Evolving Draft: Unbelief is a Belief in Itself
But what if...?
What if the wolf is the product of intelligent design through natural selection and the pug is "man's intelligent design", a product of man's control of genetic selection and breeding? What if natural selection and evolution, are part of God's design?
If we think of our grasp of reality in percentages, how much do we really know as a sentient species? Of the trillions of stars in the universe, we only know to a certain degree about one thing, our own planet, our own reality, our own lives = .00000000000000001% of reality.
We, as a species are stupid. Yet stupidly interesting in that we are blessed with what we think of as intelligence. We are stupid enough to know that there's more. Stupid enough to try and find out what's out there.
Stupid enough to know that we are stupid.
Let that sink in.
As I struggle with the paralysis of my own personal circumstance, I gleaned a lot of things from 'The Debate'. I must admit however, that much remains to be inconclusive.
We didn't go to church last Sunday and I didn't tithe. I have mixed emotions about the event, but that's part of the hiatus, part of my own questioning process, part of my faith.
Unbelief is part of my faith.
A few friends texted us, and we had to cancel some activities the kids would have loved. I'm also taking a forced sabbatical from facebook, try it. It's healthier for your brain.
Most importantly: I read some accounts about tithing that I find to be interesting.
It's voluminous and very hard to digest. But very much worth looking into. Read it later. It deserves it's own blog post.
Before, I went to church on my own account, I was against tithing from the moment that I thought of money's value. My father died in 2006, we had a lot of concerns and tithing in the family was a challenge. It's supposed to be personal yet at times, it was a family matter.
I once spoke with a good friend of my father and he said that he was a "very generous person" when it came to tithing and that it has redounded to a lot of blessings that we are currently still receiving.
But on the other hand, giving is universally blessing. Do we really need to give to the church 10% of our income to see this blessing? The answers beget more questions and more complexities that I have begun to realize as I type this.
"God doesn't need 10% our money, he wants 100% of us."
And it gets complicated from there. Because there are many assumptions and there are many inconclusive statements and there are many contested, challenged and much debated accounts that would form the foundation for any debate or discourse.
Which one of them is true?
Let's digest them one by one.
1. First account: There is a God vs. There is no God.
IF there is a God THEN
- What is the nature of God? Empirical accounts are unreliable. Historical accounts spanning all cultures, have pointed to previously inexplicable accounts as miracles or "manifestations of God's existence". Many have been discredited once scientific explanations and logical accounts have been established. Here we would be entering the realm of mythology, paganism and "thing worship". For example: Egyptians thought of all sorts of things as gods. They were even ordered into a hierarchy. This formed a huge part in their religious belief.
- Is God manifest in our reality? Perception and belief are unreliable.
- Can God be represented by a church or a "god-appointed" authority?
- Is there any other way for God to be manifest outside of the church?
- Which church is the right church?
- Provided we find the right church - why would God make us go around in logical circles just to realize the conclusion that God doesn't need 10% of our money - He wants 100% of our trust. And of course and more importantly,what really happens to the 10% of our income?
- Well, based on what I see, it goes to the projects that any specific church is pushing. Whether it's to feed the poor, to minister to those "who are lost" (people in jail, emotionally wrecked, relationship, substance abuse, etc), marketing and PR, site maintenance, salaries and other charitable causes. Giving your money in full trust of any church means, supporting those things. It's kinda like government except that it is not forced - using force. It's enforced through citing religious texts that support the idea.
There is no God
- Our sentience (self awareness, intelligence, emotions, judgment, rationality, our fallibility, everything that makes us human) dictates that there should be order. Absent order, civilization would descend into "anything" other than order and would be subsumed by a civilization that does have order or has a better system of order enabling it to politically or militarily enforce its own order. Case in point, big powerful religion and the current ISIS predicament.
- What is order?
- Personal order
- Personal order is defined in social order (No man is an island, men who live alone and in isolation will go crazy. Imagine a child raised in the wilderness.)"In his Politics, Aristotle believed man was a "political animal" because he is a social creature with the power of speech and moral reasoning: Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal."
- Finding a pattern of living that maximizes the fulfillment of life.
- What makes life fulfilling?
- A good life. It may sound circular logic but bear with me.
- To the non-believer, a good life is arbitrary - it could be anything that makes a person happy. BUT because of our human frailty, emotions, lack of knowledge, many - and by many, I mean "most" people tread the path to hedonism and self-gratification. (From the lens of religious belief, these are mostly the "sins.") Case in point, some tribes that have no contact with civilization or religion have no rules against sexual behavior, killing, etc.
- This holds true unless "unbelief" is institutionalized or replaces the prevailing order with something equally feasible. To emphasize my point: In order for Atheism to replace religion, it has to offer something in return.
- Social order. The problem with social order is again - arbitrarily defined by a homogenous entity: Be it a charismatic leader, a group, a clique, a political party, political system or an idea. Nations that do not subscribe to religious belief (ie. communist nations) will lead to a political system defined by the strongest.
- Who is the strongest? Historically, the "strongest" centers around the prevailing superior human. Historically, the strongest has to become political. Thus, the strongest group will lead on the weaker majority. Look at Stalin, look at the adherence of the Chinese to their ideology. Look at Mao Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution.
- Man as a political being and social creature cannot exist outside of social order. Societies living with no established rules will be politically subjugated by societies with hierarchies, rules, established governments. Case in point: colonialism, European colonial powers vs. unorganized, fragmented, tribal, relatively crude-cultures.
- Is social order based on moral foundations? Not necessarily but until such time religion is replaced with something else, social order has to come from and be based on moral order. What or whose moral order? < Therein lies the problem. The thing with humans as a group is they tend to exhibit group behavior that may not be in agreement with another group from within the group. Take race for instance, when faced with two delineating and contradicting factors, one group will always try to control another. Okay, my point here is admittedly not so strong so let's engage in a thought experiment.
- The thought experiment. Any thought experiment has to start with this basic foundation: groups of people with scarce resources. Let's imagine a "free" society where people as a group did what they wanted to do (have sex with just whoever, get married to whoever, kill whoever, do whatever, eat and consume whatever, etc.) with no religious or governmental restraints. Along with scarcity you have, race, skin color, ideology, economic status, political affiliation, etc. Belief is powerful. I'm using the word "belief" here in a loose sense or belief is not just about religion. At the very least, let's try putting two conflicting groups within the group of people. They're in conflict and no compromise can be seen. One group claims "A" while the other group claims "B". Who will prevail? If the object being contested is something finite and something necessary to the happiness or existence of either, eventually it would lead to war.
- For what do you kill and die for? "Some would like to posit the alternative notion, "what would you like to live for?" But the alternative becomes problematic, once there is conflict. Imagine a situation where the possibility for compromise is not there. What belief or thing is worth killing and dying for? That's actually one of ISIS' key propaganda points, American soldiers are committing suicide because of the traumas of war. That's also the problem why ISIS has been able to recruit people who are willing to kill and die for their beliefs.
- This is why religion becomes essential. Most wars were never really about religion per se. They're about unresolvable conflicts that put one group against the other. Religion thus becomes the tool. Get people to believe that they'll get "A, B, C, D" and you can get them to commit the worst atrocities and not fear losing their own lives for these.
- In this manner, belief not just becomes essential - it becomes intrinsically needed to push a certain agenda or way of life.