Monday, December 19, 2005

Being Santa

Well. Christmas is upon us. A festive time for all of us non-believers. As I have always celebrated christmas - first, as a child, then as an adult, husband and father. I am hardly offended by someone wishing me a merry christmas. How many jews have just had to smile and nod at this time of year when people wish them the same? It's of no consequence to me. I can't argue with a holiday that brings family together. A time - running from thanksgiving to after new years - which usually holds the promise of anywhere from 6 to 10 additional pounds.

But now. What happened to me yesterday at my wife's family christmas gathering? Guess who was santa? Yep. Yours truly. Supporting a myth? Yeah, I suppose. But santa clause is no sillier a myth than the virgin birth of the son of god, now is it?

I had a pretty good time. Only a few of the little ones looked upon me in horror. It did occur to me that my election to the job of family santa officially marks the moment when I have to realize that I am no longer in the game. Actually, I haven't been for several years; perhaps I never was. But when they ask you to be santa, well, that's pretty much it. I am now officially the old codger of the family. Can a walker and a bottle of oxygen be far behind?

But, seriously folks.

Winter grabbed hold of the mid-west about 3 weeks ago, and hasn't let go. That is rather unusual. Days which carry a normal high temperature of 40 degrees or better, haven't nudged much above freezing. Early this morning the mercury bottomed out around zero. We still have around 4 or 5 inches of snow left over from around 8 inches that fell around 10 days ago.

Now I know, any of you who live in the truly northern climates laugh at such concerns. (I spent most of a winter in northern Minnesota several years ago, and I agree. What we call winter here is often what you folks get in October or the nasty weather that lingers well into May up there.)But, hey, I've talked with people who had spent most of their lives in tropical climates who think what we get here in Indiana is the kind of weather that Nanook lived with. It just depends on what you're used to.

Woe is me, and all Hoosiers. The Colts lost. What ever shall we do? Relax for a couple of weeks, and then kick ass in the playoffs. On to Detroit!


jazzycat said...

If you are wrong and there is a creator of the universe and the Bible is right, what are the requirements for eternal life as taught by the Bible? Something must have the power of self-existence. Is it matter or an intelligent being? Certainly good questions to ponder. For answers checkout

Terry S said...

If believers are wrong, it won't matter. If non-believers are wrong, I guess there will be hell to pay.

"Something...hav[ing] the power of self existence" is an interesting concept. I like that. I don't believe that such a "something" is, in fact necessary. It conjures an image of one eternal candle from which all others are lit. An attractive image, perhaps, but not a necessarily logical one.

I put "faith" in man. In man's ability to think, reason, and, yes, make judgements, which we do all the time despite biblical directives not to.

Spiritualists of all brands turn away from reason and thought. They are told to listen only to their heart. That constitutes a denial of our singular essence. No other being (that we know of) can make value judgements beyond those involving basic survival. Rationality and reason are exclusive to humanity.

I am a "true believer" in Science. I don't contend that science has all the answers - yet. Nor do I predict that all questions will be answered. I do believe that we have the capacity to do so. Given enough time, access and desire, I believe that man is capable of finding and ultimately understanding the origins and meaning(s) (if any exist) of life.

Belief in god and the consequent development of religion are born out of ignorance - a total lack of understanding of ourselves and the universe around us. Look at how much has been learned in just a short time - little more than a hundred years. Where will we be in another hundred years? Want an intriguing read? Try Joel Garreau's RADICAL EVOLUTION. I'm not sure I buy into all of it, but it certainly is an eye opener.

How do I KNOW that there is no god, or eternal life beyond? Of course, I don't KNOW. It is very difficult to prove a negative. I don't BELIEVE it, however. Conversely, no one can KNOW that god and eternal life DO exist. True believers exclaim to KNOW of god's existence. To admit otherwise would be tantamount to heresy.

I could go on, but I'll stop here as I am reminded that I must tend to making a living.

I will check out your blog soon.
Thanks for the comment. It is the first one since I began this.


jazzycat said...

Your response has many debatable points and wrong idea’s on Christianity such as your stating the bible teaches not to make judgments. As for your belief in science, I would point out that Protestant Christianity was responsible for the founding of our earliest universities In America and many brilliant scientists such as Isaac Newton were and are Christians. I personally know engineers with PhD’s and medical doctors who are Christian; therefore, your statement, that belief in God and religion is born out of ignorance and a total lack of understanding of ourselves and the universe, needs a closer examination. You also wrote the following statements that simply aren’t true about Christianity: “Spiritualists of all brands turn away from reason and thought. They are told to listen only to their heart.” Biblical Christianity has a historical record and the Bible contains revelation from God about God. Part of this revelation is in the form of some rather remarkable prophecy about Jesus Christ written 700 years and more before the birth Christ (Isaiah 53 for example). Christianity very much uses thought and reason along with faith. There is even a prophecy about the great increase in knowledge that you mentioned in your response (Daniel 12:4). One thing we do know about the science of evolution through cause and effect is that matter nor energy came into existence without a cause. Something must have the power of being in an of itself to provide that cause. This something cannot ‘not be’. Where did the stuff of the big bang come from and what caused the big bang? Can mere matter have the power of self-existence and the power of being in an of itself? If matter can’t, then what does? I would certainly encourage you to explore these questions and also “” This blog contains photos, commentary on the culture, and some religious thought about once per week.

Terry S said...

I will give you one thing. Along with matter, there is energy. From whence did they come? I don't know. But, do I believe it emanates from some sentient, omnipotent, omniscient being or essence? No.

Certainly, many christians are doctors, scientists, etc. Many muslims, jews, hindus, buddhists, sikhs, etc. are as well. Many universities throughout the world were founded or are otherwise sponsored by religious organizations.


What was the essence of "original sin?" Seeking knowledge. That's how we got kicked out of the garden, if I'm not mistaken.

I cannot stay with you regarding bible quotes. I have only read snippets of it. Nor have I read the koran, the talmud, or the upanishads. (I have, however, read Lao Tsu's "the way of life." On the wholeit's not bad.) My issue is not with the bible, per se, but with religion and the concept of god.

You must realize the conundrum presented by the hundreds of millions of people who believe in the jewish god, the muslim god, the hindu gods, etc. just as ardently as you believe in the christian god. Regardless of how ecumenical many of the modern churches have become, at the end of the day, each believes that everyone else is on the wrong path, and, consequently, doomed to eternal damnation. I understand that there are different scenarios put forth by different traditions, but ultimately everyone must get with the program or they will be lost.

For thousands of years people had little or no understanding of anything beyond what it took to survive day to day. Why there was night and day, why the sun came up in the morning, what the sun was, how we grow, what the heck is lightning, etc., etc. was a complete mystery. Eventually, the notion of a "higher power," a god came along among various groups as a convenient, and at the time a seemingly logical answer.

Over the last couple of hundred years, we've figured out a lot of stuff. We understand how the planets revolve around the sun (despite the best efforts of the catholic church in maintaining the centrality of earth in the universe,) and why the sun rises and sets, why there are seasons, and yes,even the explanation for lightning. Most of the things that we attributed to some god or other; things that for millenia we believed were beyond our ken, now we do understand them. As I stated, we don't have answers for everything, but we haven't finished the course yet. You don't expect a student to pass the final only 3 weeks into the semester.

I ask you. Given your perspective, why do you believe that god is doing all this? What are his motives? What's in it for him? What could possibly interest him in a hoard of puny humans on this spec of a planet in this vast universe? Our notion of a god watching over us and providing us a means for eternal life is a human conceit. We think so highly of ourselves that we can't fathom that our existence is, as far as we can determine, totally random. That this life is all we get. When we die, we're dead.

It certainly is far more attractive to believe in an eternity in paradise, than to accept the more likely eventuality that this earthly existence is all there is for us.

It is in that mindset that I accept the life I have here and now on this planet, and hope to spend the time in the best way possible. I know that I've wasted a good deal of time and opportunity, but I've still got some years left (hopefully,) and I will spend them, in part at any rate, in pursuit of truth in so far as I can catch it. For me that "truth" does not include god. If something convinces me otherwise, then so be it. But that is far from likely.

I don't imagine for a moment that anything I have said, or will say, in this venue will change your view. If your belief makes you happy, or gives your life purpose, then great. But I think that few people of "faith" ever give a thought to the possiblity that they are wrong. There is ample evidence that they are.

jazzycat said...

I would like to answer the questions you asked in the following paragraph:

”I ask you. Given your perspective, why do you believe that god is doing all this? What are his motives? What's in it for him? What could possibly interest him in a hoard of puny humans on this spec of a planet in this vast universe? Our notion of a god watching over us and providing us a means for eternal life is a human conceit. We think so highly of ourselves that we can't fathom that our existence is, as far as we can determine, totally random. That this life is all we get. When we die, we're dead.”

First, I would like to redirect your focus from religion to theology. Theology is the study of God (The supreme being of the universe). Religion is man’s response to God whether false or true, real or imagined. I am defending the God that is revealed in the Holy Bible not false gods and false religions of which there are many. My answers are based on interpretation of the Bible and not my imagination. The Bible has some impressive reasons as to why it should be believed.

The reason we should believe the Bible among others is the record of accurate predictions many hundreds of years before they occurred. The Old Testament Book of Isaiah is full of accurate predictions about Jesus Christ 700 years before they occurred. This is certainly impressive and should be cause for more than a casual glance. Think about living in the year 1300 and predicting what would happen in 2000. The historical record of the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ certainly gives creditability to his claim of deity.
The prophecy about Jesus, the record of his life and miracles, the resurrection are not isolated events but form a rather complete record of God working out a plan on planet earth.

One of possibly many answers to all of the why and what questions you pose above is God’s love for his creation and mankind. Your statement on puny humans is theologically correct and makes God’s love for humans even more amazing. The rest of your theological understanding pretty much misses the mark such as you view of original sin. The sin was disobeying God not seeking knowledge and original sin refers to the change of man’s condition and relationship with God not the actual first sin.

Since your theological understanding of Biblical revelation is shaky at best, my question to you would be why would you reject Biblical theology before at least understanding more about it?