always an impossibility. They make choices the great ones would never make. Because when it comes down to it, the career matters more than, well, other things. I'm not accusing. I've been there. But I don't like to think I could go there again. When life gives you a second opportunity to learn, you're worse than a fool if you don't try to take in the lesson.
If you want Obama or McCain, cast your votes accordingly. But please do it the American Way. Knowing that they're both damned dirty politicians who can't be trusted any farther than we can throw them.
I'd say the same thing if Abraham Lincoln were running again. So help me.
She was the best. Ever. Now she's gone. But you can read
about her here.
But this is all you need. There was a time when young women were sexy.