9.5 What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

I wasn’t far from throwing this book in the trash at times. Essay after essay from scientists condemning “God” as the dangerous idea that stands as the blockade to mankind and her progress. Blah blah blah. Be devoted to science, and the scientific method of discovery, but don’t be one-dimensional, dogmatic and closed-minded. There will always be more to life than what we can reverse-engineer.

Still, there are many juicy parts to it. There are enough fresh ideas sprinkled among the chaff to keep you going. If nothing else, it’s a great bathroom reader, sliced into essays small enough to be easily consumed one or four at a time. And besides, something that immediately riles you up and disturbs you is likely worthy of some additional attention.

So let’s take a moment to address the “God delusion” movement, represented not only by several essays, but by the recent media-covered backlash from the “persecuted atheist”, personified through the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. The characterization of atheists as the latest victimized minority just doesn’t ring true, and the reason can be summed up in a word: smugness. The arrogant dogmatic atheist decries that the majority is delusional, and expects understanding from them in response? Compassion and tolerance should be doled out generously, but when you label a large group as delusional, expect some intellectual backlash.

So what gives me my confidence in the existence of God (other than the rote answer “faith”, which must sound like a cop-out to an atheist…)? The beauty of all that surrounds me. That’s the bottom line. Maybe it’s a spirituality gene that separates us into those that feel a real divine presence when simply communing with nature and those that don’t, I don’t know. There’s also Darwin’s admission that the fossil record is pathetic, the impossibility of the world “falling up” to incredibly intricate levels against the grain of the second law of thermodynamics, the unfathomable distances of time used as the crutch. That’s the way I see it anyway.

When the scientist reaches the bottom of her petri dish, and discovers that there are deep mysteries there yet to be explained, I would hope it would spurn her onward toward further exploration, yet I would also hope that there would be some spark in her that would give her pause, a brief moment for wonder and awe.

Taking this a step further, let’s put aside atheist preconceptions for a minute. Start with the Fermi Paradox: given the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and the statistically foregone conclusion that on some not insignificant number of them, extraterrestrial life should have developed to the point of mastering interstellar travel, why have we not been contacted by an alien race yet? Maybe it has developed, maybe they have contacted us, in a cautious manner. Or maybe they even created us, and then ensured that no other life forms contact us. We’re their great big petri dish. The “Fermi Paradox Creationism Theory”. Let that be the seed of doubt in the atheists’ religion, until one of our great-great-great-grandchildren can prove otherwise. It won’t happen in our lifetimes.

So now all religions can have a source of doubt. I feel much better. :>

Besides, it seems to me that there is no difference between the new atheist warriors, the power-hungry fundamentalist religious right that has decimated this country’s morality over the course of the Bush administration’s reign of terror, and the extremist Islamic terrorists that give them all the fuel they need – they are, all of them, zealots.

Getting back to the book, my favorite essay was the one that mentioned the Fermi Paradox, and offered the following explanation: in the future, we evolve down our current path far enough that we climb up our own brainstems, saturating ourselves with consumptive entertaining pleasures. We neglect progress, we neglect exploration, we even neglect our offspring. A fascinating thought, considering we’ve already traveled down that path some distance.

Check the book out, and let me know what’s your favorite pick! And give me your divinity philosophies if you’ve got any. We’re all in this ball of confusion together and I sure don’t mean to sound like I have all the answers. Besides, I wrote some of this during some seriously delusional cancer-fighting moments – there’s certainly something on which you can straighten me out! :>

18 thoughts on “9.5 What Is Your Dangerous Idea?

  1. Agreed… microbes on Mars and galactic storms while German scientists are toying with the speed of light should make us all humble… though I’m tempted to send Keith and Kevin this link and watch a devolutionary battle of the fittest and see who survives… or would that just be playing to the paradox?

  2. It’s “humble” to create a “god” who favors us over all other beings? WTF?

    Saying atheists are also zealots is like saying people who strongly think the Earth is round are no different than those who strongly think the Earth is flat.

    There are still plenty of mysteries, but many have already been solved. Pretending in theism is intentional ignorance. Why would you do that, my friend?

  3. I didn’t say atheists are zealots, I said the “new atheist warriors” are zealots. You can be an atheist and still accept the fact that others see things differently. Well, maybe not you *personally*. :> But you won’t be “disproving God” any time soon my good friend.

    But I didn’t mean to come off sounding anti-evolution. I’m not a “young earth” believer or whatever. I had a great time this weekend at the Museum of Natural History here in Raleigh, where so many of the fascinating evolutionary connections are on display. You know I feel strongly connected to all forms of life, and all the evolutionary linkages are a part of that. If I had to put my finger on it, I might say there seems to have been some pretty amazing nudges along the way perhaps? But beneficial mutation all the way up the chain? I just can’t wrap my head around that all the way. But do I think that God sits around playing with our atoms every day like silly putty? No. Sound like a contradiction? Ha, that’s the beauty of our lives here on the blue planet. So much to ponder!

  4. The idea of a “christian (aka personal) god” most certainly has been disproven. I do agree, however, that deism has not been (and cannot be) disproven.

    Two questions for you:

    When you coming out to Vegas? (You owe me!)

    You ever ****?

    (BTW, reply to an email. The rest of the boys miss you too.)

  5. My Friend,

    I just got home from work and waiting in the mail were the first 2 Sigue Sigue Sputnik CDs (used from Bo Boo Media). It made me think of you and smile!

    (BTW, sorry about question 2. Too much rum.)

  6. Mike,

    Good to hear things are well with you. Interesting post. Just a small bone to pick.

    “Besides, it seems to me that there is no difference between the new atheist warriors, the power-hungry fundamentalist religious right that has decimated this country’s morality over the course of the Bush administration’s reign of terror, and the extremist Islamic terrorists that give them all the fuel they need – they are, all of them, zealots.”

    It is a little disingenuis to compare the religious right in the US with Islamic terrorists. Fundamentalist Christians do not advocate violence as a means. There have been a handful of rogues who have shot abortionists or blown up a clinic, but this is condemned by the Church, not encouraged. The Islamic teaching of Jihad promises reward for killing the infidel.

    Also, I’m not sure how the religious right has decimated the morality of the country. But it must be Bush’s fault, since everything is.

    Peace in Him,

    Kevin

  7. Thanks for the comment Kevin!

    I don’t know why you don’t see through his hypocrisy. You can “smell the corruption”, as they say. He makes claims on Christianity and gets backed up by the religious right. He then uses his power to grant favors to Haliburton and oil companies and the wealthiest of Americans. I don’t know of a more perfect example of hypocrisy since the Pharisees.

    But then again, I’ve never understood conservatives. Maybe you can explain, you seem to lean towards the conservative side of the aisle. To me, it just seems like law over gospel, hypocritical judgmentalism. You understand my confusion? Jesus surely preached judgment, but more importantly, he preached forgiveness. Think of the greatest commandments of Matthew 22 – love God and love one another. This is NOT a conservative’s outlook. Agreed? If you get a chance, check out Jim Wallis’ site. I’m sure none of this is new to you, but for me, it is one of those seemingly rarer-and-rarer places to go where the core of Christianity has remained intact, unpolluted by religious manipulators like Bush.

    And that brings me back to why I feel that members of the religious right are just as dangerous as Islamic terrorists. They hijack religion, polarize every topic, and marginalize those who might otherwise find true communion with God. People are disgusted with the religious right, and often find themselves disgusted with religion as a result, if they buy into the religious right’s claims to it. This is what burns me up the most.

    If you can, try to help me understand what I’m missing. I really don’t get it! :>

  8. Mike,

    Politics is an ugly business of compromise and there is no defending it. Kellog Brown Root and other Halliburton companies have been working overseas for a long time and they are the go to guys for overseas contracts. Is there corruption, yes. It is an ugly part of politics.

    In many ways the Republicans show more love for the fellow man than do democrats.

    I vote republican because I am pro-life and hope to end the shame of legalized abortion and while the GOP has not done all they should have in this area, the democrats are in bed with NARAL and the most vulnerable will become more marginalized.

    I believe the democrats, with their oppostion to school vouchers, reveal their need to keep a large minority underclass sucking at the teat of the government. They have a great interest in keeping millions of children being raised by the mailbox so that they are kept in dependence.

    We need to encourage men to stay with their children and the mother of their children and raise their offspring through honest employment. Economics are tricky; what is the best way to grow the economy? Tax cuts can fuel the economy, rich people pay more taxes than poor people so they do benefit more from tax cuts.

    Bush’s ranch in Texas is “green”, Al Gore’s mansion in Tennessee is anything but “green”. Liberals seem to like to talk about solving problems, but once the chardonney is put away there is no action.

    W is no saint. The war has gone poorly. He has done what he needed to do to try to keep us safe.

    As far as the judgmental nature of the religious right we would need to talk about something more specific. What is an example of the religious right hijacking religion and polarizing a topic? (abortion, gay rights, ?)

    Conservatives are very giving people and spend great deals of time and money to care for others. If you check the list of churches giving the most aid to reconstruct New Orleans I believe you will find “conservative” churches predominate.

    I attended a meeting a few years ago from the Ohio Christian Coalition because Alan Keyes was supposed to speak. I found myself feeling very out of place and I really wanted to order a beer just to annoy them. But to compare the religiuos right to terrorists who plant bombs in shopping areas to target women and children is ridiculous and a lazy stereotyping.

    Peace in Him,

    Kevin

  9. Yay! Some understanding! Thanks again for the reply.

    But I do remain confused by the conservative perspective. You vote for Republicans because they are “pro-life”. But shouldn’t they back that up by providing support for the babies that are born? Yet this is not part of their agenda, and you cannot talk your way into making it true. It is their objective to minimize the support provided by the government. In my opinion, the reason they take the abortion stance is that it gives them the moral high ground without actually costing them any real commitment of resources whatsoever.

    School vouchers are just a means to undermine public schools, in another Republican attempt to move more government functionality into the private sector. Bad idea, in my opinion.

    Granted, growing the economy is tricky and complicated, but Clinton knew how to do it. Bush never will. He’s sinking us with his stubborn support for a war that doesn’t makes sense.

    Democrats may not always follow through perfectly on their ideals. But in my experience conservative politicians don’t even care to try. Reducing government is their objective, to the detriment of everything else. A free market does not provide a police force, a school system, highways or firefighers, does not pave roadways. I don’t think it’s overly idealistic to believe that we can accomplish goals, as a nation, in an efficient manner, through smart government – if we would all get on board! I am proud of my country, and that means I am proud of my government.

    It’s difficult to argue about who is more hypocritical, and it’s nearly impossible to convince someone else. You believe it because you have experienced it. I believe that you have experienced firsthand compassion and kindness from those you know to be conservatives. But does that justify supporting a callous government? If you believe in compassion, why do you go halfway?

    (Thanks for the banter, by the way…)

  10. This is where I’ll be so heavenly,
    so come and dance with me Michael
    So sexy, I’m sexy,
    so come and dance with me Michael
    I’m all that you see, you wanna see,
    so come and dance with me Michael
    So close now, so close now,
    so come and dance with me, so come and dance with me, so come and dance
    with me

    Michael,
    you’re the boy with all the leather hips,
    sticky hair, sticky hips,
    stubble on my sticky lips

    Michael,
    you’re the only one I’d ever want
    only one I’d ever want
    only one I’d ever want
    Beautiful boys on a beautiful dancefloor

    Michael,
    you’re dancing like a beautiful dance whore
    Michael,
    waiting on a silver platter now … and nothing matters now

    This is what I am, I am a man
    so come and dance with me Michael
    So strong now, its strong now
    so come and dance with me Michael
    I’m all that you see, you wanna see
    so come and dance with me Michael
    So close now, its close now,
    so come and dance with me, so come and dance with me, SO COME AND DANCE WITH ME

    Michael,
    you’re the boy with all the leather hips,
    sticky hair, sticky hips, stubble on my sticky lips

    Michael,
    you’re the only one I’d ever want
    only one I’d ever want
    only one I’d ever want
    Beautiful boys on a beautiful dancefloor

    Michael,
    you’re dancing like a beautiful dance whore
    Michael,
    waiting on a silver platter now … and nothing matters now

    Michael,
    you’re the only one I’d ever want
    only one I’d ever want
    only one I’d ever want
    (twice)

    Beautiful boys on a beautiful dancefloor
    Michael,
    you’re dancing like a beautiful dance whore
    Michael, waiting on a silver platter now, nothing matters now, nothing
    Matters now but you

    YEAH

  11. Sweet.

    We ate at the bar where that Michael was a dishwasher, in Scotland – it was one of the original haunts of Franz Ferdinand. Great vegan food, too. One for the record books!

  12. Mike,

    You are correct that we should show compassionate care for children after they are born and protect the unborn.

    It would seem from the democrats rabid support for abortion rights up to and including partial birth abortion that their real aim is to eliminate the undesireables from the population.

    Conservatives should aim to eliminate the need for government support by moving people from welfare to work. It is a shameful thing that people are allowed to scrape by generation after generation on a government check.

    What should the goal of the welfare system be? To be a safety net in tough times, or to be a way of life?

    School vouchers help the very children that you are saying the conservatives are out to not help. Vouchers give students in failing school districts an option to that failing school. Does this hurt the school, probably. But will the school hurt the child if they are forced to stay in a failing environment, most likely.

    The economy is growing under Bush (although it is not quite clear how much any president affects the economy and how much is cyclical). Clinton was able to capture a great deal of tax revenue when IRA’s could be moved to Roth IRAs and billions of dollars came under a 4 year taxation. This was a short term move which will be good for the investor (I was a seminary and not paying much taxes then so it was a good time to move the money). However, this money will now be untaxed as it is drawn out later.

    The unemployment rate is lower now than it was under Clinton.

    “A free market does not provide a police force, a school system, highways or firefighers, does not pave roadways.” I don’t know how things are in NC, but here in Ohio we have police, schools, highways, firefighters and paved roads. And we have a republican legislature. (baffling) We are even starting to get indoor plumbing.

    There is a limit to free market capitalism as shown by the rape of resources of the state of West Virginia and the nation of Nigeria. The government should have as one of its functions to protect the weak from the strong. I fear that the democratic establishment wants to ensure the weak remain weak and dependent so the millionaire democrats can remain strong and in power.

    It is probably time for a party of conservative moral values with a true heart for the poor and needy. I don’t see either existing party doing any real good for the long term poor. No one, except Bill Cosby, has the balls to speak the truth about certain issues. If Black America wants to get out of poverty they need the young men and women need to keep their pants on until they are married and get the rate of children born out of wedlock down from the 75% or so it now is. The same for white folks.

    I’d like to propose a eugenics plan in which we breed loser men out of the population by teaching girls to stop sleeping with them. If the man has never had a job for longer than a week, DO NOT BREED WITH HIM!!!

    I should probably get back to writing the sermon for Sunday.

    Peace in Christ,

    Kevin

  13. Sorry your post was lost for a bit Kevin, as it got marked as spam. Maybe that says something about the hotness of the topic. :> I will have to reply soon… but for now, it’s soccer time! :>

  14. Mike,

    I am impressed. You have turned out to be an alright fellow. I just finished Gone With the Wind last night. I have yet to see the film, but the book was sad and beautiful. Deserving of its status among great southern literature.

    Peace
    Lee

  15. Lee! Good to hear from you again. I will add the book to the list. I don’t know how I ended up in NC, I’m definitely a dyed-in-the-wool yankee, so something that is both southern and beautiful would be worthwhile for me to ponder. :>

    Peace back at you.
    m

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