Monday, January 28, 2008

On Faith's true definition

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Notice a few things about this verse (Hebrews 11:1)

1. It is being sure. (of what we hope for). From where does this surity come? The verse says what faith is (being sure) but not where faith or the surity comes from. As I see it, the surity can come from two possible sources, namely god, or our own mind.
If surity comes from god, why does he constantly encourage us to "have faith"? We shouldn't need to strive to have faith if it is truly a gift from him, installed in each of us at the factory so to speak. An apologetic would at this point say something like, the fall of man in the garden of eden took away our ability to have faith. This is not what the bible says. The bible says we ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and thus attained the knowledge of good and evil and became as god themselves (no that's not a misprint, the bible says, man has become as US, this is god speaking). It says nothing of the ability to have faith, unless you interpret faith to be ignorance of the world around us. If that's the case then, as ignorance equals faith, then we did lose our ability to have faith in the garden. However, faith is not defined by the bible as ignorance, it is defined as being convinced of something.
If the surity does not however come from god, then it must come from ourselves, which is of course where it does come from. We can certainly have faith in something. The idea of faith is a very noble one. For instance, I can have faith that my wife will not cheat on me. This is a certainty that has come most assuredly from myself. I chose to believe the promise she made to me when we got married. It most certainly did not come from god.

2. Notice something else about the next phrase of this verse, "of what we hope for". Now this is simply too easy. Wishful thinking! Just because we hope for something to be the case does not in any way make it actually be the case. I can be absolutely sure that I will win the lottery one day, but as we all know, the likelihood of my being able to retire on my winnings is, well......

3. The next phrase says " certain of what we do not see". This is an interestingly misunderstood phrase. If we do not see something but are yet certain of it's existence, then according tio this phrase, we have faith in it.
It in no way states that if we do infact see something and choose to disbelieve it, that we are exhibiting faith in anything.
Again, Faith is not the disbelief of the observed. In this way, I find the christian's argument against evolution on the grounds of their faith in creation to be inapplicable. Faith in the story of creation translates into being certain of the story of creation even though we don't see it. This is in complete contradiction to the observed phenomenon of evolution through natural selection.
The bible however, is conspicuously mute on the subject of when faith in the unseen and beliefin the observed butt heads. It seems to me that god, if he were truly all-knowing, would have seen this coming and given instructions as to how to get around this conundrum. Alas, no such luck. God most certainly is a figment of our deepest fear-driven imaginations and the feeble attempt by the organized christian church to perpetuate the stupidity of the bible hopefully will one day be eradicated by reasonable, rational minds.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Whence comes the soul?

It seems to me, a crucial point of dissention between atheists and religious folk is the existence or nonexistence of an immortal soul. Let's examine this for a moment.
If we have an immortal soul with the abilities to survive our own physical death living on into eternity in either perpetuated bliss or torture and to house our affects such as empathy, compassion, the sense of justice, etcc, then this very soul must have come from somewhere.
As I see it, there are only two possible sources for this mysterious component of us, inside of god, or outside.
If our souls came from inside, or the mind, of god, then he would certainly have known of us (meaning every single human that has lived or ever will live on thisearth) since his own beginning (of which there are many unsubstantiated claims by christians). If god indeed has known each of us, all along since his own inception or birth, then why would he need or even want to create a corporeal body to put us into? We were already with him in his mind, so why did he bother with creation at all? It couldn't be so he would have companionship. He already had it, albeit through multiple personality disorder :-)
If this is not the case and our immortal soul came from outside of god instead, then as I see it,our soul could only come from two possible places outside of god, namely heaven or earth (hell can't be included because, according to religious doctrine, it has not always existed, only coming into it's existence after satan's fall from grace)
If our soul comes from heaven, which is where god himself lives, then as stated before, we have been with god (in his mind) since time immemmorial, leaving no need for him to create an elaborate universe, complete with galaxies, black holes, planets (such as our home), an ordered periodic table of elements identifying the very elements which we, his mind's picture are made of, or all varieties of animals with whom he apparently has no other use for except their ritual death. I again ask why god continually feels the need to create for us, physical bodies that house the soul that, if left alone, would still be living side-by-side with god in heaven. It seems pointless.
If however, our soul did not come from heaven, then it must have come from earth. This of course leads to the conclusion that our soul is actually our concious mind, as it has evolved, along with every other part of our physical makeup, through the eons of the age of the earth. There was never any need for god to create a body to house our immortal soul, because

1. Our "immortal soul" is most assuredly not immortal. It is a function of our biologically organic brain; located in the left pre-frontal cortex, susceptible to illness, disorder and death just like every other part of our organic bodies. When we die, our brains will die and along with them, our "souls". Any belief to the contrary is simply blinded wishful thinking.
2. God doesn't exist except in the neurological pathways of our imagination. He is imaginary and unnecessary. He didn't create anything, especially not the complexity and wonderfulness of life and humanity. You can't create something if you don't exist.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Jesus is Superman

Let's consider, a man not from earth comes to earth as a human baby and represents the salvation of all mankind. He has amazing powers that effect the physical world and can change it in ways that are anti-natural. He is meek around his fellow humans but unshakeable in his attitude towards evil. He is impervious to all forms of danger except one, which if confronted with could kill him. His power is attributed to a heavenly source. He grows up as a human child in a small town and is unknown to the world at large throughout his childhood, but as an adult he has an enormous effect on the entire world. His job is a menial one, but he does his greatest work pro-bono. During a highly troubling time in his adult life, he goes to a secluded, solitary place where he communes with his heavenly father for help and advice. He is murdered, but later he is resurrected.
Now am I recounting the story of Jesus?

No, I was talking about Superman.

Jesus obviously came before Superman, and Batman, and the Green Hornet, etc....
He also was a real person (probably) whereas the superheroes are all fictional characters.
If we examine a bit closer the link between these people we see not just superficial similarities, but also more importantly, the archetypical structure of the solution to mankind's fears and aspirations.
The pyschology of the superhero involves appeals to the "goodness", "morality", "humanity" whatever you'd call it, which is a part of us all. The comic book hero is geared to those humans for whom justice, fair play, and simply doing the right thing is the most natural, namely kids.
We all, however, can see the values that are illustrated and reenforced by these characters. Even such superheroes as Batman and The Incredible Hulk, complete with their darkside are always battling the "forces of evil". Rare is there a superhero who is not illustrative of the qualities we all seek to attain ourselves. They are what we aspire to be (especially when we are kids).

The exhibition of these qualities is what we as humans have been trying to attain throughout our existence, even 2,000 years ago.
In other words the fundamental psychology behind the creation of the superheroes of today, the reason for them if you will, is exactly the same now as it was when the story of jesus was construed. The authors of the gospels including jesus himself, sought to illustrate in a man, the morals they knew would be recognized by their audience at large. The man jesus simply capitalized on the fears he knew to be rampant in his native population. He may or may not have been as calculating as that, he might actually have been convinced he was the son of god, but it's also possible that he was a great con man. It matters not that the stories of his superiority over mankind were transmitted verbally or through writings. The chosen morals were conveyed no matter the medium.
It is superficially more obvious a parallel between characters such as superman or Neo(from the matrix trilogy) and jesus, but the underlying reason for the existence of all superheroes has been with us since our first foray out of the forest and into intelligence.