It's time to grow up and start seeing the world the way it really is and not the way we want it to be.

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Elaboration On Truth and Fable

Adam and Eve were offered two choices:  Eat of the Tree of Life and live or of the Tree of Knowledge and die.  The Snake lied to them and told them they would not die.  They ate and this is why Daddy has to work hard in the fields and Mommy hurts so bad when she’s having a baby and Snakes crawl on their bellies.  This was the fable before Christianity weighed it down with all the baggage of Original Sin.

The first step in gaining knowledge is the admission of your own mortality. 

You have to shun the fruit of the Tree of Life in order to partake of the Tree of Knowledge.  

The Snake is the one who says they will not die.  And he's lying to you.  Anyone who tells you that you are immortal is lying to you.
Let me repeat that.

Anyone who tells you that you are immortal, that there is life after death, that you will resurrect from the dead in your own flesh and rule with Jesus in a Thousand Year Kingdom here on Earth is telling you a lie.

It doesn’t matter how old the lie is or how confusingly ornate and baroque the lie has become or how many people believe the lie.

It’s a lie.

When someone who knows no more than you do tells you what you want to hear and you believe it then he is a liar and you are a fool.

Am I claiming that I know more than you do?  No, I’m saying there are only two things we can say with certainty on the subject of death and the afterlife:

We all die.

Nobody comes back from death.

Anyone who claims knowledge beyond those two indisputable facts is lying to you.

Why do I keep hammering on the word ‘lie’?  Aren’t they just of a different opinion than me and shouldn’t I respect their right to believe and teach what they want to on the subject? 

You’re right; I can’t stop people from believing a lie.  But they can stop themselves.  They can begin to learn anew the terrors of freedom, of thinking rather than regurgitating.

When someone tells you wild tales about Death and Damnation, Heaven and Hell, God Versus Satan and that you are at the Epicenter of a Cosmic Battle for your Eternal Soul it’s all very thrilling and exciting, especially that part about you being immortal and that when you die you don’t cease to exist but live on in some ethereal sense to return to your bones at the End of Time and be judged for the Sins of your Life and sent to either Eternal Paradise or Eternal Punishment and that the only way you can avoid Burning In Hell Where The Fire Is Not Quenched And The Worm Dieth Not is to turn your life, money and mind over to him and he’ll see what he can do for you...

...I think I can safely say we’ve left a simple lie far behind and gone deep into the territory of psychotic fantasy.

Here’s the tricky part.  This same person who tells you all this also tells you whoever would come around making you question his fabulous tales is trying to steal your soul and if you listen to him it’s an automatic one-way ticket Down and there’s nothing he or anyone else can do for you.

You’ve got to admire a con game with that caveat inserted to keep the mark on the hook!

Do I sound angry to you?  I hope I do, because I am.  I’ve lost fifty years...a half of a century...of my life when I was a Christian just as surely as I would have if I had been placed in prison for a crime I not only didn’t commit but a crime of which I was the victim!

Death is the truth; life after death is a lie.

I’m not shy about using the word truth.  When the likelihood of an event occurring is ever more increasingly scarce with every minute of every day then refusing the word truth would be like refusing to call a rock, a rock.  In any other species than man, we accept as a given that part of the description of the life form is it’s longevity.  

The sea turtle can live a 150 years, then he dies and does not come back.  My dog will live 12 to 20 years, and then he will die and not come back.

With the human species we can trace the longevity rate from age to age, but in the end we always die.  

And in spite unsubstantiated rumors that must, by definition, be accepted without proof...hell, the less proof the better!  For believing something in spite of tangible evidence to the contract is the ultimate act of faith!

And no one has ever come back.  Sorry, Jesus, but until we perfect time travel and a DNA sample is collected while you were alive (if you ever lived at all) then another after the resurrection (if that even happened) then the premise of my argument applies to you as well.  One of the many high points along the way towards atheism was when I realized and accepted the simple truth:

If it doesn’t happen now, it didn’t happen then.

You want to study the alleged miracles in Christian scripture then you study their modern counterparts.  Faith healing, prophecy, exorcism, glossolalia are all being practiced today.  If they happen now, then we can conclude they happened then.  I spent years in Charismatic/Pentecostal religion and have practiced and experienced all of these things and more.  Not once did I encounter anything that could not be described better and fully without reference to the supernatural.  I have read anecdotal ‘evidence’ (that is to say, the brags and boasts of people whose motivation is to increase their standing in the church they attend) but I have never encountered a single miraculous event in any serious, peer-reviewed publication or while bouncing up and down in a back pew, hands in the air, snot flying from my nose and tears from my eyes…OK, maybe the tears were kind of forced.  

It’s hard to get that thrill you did the first time you did something…sex, the Holy Spirit, LSD….and when you can’t you feel like a failure, the tension builds inside you like the bugs just under your skin that only you can  see…till you take it a little bit further than the time before…just far enough to get that sick thrill.  When I was a witch…I’ve been in every kind of religion they make and some I made up myself…I use to tell people that if you aren’t scared shitless when you were casting a spell then you weren’t doing it right.  

The addictive cycle, the ever increasing risk, all to make the ultimate commitment, to get that thrill you got the first time one more time.  It's why men have affairs and women have vibrators. It's the same in sexual perversion at it is in religion.

Ted Bundy started his career from a chance glance of a woman in an open window undressing set off the cycle of thrill, then dullness and repetition, that ends when the person takes it a step to far.  Ted Bundy ending up raping and murdering women.  The question is, when if he’d walked home that night without seeing the woman undressing in the window?

What if it was you?  What if you saw the woman in the window?  Is there a Ted Bundy inside of you molesting your Inner Child?

I know Evil.  I’ve seen it in others, sure, that’s easy and most of the time other people call Evil isn't Evil as much as irritating.  Spotting it in others…Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Ladin…that’s the easy part. 

Seeing it up close, being in the same room, the same house with it day after day does something to you.

Something bad, something you never come back from.

It's when you realize that you aren't one of the Good Guys.

No, you don’t know Evil till you see it staring back at you in the mirror.

 But I digress…

We refuse to accept that when we die we don’t come back, can’t ‘come back’ because we don’t go anywhere except down the drain on a mortician’s slab.  Hence, death without return is a descriptive of the human species.  

A descriptive is based on all available evidence and can only be changed if evidence to the contrary is discovered.  To describe something is not in the same class as theorizing and is not subject to the laws of probability and, therefore, can be stated as a fact.

A word about probability.  There is an argument against making truth statements of any kind that goes since there is an infinity of probable outcomes then that teapot orbiting the sun could possible be there or, in the extreme, will be there in some alternate universe.  This isn’t an argument at all, just an exercise in semantics. My objection is that this is an imaginative exercise made possible only because we lack the evidence to disprove a fantasy.  I think it was Chris Hitchen’s who re-worded the old cliché “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” by adding the caveat “the absence of evidence where evidence should exist is evidence of absence.”  Probability theory points the way for further study and should not, cannot be accepted as an end within itself.

But to treat it seriously and dismiss it in the case of human mortality I’ll pretend it has value.

Probability theory only functions within an infinite set.  In other words, if you take the universe(s) as your evidentiary group, then anything can happen, has happened and will happen.  In the case of human mortality, we are not functioning in an infinite set.  What we have is a finite set consisting of every human being from Eve to the extinction of our species…another unavoidable, since extinction is evidenced in all species just as all individual members of the species are mortal.  As such, we can make truth statements within the boundaries of the finite set of the human species.  Never mind all those orbiting teapot species that are immortal, we can say as an observable fact we are not included among them.

Remember Philip’s Law:

If it doesn’t happen now, it didn’t happen then.

The corollary of which is:

If it doesn’t happen now, it won’t happen in the future.

The laws of this universe are constants as far as the finite set of the human species.  Just as a miraculous inversion of those laws in a particular incident is impossible and would, in my opinion, lead to destruction of our universe, then we can say with certainty these laws haven’t changed in the 200,000 or so years humanity has existed and will not change in the 200,001 to perhaps a million years before we become extinct although that figure is too high since we are the first species capable of bringing about our own extinction as we seem intent on doing.

The population is every dead person in the world from Adam to Dick Clark.  It is a finite population, therefore we can make positive and negative statements.  In this finite population, what is the percentage of people who have come back from the dead...people with have empirical evidence for?

The answer is zero.  We have a hundred per cent mortality rate as a species.  No one has ever come back from the dead.  How can we be sure?  Investigate cases of claimed resurrection from the dead as we have in our world now.  One would be more accurate to study zombification in Voodoo if one were truly interested in the resurrection from the dead.   

One more slight digression, then I’ll give everyone a chance to tell me what an idiot I am.

Think about Jesus being God Incarnate.  Set up a computer model if you have the skill and inclination.  If the Creator of a Universe were to Incarnate into his own Creation would he not set up an infinite loop that would end in the destruction of the Universe?  

I’m reminded of Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road one of his few attempts, and maybe the only one’ at fantasy.  There is a creature who attacks the gang of intrepid questers (isn’t there always?) who is indestructible by definition.  How do they overcome such a creature?  They feed the creature it’s own tail and continue to stuff the tail in the mouth until he is the size of a beach ball then a basketball then a baseball then a marble then a speck of dust until all that is left of him is a greasy spot on the hero’s hand.  

I submit that the Incarnation upon which Christianity rests is an impossibility just as making a monster disappear by feeding it it's own tail.

Don't know the science that could prove the impossibility of the Incarnation, got a hunch it's out there somewhere.  But I'm no scientists.

I am, in truth, (drum roll please)

An English Major!

And even worse,

With a Philosophy Minor!

As Sheldon put it:

"Oh, the Humanities!"

In conclusion, we die.  We don’t come back from death.  

In order to become a grown, adult human being you must first acknowledge these truths.  Clinging to superstition and fable wastes countless lives to potentials they will never be able to fulfill.

I know it did me.

Atheism is admitting the truth.

The Truth.


But remember or hear for the very first time a lesson that is hard in the learning:

The Truth won't set you Free... have to Free the Truth!

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Suggested reading:

  • A History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch
  • American Colossuss: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865 - 1900 by H. W. Brands
  • American Colossuss: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865 - 1900 by H. W. Brands
  • Life After Death by Alan Segal
  • Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty
  • Radicals for Capitalism by Brian Doherty
  • The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen
  • Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt


About Me

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I am from West Virginia. Born in New Martinsville to a minister's family. Traveled around West Virginia and Southern Ohio growing up. The only stability I got was from my mother's side of the family in Boone County. My Great Grandfather on my father's side was preaching in Madison during the Mine Wars. He ran for the state legislature on a pro-union ticket and won only to have the coal companies tie the results up in court so he ended serving only one day out of this term. My Grandfather on my mother's side stood with the miner's at Blair Mountain and died of Black Lung when I was still in my teens. I was raised a Conservative Christian...not a Fundamentalist. Strict separation of church and state based on the understanding that what makes for a good politician is pretty much the opposite of what makes a good Christian. I'm politically radical in that I believe in one man/one vote and the only way to have political equality is to have economic equality. I'm an atheist because once I accepted the fact of my own mortality I found no need for belief in God.