Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Double Post: A Somewhat Different Ten Things

What a pain in the &%#*! I decided I wanted to come back here and double-post something I particularly liked from "Coming to Terms..." and I practically had to trade my first-born male child to access the stupid thing (neener-neener, Blogger...I don't have a first -born male child...)

Anyway, since "Better Terms" was supposed to be for my "next level" writing, and I finally have enough brains in my head again to actually produce better writing (at least, today...), here it is:

Awhile back, NPR ran a series called, "This I Believe." Listeners were invited to submit essays describing some important aspect of their personal moral code. Those judged the best were read on the air by the authors.

Being the negative, glass-half-empty type that I am, I decided a better approach for me would be "This I Don’t Believe." You see, it’s not that I don’t believe in God. There are simply several important things I don’t believe about God. So I thought I would use my "Ten Things" format to list some of the highlights of my unbelief…

1.) I don’t believe that God honors, ordains, blesses or in any way sanctions human beings doing violence to other human beings. Ever. For any reason. I don’t believe we were created to inflict suffering upon one another. We do it. We seem to derive some kind of perverse pleasure from it. But let’s leave God out of it.

2.) I don’t believe the Almighty put us upon this wondrously intricate, inconceivably beautiful planet so that we could destroy it with our astonishingly lethal weapons. And…

3.) I don’t believe we were given Earth so that we could alter it to the point of uninhabitability with the filthy by-products of our daily existence. Eons ago, as an infant race, we could reasonably depend upon our Creator to deal with our temper tantrums and our excrement. We have (arguably) grown well beyond that point, now. With "maturity" comes responsibility. Reject the responsibility, and extinction looms large. And rather sooner than later, I expect.

4.) I don’t believe the Author of the Universe has any particular preference for with whom I choose to perform the sex act. Admittedly, having indiscriminate sexual intercourse with anything or anyone can have serious public health ramifications; so mankind long ago created social codes to deal with this issue. Unfortunately, whenever man needs to put teeth into any legislation, he declares it "God’s Law." But I don’t believe that the Great Mastermind of planets and star systems and galaxies far beyond our ken, is all that invested in our puny sexual antics.

5.) I don’t believe God whips up famines, earthquakes, floods or other natural disasters as punishment for evil. Once again, "God" takes the rap for things we don’t understand and can’tcontrol. The Earth is an amazing and fearsome entity in its own right, a living thing. Our job is to live on it, to love it, to respect it…and, sometimes, to die when its life force overpowers our own.

6.) I don’t believe that humans are any more specially connected to the Creator than the rest of creation. We may indeed have been ordained to "communicate" with the Almighty…but who is to say that other creatures were not? Perhaps they even do so with much greater facility than we do, unencumbered as they are by the interference created by our so-called "intelligence." Perhaps an eagle, or a hamster, or even a cockroach has a much more direct line to God than I have…

7.) I don’t believe in the conventional concepts of "heaven" and "hell." There is an aspect of the universe which we encounter occasionally…only enough to be confused, intrigued, intimidated and frightened by it. Call it "the spirit world," or "the other side" or "the after-life." Mankind has brushed against it for millennia, and in many cases has made it part of—if not the basis for—various religions and belief systems throughout history. We will go on to…something at the end of this life. But the idea of a big garden where I will reunite with all the people I have ever loved (what about the ones I didn’t like so much?) seems, in the end, much too…corporeal. Even though the "unknown" aspect of it can frighten me to insensibility if I dwell on it too much, I have it in my mind that, wherever we go, it must be…can there be a word for it? Inconceivable?

8.) I don’t believe God takes sides in human disputes. Once again, backing one horse or another in the endless squabbles, great or small, in which human beings delight in engaging, does not seem worth an eyelash bat from the Creator of more worlds than we have numbers to count…

9.) I don’t believe God randomly answers prayers, or that sometimes the answer to prayer is "no," or any of those other platitudes that various religions have concocted to explain why God is so often indifferent to human suffering. I’m sorry…it doesn’t make sense to me that there is a Being who has ultimate power to alleviate suffering, to heal illness, to create peace, and doesn’t. It’s not that I don’t believe the Author of the Universe is without power. It’s just that I don’t believe the Almighty uses (or doesn’t use) that power in ways we can explain or understand.

10.) I don’t believe that God is going to strike me dead, or smite me in some other nasty way, for my unbelief. Consider the one great aspect that seems to distinguish us from all other life on our planet—our ability, no…our compulsion to ask, "Why???" We are meant to quest after knowledge—knowledge of ourselves, knowledge of our planet and our fellow passengers upon it, knowledge of the universe beyond our own little speck of dust in our own little corner of our own little galaxy. In gaining that knowledge, we come to know the greatness and character of the Entity from which all things sprang forth. I don’t believe that is not what the Almighty intends.