Category Archives: Religion

Back From the Future

I am going to put you in a science fiction story that has the potential to change your life. Ready?

I want you to imagine the next ten years.
– What is it you hope to accomplish?
– What career goals do you want to attain?
– What does your living situation look like?
– What kind of car do you have?
– What kind of friends do you have?
– What are your interests?
– How do you spend a Saturday night?
– Where have you traveled?
– How much money are you making?
– What are you doing for a living?
– What does your love life look like?
– What do you look like?
– What kind of foods do you eat?
– How much exercise do you do?

Answer these questions and any others you think of but do it in such a way that you ignore potential obstacles. Assume that everything goes your way. Assume it all works out. What does your ideal life in ten years look like? Write it all down.

Now go do that and come back for the science fiction paragraph. It’s right below this amusing photograph.

tea

 

Did you do it? Are you lying? I’m not going to know so you’re only lying to yourself which kind of defeats the purpose of self-actualization. Go on. I’ll still be here. Once you have, scroll past the photo below and learn the second part.

 

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Okay. Now I want you to pretend from now on that you were living this ideal life in the future. And then something happened, you don’t know what. But whatever happened destroyed your timeline. And now your consciousness has been plunged back to the present. You are Future-You. And due to the rigors of time travel you’ve forgotten most of how you got where you were in your ideal life. The only thing you have to go on is what you just wrote down. Tell yourself, “This is how my life is supposed to be.” Now all you have to do is figure out how to fix your timeline so that you can get back to your ideal life. Time travel is rough. It’s not likely that you’ll get everything perfect, but if you just get close, think of what an improvement that is over whatever your life might be now.

So get to it. Every second counts, traveler.

– Jack Cameron

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The Myth Of Fridays

friday-083Most people who know me know that I’m an atheist. I try to be the sort of atheist who does not believe God exists but does not really care too much what your religious beliefs are as long as you don’t force them on other people (especially me). My girlfriend is a practicing Pagan. In the past I have been a Christian and a Quaker. If prompted I will tell someone that I feel we are all on a path of discovery when it comes to religious beliefs and that those paths are all different. I will say how it makes little sense to me to argue that you are wrong simply because you are on a different part of the path than me.

That sure sounds nice. And it is something I try to keep in mind. But there is a nagging thought in my head. A variation of this though is in the head of every atheist I have ever talked to. It’s the thought that gives atheist a bit of an asshole reputation. That thought is, “How can otherwise intelligent human beings who demonstrate the ability to think rationally, apply evidence, and use logic believe that there’s an old man in the sky who created everything in the universe but only cares about us and did this all in six days as recently as six thousand years ago?”

I have never found a satisfying answer to this question and so I have employed mental tricks to avoid the thought. The typical mental trick I try is that I pretend religious friends and family are playing different Live Action Role Playing (LARP) games. Each religion is a game with a set of rules and it’s all centered around an imaginary afterlife that you get when you die depending on how well you play the game while you’re alive. From a believer’s perspective I can understand how condescending an insulting such a concept is, but understand the idea here was to keep that annoying question out of my head in an effort to be nicer to those who believe and not bug them with that question.

Of course this too has a problem. If I manage to convince myself that it’s all a bunch of LARPers, then the lie I’m telling myself is that every believer knows deep down that God is not real and their religious convictions are illusions. And if I’m not careful I end up saying things to let them know I’m in on the joke. A joke that they aren’t actually telling.

Then something happened. I read a book. The books was called Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari. There’s a lot in it but one of the more surprising things to come out of reading it was the concept of myth. Not just myths like Thor or Zeus but myths like nationality and money and days of the week. These are things that have no objective value but only exist because we decide that they do. Really there’s about as much evidence that today is Friday as there is that there is a God. Friday isn’t REAL. It’s an agreed upon myth. There is no scientific test that will prove it is Friday.

The problem for an atheist like myself then becomes what myths are acceptable and what myths aren’t? There’s no real way to live in society without accepting the myth that printed fabric paper has value as do digital numbers in a bank account. Not one strand of DNA in me can be definitively called ‘American’ because America is simply a place we’ve all agreed exists but is actually just a part of a land mass that we have all agreed to call North America. Why is it I would never have a problem with someone believing it’s Friday but I would have a problem with someone believing that a God created them? I wouldn’t think someone just isn’t very smart or at the very least they aren’t intellectual if they still believe in Friday.

I don’t have any answers here. This is just something I was thinking about and I figured I would share it.

– Jack

Big Questions

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Part 1 God

As a writer I tend to see most things as some form of narrative. There’s a story in almost everything. It all began somewhere and ends somewhere. No one is born a killer or a plumber or a Christian. They were born into social and genetic circumstances, had some experiences, and ended up being who they are now.

For me, my story of my personal beliefs began with my Dad. He went to Bethany Methodist Church in South Tacoma. The pastor there was a personal friend of his. One of my earliest memories was watching a congregation engage in a responsive reading where the pastor said something and the entire congregation said something back. I was too young to read or understand what reading was so I thought that God was telling the entire congregation what to say. I wondered how that worked and I wondered why God was talking to everyone in the church except for me.

Years later we stopped going to that church. I’m not sure why. Throughout my adolescence we’d occasionally go to other Methodist churches. We were at St. Paul’s for a while. I found many of the people friendly and the free food enjoyable but I didn’t really connect with anything there. I was aware of the various Bible stories. Many of them seemed unlikely or possibly just metaphorical. While I might have called myself a Christian at the time, I don’t think I was a Believer in any real sense.

All of that changed when I was sixteen. As teenage boys often do, I met a pretty girl. She invited me to her church. I agreed to go with her. She was a Quaker. At the time, I looked like this:

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I did not choose to dress up for the occasion. I pulled my 1983 Firebird into the gravel parking lot blasting Metallica with a ‘I dare you church people to attack me.’ attitude.

Instead of being greeted with scorn, derision, or even annoyance, I was met with friendly faces who were happy to engage me in conversation and that was even before they realized I had been invited by one of their members. The people at McKinley Hill Friends Church were living up to their ‘Friends’ title. This both surprised and intrigued me.

The pretty girl and I broke up after a couple of months, but I continued to go to the church. I was intrigued. Once I get interested in something, I tend get obsessive and being a Quaker was no different. I learned about their history, their pacifism, their lack of ceremony and proselytizing, and their talk of an ‘inner voice’.  All of these things were attractive to me. I liked the idea of pacifism. I liked the idea that things like ceremony and ground being sacred was a bunch of hooey. And the fact that we were told to simply behave as a Quaker and not go out trying to convert people made me very comfortable.  But the most attractive thing about being a Quaker was that we were told that we could hear the voice and will of God within ourselves. Our inner voice was the most important, most vital aspect of our religious belief. That voice was more important than anything the pastor might say. I liked that quite a bit.

Then one late evening in the early 1990s three of us from the Youth Group walked to a 7-11 late at night on the East Side while staying at our Joe’s house. Joe was our Youth Group Leader and one of the most laid back people I’ve ever met. We were attacked on our way home. One of us was knocked out. Another was hit with a bottle. I was unhurt thanks to the timely arrival of a police car. The four who attacked us ran off without getting much from us.

My two companions got checked out at the hospital and the rest of us met back at Joe’s. We prayed. Each of us said something about the incident and how we hoped our friends would be okay. And then the pretty girl who’d brought me to the Quaker Church in the first place prayed that the guys who attacked us would one day find Jesus. I didn’t say anything at the time, but it was then that I knew I had to leave the church.

From my point of view at the time the only way I wanted those four guys to ‘find Jesus’ was five seconds after someone killed them, preferably soon. At the same time I realized that from the point of view of being a Quaker, she was entirely correct and I was wrong.

Over the years I attended McKinley Hill Friends Church I had gone on a Mission Trip to Mexico, I’d gone to dozens of meetings and camps and Bible quiz competitions. I’d read my Bible and prayed. When I was in my first car accident, the first thing I did was get out and pray thanking God that no one was hurt. And yet, when someone was violent towards me and my friends, I could not possibly turn the other cheek. While Quaker beliefs are among the most flexible of all religions, not being a pacifist isn’t part of that flexibility.

I could have continued to go to hang out with my friends, but that wasn’t the purpose of going to church and I would feel like a fraud the whole time. So shortly after the attack, I left the church and only returned a few times after that to briefly say hello, but I wasn’t there to worship God. In fact, my inner voice had decided He was too much of a screw up to deserve to be worshiped.

Part 2 Faulty God

When I was a teenager I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I enjoyed arguing in favor of things I believed in and I’d heard that it paid well. During my time as a Quaker, I had thought of being a pastor because talking about whatever I want every Sunday as long as I related it to God sounded like a great job. So I suppose it wasn’t a surprise when that part of my theological studying on my own was finding unconventional ways of using belief systems.

For example, Quakers believe all ground is equally holy. This means that your local Starbucks is just as holy as your local church. However, my interpretation was that if I can make out with my girlfriend at Starbucks, I can make out with my girlfriend in church. This habit of turning things on their head resulted in my Faulty God Theory.

If God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, why do bad things happen to good people? Entire libraries of books have been written on this topic. And the answers are as various as the books. One of the more popular responses among believers is the great C.S. Lewis who famously said, ““Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Others said it was as simple as there not being any God at all. But as I entered my twenties I had another idea.

According to one of the earliest verses in the Bible, man was created in God’s image. This verse has often led to people depicting God as an old white guy. It’s also led to various faiths talking about us trying to be more God-like, treating the body as a temple and all of that. But to my mind at the time, it meant something else.

If we were created in God’s image and we screw things up all the time, then it makes sense that God screws up just as much as we do. What would happen if I was God? I may very well forget to pay attention to something like what the hell is going on in Madagascar. I might just be busy with other things. I might overlook that boat in a storm.  I might assume that you’re not going to slip on the ice on those stairs you’ve gone down a thousand times. Why do bad things happen to good people? God fucks up.

As far as I can tell, no one else had come up with this idea. Maybe because it’s a terrifying thought. Maybe because none of us could likely create anything as complex as the entire universe even if we had the power to do so. Whatever the case, my one-person Church of the Flawed God worked well for me for a number of years.

A flawed God allows for every bit of turmoil we encounter in our daily lives. It even accounts for why he failed to make us immortal here on Earth. It was an all-purpose excuse for why the concept of an all-knowing, all-powerful God fails to deliver so often even for his most devoted followers. This allowed for my living in a universe where God existed and I still had a chance in Hell of getting to Heaven.

Years passed. I didn’t attend church. I didn’t often talk to people about my personal beliefs because most of the time, I feel like personal beliefs are just that and there’s no reason to share them. And like many people, I let my life continue on and really tried to ignore asking myself any of the big questions. Big questions are scary, especially if the absolute best answer you have is that the Almighty God is a buffoon like me.

 

Part 3 No God

hubble-extreme-deep-field

The universe is big. See that image? That’s from ten years of data from the Hubble Space telescope. It’s from a tiny section of space that is essentially empty to the naked eye. Each of those lights in the image isn’t a star. It’s a galaxy. Each of those galaxies has billions of stars. Some of those stars have planets. And that’s just a tiny part of the sky.

Scientists estimate that the diameter of the universe is approximately 92 billion light years. This means that if you were going the speed of light, it would take 92 billion years to get from one end to the other. And even then you wouldn’t get there because the universe is expanding. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. So it we’re talking about traveling at the speed of light for twenty times as long as the Earth has existed.

As a guy who has always liked astronomy, when I’m asking the Big Questions, it’s important to remember the size the universe. Especially when all major religions seem to think that the Almighty God pay a LOT of attention on one tiny planet orbiting an average sized star in an average sized galaxy in an entirely unremarkable part of the universe.

Given the numbers involved there is undoubtedly intelligent life in the universe. Did God also send His Son there? If not, why not? And why, if the Greeks and the Romans and the Egyptians were so smart, how is it that they didn’t figure out who the One True God was? I mean if it’s so obvious, how did they fail so spectacularly and come up with all these other silly Gods? Come to think of it, why do otherwise intelligent people right in the here and now not clearly understand the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for all of our sins? Why isn’t everyone who has heard of this become Christian? Hell, with my Flawed God thing, was I even really a Christian anymore?

The Big Questions plagued me. My Flawed God Theory was itself flawed. If God’s just like us, He wouldn’t have made the universe so big. He wouldn’t have gone to all the trouble of creating life just to put it in a tiny, tiny part of the universe. If Heaven or Hell are real places where real souls go, then given enough time, we should be able to go there using technology. We can go every other place in the Universe with the right equipment. We’ve even come up with theories about parallel universes to which we could theoretically travel or view given the proper technology. And yet, such a concept is absurd to both scientists and Believers.

Any method I could think of to verify the existence of God (flawed or otherwise) failed because it was not objective or repeatable. Using a telescope, I can show someone the rings of Saturn on a clear night. Regardless of the equipment I might have, I can’t show someone God.

I resisted. I didn’t want there to be no God. I’d rather have a screwed up God than no God at all. I started to notice that many of the people I enjoyed reading or watching happened to be atheists. I’m not talking about people like Richard Dawkins. I’m talking about people like Warren Ellis, Eddie Izzard, Patton Oswalt, and Penn Jillette.

I slowly began to accept that I didn’t really believe in God. My Flawed God Theory was really just a way of letting me continue to believe something because it made me feel better. While there had been times in my life where I genuinely felt as though God was calling upon me to do things and other times when good things happened that I attributed to God’s divine intervention, I had never experienced anything I felt couldn’t have just as easily been a combination of circumstances and luck.

Accepting that I was an atheist wasn’t easy. My Dad is still a Christian. (Lutheran now, last I checked.) Many friends are Christian. That pretty girl from all those years ago, I’m still friends with her and she’s still a Quaker. Many people I know, love, and respect are devout Christians. I have friends of other faiths as well. While I also have atheist friends, we are most definitely in the minority.

On a much more personal level though, being an atheist presents a much bigger problem: I’m not going to get to exist forever. As a Christian, even if I’m the worst guy in the world, I get to exist forever in Hell. But as an atheist when I die, that’s it. I stop existing just like every day before that day in December back in 1974. As a big fan of existing, this was a big damn deal.

Unfortunately as uncomfortable as being an atheist is, being uncomfortable isn’t a viable excuse to suddenly change my beliefs without compelling evidence.

Part 4 Christ-like Atheism

I’m not done. The search for good answers to Big Questions isn’t something I’ve completed. I don’t know that it’s something you complete.

Since accepting that I’m an atheist I’ve read dozens of atheist websites, articles, and books on the topic. Some very vocal, very famous atheists I barely agree with at all. Others seem to be on the same path as me and help in my search for answers. I find that my path aligns quite closely with Sam Harris though he and I don’t agree on everything. (His opinion on guns doesn’t really work for me for example.)

I’ve also managed to maintain friendships with those with different belief systems. This is something I’ve found many atheists have difficulty doing.

One of the reasons for this is that I’m not out to convert anyone. I’ve never been out to convert anyone. I’m happy to tell you what I believe and why I believe it, but I agree with Sting’s song, All This Time, “They go crazy in congregations. They only get better one by one.” My path is my path. It’s not yours and I’m not upset with you for not being on it. I’m not going to tell you that you’re on the wrong path any more than I’ll accept you telling me that I am.

I try to look at those with religious beliefs like live-action role players. My Dad is currently playing a game called Lutheranism. It has a rule book and ceremonies and gatherings and all sorts of things. Some other friends are Methodists or Jews or Mormons. Each has different rules and plays a different game. I used to play Quakerism. Eventually, much like actual role-playing games, I outgrew it and moved on and now I don’t play at all, but harbor no ill will towards those who do.

I’ve heard some people say that this is a condescending way to look at religion, but I contend that it’s no more condescending than proclaiming yours as the one true faith.

A while back I was talking with a Christian friend of mine. He’s very active in his church. His faith is part of who he is. He also owns guns, is pro-death penalty, is anti-abortion, and thinks homosexuals are an abomination. All of these things were true about me at one point or another in my life. Now none of them are. During one of our debates I mentioned to him that if someone were to ignore that he calls himself a Christian and I call myself an atheist and simply look at our opinion on these topics, one would be forced to admit that I am more Christ-like than he is. He agreed, but also acknowledged that neither of us is done answering those Big Questions.

–  Jack Cameron

The Time To Accept Gay Marriage Is Now

For those of you who haven’t yet, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to accept the gay community. It’s time to accept that their relationships are every bit as valid as any heterosexual relationship. It’s time to accept that ‘marriage’ means whatever consenting adults decide it means. I know this might be difficult. There are a fair amount of you who really want things to be how they were in the 1950s. That’s why I’m here to help you see that all of your arguments against the gay community no longer apply.

It Was Never the 1950s

First off, the 1950s archetype that so many ultra-conservatives cling to never actually existed. Well it did, but only for certain people. Things were not so good if you were black. Things were also not so good if you were a woman. And things were definitely not so good if you were gay. In fact, things were only ‘good’ for white heterosexual men. And maybe you’re a white, heterosexual man and you’re thinking, “Well, good for me then! That’s what I want.” Okay, fine, but you have to ask yourself if your ideal world is one where everyone who isn’t the same gender, the same race, and the same sexual orientation as you is oppressed and denied rights so that you can have a better life. If that’s really the sort of person you are, there’s a word for that. And it’s not a nice one.

Religion Is Not An Excuse For Bigotry

Many religions encourage men and women to get together and have lots and lots of babies (through their insistence on not using birth control and opposing abortion under all circumstances.)There’s a reason for that. More babies means more children in the church which eventually means more adults in the church with means more money coming in on Sunday. You can argue that this is not the motive of the church but you can’t argue that it hasn’t been the result. Catholicism didn’t become big because they were right. They became big because they said having many children was your duty. So from that perspective the problem with gay couples isn’t so much the gayness, it’s the lack of making babies.

As America is supposedly a Christian nation, I’ll point out a couple of things. One is that Jesus never said one word about gay people. Not one. If gay people and gay marriages are such an abomination to God, why is it that when His Son shows up, he doesn’t mention it once during his 32 years of life? The other is that I’m not the first to notice that Christianity actually has no real reason to be against the gay community. It turns out Prof. John Boswell of Yale’s History Department found extensive evidence of gay marriages accepted by the Christian Church as far back as the 10th and 11th centuries. The bigotry against gay couples is not a founding principle of the Christian Church. If you are a Christian against gay marriage your religion does not protect your bigotry. It also proves that there’s no traditions being broken by accepting gay marriage as just ‘marriage’. It’s time to get with the times. Even if those times are from a thousand years ago.

Gay Marriage Is Not An Attack On Heterosexual Marriage Unless Someone In A Heterosexual Marriage Is Gay

Conservative groups have called Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage a ‘War On Marriage’. This makes no sense as letting other people get married does nothing to people who are already married. I’ve been married for over five years. The marital status of anyone besides my wife and I has never been a threat to my marriage and I don’t think I’m alone in that. There are people who are married and have sex with other people. There are people who get married to multiple wives or husbands at the same time. There are people of the same sex who get married. None of these things diminishes (or increases for that matter) the bond I have with my wife because they aren’t part of my marriage. The only conceivable way I can see the legalization of gay marriage impacting a heterosexual marriage is if there is a homosexual who wants out of his or her straight marriage and if that’s the case, more power to him or her.

Being Gay Is As Much A Choice As Liking Scotch Is A Choice

I love Scotch. Give me a good single malt at least twelve years old with a tiny ice cube or two in it and I’m happy. One could argue that this is due to my being Scottish. One could say it’s just my personal taste. Truthfully, I don’t know what it is and I’m me so if anyone should know, I should, right? What I’m getting at here is I can tell you dozens of reasons why I like something. But what I’m really doing is just telling you different aspects that are attractive to me. Why are they attractive? I don’t know. What I do know is that if you told me I couldn’t like Scotch or that it was my choice to like Scotch, I would tell you that you’re crazy. People who are attracted to the same sex are the same way. It’s not a choice. We like what we like and that’s what makes us us. If you don’t like that, well that’s what makes you you.

Just Because You Don’t Like Something Doesn’t Make It Unnatural

There are those who say that homosexuality is unnatural. These are the same people who would have told you 40 years ago that interracial couples are unnatural. The truth is that homosexual mating happens in hundreds of other species besides humans. There’s nothing unnatural about it. It may not be something you are into. It may not be something you want to see. I’m not a fan of large people in spandex but I don’t feel the need to act as though they’ve committed a crime against nature.

The Time Has Come

I am not old enough to remember the women’s movement or the Civil Rights movement. But I do remember when being openly gay was not considered an option. I remember when being openly gay was spoken of in the same way people speak of drug addicts and child molesters. I remember meeting openly gay couples for the first time and finding that there really wasn’t anything wrong with them at all. I remember losing my bigotry that I had developed simply because that was the culture. The culture has changed. I’m proud of this fact. I’m proud of our President for endorsing gay marriage. Just as I’m disgusted (but sadly not shocked) at statements like Rand Paul saying he didn’t think Obama “couldn’t get any gayer.”  Because apparently in Paul’s mind being gay is still an insult. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have been clear about their opposition to gay marriage. They’ve stood up for bigots in the same way Obama has stood up for gay marriage.  The Presidential election is about a lot more than gay marriage, but when faced with the selection of a President who endorses equality or a candidate who, if not a bigot is at least courting bigoted voters, it seems like a simple answer to me. I hope it does for you too.

It’s time to grow up and get over your prejudices. Gay couples aren’t going to destroy the fabric of our society. It’s not going to lead to people marrying animals. It’s going to lead to people marrying people. Saying that accepting gay marriage is some sort of slippery slope is like saying drinking alcohol is a gateway to drinking gasoline. No one is going to think less of you if you accept the gay community. Nothing bad will happen to you. It will not suddenly make you gay. It will mean you’ve grown and changed. And change is the mark of a mature human being.

–          Jack Cameron

I Want To Believe…But I Don’t

I’ve got a pretty good immune system, but a few weeks ago I was very sick. I had this bad cough that simply wouldn’t go away and wouldn’t let me sleep. After the third day of no sleep, I began to freak out a bit. And I realized that the last time I felt this terrible, I believed in God.

I knew I wasn’t dying, but I had the realization that being really sick when you don’t believe in God really sucks. There isn’t anyone to pray to. And there’s no hope that you’re going to live on in some afterlife. There is just the feeling that the machine containing who you are is not working properly and that if it stops working, that’s it for you. There is a comfort in religion that atheism simply does not have.

I came to atheism slowly. First I doubted God’s perfection. A common question among believers is why bad things happen to good people. The answer seemed fairly simple to me. We were made in God’s image. We are no perfect and screw things up all the time. Therefore God is not perfect. Why do bad things happen to good people? God screws up.

This worked for a while. God wasn’t letting terrible things like rape and murder happen. He just wasn’t paying enough attention to do anything about it. One can argue all they want that God gave us free will and that the choices man makes causes all of the ills of the world from a drunk driver hitting a child to global warming, but if God is all knowing and all powerful, then he’s letting that happen. So either he was letting these things happen or he just wasn’t perfect enough to catch all these things. I chose the second one until I realized that there was a third more obvious and more likely choice. Maybe God wasn’t there at all.

If God wasn’t there, then there was no mystery why bad things happened to good people. Bad things happened because bad things happened. It also solved one of the biggest problems I had with God. If God existed, why did he hide? Sure, there were people who could say they saw God in the bloom of every flower and the beauty of every sunset, but if there’s a God, why doesn’t He have a phone number? Why doesn’t he talk back out loud when you pray? Why doesn’t He definitively tell everyone what the ‘right’ religion is? Why the game of blind faith? Because that’s what happens when something doesn’t exist.

As this thought continued to echo throughout my life, certain things began to bother me. It bothered me that Presidential candidates were all but required to say how they believe in God and pray for guidance. Personally, I didn’t want a leader who, when the chips are down, is on his knees praying. I want him leading. It bothered me that intelligent people who I loved and respected spent a good amount of time talking to a big man in the sky who wasn’t really there. It bothered me that it had taken me so long to realize just how little real evidence there was that any God existed at all.

However, what bothered me more than any of this was the fact that if there was no God, my existence was going to be the next fifty to seventy years at best. And then I would never exist again in any form that could really be called me. I am here for a while and then I will be GONE. Not only that, but the same is true for everyone I’ve ever known. We are all here to go. And even the greatest among us will likely be forgotten in the next few hundred years.

To me, such a colossal waste of humanity was the greatest tragedy possible. I think and feel and remember. I may not believe in a soul but I believe in who I am and I think it’s worth saving. I tried thinking back to my earliest memories. I tried thinking to before that. I wanted to try to remember what it was like before I was. And in that infinite nothing, I realized, that was all that was waiting for me when I die. I would just not be. I don’t think there’s any way to explain what a crime I feel this is.

I am jealous of believers and I hope they’re right. I really do. I’d prefer Hell to not existing. I want to be me and I want to be me as long as possible regardless of where that happens to be. There are those who I suppose would call me agnostic, but I’m not. I don’t wonder if there’s a God. I just hope that there is.

I’ve researched life extension possibilities. Cryonics, cybernetics, and other solutions aren’t at the point where they can do me any good. Maybe in a decade or two. And then such technology is probably reserved for the very rich. The odds aren’t good when it comes to living forever if you’re an atheist. And when I was on the floor of my house coughing like crazy, I couldn’t help but say, “God, this hurts.” But I wasn’t surprised when there was no response from the heavens.

Holy Shit (Okay, Actually Religious Shit)

As you may notice, you can leave comments on any of these posts. Last night, someone did just that. You don’t see it because I didn’t approve it. Every time I think of taking comment approval off, someone like the guy last night writes in.  

It’s said that if you want to start controversy, all you have to do is talk about religion or politics. The reason people say this is because if you want to find the outright whack jobs in this world, you’ll find them heavily involved in one or both of these things.

So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that someone wrote in to tell me I was wrong, but I was surprised. I guess I just assumed that insinuating that people who bomb abortion clinics are bad was a safe enough thing to say. I was wrong. Someone left a comment that went on at length about how I’m a horrible baby killer and that people who bomb abortion clinics are heroes. This guy was about as Christian as Osama is Muslim. They both claim to be that, but really aren’t at all. And everyone with a brain knows it. 

I can understand the anti-abortion crowd. I get that. What I don’t get is where they say killing doctors who perform abortions is okay in one breath and say all life is precious in the next. That’s hypocritical psychotic thinking and it’s not the sort of thing I want to encourage and that’s why you won’t see his comment here or have me mention his website.  

Hate isn’t a value. It’s just hate. And using your faith to shield your hate is about the worst kind of cowardice I can think of. 

Assuming standard Christian doctrine is right, you simply can’t call yourself a Christian and advocate blowing up buildings without really pissing off the guy upstairs.

Feel free to leave a comment or if you prefer write me at jack@jackcameron.com

-Jack

Faith

A couple days later and I’m still thinking about that faith statement my dad’s wife made. I spoke with a friend of mine about it today and mentioned much of what I wrote previously. She didn’t like the idea that I though faith was a potentially bad thing. Part of this has to do with the fact that she’s Christian, I’m sure. Another part of it is that faith is rarely seen as a ‘bad’ thing. I see faith like any other powerful thing; it can be used for good or bad. 

Faith can be an inspiring and admirable trait. I tend to have faith that everything will work out in any given situation I might be in. It drives people nuts, but it also keeps me sane. I’m happy to have that sort of faith. At times, it’s the only thing keeping me happy. I admire the faith of certain friends of mine who despite whatever happens to them, still believe it’s all part of God’s Plan. I know a couple of people who will literally tell you that faith saved their lives. 

But then there’s the flip side. Faith is what made things like 9/11 possible. Faith is what helps people who bomb abortion clinics sleep at night. Faith is what covered up the history of molestation in the Catholic Church. Sure you can say that these are examples of people being crazy, but that’s exactly what faith looks like to the non-faithful.  

My favorite quote about religion is from Sting’s ‘All This Time’: “They go crazy in congregations. They only get better one by one.” It’s true. In the history of organized religion, no group has ever all of a sudden attained enlightenment. It’s always an individual. Faith can be a wonderful thing, but blind faith is dangerous.  This is why what my dad’s wife said bothered me so much. If you don’t at least occasionally question your faith, then I’m not sure that’s faith. That sounds a lot more like fanaticism.  

I’m not against organized religion or Christians or any other given group. It’s just that I have a serious problem with those who refuse to even entertain the concept that there might be another option. People seem to forget that the Greeks and the Romans had Gods that they believed in every bit as devoutly as the purest Christian. These were not stupid people. And as anyone who has ever been at sea during a storm can tell you, it’s easy to believe in a God of the Sea out there.  

Faith can be a great thing, but it needs to be tempered by reality.