Buckminster Skeeter: Wanna buy a watch?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Religion's never good enough

Christianity is a complex web of symbolism, moral philosophy, and means to an eternal existence in the presence of an almighty being. It differs dramatically from the other great religions in many ways but it has a similar underlying notion of a single, unifying force of which all things are part. Christianitys fundamental goal is to get the member to believe that the one living God became flesh and sacrificed himself for the ungodliness of mankind, thus saving each believing member from an eternal punishment. Once they believe the doctrine they are instructed to follow a set of guidelines to live in a more godly state - in contradiction to the ungodly moral nature of humankind. Since it's inception there have been countless cults, sects, denominations, heresies, schisms, and fractions which were all derived from differing interpretations of the agreed upon holy doctrines. Apart from some forms of mystic Gnosticism they all believe that this world is real, God created it, we live in it, and we will leave it, spiritually, one day.

Now that I have summed up 2000 years of religious evolution.......

I ran across The Disappearance of the Universe while browsing books in a bookstore today. The author, whose name is not worth remembering, states that during the early '90's he was visited by 2 'ascended masters'. They instructed him on the Secrets of the Universe - mainly that everything he (thus everyone) thought existed did not actually exist. Heaven, God even, was an eternal state of spirituality in which all souls continuously exist only believing that the world we think we live in exists. They told him to write a book and help others come to God by learning to disregard our perceived reality - thus finding true 'love' and 'forgiveness'. In it, these entities instruct him to buy and subscribe to A Course in Miracles which is a pseudo metaphysical teaching written by a couple of psychologists in the 1970's. It's published, and owned, by the Foundation for Inner Peace.

Lesson one goes like this:

Nothing I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] means anything.
Now look slowly around you, and practice applying this idea very specifically to whatever you see:
This table does not mean anything.
This chair does not mean anything.
This hand does not mean anything.
This foot does not mean anything.
This foot does not mean anything.
This pen does not mean anything.

This seems like some mild form of brainwashing to me.

The authors go on to say that "means anything" translates to "does not exist".

Once you have accepted that there is no real earth, people, time, etc... You start learning lessons like:

The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death. And with the Father died the Son as well.

To deny the worldly embodiment and subsequent death of God completely contradicts standard Christian theology. So why would these so called Christians take up such a belief? You could argue, as I usually do, that the Bible does not have to be taken literally, in all aspects, but could be filled with analogy, parable, allegory, and metaphor - throw in a few other choice English 101 terms. Therefore you could make just about any claim if your argument was good enough. But why would Christians veer so far away from the standard? What is it about the traditional church that turns them so far away? I can understand how some people (like people I know) would discount religion all together based on a change of perception or logic. Why are we always looking deeper for answers? I lead off with a description of Christianity because often times the churches try to make everything so cut and dry. Concepts like heaven, god, spirit, eternity, and sin are so incredibly complex that simple parables and face value documents can't supply the answers. It leaves big gaping holes which , I believe, most Christians spend their whole life trying to fill with meaning. Of course if you asked the pastor at my Southern Baptist church about these things he'd say "The Bible tells it like it is, literally, it means what it means." Why aren't we satisfied with the traditional belief systems? Are they that unbelievable? Any more so than believing that 2 celestial beings plopped down on this guys sofa and relayed to him the secrets of life?

The mere fact that 2 'ghost' disciples of Christ would take bodily form to instruct someone to buy a product and join an earthly group seems so outrageously stupid to me that I was compelled to dwell on it further. I got back to the room and look it up on amazon.com and was surprised (or not, I haven't decided) to find 100's of positive reviews with people claiming that this book, and the Course in Miracles, gave them sort sort of otherwordly intelligence. They actually believe this stuff. Furthermore, it seems that over the years millions of copies of A Course in Miracles have been sold.

Of course it doesn't take a PhBS in Philosophy to point out that if nothing I perceive to exist actually exists (as the book claims) then much of the book is contradictory: The 2 saints could not have been biblical disciples of Christ since the bible would not exist; The authors reality, which doesn't exist, wouldn't produce a book in my reality, which doesn't exist either; Telling me to take a course which doesn't exist makes no sense; etc...

I'm not sure which I find more interesting - God/religion or our need for a concept of God/religion and the lengths we will go to to devise one.


Blogger mugwump said...

Our need for religion is very interesting to me. People are so desperate for an answer to why life, at times, seems so hopeless and ultimately unfullfilling. I believe it's pretty simple when you think about Jesus being described as the "way, the truth and the life". If you believe that, then the questions are answered. I believe that and still struggle on a daily basis with my human condition. I really want to be "good" sometimes, and sometimes I don't care. But if we were right and good all of the time we wouldn't need a savior.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Dr. Metal said...

I think the idea of God is around for good. And there's something to that, I think. Just as there is an evolutionary theory in the biological realm, I also think there is an evolution in the realm of ideas. Fads are like species that don't quite take. But ideas that are adaptive, resilient, useful, those stick around. The idea of God is a prime example. I think it's probably been around (in one form or another) since the dawn of reason; and I think that it'll be here at reason's dusk.

The question, though, is what that tells us about the idea itself. Does its "survival" provide evidence that it's *true*? Or just that it's somehow beneficial?

4:38 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

Hmmm.... so you are an unbeliever, interesting. And you also think natural selection is a "load of bunk"? If I didn't believe in God (let me check to see who's blog I am commenting on real quick) Okay, Bucky's - there's lots of things I would have wanted to do, or still would do. Star in an X-rated movie would be one (past) and watch X -rated movies at my leisure is another (present). I do try to respect "The Man".

I keep finding things out about you, Dr. Metal that intrigue me. The only things I know are what Donovan has told me in the past or a few months ago. It's like pulling friggin' teeth to get Bucky to talk about himself, much less anyone else. Like the joke about your brother on my blog - isn't he your twin? See, I wouldn't have known that was funny if Donny hadn't told me years ago that you had a twin and I actually remembered it. Yeah, I thought Donny was real cool until I found out who he was stealing his identity from. (Dr. Metal)

6:26 AM  
Blogger Buckminster Skeeter said...

I don't know if it's always "beneficial" -at least not the way some have practiced it over the years - but it certainly seems to be a neccessity.

"Does its "survival" provide evidence that it's *true*? "

Could maybe be rephrased as "Does its "survival" provide evidence that it's *neccessary*? "

7:18 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

I can't speak for others, but it's absolutely neccessary for my survival. No joke.

The thing I like about corresponding with you two smart fellows is that it brings up questions in my mind I'd never thought of. The downside is the insomnia, but at least my brain is functioning at some level again. 10 years of reading Dr. Suess will cause deterioration, I've found. So here's the thing that's baffling me now. Morality without God? How can that exist? If a person we know is an atheist, yet highly moral, frankly, I don't see the point in striving to be moral without a belief in God. Kind and caring to people and animals, sure. A law obeying citizen, sure. But *moral*? Why bother?

9:36 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

If anyone wants to expound on my last question, see my blog. And I'll delete the post after.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Dr. Metal said...

I went to see it, but there was nothing there. Did I miss something while I was gone?

4:38 AM  
Blogger Buckminster Skeeter said...

She posed a question then erasaed the post in less than a few hours - screwy shit. It gets very annoying for someone to treat these blogs with such paranoia. If she does that one more time I will block here eternally from my posts.

Her question was (and this is a Dr. Metal question through and through): Can you have 'morals'
without having religion. Does absence of religion make 'morals' pointless? What is the difference between morals and ethics?

I answered with a brilliant 1,500 word piece that was worthy of publication in any philosophical journal. Unfortunately she erased that too.

5:27 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

The only reason I've ever deleted comments is to annoy you, Mr. Skeeter. It's lost it's luster, now, however. I will do whatever I want on my own blog, mind you. You are just upset because I erased your eloquent "Dr. Metal could explain it better" comment.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Buckminster Skeeter said...

Do whatever you want on your own blog - yes. But don't use mine to direct people there if your going to do that.

You have annoyed me - darn you - Congratualations! But you haven't made me mad or upset, yet.

9:34 AM  
Blogger mugwump said...

Okay, fair enough. I was going to say earlier that we should stop all of that quarreling, anyway - someone might think we had been lovers.

12:47 PM  

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