Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Maytag repairman and the Chaplain's letter.

So I've been the exact opposite of busy lately. I've fixed just about everything that I can fix, and not just the electronics I'm responsible for but literally anything I can get my hands on. After running out of things to fix, I got a little bored and thought I would stir things up a little. Every weekday our chaplain sends out an email entitled "The Hope Channel". It's what you would imagine a typical religious daily email to be. It's full of random excerpts from the bible, words of encouragement, usually some kind of prayer and "thoughts of the day". I don't particularly mind getting them, sometimes they are actually funny. Sometimes they are funny because they have a joke that is supposed to be funny, other times they are funny just because how silly they are. So, like a kid with a stick, I poked it into the ant hill to see what would happen. Here is the email that I sent the chaplain just to see what he would say.

Thought maybe you would like my "thought of the day"

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?"
-Epicurus

This line of thinking is the premise for why I don't believe in a
personal god.
His response was rather cliche, and really kind of disheartening. I've made the chaplain's writing blue, and I've put some of my thoughts mixed in. Any typos on the blue writing, are all the chaplains as I've only cut and paste. I have not responded to this letter from the chaplain. I thought I would see what everyone else thought, whether they think I should reply, and what I should say if I do.

SPC Jones, Thank you for your honesty and your comments.I believe everyone has choices and looks like You have made yours. It’s less of a choice, and more of just who I am. I’ve tried to believe, and I can’t. In my life, I had a real Living encounter with Jesus Christ. I’d be interested to hear of your encounter, but I would be surprised if it was a real living encounter with Christ, but instead an encounter with his followers.

To quote a Greek philosopher as Epicurus, Who believes that what is good is what is pleasurable, and what is bad is what is painful...you'll find that all you will seek in life is what this world offers. After that you die, and there is nothing else. Epicurus believes that pleasure and pain are the basis for the moral distinction between good and bad.

Epicurus actually gets it pretty right. All of our morals can be (and probably were) derived from the simple rule of pain is bad pleasure is good. The only thing that I would add into the mix is empathy. Empathy allows us to realize that other people have feelings as well. If you count emotional and physical pain and factor in empathy then you can easily justify all morals. You can even look at the so called morals in the bible and show that they are actually immoral.

I find that if I am wrong about Jesus Christ, at least I lived a life that is moral and honest and true. Unfortunately believing in Jesus doesn’t mean that you are moral, honest, and true. There are many aspects of the bible that are immoral. If you look at any major human rights argument you will find someone on each side of the argument claiming to be the religious right. The easiest moral arguments to think of are slavery, and women’s rights. Do you support slavery? Do you think that women are not the equals of men? I can easily find passages in the bible claiming both, and I’m not even a man of the bible like you are.

Currently there is a huge controversy about the morality of homosexuals. If it isn’t immoral (which I don't think it is), then the good book could actually be leading you away from morality by calling it an abomination. I see no reason to think it’s immoral, for just the same reason that I don’t think it’s immoral to like blonds over brunets. I also don’t think it’s immoral for the main reason I’m not a homosexual. It just doesn’t do it for me. It wasn’t a choice I made; I just don’t find men sexually appealing. If I did find men sexually appealing, I would be no more to blame than I am now for finding chocolate tasty. I never chose to like chocolate; I just tried it and liked it. I also didn’t choose to be heterosexual; I just looked at men, and didn’t find it appealing, then looked at women, and did find it appealing (some of them at least). If I was gay, and I suppressed it and hid from it my whole life because of the bible, it would have been detrimental to living a good life here in this world. If there is no god, then I would have suffered for no reason. Gay marriage is illegal (mostly), and many happy loving couples aren’t allowed to be married because of the bible. Does anyone really have the right to deny people, whom aren’t hurting anyone, happiness?

If I die and there is nothing - well, I lived a happy life. If I am right about Jesus Christ, and there is an after Life with those who believe in Him...well, then I will be With Him for all eternity. This argument is known as Pascal’s wager. The biggest flaw of the argument is that it assumes which god is real, and also that we know what that god wants. If you are wrong about Jesus Christ, and Mohammed was the true last prophet, then you will burn in hell for “betting” on the wrong religion.

If you don't believe there is eternal life after this one, you will live this one up in parties, alcohol, women, and all kinds of other entertainments that this world offers. That is kind of a crazy assumption to make, that just because I don’t follow your religious dogma, that I will be a drunken man-slut. I currently only enjoy entertainment that this world offers, as what other world is there to enjoy from? Even if there is a heaven, you can’t enjoy it now. Even if there is a loving god that cares for what you do, he may still make/allow you to suffer to make you stronger while here in this world. Currently the thing I enjoy in this world the most is the company of my friends and family. I love to play with my children. I love loving my wife. I love talking and laughing with my friends (of which I also consider my wife). I drink only occasionally, and in moderation. Even with the “simple” pain based morality you can reach the conclusion that if you drink too much it is painful and detrimental to your life. After you die, nothing, no judgement, no accountability with The One who created you. If there is a god to judge me, and he is the one who made me the way I am in spite of being omniscient and knowing that I was going to do everything I’m going to do, then the judgment isn’t really on me, but on the creator who is ultimately responsible for everything I’ve done.

But what if you are wrong. What if there is a God who is trying to get your attention and trying to have a living encounter with you...and you continue to not pay attention to His Calling you. Are you saying that an all knowing, all powerful, loving god is having problems communicating with me?
What if there is eternal life where God has prepared a future for you. This life offers 100 years but eternal life, How long is that? Is condemning me for eternity based on 100 years of ignorance moral?

Do you lie? Everyone has or does lie, although I can’t remember the last time that I did. There is hardly ever a time when it’s necessary, but sometimes lying is actually the moral thing to do. Do you steal? Not since I was a child, and even then it was rare and minor. Are you in a sexual relationship prior to marriage? I was in a sexual relationship prior to marriage, but now I’m married and faithful to my wife. Do you drink till you blackout? Not in a long time, and probably never again. I have done it before though. All pleasures that this world offers to keep you away From the Truth. Funny, but I don’t see lying, stealing, and blacking out as pleasurable. They are character flaws that some people have. I enjoyed sex before marriage, as I enjoy sex while married, but how is that keeping me away from the truth? If I knew your “truth”, wouldn’t that make me more justified in doing those things? Isn’t the whole reason that Jesus was a human sacrifice was to forgive us of our sins? If I didn’t sin, then that would be slapping Jesus in the face saying he died for no reason.
Jesus said: "I Am the Way." Did Jesus really say that, or did a book say that he did?

You'll never know what He offers you until you recognize that He is the One who: *gives us air to breathe *gives us food to eat *allowed us to see another day...
If he is the one who gives us all those things, then when we are without them, is he not also to blame?

All good things come from above. Above what?
We are created by God for God. Evolution?

I hope you find the Truth...before it is too late. I hope you find the truth before it is too late, Allah is a jealous god. I prefer to not live by such absolutes, especially when so many “truths” are contradictory and can’t all be right. Sounds to me like God wants to have an encounter with you. He is welcome to talk to me at any time, what is he waiting for? I just want you to know one thing...you can't hide for [sic] Him. I am challenged this day to pray for you. Is it so challenging to pray for someone that doesn’t agree with you? I wish everyone well, regardless of their beliefs, I just don’t believe that my wishing alone can make it happen.
Let me know how things turn out.

Blessings on your Journey.
Blessings until I die, and then curses for all eternity.