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A Few Thoughts On Death and Life Thereafter

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I was reading an article in USAToday about six bodies found in a home in Pennsylvania. One body had a visible head wound, blood and bone fragments were found throughout the house, some of the bodies were wrapped in sheets, and one wrapped in a blanket secured with a phone cord.

I started thinking about the fragility of life.

What kind of person does this to an entire family… to anyone? A five-year old was among the dead.

The image of the person found wrapped in a blanket and tied with the phone cord stands out in my mind. I imagine this person being struck over the head, and then strangled with the same phone cord used to secure the blanket around the limp, lifeless body. I can almost feel this person struggle with the last breaths of life, the pain, the anxiety, the panic he or she must have felt. Then suddenly, nothing. Everything stops, the panic, the pain, the suffering, the struggle. During those final moments of the person’s life, was this person worried what was happening to the other family members? Was s/he already aware that others had been killed? The fear this person must have felt is overwhelming for me to comprehend, for any of us to comprehend.

Christianity teaches us to not fear death. In fact, if you go to a truly Christian funeral, many are called “Home-going” celebrations — where the soul of the departed is reunited with the Savior in heaven. It’s a pleasant and comforting thought.

Most religions/faiths have a belief of the after-life, the idea that one’s soul passes on to another state of consciousness. But it’s the exact moment of death that interests me most. The moment where awareness suddenly ends. I imagine it’s like falling asleep; one moment you are awake, thinking, breathing, seeing, feeling…then…nothing. Nothing?

This “nothingness” makes me wonder: is there something to it? Are we aware, at the moment of death, of the nothingness? Is death like what we’ve seen on television with the tunnel, the bright light, and the familiar figures of loved ones long lost?

If there is life after death, do we suddenly pass onto that life, aware of our “human” death or do we just start anew, unaware from where we came? I think about reincarnation, which is an interesting idea for me. As a Christian, I know I’m not supposed to believe it, but I’m not like most Christians. Nothing in this life is clearly black and white, so why would the next life be any different? If our souls are reincarnated to the next life, I wonder if it is a sudden event, or if there is a “waiting period” where the soul can ponder the mistakes made in the past, where one can thoughtfully contemplate the steps needed in the next life to reach the inevitable Nirvana.

I think as humans, we fear the idea of there not being life after death. This life is often so full of struggle, strife, and turmoil, the idea of there being something better afterwards is comforting for many. The idea of rewards in heaven, of riches and virgins and peace and harmony, of oneness with God, and everlasting love; it’s romantic and inspiriting.

I have a more universal theory on death and life thereafter. I like to think there is life after death. The thought that such a richly contemplative life can simply end in an instant doesn’t sit well with me. I need the deeper meaning. A person’s religion or faith does not matter much to me; I believe there is one Ultimate Truth we as Humans must learn. I believe there are constant lessons in our lives and signs all around that lead to this One Truth. And if we don’t quite it get it the first time around, we, our souls, are sent back again and again until we get it right.

I believe after death, once we’ve learned to recognize the signs in a way that is adequate to the Creator, all of the answers to our questions, the ultimate Truth, are revealed.

Maybe it sounds elementary, but it’s what makes the most sense to me, and I find comfort in it. And I think that when faced with my final moment of life, I won’t be afraid.

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About Chantal Stone



  • I personally AM afraid to die and absolutely don’t want to. It follows therefore that my respect and reverence for life and the living is profound and crimes like this are truly horrible beyond words.

    However, unlike you, Chantal, I can’t accept the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic theory of life after death in some secret and hidden paradise.

    It just leaves too many questions unanswered for a start – and then there’s the fact that there is still zero evidence for the existence of gods.

    Religion causes real problems in that the adherents clearly don’t value this world, nor the central message of love religion teaches, seriously enough.

    Preferring to trust in a better afterlife rather than working to make this planet into the earthly paradise it could be if all that energy and reverence were put to some practical use, well, to put it mildly, that troubles me deeply.

    We talk a lot about living in the modern world but I suspect that, in the future’s history, the age we live in will be seen as either the start of the Human Renaissance or the time when fear, ignorance and superstition lead to our downfall.

    Who wants to live forever? I do, if only to see how the greatest story ever told unfolds…

  • Before I was married with kids, I was very afraid to die. I didn’t want to die having accomplished nothing at all in my life. Now that my oldest is 17 and the second kid is 14½, I feel I’ve accomplished something of what I have to. Also, I’ve had a heart attack, which, no matter how mild it is, is a brush with death, and a very clear warning of mortality.

    I don’t want to die yet, of course. I’d like to stick around long enough to go to a grandchild’s bar mitzvah in reasonably good health, but I sense that I’ve accomplished part of what I’ve had to do. I’m not comfortable with dying, but less uncomfortable than I used to was. Sticking around forever is a very boring proposition.

    It wasn’t fear of death that got me to be more religious than I used to be, it was realizing that there was backing for some of the seemingly incredible claims in the Bible.

  • Questions for Ruvy:

    What does “what I have to do” mean? You’re a free man; your life is exactly what you choose to make of it. Passing the burden of choice onto your faith does NOT absolve you of personal responsibility for what you actually choose to do.

    Why would “sticking around forever” be boring? I’m enjoying life now and don’t see why I should be deprived of that experience by something like death.

    Why choose the competitive religion option?
    Just because some of the stuff in the Bible is incredible – or even true – doesn’t change its status from that of fascinating and important historical artefact, just like the Torah and the Koran. Nor does any of that in any way demean anybody’s personal natural spiritual experience.

    There are more things in this universe, Ruvy, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, as William Shakespeare so nearly said.

  • Christopher and Ruvy…thanks for your comments.

    Christopher, I deeply respect your opinions. Let me respond point by point:

    “…I can’t accept the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic theory of life after death in some secret and hidden paradise. It just leaves too many questions unanswered for a start – and then there’s the fact that there is still zero evidence for the existence of gods.”

    I agree that there are so many unanswered questions, and that troubles me also, but I can accept that some questions won’t be answered this time around, and I believe that that’s what we’re here to do…to ask and search for the answers, no matter what they are. As far as evidence….the lack of physical evidence doesn’t bother me as much, as I have felt the spiritual evidence work in my own life.

    “Religion causes real problems in that the adherents clearly don’t value this world, nor the central message of love religion teaches, seriously enough.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Religion is corrupted by the greed of man. And don’t promote “religion”. I believe spirituality is what’s important.

    “Preferring to trust in a better afterlife rather than working to make this planet into the earthly paradise it could be if all that energy and reverence were put to some practical use, well, to put it mildly, that troubles me deeply.”

    Amen, amen and amen! I couldn’t agree more. I see this so much in the Christian community where the emphasis is put so much on our “treasures” in heaven, that people neglect what’s in front of them. I think this
    disappoints God too.

    “We talk a lot about living in the modern world but I suspect that, in the future’s history, the age we live in will be seen as either the start of the Human Renaissance or the time when fear, ignorance and superstition lead to our downfall.”

    I agree here also. I just think that the Human Renaissance will include a higher level of spirituality, void of the corruption of “religion”–at least that’s my hope.

    As far as living forever….sure I’d like to too. All I’m saying is that I don’t let the fear of death, and what happens afterwards, stop me from living my life to the fullest right now.

    I don’t think we are so different Christopher, after all.

  • gonzo marx

    wellwritten, Chantal…and thanks for the pleasant and contemplative read….

    on Thing for your amusement, and to perhaps ponder…

    might there nto be only one Question but infinate Truths?

    example: “why am i here?”….each for their own unique Purpose

    same with the “where am i going” Question…

    just a Thought to share


  • Thank you Gonzo….

    and of course…I can accept that the Truth for each of us is different.

    It only makes sense that if the God I believe in is infinite, and the Universe is infinite, then certainly there are many questions and many answers to suit each of us uniquely. Each of us does have our own unique purpose, which is why I always question those who claim to have all the answers.

    I love the idea you propose Gonzo…and I’m going to ponder it some more while I clean my kitchen!

  • Thoughts for both Chantal and Christopher.

    From my point of view, what I have to do minimally is to carry on the family name. I would have liked to have had four sons, I asked G-d for four sons, thinking it was the perfect number of children; and I got four sons. Except that one was killed by its mother in an abortion over thirty years ago (the father was not told till after the deed was done), and one died at 16 weeks in the womb. The other two are at a sleepover at a friend’s house a few blocks away.

    After my wife had given birth to our second/(third) son and the doctor said that her womb would not be able to carry any more children, it hit me that I had gotten what I had asked G-d for – precisely the way I had asked. When I was nine years old, I didn’t think about asking for healthy children. I shivered with fear and wonder at what had transpired in the first forty years of my life.

    As a father, what I felt I had to do was to give my two surviving sons the love and security they would need in a tough world, and to pass on the heritage of their ancestors, who suffered for who they were. I didn’t feel I had the right to walk away from that heritage. Too much had been paid in suffering, both by the relatives I knew, and by the ones I didn’t who died at Treblinka in 1939-40.

    That is the big reason we live in Jerusalem instead of Saint Paul. Had I done otherwise, I’d feel empty and miserable, that I had not done my duty to my father or mother or to my family or to my people.

    Having done this makes me feel that if G-d chooses to take me today or tomorrow – that I will have done the minimum that in my eyes I had to do. So while I don’t want to die now, if I do, I can face my Maker with some peace of mind.

    In other words, there was no Torah dictating what I should do, there was my sense of obligation to my father and to my people. And I have always felt this sense of obligation, even when I was twelve and spouting atheism to all who would listen.

    Now let’s talk about living forever. Let’s assume that I did – but that others around me didn’t except in small numbers. When my wife would pass away, I would want company. I am that kind of person. An intelligent man wants a companion for more than just a year or two, so I would seek out someone young enough to be one for a number of years. Do you think that a young lady the age of Anthony Grande (17) would satisfy me? Would she understand me? Would I understand her? The gulf in years would be too great.

    If it turns out that all of us can live on for a long time forever, those of us born in the middle of the last Christian century all sticking around, maybe it would be worth it. Otherwise there is the issue of “my generation.” This is one of the elements of companionship in the eyes of this very old fashioned Jew.

    You ask a person to make too many paradigm shifts for my tastes, Chris. There is much more in the universe than my imagination can comprehend. This may be true for a reason. People are finite – only the neshamá (communicating spirit) of G-d within them is infinite.

  • thank you for your thoughts, Ruvy….

    I don’t believe that anyone’s purpose is written in the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or in any book for that matter. Our purpose lies within our heart. You felt your purpose through your obligation to your people and family…that was what you felt in your heart.

    It makes me wonder, though, why people depend so greatly upon the words written thousands of years ago, instead of relying on what’s in their heart? Is it fear?

  • One of the frustrations that I have with religion is that it always tears man down. Ruvy, one comment you made stuck out at me:

    When I was nine years old, I didn’t think about asking for healthy children.

    The way I read it, you blame yourself for an abortion that you didn’t have or ask for, and for the loss of an unborn child. I cannot fathom how you can blame yourself for that, but there is clearly a religious foundation for your self-condemnation.

    This is primarily why I have turned from religion and get my spirituality in other ways. Religion is constantly about condemning the fraility, the faults of man, making them up if it has to.

    Sorry to use that as an example Ruvy, but that’s what I read, when I read your comment. Self-condemnation for something that was completely out of your control.

  • SteveS, thats true….”religion” can be so very negative, exclusionary, and condemning.

    I’m “Christian”, but approach my faith from a very spiritualistic, personal perspective. The idea of a loving, accepting, forgiving, and uplifting God is what appeals to me….not the fire and brimstone that so many others like to preach.

  • it gets weary to keep seeing that religion after religion after religion is about the weakness of man. Each is based on the premise that a diety is needed to lift man up, otherwise we are mere sinners, or base animals, or weak, or nothing without belief, etc. Religion is about tearing mankind down so that spirituality/faith can lift him back up to something higher. Religion’s promise of life after death is paramount in this.

    I tend to think if there is life after death, it is more in the form of energy rather than elysium fields of green pastures and lots of grapes and sunshine. Assuming that there are other life forms in the universe, a likelihood given the number of planets alone, our concept of paradise would probably be something they wouldn’t view as pleasant. It’s got to be more like energy or ethereal rather than paradise lost.

  • curious, chantal, how does the concept of a God play out with your thoughts of other possible life forms. Are we still God’s chosen?

  • I don’t really believe in the idea of “God’s chosen”…and I certainly accept that there may be other forms of life out there in the universe somewhere. In fact, I believe it’s probable. It’s arrogant to think that we are the only intelligent life within the infinite universe.

  • Steve S. et al.

    “The way I read it, you blame yourself for an abortion that you didn’t have or ask for, and for the loss of an unborn child.”

    Sorry Steve. You read wrong. First of all, when I was nine, I reasoned out the perfect number of children in my mind. I didn’t think about healthy or not, because I just didn’t think of parents losing children as infants or for other reasons.

    What I said was not out of blame or self-condemnation. But I realized that I had gotten what I had asked for. That was what was scary. But nine year old children, unless they have been exposed to the tragedy of an infant dying in their immediate family, don’t think of adding “healthy” to the list of what they want. The typical nine year old takes health for granted. I don’t blame myself for what happened to the aborted baby (it hurts, but there was nothing I could do or could have done), and I don’t blame myself for the baby who died at sixteen weeks in my wife’s womb. There was nothing I could do. But they were both sons, in addition to the other two. Four sons.

    I’m afraid you read guilt and condemnation into my words where there were none.

  • I guess it’s interpretation, Ruvy. What I am reading is that you are saying if you had asked for healthy children, then you would currently have 4, so it is by your lack of one word that you had to endure the loss of two children. To me, that is self-blame. I read that you are saying because you omitted one word, you had to lose two children. In other words, it is by your action or lack of action, that you had to lose two children. Ergo, you accept responsibility for something you had no control over. I guess it is a matter of interpretation. I’m glad to read that you feel no blame. The analysis doesn’t read that way to me though. Different interpretations.

  • hareshít Hokhmá yir’át Hashem. “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of G-d.”

    When it struck me that I had gotten what I had asked of G-d – four sons – that was the day I began to fear G-d. There were events that occurred before in my life that had moved me towards believing, but the day not long after my baby’s birth when I understood that I had gotten what I had asked for as a nine year old – that was the day thay I understood that there was indeed a G-d ruling the universe.

  • Sorry, I edited my comment and took some stuff out of the middle and now it reads like I’m saying the same thing over and over. Sorry.

  • Interesting, Ruvy. Have you ever asked God for anything and gotten no reply? How can you know that you having 4 children was ‘Him’ answering your prayers and not just the natural consequence of 4 times of lovemaking?

  • I tend to believe that if there is a God, it’s more along the lines of love and compassion, like Chantal thinks, rather than something to be feared. I’m not big on promoting fear.

  • “it gets weary to keep seeing that religion after religion after religion is about the weakness of man. Each is based on the premise that a diety is needed to lift man up, otherwise we are mere sinners, or base animals, or weak, or nothing without belief, etc. Religion is about tearing mankind down so that spirituality/faith can lift him back up to something higher. Religion’s promise of life after death is paramount in this.”

    This is Christianity that wearies you – for the premises that you attribute to religion after religion is the essential concept central to Christianity.

    I don’t know enough about Islam to speak intelligently, but this is not Judaism at all. Jews are G-d’s partners in the creation of this world and are expected to improve it. The idea of life ater death has always been a somewhat nebulous one in Judaism. Now that more of us expect the coming or the messiah relatively soon, the ideas are being refined and honed somewhat, but until relatively recently, there were only general concepts dealing with an afterlife. The concentration always was and still is on this life.

    In Judaism, all of Man is not condemned as sinners. There is an equal chance for the commission of good or evil, and we are expected to conquer evil and seek to do good. There is no super-sacrifice to relieve us of the evil we have done, only confession during Yom Kippur and an attempt to make restitution to those we have hurt and the resolve not to repeat the sins against G-d that we have committed.

    In Judaism, G-d, who created us, has given us the tools to elevate ourselves to Him, and we Jews are expected to use these tools to make ourselves a holy nation.

    And do understand, that I’m not “witnessing” to you with the idea of you deciding that “gee, being Jewish would be cool!” That is another Christian concept. I expect nothing of the sort.

    If what I say has any persuasive value at all, look up the Seven Commandments of Noah – which we Jews view as binding all of Mankind, Jew and non-Jew alike. A non-Jew performing the Seven Commandments of Noah is the equivalent of a Jew keeping the 613 commandments of the Torah.

  • gonzo marx

    on the sub-riff of “chosen”…

    why does that always seem to depend on who one is Asking?

    so many in our History that seem to impart the same basic Message with such variable Voices…

    it bloggles my Mind that so many can ~hear~ all this Harmony from the words of Black Elk, the Dalai Lama, Ghandi, King, Siddhartha, Yeshua, Lao Tzu…

    and not ~Know~ the validity and solidarity of Content

    it’s as simple as ….don’t fuck with each other

    a very old chinese Proverb has always Articulated the Ethic for me…

    “do no harm;
    if harm is unavoidable, do not hurt;
    if hurt cannot be avoided, do not cripple;
    if you must cripple to end the Conflict,do not kill;
    killing is a Failure, and your own Responsibility to be borne.”

    fascinating to me what the Newton/Leibniz of our Age has said…
    “the more I learn about quantum physics, the more it reminds me of Taoist black magic”

    your mileage may vary


  • This is Christianity that wearies you – for the premises that you attribute to religion after religion is the essential concept central to Christianity.

    I should have pointed out that I am not versed in every religion in the world. You have a good point in that there are religions that may promote otherwise. I am not versed in Judaism.

    I’m not very versed in Islam either, but from what I can see of it ‘from the outside’, it maintains such strict control over it’s followers, it certainly has no faith in mankind to do the right thing, it’s got to force it out of them.

  • Many times I have asked G-d for things and received no immediate answer, or no answer at all. Many times, I have received an answer, and I’ve learned that there is a pattern to the answers.

    When the request is out of need – like money, a job, etc., the pattern seems to be that you get what you ask for, but just when you need it, and just enough to do the job. I cannot tell you how many ties that has happened to us in Israel. It has happened too many times to be mere coincidence. Read here to get the general idea of “El Shaddai” – the G-d of Sufficiency.

  • I believe in guardian spirits, what most people would call guardian angels, but I’m not entirely convinced they are synonymous with what we generally think of angels as.

    Usually I give credit to the guardian spirit. I’m pretty convinced my mom’s spirit is looking over my daughter.

  • troll

    #22 comes dangerously close to perfection…I must divert my eyes


  • I don’t weant to bore you all with Jewish debates about the afterlife and such. Essentially, we can worry about when we get there. But let me give you an idea of the world after messianic redemption, the way we see it. That is not something you often read.

    In essence, the evil inclination – the yétzer har’á – will be destroyed. That will be the big change. Thus, you will still want to screw – but you will not necessarily feel the need to “screw over”. The desire to exploit and hurt will be gone, and the basic concepts that Gonzo lays out in comment #22 will be simple common sense – and we will all wonder why it was so hard to do before.

    Thus the world will experience peace and prosperity, for there will be no wars and no energy wasted on wars. People will be concentrating on improviong the world around them, making it into an earthly paradise (see Chris’ comment #2).

    There will be plenty of work, cleaning up the environmental mess we have made, the waste dumps, etc., bringing harmony into how creatures live so that humans and animals will survive and thrive.

    There will be plenty of work, seeing to it that all hve what to eat, where to live, what to wear, etc., etc.

    But there will also be love and happiness and joy in waking up each day. And man will truly be a partner of G-d in his creation on this planet.

  • Ruvy: observing the process of finding that somehow the world helps you in times of need is not an uncommon insight and it is something that happens to people all over the world regardless of their faithist status.

    I grant you that is something wonderful, miraculous even, but it still does NOT necessarily point to the existence of gods. It could just as easily and somewhat more plausibly say something about the human race…

  • Ruvy: on your #27, I can’t get where you’re coming from on this. Where do you get the idea that people are under the influence of some evil inclination?

    I don’t want to screw over anybody, although I am rather keen on actually screwing! Most people I know don’t have a “desire to explot and hurt” either.

    I look forward to you personally implementing this new era of love and positivity towards all your fellow members of the one thing that really matters, humankind, and abandoning some of the hate you have been embracing recently.

    We can all leave the dark side, Ruvy; it’s a matter of personal choice and responsibility, recognising that it’s what you do now that matters, not leaving things to a future you’ll never know in the name of god.

  • Chantal-
    Even from a scientific view, it’s really all a dance of Energy, a quantum now you see me now you don’t. The way I lead my life is that I’m here to learn to focus my awareness and Energy and the next step will be revealed in the course of that. I do know that ongoing awareness of my moment to moment relationship with life is key. If I purposefully harm another I create a gap in my consciousness that takes too long to repair. The nice thing is that even if I’m wrong, the world is no worse for my having been here, hopefully better.

  • Chris,

    Evil inclination – good inclination. This is basic Jewish philosophy. All of us are under the influence of both, and our behavior generally reflects both. From Genesis:

    “Evil inclines its head at your door, but you can conquer it.”

  • Josh

    Personally, I kind of go for the Edgar Casey version of Christianity. We’re all here to learn what lessons we need to learn, then we go back to being a part of God.

    For atheists: To exist is itself irrational — makes the leap to believe in God easier. If this doesn’t make sense, think about it. If it still doesn’t make sense, it’s probably the wine I had at Easter dinner tonight.

  • re.#22…gonzo… “the same basic Message with such variable Voices…”

    I think it’s because there’s just a basic Message for humanity, period. And perhaps it just doesn’t matter who the Messenger is–Jesus, Allah, the Dalai Lama, Ghandi….as long as at some point we are OPEN to to hearing and receiving the Message.

    the variances of mileage, right? 😉

    re.#30 John…. “a dance of Energy”

    I’m allowing that concept to marinate just a bit.
    I do agree with you, about the cyclical nature of Life and Energy, and as I begin to open my eyes more, I’m seeing this more and more in my own life.

    Thank-you so much for your comment.

  • “Nothing in this life is clearly black and white, so why would the next life be any different?”

    I think that all ideas about afterlife are so vague that they confuse more than teach you something.

    Tips & Hints

  • Nancy

    My question is, if we’re sent back to learn our lessons then why aren’t there more people in the world doing good? What’s the point of sending someone back if they don’t/can’t remember the past mistakes & thus are doomed to repeat them over & over? Granted, most humans are too stupid for words & can barely remember their own names most of the time, but still, after a point you’d think most of them would have the little light bulb go on – ah HA! – and there would go the majority of the world’s population.

    I’m personally afraid to die, altho when I examine it, I don’t know why; it’s not like I have any major projects hanging fire or anything, nor do I feel a need to breed, to perpetuate myself or any kind of family name or nose or what have you. And it’s not like I have a choice. On the other hand, the idea of living to be old & infirm & increasingly dependent on others for care (or to be ignored & forgotten) is not attractive, either, and yet when I read stories of characters with extremely long or ‘eternal’ life (like Tolkien’s elves) I can’t help but thinking I’d hate to have to live forever, and being condemned to eternal life would be a helluva bore & a pain.

    Once some years ago I was very, very sick. I remember after a point I stopped caring what happened to me, or my various interests and projects, etc. After I recovered, I kept that feeling of, I guess you’d call it perspective, an awareness that nothing on this earth really matters, certainly not my mundane concerns & problems. This lasted for a couple of years, but gradually wore off. I can still remember the mindset, but can’t recapture the internal serenity of it, which is a pity, because it made me (I suspect) a far nicer person to have that Buddhist detachment from the World.

    Having experienced it, therefore, I’m surprised I am still afraid, since I ‘know’ there’s nothing to be afraid of, in a sense, and all my hustle & bustle & fretting are in aid of nothing. What I do find most curious is the notion that I’ll be gone, and I won’t know or care what’s going on in the world. Now, that just stops me in my tracks as being very strange.

    I wish I DID have the faith of people who believe strongly in the particular tenets of one organized religion or another. It seems to comfort them quite a bit, to believe in what they do, but intellectually I can’t lie to myself, and unlike the White Queen, I can’t make myself believe at least 10 unbelievable things a day before breakfast, because IMO far too much about organized religion smacks of hype, superstition, & malarkey designed to enhance the power & wealth of those in control of the movement.

  • Steve

    Actually, Nancy, I agree with you as far as reincarnation is concerned.

    As to what’s believable, it all depends on your conception of God. If it is one of a God who is at the mercy of the laws of creation like the rest of us, then I could understand your scepticism. If however, that is not the case, that in fact God is infinite, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful etc., then the question becomes not HOW COULD God do something or other, it then becomes WHY COULDN’T God do whatever it is? All depends how you look at it really.

  • I’m not saying that I completely believe in reincarnation, I just believe in the possibility of it. I’m not so sure I believe that there is just one definite ending for everyone. I don’t necessarily believe in the biblical definition of heaven or hell–or rather, the interpretation of what heaven or hell is.

    This is a difficult thing for me to clearly articulate because my beliefs themselves are not always clear to me even. I just know in my heart that there is God. But I don’t think it really matters if you call him or her God, Jehovah, Allah or whatever. I don’t believe that there is a single path to reaching God. I think God allows for the diversity of humans to come to Him the way we need to individually. The path for one may not be the right path for another.

    This goes against what Christianity stands for, and I still consider myself a Christian. But only because I feel that it is my path.

    As far as reincarnation goes, perhaps not everyone visits this Life over and over again. But for me, it just seems like a logical explanation for how certain people (myself included) can feel so inexplicably connected to a certain time or place, when there is no other reason to feel so. I feel, sometimes, that those connections are our Spirit memories, and we just do not know how to recognize them completely.

    does any of this make sense?

  • Steve

    Are you referring to the experience commonly known as deja vu, Chantal?? If so, I do wonder if we have a latent prophetical component to at least some of our dreams that may explain that phenomenon. Certainly, the Bible is full of examples where this was so.

    Re. endings, not all ‘paths’ can be true, because they all contradict each other on various points. I simply believe that God will judge us according to what truths we have heard about Him that we have accepted or rejected in our lives. It’s not important to know EVERYTHING about God (being infinite, eternal, etc., unlike ourselves, how could we??), the key is, how do we respond to what we have heard that is true. If we reject what we have heard that is true about God, God wont force anyone to stay in heaven with him.

  • I’m not talking about deja vu…..
    what I mean is this: My mother was born and raised in Germany. But she feels this pull to the American South. And whenever we have travelled to the south, she says she has always felt like she was going home. Even on her first trip to Georgia and the Carolina’s, there was an inexplicable feeling of familiarity for her.

    I have felt the same thing about Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland 3 times, and each time, I felt like I was going home. I’m not even Irish!

    It could all be that my mom and I are crazy….you never know!

    As far as accepting the “truth” that we have learned about God….I know and understand your argument or explanation, I just don’t agree 100%.

  • Steve

    I see, Chantal.

    I’m not sure why you’d have to attribute those feelings to having lived there before.

    Everyone’s different, we all have different preferences as far as life goes, simply because one is drawn to a foreign culture because it feels like home does not mean, therefore, that one must have lived there. It simply means that there are things about that culture that appeal to us more than our own homeland. It would be incredible indeed to think that everyone that’s born in a particular country should feel more at home there than anywhere else! No nation has existed since the beginning of time, so why should everyone born within one be totally comfortable with it?? There will always be folks who like a nation the way it is, then others who would like to change it from within, and then others who would prefer to live somewhere else. Nothing mystical about it.

    Bottom line is, we are not simply products of our environment (though they do have some influence on us). We are our own unique persons, and as such, no single country in the world could ever suit every one of us. There will always be folks who ‘fit in’ somewhere else. You appear to be one of them. Nothing wrong with that.

  • That’s true Steve…in fact, “fitting in” has never really been an issue for me. I’ve never quite fit in anywhere.

    I know from a Christian standpoint, you do not believe in the possibility of reincarnation. The truth is, how can we actually ever know for sure? We can’t. All I’m suggesting is the possibility of it.

    My beliefs are constantly evolving. I’ve always tried to keep an open mind to all ideas and I filter what does and does not make sense to me, regardless of my religious faith.

  • Steve

    Well, Chantal, obviously, faith is required to believe many things we are told, whether they be religious in origin or not.

    The interesting thing is, if the Christian worldview is true, we WILL know for sure the answer to these questions one day. If Hinduistic notions like reincarnation are true, then we will never be sure, if atheism is true, we will certainly not know, because we’ll be dead in every way one day.

    I guess I just don’t see the attraction in worldviews that essentially guarantee that you will NEVER know for sure. It would kinda make the whole idea of looking for meaning in life…meaningless to me.

    I know it’s fun to be contrarian (I’m a former atheist myself), but there are some truths that just can’t be overlooked without serious consequences. If, as you say, none of these things can be known, what’s the point in thinking about them at all??

    I’ve learned that whenever I’m being illogical about something, then there is something existential blocking the way. Rather than gainsay things, I’ve found it more productive to ask myself where the resistance is coming from. Then it becomes more clear as to whether my resistance has a firm footing or not.

  • Steve…..

    “I guess I just don’t see the attraction in worldviews that essentially guarantee that you will NEVER know for sure. It would kinda make the whole idea of looking for meaning in life…meaningless to me.”

    That’s an interesting point. But I just feel that it is Human Nature to question. And regardless of the fact that we could either have all the answers one day, or never know the answers, it is our inherent nature to question everything.

    I sit in church sometimes and listen to the pastor preach about faith, and I see people with their blind faith, and it just makes me wonder why would God give us this amazing gift of wonder, and yet expect us not to use it. I feel like God wants us to search for these answers and to question everything. Because sooner or later, the questions will eventually point us in His direction.

    Maybe my problem is that I don’t have a strong enough faith—at least that’s what many Christians would say. I feel I have a solid faith in God, because despite all of the questions with no answers, I still continue to believe in Him.

  • I have struggled to understand how faith makes us spiritual. It has seemed to me to be the lazy person’s way out of coming to grips with life and meaning, an absolution of the difficulties of the path. Faith has never saved me, never healed the pain of my life, never provided balm for watching the cruelties of the world. When I observe what life really is and throw off my judgments and blinders, I fall into a mystery and awe that takes me deeper into being here, deeper into being human. At that moment I understand things that I can’t explain. Paradoxically I feel that I come closer to something called god by becoming more deeply human. When I again fear life I suddenly lose it all.

  • John….
    Your eloquence and finesse with words never cease to amaze me.

    Faith, I don’t think is the problem, depending what you have faith in. I have faith that the sun will rise every morning. I have faith that my children are happy and content. It’s BLIND faith that gets Humans into trouble, I believe.

    The ability to question is a divine gift.

    And you’re right John…being “faithful” does not make one spiritual. Sadly, blind faith can sometimes cloud ones ability to truly get in touch with ones own being.

  • Steve

    Chantal, I guess my point is, if there are no answers, why ask the questions?? For what purpose?? If there is no truth, there is no point in questioning, because you’ll never find anything out anyway, if that’s the case. That’s my point. Asking questions only makes sense if there are answers out there to begin with.

    I find that many folks who are in societies of Judeo-Christian background these days don’t realise that they are actually biting the hand that feeds them when they deny the notion of absolute truth.

    Because by saying there is no truth that can be known, you make questions totally redundant. If that’s the case, the human nature to question is just a dumb thing to have. That would be alot of reality to deny, it seems to me.

    I don’t see how faith and awe are antithetical to one another, John.

    A faith that leads one to believe in an eternal, infinite God is never going to be lacking in awe or wonder, it seems to me.

    I don’t see how faith and reason are antithetical to one another either, John. That is a common misconception. Faith should always have a basis in reason, though of course, it is not confined by it, but not antithetical to it. Believers are admonished in the Bible to test what preachers say, is he/she preaching based on what Jesus and the apostles taught, or is he/she out in left field somewhere?? People who don’t do that are being lazy, don’t take them as an example of Biblical faith!! I’ve heard some junk from the pulpit, especially on TV, but, of course, the TV shows don’t show you congregants asking the pastor about their sermons after the service do they??? I wish they would!

    No one in the Bible ever suggests that faith should happen in a vacuum…it is always based in something…or more to the point, someone (i.e. God). Faith is all about trust. If someone said you don’t trust your earthly father, then you would say, I know, I don’t have a good relationship with him. Same thing with God. Faith is a sign your relationship with God is good. This does not mean you don’t have questions but it does mean that you have faith that one day your questions will be answered, some of them sooner and some later. That’s all. Any relationship that doesn’t have faith/trust is in bad shape. And of course, most relationships have their ups and downs right?? And of course, if we had all of our questions answered, we wouldn’t need faith right???

    Faith has done the things for me that you list John. I wonder what the differences are between us??

  • Bliffle

    There is no reason for an afterlife. There is, however, a great longing for there to be an afterlife. Thus, the desire gives birth to the belief.

  • Steve’s point of view seems so wrapped in mysticism as to be incomprehensible. I’ve read the following sentence three times and still can’t get it to make sense.

    “I guess I just don’t see the attraction in worldviews that essentially guarantee that you will NEVER know for sure. It would kinda make the whole idea of looking for meaning in life…meaningless to me.”

    Firstly, you don’t get to pick how the world is, it just is and largely doesn’t care at all what we think about it.

    You seem to be trying to pick ideas that make you feel comfortable rather than understanding what the true nature of this wonderful universe is.

    The part about “looking for meaning” is a classic crock that faithists spout and completely makes me mad, as you may have noticed. There is no hidden inner meaning to life. The only thing that matters is how we treat each other and the small part of the universe we occupy with a little respect aand try to leave the place a little better than when we got here.

    Life is a precious secular miracle and no amount of what King Missile once so rightly called “Mystical Shit” is ever going to change that.


  • I love what you wrote above, Mr Spivey. Nice to see a glimpse of true insight and reverence showing through for a change.


    When I was a young man with a lot more hair on my head, I was content to be an agnostic Jew – that is to say, I might be an Israeli patriot and all rot, that but I would go to synagogue only if my presence was required there.

    I was troubled by the water diviners – the guys who could find water with a divining stick. That didn’t fit into my neat universe of cause and effect. They, in turn, lead to prophets and the like, people who could predict the future. They didn’t fit in either.

    I came up with a concept that satisfied my dissatisfaction – the idea of a probabilistic time line. I reasoned that there was some force in the universe that determined events by probability, and that some folks had a bit more insight than others into that force. These were the water diviners and prophets.

    For many years, I was content with this view of the universe. I didn’t worry about the truth of the Torah or of other religious works, I just assumed that if they were true at all, they were written by some fellow with greater of this insight than most folks.

    In essence, I always questioned and always viewed blind faith as an enemy. One, IMHO, has to arrive at one’s faith through reasoning and at least some backing in science…

    More later.

  • gonzo marx


    blind faith, worship, and Fear…

    this is the evil triumvirate of the demi-Urge, it remains the direct cause and effect of these weaknesses that Men are/have been manipulated to straying from the Way that makes us whole and Human…

    ponder that for a moment, and then re-read comment #22

    best i can do to Communicate the Thought


  • All if this is interesting for me, especially when I sit here with my coffee, debating whether or not I should go to church this morning.

    It’s obvious that I’ve been struggling with my own “faith” lately. But it isn’t so much the faith itself, its more of what PEOPLE have done to it: the manipulation and misinterpretation of the Bible.

    And it’s hard for me to separate the logical and intellectual with what Christianity teaches….Christianity, and other faiths as well.

    I agree with comment #22….and that makes the most sense to me. If you look at all the major religions of the world, they all, at some level, teach the same basic message, which gonzo so eloquently articulates:

    “don’t fuck with each other”

    and more than just that, I think most religions try to teach us something that should be inherent to our humanity…which is to love each other, take care of each other, help those in need, be a good person, blah blah blah.

    I, for myself, just can’t accept all of that on a secular level. Something in me yearns for a deeper meaning to Life.

    So, instead of going to church today, maybe I’ll just take my kids, my camera, and Spivey’s book, and go to the park.

  • gonzo marx

    chatal sez…
    So, instead of going to church today, maybe I’ll just take my kids, my camera, and Spivey’s book, and go to the park.

    an excellent Plan…and one that will nurture you much more than the alternative…

    chantal sez…
    I, for myself, just can’t accept all of that on a secular level. Something in me yearns for a deeper meaning to Life.

    this one nobody can Answer for you, it is for you to discover…it is one thing to ponder the unKnowable, quite another to obsess in an unhealty fashion…

    why are we here?
    because we’re here…
    roll the Bones.
    why does it happen?
    because it happens..
    roll the Bones.


    your mileage may vary


  • Your comments are restored now, chantal, by the power of Mr Winn!

    Mr Winn doesn’t lose!!

  • Thank you Christopher, EO, and Phillip, for your vigilance!!!

    and to you Gonzo….you were right, the afternoon in the park fed my soul better than anything else could have.

  • gonzo marx

    chantal, i am glad i could be of some small help

    since i am gone for at least a little while, keep my Words with you for what aid they might bring…

    bye folks

  • gonzo…..

    where are you going?? don’t stay away too long…we need the voice of Reason here from time to time!

    be well

  • Nancy

    Virulent anti-organized religionist that I am, even I admit that ‘church’ per se does indeed have a considerable value as a source of sociability & ritual which in itself is very comforting to the individual, and should be utilized as should any positive influence: you get to sit & listen to a (hopefully) decent sermon, greet people, sing favorite songs, & engage in familiar activities that reinforce(generally for most people) positive, happy, & peaceful mindsets. It’s only when people forget that church is made for them, and not they for the church, that it becomes a detriment. So, nothing wrong with church at all, or synagogue, or whatever.

    Blind faith is a tool only of those who are intent on exploiting others. Notice how it’s always some person or entity intent on asserting THEIR authority who dictate the necessity for blind faith.

    I always used the rule of thumb that a truly reputable cause or belief system doesn’t discourage questioning, because that system has nothing to fear. It’s only the systems that can’t stand being picked apart in the light of day that insist on unquestioning ‘faith’, and the more they have to hide, the more they insist on blind faith from their followers.

    Art Buchwald, the writer, is currently dying, and has been writing an ongoing series of editorials/pieces about the experience. It makes me very uneasy, I don’t know why. Maybe because I can’t get my mind around it, as usual. In any event, it’s different, and you may want to check it out, if you haven’t already.

    Reincarnation actually makes sense to me, except for the major caveat that how can you learn to do it right if you can’t remember what you did wrong the last time? Yet there is enough evidence of persons having led prior existances that it certainly is something to think about.

    Ruvy – I believe these days most Jews believe in an afterlife, don’t they? Yet didn’t the bible originally (way back in the very old parts) state that Sheol was sort of like non-existance, and not the modern concept of hell? I seem to remember something from one of the psalms about ‘how can anybody praise [God] from Sheol’ or something; that you died and *pft* you were gone. What WAS the original Hebrew concept of death, anyway? Thanks.

    Gonzo, do hurry back. You’ll be missed.

  • RedTard

    “Reincarnation actually makes sense to me”

    Life is very good a creating the illusion that we are more than a chemical process. There seems to be something more than that which makes us ourselves. Chemical processes are interchangeable, yet I will never wake up one morning as Nancy. My consciousness is restricted to one unique body.

    I can’t claim to know anything about the afterlife but it seems if the wheels of fortune have shifted to give me this life what is stopping them from giving me another one later. If something has happened once, there is always a chance and I hope a large probability, that it will happen again.

  • Nancy

    I hope you’ll never wake up one morning as Nancy; we’d both be very alarmed.

  • Steve

    My point is, Chris, if you are correct, and we have simply evolved a brain that looks for meaning in things when there is none to be found…I mean, think about it…if there is no meaning, then why bother evolving that trait??? I thought things evolved for a purpose, do they not?? You see Chris, science began in theistic countries because looking for laws (whether they be scientific or otherwise) in the universe makes sense if there is a lawgiver. If we are here by chance, science would be a pointless endeavour, there would be no laws to find. The fact that it is not pointless, proves to me that there is more to life than the creation itself.

    The fact is, if it weren’t for theism, science would never have gotten off the ground in the first place. Without theism, Chris, we’d be no better off than cannibalistic tribes in the jungle. Your position seems totally illogical to me. You are simply biting the hand that has fed you with your materialistic approach (i.e. the creation is all there is) to things.

    Re. mysticism, Chris, you need to study these things in order to understand them, simply dismissing them out of hand wont help you.

    Re. Gonzo and the Rush example, that’s a non answer, that’s an evasion of the question, not an answer, it doesn’t count. I’ve always thought that was a dumb song. A better answer to gonzo’s question from Chris’s point of view would be “because there is no why”. But if people buy into that, not only would religion be up the creek without a paddle, so would science.
    I can see it now…why does a light bulb give off light?? Because it happens, there is no why!!! LOL.

    Of course, as far as Chantal goes, if there is no deeper meaning in life why does Chantal feel as if there is something missing (and not only her but 80% plus of the world’s population)??? What a strange thing to just ‘evolve’, huh?? A sense that there is meaning missing that doesn’t actually exist?? Sorry, Chris, materialism and evolution just can’t answer these questions.

  • Steve, we haven’t evolved a brain that looks for meaning where there is none to be found, that’s simply a false premise.

    If you’re involved in a group that believes in the creation myth that our universe and everything in it was created by some superbeing with absolute power then you are simply going to see the world in those terms.

    Things evolve for a function, not a purpose in the sense you mean it. Faithists don’t look for the laws of the universe, they look for confirmation of their world view, as the second half of your first paragraph so conveniently demonstrates.

    You don’t need a lawgiver to have natural processes occurring, they too simply evolved. This is exactly why the miracle of life is indeed so profound.

    It is also why we should all be showing a far greater commitment to each other and the little rock we all live on than the intellectually and morally bankrupt ideas of the Judaic-Christian-Islamic god theory seems capable of.

    Faithism seemed to explain the world back in the day, now it doesn’t. The world has moved on; the question is, are people like you coming with us?

    Re mysticism: the argument that you have to study it in order to be able to assess its value is one of the classic false arguments of the faithist.

    If there is no god, and there is absolutely zero evidence that suggests there is, then the details are moot.

    If there is, then I am obviously doing their work anyway, despite being totally oblivious of the higher power shaping me.

    Steve, you seem very confused to me. You’re obviously a decent and caring person but it’s simply spiritually and intellectually dishonest to leap from sensing the feeling of connectedness we all share to saying that this tri-partite god cult of yours is the answer.

    Maybe what is missing is the honesty to accept the unity of all life and embrace our common origins rather than focussing upon the falsehood of which little cult has the inside track to the real mystery of life.

    It’s blatantly obvious that the organised churches are basically just archaic ways of social and political management, using the god theory as a way to make people tow the party line. I for one see the lack of clothes on this false emperor and am not afraid to say so.

  • Nancy asks,

    “What WAS the original Hebrew concept of death, anyway? Thanks.”

    You’ll find the original concept here. A person expires, is gathered to his people, and is buried.

  • Steve

    That was an interesting article you linked to, Ruvy. I was going to post there but many of the comments after #100 are blank on my screen, so I decided not to. It was interesting that it was posted in Lancet and that the naysaying commenters discounted eyewitness evidence as ‘anecdotal’. I wonder why police bother interviewing eyewitnesses to find out what happened if they are that unreliable?? I never did see what reason they suggested as to why Lancet published the aticle either, their objections notwithstanding.

  • Everyone is making such interesting and thought provoking comments…definitely giving my brain a welcome tingle, and I appreciate that.

    Nancy…I loved your comment #58…100% on the money.

    Christopher, I think what bothers me so much about your comments is that I’m a “faithest” and yet I agree with much of what you say. go figure…definitely food for thought.

    Ruvy…..I’ve posted on the article you linked to, so you already know that I think it is a fascinating read.

    Steve…..please do not think that I feel that there is anything “missing”. I feel very fulfilled in my life in all areas, including the spiritual. My questions are not “what?” or “why?”….they are more like “how?” and “why not?” I feel like it’s my duty to question…perhaps my calling. The day I stop questioning everything will be the day I begin to really worry about myself.

    you’re a sweetie though 😉

  • Steve

    Chris, I was an atheist until I was 19, and no, my parents were not Christians, and no, I am not a member of a church at this time, and the one I was a member of did not have a specific position vis a vis creation and evolution and I’ve never belonged to a church that has, so please stop believing your friends who say only people in the situations you mentioned above believe differently from you, because that is simply not true, I know plenty of non church/temple/synagogue/mosque going people who don’t believe as you do, so please stop buying those stereotypes! You really do need to get out more. Your friends are either not being entirely honest with you, or they need to mingle more too.

    Re. mysticism, it’s like anything, the more you read, the easier it is to understand, that goes for any topic under the sun. I’m amazed that you didn’t have to do any reading to learn your subjects in high school, wow!

    I’m sorry you think that Chantal and 80+% of the world population are nothing more than a false premise!! Really! They’re all lying about how they feel inside Christopher?? That’s a mighty big conspiracy theory you’ve got going there! And how many religions are involved?? And yet, you say, they’re always fighting??? Which is it, Chris?? Are they breaking up the world or are they unified?? You can’t have your cake and eat it too you know!!

    The fact is, atheists will always be in a minority, because their positions do not answer the questions in my previous post (or many others). Neither did you by the way.

    Finally, you talk about my faith as a ‘tri partite cult’. Well, I’m glad you are employing the same language that religious folk use about other religions they disagree with. That’s something you have in common with many faithists anyway. At least faithists believe there are absolute truths by which these things can be measured. And you do too apparently. Maybe you’re not as different from us as you’d like to think???

    You said, “Faithism seemed to explain the world back in the day, now it doesn’t. The world has moved on; the question is, are people like you coming with us?”

    Even granting similarities, the problem as you put it is not that we all need to agree with each other, Chris, that way lies dictatorship, we just need to know how to disagree and be civil about it.

    By the way, I have no problem with you using the term faithist because I don’t use the term atheist as a term that is inherently derogatory, only descriptive. Kind of a neat term actually.

  • Steve

    Chantal, I didn’t see your post until just now, ok, my point was you couldn’t accept the secular view of life because it was lacking deeper meaning, I was not meaning to suggest your life was not fulfilled NOW, sorry. Thanks for clarifying and your sweet comment, awww, shucks….

    Certainly, Chantal, I have no problem with people who question, heck, you can only imagine how many questions it took to get me from atheist to Christian lol.

    I just finding it puzzling that having studied the history of science and seen how many times they’ve been wrong about so many things, I’m just baffled that people jump on the latest findings as if they will never be replaced by other perspectives, years, decades, centuries or millennia later. If there’s anything I’ve learned, there’s no room for dogmatism in science, and it pains me to see so many people who can’t see that. It’s like science has become their religion or something, and scientists are the high priests. But then, from all the studies I’ve seen an increasing number of people don’t seem to know much about history these days. I don’t think denigrating the past is going to help that, it’ll only make it worse, and then we can make the same mistakes all over again.

  • re. comment #59:

    RedTard, you say “Life is very good a creating the illusion that we are more than a chemical process. There seems to be something more than that which makes us ourselves.”

    It’s not an illusion…at least not in my mind….and there is something ‘more’—-it’s that More that has had Man in the constant state of Question for thousands of years.

    Steve….I just feel that somewhere, there has to be a place where science and religion/faith (whatever you want to call it) can meet. Somehow, somewhere, the puzzle pieces all fit.

    But just as you say that people will grab hold of any new piece of scientific evidence and run with it….other people are still holding on to stories from thousands of years ago that were used to explain the Unexplainable, despite developments in science.

    all I know is …somewhere….a happy medium.

  • gonzo marx

    passing shot…


    gnosis > dogma

    nuff said

  • Steve: I’m sorry but your comments #66 and #67 contain no meaning at all that I can understand but please do post again when you can…

  • Steve,

    At comment #64.

    I looked over the last comments at the article, and comments 100 to 124 were definitely not blanks.

    I can’t say much about the attitudes I ran into, except to refer you to your own comments about science above (comment #67), and the fact that many scientists are as dogmatic about science as Bible thumpers are about religion.

    I will say this though. Schroeder simplified a concept about light waves (his audience was the most non-scientific you could get) so that he could on with his ideas about death and life after death.

  • Bliffle

    There’s nothing after death. You’re just gone.

  • Nancy

    Geez, I hope not. Awful to think that per the song by Kansas, all we are is dust in the wind, & everything good we’ve ever done or learned is gone.

    One of the main axioms of my life has been, “to whom more is given more will be expected”, so I live in fear of getting Up There & God (or whomever) says, “I loaded you up with all kinds of favors & talents, graces & blessings; so what did you do with them all? How come you’re not Mother Teresa? Why haven’t you made a bigger impact with all that you were given? You WASTED them! OUT!” *sigh* my New England puritan ethic coming to haunt me.

    Anne Rice’s vision of the afterlife in her novel “Memoch the Devil” was pretty horrific. Made Dante’s 9 circles look downright amateur.

  • Nancy, even if you do not believe there is an afterlife, if you have kids and teach them and tell them the stories of you family, and let them know what their heritage is and how importanat it is to pass on that heritage, then after you die, you are remembered…

    As long as you are remembered in the minds of others, you are not truly dead.

    As hard as life can be, it is not just “a bitch and then you die”.

  • Nancy

    Well, but lots of us don’t have kids. I thought you were going to say, ‘it forces you to crystallize what you do believe’, except that I know plenty of people who just get more confused. I don’t reject anything totally; after all, I certainly don’t know everything in the world there is to know. For all I know, there are ghosties & ghoulies & things that go bump in the night, and while we’re at it, Sasquatch really do exist. I think there are varying percentiles of probability/possibility of things, but absolute certainties – no, because I’m not certain about anything as far as The Way Existance Is. Shoot, I wouldn’t have believed in stromatolites if I hadn’t seen pictures of them.

  • Steve

    Re. comment #71, Ruvy, yours is the second article I’ve come across that has had blanks after comment #100, I’m wondering if the settings on my computer are a little off. It sometimes has difficulty screening out the pop-up at the top of the Preview page too. Alas, I’m not a computer geek, not quite sure how to fix it. I should have left the Site Controls alone lol!! It was fine before I fiddled with those, now nothing I set it too makes it go back to the way it was! I was not suggesting your site was at fault, sorry Ruvy.

  • Bliffle

    Your life is a bounded entity: starts in a void and ends in a void. All the rest is fantasy fueled by vanity.

  • Steve

    gonzo, according to Dictionary.com ‘gnosis’ means –

    “Intuitive apprehension of spiritual truths, an esoteric form of knowledge sought by the Gnostics”.

    ‘Dogma’ can mean –

    1. A doctrine or a corpus of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church.
    2. An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true. See Synonyms at doctrine.
    3. A principle or belief or a group of them: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present” (Abraham Lincoln).


    n 1: a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof [syn: tenet] 2: a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative; “he believed all the Marxist dogma”

    If you are saying, gonzo, that gnosis means ‘a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof’, fine, I’m not a gnostic, so that has nothing to do with me.

    My comments were not to try to prove Christianity true, but merely to show a non theistic worldview cannot adequately explain the world as it is. I will continue to elaborate when I have more time, Chris. Thanks for your patience.

    I don’t buy your view that Christianity is just another form of Gnosticism, gonzo. Your comments in previous threads don’t hold up on this issue. Clement of Rome writing 95-97AD cited an epistle of Paul’s (1 Corinthians) as being authentic, long before Iraneaus came on the scene (of course, that is the book where in chapter 15, Paul says “And if Christ was not raised [from the dead] then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless”).

    And when Iranaeus did come on the scene, he did not include 10 books in his canon that DID become part of the NT canon, so your comments in other threads that it was HIS canon that the church adopted 145 years later does not appear to hold up.

    For folks who did not see the other threads I refer to, my apologies, but it seems gonzo always has to bring up this topic under religious articles lol. I still haven’t mastered the art of a link yet, alas.

    By the way, gonzo, I tried a word search for Iranaeus at http://www.gnosis.org and it came up blank so I still don’t know where you got those documents in the Vatican from, re. Iranaeus, my friend. (I know the last 4 paragraphs perhaps should be on the original thread, but I really have to go now for a few hours).

  • Steve – if you look at the root of the word…on the same web site, you’ll see what gonzo means by gnosis…at least my understanding of what gonzo means when he uses that word…

  • gonzo marx

    Steve…you are twisting facts to fit your Viewpoint…again

    gnosis is the greek word for Knowledge

    as for dogma…the definition you cite here…
    *n 1: a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof [syn: tenet] 2: a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative; “he believed all the Marxist dogma”*

    is the one most acepted, and the one i utilize in my little formulae

    as for the biblical/historical bits…see the Jesus Seminar for datings and attributions of who wrote what and when…your sources are part of the Problem

    i am certain that there is no way i can open your eyes to Understanding, your faith in the dogma your blindly believe restrains you from further learning..

    your perogative, and i do wish you naught but Joy

    but allow me a slight Parable…your mind is a full tea cup…and you ask for some water…i try and pour the water(knowledge) into your cup and it overflows…until you empty your cup…there is no way it can ever hold more

    done with you now…have a good life

  • Steve

    gonzo, the Jesus Seminar relies heavily on the idea of a Q document (which was supposedly a source for the 4 Gospels). Now if a Q document was actually found, then we could have a debate. But to insist (as they do) that a hypothetical reconstruction of history based on a hypothetical reconstruction of a hypothetical document is closer to the truth is a bit of a stretch for most scholars, the Jesus Seminar notwithstanding. I don’t know of any other ancient documents that are treated the same way that they treat the 4 Gospels.

    I just read the facts straight off the page, gonzo, no twisting required by me at all.

    I really would love to read more about those Iranaeus documents you referred to previously though, if only I could find them…a link would be wonderful. But if you don’t want to discuss it further that’s fine too.

  • Steve

    Re. comment #68, Chantal, I think one of the problems with this debate is that it is couched in terms of religion vs. science. Of course, there’s alot more to it than that. History, philosophy, etc., etc…

    I think the important thing to remember is that the scientific method is not threatened by the issues of origins. The vast majority of scientific invention and practice can continue to happen without any reference to the contentious issues of origins.

    In the sense that origins go back to the unobservable past (from a human perspective), there should always be a sense that whatever story of origins that you choose to believe, it will always require a measure of faith for all parties in the debate. As long as that is kept in mind, civil debate and disagreement should be possible, and new discoveries can be made.

  • So let’s try a thought exercise for a moment. Let’s consider the possibility of life on other planets. There are those who believe that there is extraterrestrial life and there are those who don’t. Yet, there is no direct evidence either way. Those who believe in otherworld life forms could end up wasting their lives with their fantasy worlds and fantasy thought, but those who vehemently don’t believe in the possibility might miss the brief SETI signal that could open up the universe to humankind. So it is with larger questions. Can we just be observant without demanding certainty? We fear living without the unequivocal answer.

    It’s very difficult for humans to hold the tension of not holding a belief, of saying, “I don’t know.” But something illuminating happens for those who can. Maybe call it gnosis. Holding that tension requires a great awareness and discipline in order to not fall into a belief in this or that. I also doesn’t mean aimlessly drifting in a “whatever” state. In the “I don’t know” state of awareness the world begins to reveal itself. The Zen master slaps the floor and shouts, “Just this!” The wood in the floor tells you everything, the shout tells you everything, the slap tells you everything.

    When I am able to stay aware without fear or beliefs I can sense a pulse of life, a current that runs through everything. Do I call the current God, life, the Tao, Brahman? Doesn’t matter to the current. Swim, surf, play. Respect all the current touches.

  • John…..

    “We fear living without the unequivocal answer.”

    That’s it isn’t it? That’s the reason why people argue and fuss and fight over issues like this; why people will die, adamant, for their beliefs, and for their “God”; why man, for thousands upon thousands of years, has searched for Answers, and when he couldn’t find them, made up stories to satisfy curiosity. And it’s why we have forgotten our Purpose.

    Each one thinks he has the Answer. But none of us knows for certain. We don’t know anything. All we know is what’s right here and right now.

    I think I’m at the Beginning of the “I don’t know” state.

    And John….I’m really enjoying your book. Your analogy about the blind men with the elephant…each feeling a different area of the elephant; when asked to describe the creature they felt, all described a completely different creature; but the one clever blind man on the side, who listened to each description, was able to put together the pieces and discover the entire elephant….

    What a fantastic metaphor for how we, here on Earth, are missing the big picture.

  • Steve

    Yes, Chantal, I have heard the elephant metaphor before. Unfortunately, people who use that always end up implying that they can see the whole elephant i.e. the big picture. In doing so, they aren’t really being any less dogmatic than the rest of us.

    The fact is, when you put the ‘pieces of the puzzle together’ as you put it (i.e. what religions say about God), you actually don’t get a big picture, but a mass of conflicting and opposing ideas about God. So the one thing you can’t say, is that they are all true. You have to commit intellectual suicide to say that.

    Of course, implicit in your notion that all religions are made up, is the notion that God can’t really communicate with us, his creatures. That would mean that God either doesn’t care (a deistic position), he isn’t capable (therefore not really God, but just a god, like in either polytheism or pantheism), or that God doesn’t exist (atheism). Whichever position you choose from that, you are excluding at least one (monotheism). That’s certainly not a neutral position at all. You see, Chantal, it’s already made you think you are in the ‘I don’t know’ stage, when in fact, it’s already got you to exclude one possibility without you apparently noticing.

    Be very wary of ‘Eastern mysticism’ (or as it’s known here and misnamed ‘New Age thinking’), it sounds very non-dogmatic on the surface but if you exaimine closely it’s implications, it’s actually far more dogmatic than it makes out. At least Christianity is upfront about the need for absolute truths. Eastern mysticism pretends it doesn’t need them but it’s not being honest with you about that.

    Ravi Zacharias (www.rzim.org) speaks about Eastern and Western forms of thinking very cogently, being a former Indian whose family was part of a Hindu priesthood, and who became a Christian as a young adult. He is very good at tackling the subtleties of Eastern mysticism that are not apparent at first glance.

    I suggest you do some reading from the ‘other side of the coin’ as it were, before you make further decisions. The above website would be a good place to start.

  • Thanks Steve…

    I appreciate your insight, and your advice. And because I like to approach each side of a debate, and each new idea with an open mind, I will definitely check out the site you suggest.

    But please don’t think I have abandoned my Christianity in light of some new-found eastern mysticism. I haven’t, nor do I feel that I ever could. The thing that attracted me to Christianity in the very first place, was this:

    When I was about 18 I met this boy named Alan, who very persistently witnessed to me about the love of Jesus Christ. I never wanted to hear what he had to say because #1 his approach was very off-putting, and #2 I had a pre-conceived notion of what born-again Christians were like (right-wing bible beaters–and yes many still are, but certainly not all). Alan finally got me when he said that being a Christian was more about a personal relationship with God, and less about the church you went to, the songs you sing, or the clothes you wear, etc..

    It’s that personal relationship that I will always hold on to. I know, for me, it’s still there, I feel it everyday.

    But I also recognize that PEOPLE have manipulated the beautiful faith that is Christianity over the past two thousand years, and I can’t help but feel that there is much more to the story….more than we will ever know in this lifetime.

    God doesn’t care that we ask these questions…in fact, I think He wants us to. So, I’m going to continue to read, and learn and explore alternative ways of thinking, keeping my mind open with every turn, knowing that God is with me on my journey.

    No matter what path we take, Steve, as God’s children, we will ultimately end up right where He wants us. But that doesn’t mean He wants us all on the same path.

    That’s just how I feel anyway.

  • Steve-
    I actually was raised in a fundamentalist church, lived in a yoga ashram, and participated in a Zen Buddhist community. I left all of them behind after I recognized the dogmas and blind spots that plagued them. So, I am none of the above. I found the meditation aspect of Zen to be closest to my heart, but Buddhism is rife with its own beliefs and accumulated cultural baggage. I did learn a little from each experience that was helpful.

    One of the things I try to avoid in comments and posts is doing battle. My general experience is that those most willing to move to the sword are actually trying to defend a weak spot or insecurity. I don’t care if the sword is wielded by a fundamentalist or an atheist, I distrust the intent. A skilled swordsman never draws the sword unless it is absolutely necessary.

    I have found that any belief about God necessarily limits God. Any absolute statement about the nature of God or universe will necessarily be outgrown like the notion of an Earth-centric universe. We act like kids in need of a super parent figure, but I for one don’t need another parent to tell me what I need to do each step of the way. I am an intelligent adult in a universe with which I seek to fully interact. It requires great awareness to maintain this relationship, so I try to live with as much integrity as I can muster so that I don’t blind myself or go to sleep at the wheel.

    To paraphrase gonzo, if your cup is to filled to the top with beliefs about God, there is no room to experience what God really is. I think I’ve used up my quota of the God word for the next month.

  • gonzo marx

    for #85..point of Logic…the deistic position you mention IS monotheistic…it just postulates that any who claim to have directly heard the word of “god” are either delusional or liars…

    and finally…to John…to oft have i drawn the twin “swords” of Wit and Reason, then shaved with Occams Razor on this site…hence my thought to depart from commenting

    but i must say, i am truly Honored that you would paraphrase lil ole me…

    ::bows, hand over fist::

    to you and chantal…


  • Steve

    My one gripe with pretty much all religions except Biblical Christianity is the incredible amount of work one has to do, and that you never know how much is enough to be ‘saved’ (except maybe be a martyr, as at least one major religion proposes). Jesus was very familiar with this fact by watching his countrymen, hence Mt. 11:30 below.

    Forgive me if I am presuming too much…
    The thing is, John, I fear you are trying to be your own god, and that is a heavy burden that will ultimately burn you out. When it does, remember Jesus’ words –

    “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Mt. 11:30).

    My one gripe with many fundamentalist churches is that they can be legalistic and emphasize appearances over a relationship with God. It sounds like your church may have made a similar mistake. You don’t sound like you’ve ever had a relationship with Jesus, John. To grow up in a church and not experience that is a sad testimony of that church indeed. It seems to be a fairly common problem, alas.

    It’s hard to imagine the Bible’s description of God as being eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful and infinite, etc. to be ‘limiting God’. But when you say, in effect, that ‘you don’t need another parent to tell me what I need to do…’, I’m afraid you are limiting God, by saying you don’t want/need to have a relationship with Him.

    Hmm, if I were unsure about what I believed John, I would NEVER do ‘battle’, as you put it. I’m an introvert, so ‘battle’ is not something I enjoy at all.

  • Steve

    well, gonzo, to put it this way, perhaps deism is better described as monotheistic in theory and atheistic in practice.

    I’m glad to hear what you said, Chantal, I would just make two points…

    you are right that there is more to Jesus than we will know in this life. Didn’t John say in Jn. 21:25? –

    “And I suppose that if all the other things Jesus did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books”.

    Granted, perhaps a little hyperbole there, but point taken. The issue is this –

    Many religions try to co-opt Jesus and his teachings, it is very important to remember that unless Jesus is a schizophrenic then he does not contradict himself. So it is important to contrast what others might say about Jesus with what we know he has said and done. If the two don’t jive, they can’t be both true.

    Also, you seem to be suggesting that God is somehow incapable of protecting his Word for millennia. This goes right to the heart of who God is. If God cannot do that, then he is not all powerful, then he is not the God of the Bible anymore. You see what I’m saying?? The arguments people use against Christianity can be very subtle, and often just try to remove one brick of your faith at a time without you even realising it.

    Re. paths, yes, there are many paths, but two places we can end up in. And we really don’t want to end up in one of those two places!!! I know you have trouble with that idea, but Jesus did teach it in the Gospels. It all goes back to the question, which/whose Jesus??

    Wow, it’s way past my bedtime, night all, great chatting with you Chantal, you’re a real sweetheart.

  • Bliffle

    Steve: “Re. paths, yes, there are many paths, but two places we can end up in. And we really don’t want to end up in one of those two places!!!”

    Too many presumptions not in evidence.

  • That must be where I’m going wrong: I LOVE ambiguity and nuance and am completely at ease with not knowing the meaning of life!

    I quite like the idea of a direct experience of god, as mentioned by chantal. I still can’t get with the idea of it being some unique being though.

    Some people speculate that life itself is the mysterious force that binds us and all existence together, that we humans are simply part of the process of the universe’s evolution as it grows and explores itself.

    I read a fascinating article recently postulating that organic life actually created the very continents themselves, long before life evolved on land or sea.

    To summarise, basalt, as found in the earth’s core and everywhere throughout space, is glassy when solid but liquid when hot. However, when organic compounds are present as basalt cools, small amounts of granite are produced. Wait a few billion years and hey presto, the future life bearing continents are formed!

    As it turns out, granite is very rare in the universe precisely because it needs these organic compounds to be formed. So life created the Earth!

    No wonder we all feel some inner sense of the wondrous miracle of it all. We literally ARE stardust, if you see what I mean.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris, your comment above is what I’m talking about at “Does God Heal Today?”

    Excellent job!!

  • Christopher…..that was beautiful. 🙂

  • Josh

    Chris, that’s kind of what Christianity says about God. “In Him you think and move and have your being”, or something like that. I’ve always saw it as saying that God is life itself. . .the very spirit of existing. The name kind of says it all — “I AM”.

  • gonzo marx

    for Christopher in #92…wonderfully put…

    “I am made from the dust of the stars,
    and the oceans flow in my veins..”

    Presto by Rush

    all in all, the original Posts Question remains Metaphysical…no one can know until after the Divide is crossed…

    and we all WILL cross it eventually

    so much strife over arguing about the unKnowable

    more’s the Pity


  • Bliffle

    “…it needs these organic compounds to be formed. So life created the Earth!”

    Illustrates one of the Perils Of Pop Science. “Organic” compounds are simply chemical compounds containing the element Carbon. In fact, synonomous with Carbon Compound.

  • Bliffle

    “all in all, the original Posts Question remains Metaphysical…no one can know until after the Divide is crossed…

    and we all WILL cross it eventually

    Presumes there is a divide, which is not proven. Precludes that we just expire.

  • re. gonzo #96….

    yes…so very true…

    and for me, pondering the unknown is what makes the journey so interesting.

    It’s like wandering through the wilderness, discovering the beauty of the forest along the way, not really knowing what’s behind the next big tree, over the next hill or around the next bend.

    We all have so much to learn….but the big Question is…are we willing to LISTEN to the forest?

  • troll

    (reminds me of an old one)

    I think that I might want to live forever…what do you think the chances of that are – ?

    one in a million – ?


  • I’m reading all thes comments here…one in particular caught my eye…Steve talking about God preserving the word in comment #90…maybe that’s why the Gnostic Gospels were discovered after 1500 years…God and Jesus making sure we get all sides of the story???

    just a thought…

  • gonzo marx

    Bliffle in #98…absolutely correct from the standpoint of Logic…but even if there is naught…that Answer is still discovered after shuffling off this mortal coil…tho Oblivion reveals naught, i agree…my point being there is currently no way for the Living to know at all

    Andy in #101…you begin to learn, young padawan


  • several years back, i was in the men’s room at an establishment in portland, maine called “three dollar dewey’s” (this was the original location, not the new one..right, like that’s important to anybody).


    above the urinal was this philosophical tidbit, scribbled in permanent black ink:

    “When You Die, You’re Dead”

  • told you gonzo…I’m not a complete loss!

    good to see we’re back on first name basis…that Mr. Marsh stuff….

  • gonzo marx

    to Mark…shout next time yer in Portland…

    for Andy and all the rest…my humblest Apologies for the last few days, and for my rampant negativity during that time, as well as my deepest thanks for all your kind Words and Thoughts…

    i make no excuses here, but do want to explain that there are times when difficulties with my physiclity affects the “gonzo” stylings of my writings and i spew what should better be left alone in a hsty and overly harsh manner

    i will do my best to refrain from such in the future…

    we now return you to your regularily scheduled program


  • I can’t speak for everyone else gonzo, but I still love ya man! glad you’re back to your regular self….now my education can continue…

  • Nancy

    Everyone’s entitled to PMS at least once a month, Gonzo old bean. Besides, in Maine it’s Mud Season. Bound to get you down. I myself will take this opportunity to say I won’t be here after Tues. for a few (days? weeks?) since I’ll be having some big-time surgery (I hope), so if you don’t see my comments, it’s not that I’ve lost interest.

  • Nancy

    Troll, do you really want to live forever? Think about it: unending cycles of stupid & venal corrupt politicians, trashy ‘created’ entertainer superstars, ever-more-intrusive marketing, blah blah blah; all your friends & familiar comforts gone; your fave TV shows not even on rerun any more, et al. Nah – one lifetime’s enough punishment for anyone.

  • gonzo marx

    Nancy…my best for you with the surgery bit, please let us know as soon as ya can that yer ok

    i can be reached by putting an underscore between my first and last names at the hotmail place, capisce?

    as for “living forever”…i’ll have to go with the Lazarus Long view on that…why not?

    best way to get back at your Foe is to outlive them

    just a Thought


  • Steve

    Re. Comment #101, the problem is Andy, that the two versions of Jesus described (NT Gospel vs. Gnostic Gospel) are two different Jesus’. They can’t both be true, only one or the other. So it’s not a question of it being two sides to the same story, rather, it means two different stories.

  • Steve

    Re. #92, like God says to Adam –

    “For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Gen. 3:19).

  • Steve

    Re. #91, there is plenty of evidence of both positive and negative near death experiences, Bliffle. There is only ‘no evidence’ if you choose to deny them all.

  • gonzo marx

    for #111 & 112…

    #111 – sez who? in each case, the writings were done by men, nothing is ever claimed to have been written by Yeshua himself…so your attempt at logical argument has no credence on that singular point alone

    as for #112…
    who wrote that down? wasn’t Adam…so who else was in the Garden taking notes and actually heard the conversation?

    same Question with the NT account of Judas and the Pharisees…who wrote down the conversation?

    even amongst the so-called Synoptic(one eye) Gospels in the NT, thre are differences…
    1) Yeshua’s last words are different
    2) two different Nativity scenes
    3) two different inscription placed by the Roman’s on the cross itself

    on and on

    this is one of the reason why some find fascination in the Gospel of Thomas…it is comprised completely of direct Quotes…nothing else…and there are parts of those Quotes that anyone knowledgeable with the NT would find familiar (certain parables)

    this is why

    gnosis > dogma

    nuff said


  • Nancy…..
    good luck with the surgery…I’ll be praying for ya, girl!

    Keep up posted about how you’re doing….my email addy is on my blog.

    gonzo…. glad youre back to feeling like urself again.

    Steve…youre a sweetheart too 😉

  • troll

    Gonzo – but who says these ‘quotes’ in Thomas are reliable – ?

    as you would say: and on and on


  • one more thing…gonzo….don’t think you’re off the hook just cuz you’re feeling better….we’re still waiting for another Post from you! 😉

    and re. to your last comment…
    you always have a way of stating simply, yet eloquently, what just happens to be jamming up my brain…thanks.

  • gonzo marx

    troll…why, never did i claim that these Quotes are the real deal…just that utilizing the rules of evidence, they offer the possibility of a more direct connection with the teachings under discussion

    my point in bringing them up was to show the difference between material that is possibly direct quotation (Thomas) and things which the writer could have NO possible direct knowledge of (the conversation between the Pharisees and Judas)

    i use these mere as examples and to provoke thought, NOT to postulate the accuracy of either

    now, go and shave with Occams Razor like a good lil troll, and stay outta the sunlight!

    chantal…thanks, and i am glad to be of some small help


  • troll

    gonzo – now that’s better but I never claimed that you claimed etc…my point merely is that truth is a hard one to pin down in the Jesus game


  • Steve

    Re. #112, gonzo, I was not referring to scripture in that comment, I don’t think you followed my question. I was talking about near death experiences in the present day, not in scripture.

    Re. #111, gonzo, you’ll have to tell us all about your religious revelation that God gave you that says that God is incapable of communicating truths about Himself thru people. I can’t wait to hear about it!!

    How do you know it wasn’t Adam or one of his descendants that wrote it down?? Has no one in your family ever written down recollections from your parents or grandparents?? It’s fairly obvious that the early chapters of Genesis consist of earlier writings.

    Re. the Gospel accounts, why would someone have to be there in the situation you mentioned in order for them to be written down? Most people when they are putting together an account of what happened involving lots of people, will generally interview alot of people in their quest to find out what happened. All the Gospel writers would have needed to do was ask the Pharisees what happened when Judas approached them.

    The differences you mentioned between the Gospels hardly imply contradiction, gonzo. It’s quite feasible that both versions can be quite correct. When interviewing people, police expect some folks to pick up on things others don’t notice. Just gives a broader picture of the events. If they were identical down to the last letter, well, that would imply collusion or conspiracy of some sort. As you pointed out, that is not the case with the NT Gospels.

    The problem with the Gospel of Judas that we have is that it is a third century copy of a second century document, it’s about a century too late to be considered more reliable than the NT Gospels.

  • Bliffle

    “…there is plenty of evidence of both positive and negative near death experiences, …”

    “Near death” is not death. I was Near Death driving the other day, but I have no knowledge of death as a consequence.

  • Bliffle

    gonzo: “…now, go and shave with Occams Razor like a good lil troll, and stay outta the sunlight!”

    Scott Adams has an interesting take on the Occams razor thing over at DilbertBlog:

    “If you know what occam’s razor is, you can skip this paragraph. According to Wikipedia, Occam’s razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory.

    For Skeptics, occam’s razor has become analogous to a religion. It has a sensible core concept but over time it has morphed into the irrational belief that “the simplest explanation is usually correct” in all sorts of contexts where it just isn’t true.

    For example, if you were arguing that millions of people have been abducted by aliens, and you had several theories for why no physical evidence has ever been found, the skeptic would bring up occam’s razor. “The simplest explanation is that those people are lying and/or deluded.” The skeptic would be right in this case, but a lucky rabbit’s foot appears to work sometimes too. The problem is not that occam’s razor works; the problem is that it APPEARS to work in EVERY case, even for people with opposite theories.

    I call this problem Adams’ razor, and it goes like this: “The explanation that you believe is correct will always seem simplest to you.”

  • Steve – to comment #110…I like to think of the Gnostic gospels not as a completely different story, but more pieces of the entire story…and like gonzo said in comment #113…there’s more than one story being told in the NT as it is…

    I think the problem organized religion had/has with the Gnostic gospels is that they sell a brand of christianity that doesn’t require alms and buildings…just a heart and a mind…

    As far as the accuracy of the gospels and the tales they tell…ever play that old telephone game? You know…everyone stands in a line and passes a line or two from person to person…by the end of the line, with only say a dozen people it’s rarely the same line it was when it started…Wonder how it would turn out if you played it for about 90 years before you wrote down the original line.

    The only razor I’m familiar with is the one that keeps me pretty…I call it…Gillettes razor…

    Nancy – I hope everything goes well for you next week. Good luck.

  • Nancy,

    May you be safe and experience a safe surgery, and a full recovery from whatever ails you.

    I tend to agree with you about living forever, but I don’t regard life as a punishment. If I can make soneone feel better, or feel happier, or bring enlightenment, I’ve done good here.

  • Nancy

    Thank you for your good wishes. Oh, I don’t regret anything I’ve done to make things better for someone/something else at all; I just think that an unending future of the continual grind of negative things on a person would be terribly wearing, if not outright boring & depressing. How much of the Daily News can you stand, after all?

  • Look at it this way, Nancy. I don’t read the Daily Snooze or the Old Grey Lady. I don’t watch TV (don’t got one).

    The world goes its way and I go mine. every now and then we meet – usually when I pay bills or at Blog Criics

  • Steve

    Well, Andy, I have yet to hear any professor that’s been on Canadian TV agree with you on the Gnostic Gospels. And all of these professors have been on secular shows and many are NOT Christians, so it’s not like they are defending their own religious beliefs.

    Of course, there are many churches out there, where what you give financially to a church can be optional, so I think your aversion to alms is just an excuse, Andy.

    There is such a thing as house churches too even today, indeed, that is how the Christian faith survived persecution in the first few centuries.

    I think you need to realise that Christianity is bigger than some of your stereotypes of it.

    I’m curious that you feel that the techniques police use to discover what happened (i.e interviewing eye witnesses) is just a telephone game. Makes you wonder why they bother, eh??

    I’ve heard plenty to suggest that all four Gospels were written in the first century, within the lifetimes of those who witnessed the events. Don’t know where you get 90 years from. Even so, that didn’t stop those who were looking for the Titanic in the 1980’s from interviewing folks who were on the ship at the time to help figure out how it sank back in 1912, did it?? Their information helped determine how it sank, so they could narrow the search for where to look for it.

    I’m really not sure how you can read the NT and the Gnostic Gospels and say they are part of the same story, and yet read the NT Gospels on their own and say they tell different stories. Now that really is a contradiction in terms!!

    It really does seem like feelings rather than logic is driving your antagonism towards Biblical Christianity. I would be curious to know what incidents in your life caused you to be the way you are.

  • gonzo marx

    Steve sez…
    *The differences you mentioned between the Gospels hardly imply contradiction, gonzo. It’s quite feasible that both versions can be quite correct. When interviewing people, police expect some folks to pick up on things others don’t notice. Just gives a broader picture of the events.*

    and thus you perfectly disprove the concept of “divinely inspired” text..and show that these are the writings of flawed men, at the very least

    however, time for lil ole me ot leave this topic be..one cannot enlighten a Believer to anything other than their pre-concieved notions

    my ONLY point in all this is that there is Value in texts other than those approved by dogma, and that Literalist claims are absurd by the very nature of what they claim Literal belief in

    your mileage may vary


  • Nancy

    How did we get from Life After Death to the Gnostic Gospels? I read the entire thread & I still missed that one. LAD to Gnostics to Occam…conversations here sure get comprehensive, don’t they?

  • Well Steve – I’ve read the Gnostic Gospels and the Gospel of Judas. I didn’t get my info from TV, I got some of it from Elaine Pagels and other writers of the books I’ve read on the subject.

    I’m curious, Have you read any of the Gnostic Gospels? And if you have, did you read with an open mind, or did you read them like my mother did…with a bit of a closed mind?

    I guess being raised a catholic and attending catholic school for 11 years and being taught that RCC christianity is the only real version of the religion and being taught that the rest of the world is going to hell may have jaded me just a bit….maybe it was that priest that said he wanted $50 a week from every working person in the family when I was making $75 a week bothered me a bit…I was told when I was younger that if I attended services in a church other than an RC church I was commiting a sin! WTF is up with that?

    maybe reading The Gospel According to Thomas and the Gospel of Judas and the Sophia of Christ have opened my eyes…

    Then again…maybe I’m wrong on all of it…maybe the Gnostic Gospels are nothing better than a Bazooka Bubble gum wrapper…then again…maybe it’s the other gospels that are wrong…

  • Steve

    Re. #129, thanks for that, Andy, that explains alot.

    Out of all the folks I’ve talked to that are the most disillusioned or disappointed with Christianity, it seems the vast majority I meet grew up in the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most secular province in Canada these days is the province where the RCC was the strongest until 30-40 years ago (Quebec). You have my sympathies.

    Having not had any exposure to the RCC myself, except maybe a wedding and a funeral, I can’t say much from personal experience, but from the ex-Catholics I’ve talked to, I don’t know how anyone can argue the ‘Papal way’ is better than the ‘NT way’. The RCC seems designed to create spiritual spectators (at least, if you aren’t going to get into the clergy). I just don’t see how that could be a healthy structure for a congregation.

    Churches should be trying to facilitate lay ministries, get people DOING ministry, rather than watching the priest do it all.

    I guess that’s why I could never be a Catholic, too many of the Papal decrees on how things should be done just screw everything up.

    And No One should be telling you what to give to your church. Giving is a heart issue, doing it out of duty rather than personal conviction is not what it’s supposed to be about. God sees right through that, so it is a redundant approach. Even though there were some people in my church who felt one should give a tithe (1/10th of your income), I never did, and no one ever gave me hassle over it. It’s a matter between you and God, no one else.

    Re. the Gnostic Gospels, I did read a few back in the nineties, the dualism between the material and the immaterial that they had seemed totally unlike either the NT, or the OT for that matter. I couldn’t (and still can’t) see how both kinds of gospels could be accurate reflections of reality. They have irreconciliable doctrines as far as the nature of the universe (material=evil vs. material=good), who created the universe (an ‘inferior being’ vs. God) and who Jesus was (i.e. mythic vs. historical person).

  • Steve

    gonzo, if you don’t take your own Gnostic beliefs literally either (as you seem to be implying that I shouldn’t mine) then what meaning do they have, pray tell??? You may as well make it up as you go along. But then, if God can’t communicate thru people, how can you know what you are making up is true at all?? If you can’t, why bother??

    The Christian position on ‘inspiration’ holds that it is the Scriptures, not the writers who were inspired. The Biblical documents themselves bear the mark of each writer’s personality and linguistic habits.

    I would never hold that there is NO VALUE in other texts, necessarily. But any historian worth his salt, will expect the oldest documents to be more reliable than more recent ones.

  • gonzo marx

    Steve…i’ll try once again here to show you a bit of what i am trying to say

    firstmistake on your part…NOWHERE do i state ANYTHING that i “believe”



    i clearly use the words think/thoughts to describe my positions

    secondly, your choices on dating some materials under discussion and mine differ…there is also the point of history

    some texts leapt, untouched over a vast period of time, while others have been re-copied, edited and “interperted” many times

    if you look at some of the older greek texts of the NT and compare themn to , let’s say the KJ version you will note some glaring errors

    “suffer ye not a witch to live” in KJ

    as compared to the greek…

    “allow not a poisoner to continue”

    big fucking difference…

    that ONE mis-translation alone has killed how many people over the centuries?

    it is my Thought that ANY who claim to have “heard” the word of or know the Mind of “god” are either delusional or charlatans

    nuff said


  • Nancy

    My only experience with ANY organized religion is that their only real interest is in your checkbook. My neighbors recently reported to me that their church actually issued all members automatic payment deduction authorizations (with everything except the amount & the members’ account numbers filled in), & announced that everyone should sign it & turn it in so the tithes can be automatically paid in to the church. Those who cavilled at this were visited/called by a deacon, who politely but firmly queried as to WHY they hadn’t returned the authorization, and he’d take it for them right now, thank you. Apparently the pressure was never nasty, but it was very inexorable. I was outraged. I’d quit that damned church before I’d ever give them a nickel, but my neighbors are not as hard as I am & they have too many ties to others in that church. I consider this kind of crap outright blackmail & extortion. It’s a main-stream Christian (so called) denomination, BTW. This is not the first time recently I’ve heard of this new trend, either. It seems to be gaining ground, especially in some of the more financially agressive churches.

  • Nancy, th at particular church sounds bad, and I don’t doubt you, but in fairness I must say that not all religious orgs are money-hungry. I’m as agnostic as you can get, but when I did go to church I found honest people who practiced what they preached. There are altruistic Christians out there (and probably people of other religions too; I just don’t have first-hand experience). My lack of religion is based on philosophy and reason, not the practices of individuals.

  • Nancy

    I wish mine were based that logically. No, my bad feelings are all repugnance based on actual observances/experience. I’ve encountered damn few Christians who actually practiced it, and those in their church heirarchies (priests, pastors, deacons, etc.) were the worst. Actually, the person I’ve encountered who practiced the most Christian virtues is Jewish. And no, the initials aren’t JC.

  • Steve

    gonzo, ‘suffer not a witch to live’ is from Ex. 22:18, which is in the Hebrew originally, not the Greek, plenty others have the same translation from the Hebrew as the KJV, so I doubt it’s a mistranslation. Not sure which Greek you are referring to (the Greek version of the OT, the Septuagint, maybe???), but it certainly isn’t a quote from the NT.

    Of course, if people listening did not know the context of that verse, they may have misapplied it. I notice these tragedies only happen when Biblical illiteracy is at it’s highest i.e. the Middle Ages. I guess that’s a good argument for people not to be ignorant of the Bible’s contents, that way, they can’t be misled by those who quote out of context, right???

    Re. people in general, as a Christian, I view everybody as a sinner, so when someone does something they shouldn’t, it never surprises me. I expect that. Fortunately, when dealing with other Christians, I can always refer them to the Bible to get them to think whether what they did was actually a good idea. Not much one can do with non-believing folks, alas, except pray for them.

    gonzo, 95% of the OT is intact, as is 99% of the NT. The few passages in doubt do not affect any Christian doctrines commonly held by us today. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill, my friend.

    I don’t know anyone who has been to a church like the one you experienced Nancy, sorry to hear that. The OT tithe had nothing to do with money, again, if folks knew the origins of these things in the OT, they might not be so dogmatic about them about applying them today. It’s not enough to quote a verse, important to know what was going on at the time when things were said.

  • “It’s not enough to quote a verse, important to know what was going on at the time when things were said.

    Well put, Steve….the problem is, too many churches and Christians do exactly that…..they quote a scripture, take it in its literal sense, without considering the context or the time in which it was written.

    Faith is needed when reading the Bible, and applying biblical principles to everyday life, but blind faith can be very dangerous. Many Christians rely simply on blind faith, with no regard to intellectual Thought.

    Thanks for the comments, Steve, and everyone…always thought provoking and appreciated.

  • gonzo marx

    Steve sez…
    *I guess that’s a good argument for people not to be ignorant of the Bible’s contents, that way, they can’t be misled by those who quote out of context, right???*

    tell that to the folks in Salem….slaves, or gays

    tell that to any of the victims of “the 5 Heresies”

    tell that to Jaques DeMolay, and know why we have triskaidekaphobia.

    enough from me…be well Steve


  • Steve

    gonzo, good and true things are open to abuse as is anything else. And that’s because people are sinners, gonzo. Just like the Bible says. The more you point out the sins of the past, the more you remind me about how right the Bible is about peoples’ sinfulness. Any worldview that ignores that fact is in big trouble.

    In reference to that fiendishly difficult to spell word you mentioned, gonzo, I’ve never had a fear of the number 13, or Friday the 13th, nor is that fear taught in scripture. In fact, I would argue that comes from reading the Bible in a non-literal fashion, i.e. looking for meanings and symbols that were not intended by the original author. It’s when you focus too much on the symbolic, that superstition gains a strength all it’s own, because it becomes completely divorced from actual events, and devolves into meaningless speculations.

    yw, Chantal.

  • gonzo marx

    no Steve, it comes from a friday the 13th, when Jaques DeMolay and many other Templars were rounded up, tortured and executed for heresy by the King of France (who wanted their lands and money) in collusion with the “infallible” Pope…

    a small example of the Actuality of history, and the Knowledge of it, rather than the doctrine (or dogma) painted by the Victors afterwards…

    try the Cathars for another prime example

    i know your Beliefs are set, and i have no desire to try and convince nor Enlighten you…

    but perhaps other gentle Readers may ask themselves a Question or two…and begin to think fo rthemselves rather than accept Authoritarian strictures laid upon them

    as for “sinners”…here is a baseline disAgreement between us…i do not think there is any such thing as “original sin”…i do not think ANY can “atone” for another…just for themselves..and i do not think any Agency of Man (churches)has anything to do with it…other than to extract money from their flock to try and buy “forgiveness”

    each Person makes their own Choices and is inherently Responsible for them…no one else

    and it is always a Choice

    you appear to promote the literal and remain blinded to the Symbolic…

    might i point out that the first and greatest Tools of Man are Symbols…from words, to writing, to speech, to music to Art….to Parable

    all are Symbols


  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Gonzo, Steve,

    gonzo, ‘suffer not a witch to live’ is from Ex. 22:18, which is in the Hebrew originally, not the Greek,

    Without arguing any other points here, the Hebrew verse – which is authoritative – is as follows:

    makhshefá lo t’Hayé: do not permit a witch to live.

  • nugget

    to #29 “Where do you get the idea that people are under the influence of some evil inclination?”

    and to #31,

    There is a misconception on good vs. evil in Jewish doctrine and Christianity.

    C.S. Lewis explained it this way: All men WANT good. We want good. I want world peace. I want kids to be happy. I want a cheeseburger. I want sex. You might want these things. Therefore…

    pleasure = good.

    pleasure IS good. I believe God wants us to have pleasure!!

    BUT, evil is choice to do what is wrong in order to obtain good! There is no evil in the way that conspiracy theorists view evil. Ya know, ugly man rubbing hands together with a cackling laugh secretly planning the world’s demise. the ability to do “evil” is in all of us. We all have PRIDE. that is, sometimes we are tired and fed up. That same night we get drunk and get in a fight. The release of aggression and rush is a GOOD thing. But our way of getting it is WRONG. Evil is the wrong way to obtain goodness! That’s my take.

    Hitler. I know I know. Hitler. Hitler wanted a great Nation! In all of his zeal he wanted to triumph! He felt humiliated and betrayed. He wanted good for “his” people. The manifestation of his ostensibly innocuos wants yielded a mass slaughter of a particular race of man. OOPS. Ok hitler = evil? well, depends on your version of “evil.” I’d like to see proponents of moral relativism explain Adolf and his intense will to dominate much of Europe. I say Adolf was a weak, weak, weak man. He could not handle the offenses that marked his childhood. (gosh I sound sooo Dr. Phil right now) So he funnels his aggression, a need of belonging, and excitement for competition by creating a war and eliminating his enemies.

    Mr. Child molester rapes a child. CM only wanted sexual pleasure from something quite innocent. CM might have been inundated with a sexual euphoria during this moment. Who knows why! But he might have. Sexual euphoria??? Bad thing? No. Manifested by raping and killing a child makes it a BAD THING.

    Thusly, evil does not = opposite good. Evil = wrong direction to good.

    ok i hope someone gets my point.

    this is a great thread btw.

    to John Spivey #44: ” I have struggled to understand how faith makes us spiritual. It has seemed to me to be the lazy person’s way out of coming to grips with life and meaning, an absolution of the difficulties of the path. Faith has never saved me, never healed the pain of my life, never provided balm for watching the cruelties of the world. When I observe what life really is and throw off my judgments and blinders, I fall into a mystery and awe that takes me deeper into being here, deeper into being human. At that moment I understand things that I can’t explain. Paradoxically I feel that I come closer to something called god by becoming more deeply human. When I again fear life I suddenly lose it all.”

  • nugget

    woops. I tagged on that quote accidently.

    anyways, about that (john). Why do you represent “faith” as the antithesis of throwing off judgements and blinders?

    Why can’t your faith live comfortably with your yearning to understand?

    Why can’t gnosis reinforce faith?

    I agree with you to an extent. But, I don’t understand why you view your situation as a paradox.

  • nugget

    gonzo: I think you and I agree that one man’s interpretation is as good as the next. But how do you choose your sources? If not the Bible, then what? How do you distinguish one source over another? Because it feeds your prejudices? Probably. Hey me too. If a PHD in history writes a column about the Roman Empire, I’ll probably believe him because he’s done more research.

    But what is research? Research is just as anecdotal as ANYTHING else. Let’s say Joe shmo college professor writes a column and lists his sources who were “Joe shmo from 30 years ago, joe shmo from 65 years ago, and jo shmo from 116 years ago….also, these three joe shmos got their info from about 50 combined JOE SHMOS!” Sounds like the telephone game to me! the same principle applies to the bible! I know that.

    My real question is, gonzo, Why the hell do you have so much FAITH is GNOSIS? Because everyone knows what happens in the Telephone game! A hairy dog becomes a scary hog, a snarley fog, a cheery log! One economics theorist misinterprets another! A German scientist thinks he’s doing the world a favor by splitting an atom. He gets a nice paycheck! Go gnosis! Then the manhattan project. Then a bunch of dead japs! Go gnosis! I’m not saying science bad or any of that hogwash. Science is perty cool! I like my ipod. I like advil. I like the fact that it shuts up religious zealots that say that black people can’t read and that the world is flat. I like all that. But does actual, bonafied DOCTRINE negate SCIENCE or GNOSIS??? NO. People fuck up science. People fuck up God. And people fuck up themselves. We’re all guilty of fucking something up. So you can mope about how organized religion does this and that and I’ll sit back and agree with you. But not based on the fact that God does it. People do it. People of faith? sure. People without faith? sure. Scientists? yea. geez, just everybody!

    to be frank, this gnosis crap is just a faith-based as ANYthing else. You trust your car is going to start up in the morning? WHY? Is it because you know exactly how it works?? Can you map out all the mechanical and electrical parts in your mind while you turn the key, fully expecting it to start up and take you to work? No. Humans operate on faith and paranoia!

  • Steve

    Thank you, Ruvy and nugget for your latest comments.

    That’s wonderful, gonzo. Ummm, did I say I was a Catholic?… did I say I believed in papal authority?… I don’t recall saying that at all. There was Christian faith outside the Roman Catholic Church, you know, from the beginning. You should try finding a book called “The Pilgrim Church” by E.H. Broadbent (1931, I have a 1985 reprint), it gives you a much broader perspective of the history of the Christian faith than the history of the Roman Catholic Church ever could. Your historical qualms appear to be more with the RCC, than with the rest of us Christians.

    You know, gonzo, I’ve been taking your comments quite literally but I’m beginning to wonder if I should bother. I’m obviously missing the hidden symbolic meanings in your comments.

  • gonzo marx

    to nugget…gnoses is greek for knowledge…no more and no less

    i have NEVER stated i put any “faith” in anything, have i?

    both Steve and Ruvy…i know where the quote comes from..i don’t read Hebrew…so my own poor memory made a bad example, mea culpa

    and finally…for Steve….have a good life, seriously…no need for you to be slightly concerned about my viewpoint

    you have indeed succeeded in tilting me permantently into the futility column…my own fault really

    bye folks

  • Steve

    Bye gonzo, nice chatting.

  • nugget

    gnosis > dogma?

    how about gnosis + dogma > dogma or gnosis by itself.

  • nugget

    And, everyone has faith. There are those of us who own up to it and those who don’t.

  • nugget….thanks for your comments on this thread, very well thought out….and I appreciate your perspective.

    Happy Sunday, everyone 🙂

  • Steve

    Re. #149, good point, nugget.

    Thanks, Chantal, you too.

  • nugget

    Thanks chantal. Excellent thread. this topic makes me particularly emotional. I have thought/read about religion a great deal and hope to add to the insight that others have already offered.

  • you’re welcome, nugget…and let me recommend John Spivey’s book, The Great Western Divide. It’s an amazing journey through the landscape of the mind, and a fresh perspective just on who we are and how we relate to this place where we are.