Saturday, January 24, 2009

Introduction to God's Motive

God's Motive is a new book I have just completed but which hasn't been published. I am in search of a literary agent. It is much harder to obtain representation than it is to write a book. I will probably publish one more chapter here at some point but if I put the whole book on this blog nobody will need to read the it if by some miracle it gets published. - Phillip

God is not a concept. God is not a spirit. God is not our father...stepfather maybe but not the all knowing gray-haired kinglike figure sitting on a gold throne someplace in a non-dimensional paradise. God is still a mystery but less a mystery than he used to be, at least to me.

Plausible deniability is the term that comes to mind when dealing with the subject of a visitation from God. Just writing that sentence causes me to look around the room to make sure no one is reading it over my shoulder. I looked long and hard at my future as a functioning member of society before concluding that this book was the best way to go. The decision to write all this down is not unlike deciding to go public after being the only witness to a UFO landing and seeing the alien craft discharging its crew of pink unicorns and silver fairies, who proceed to tell me how to conduct cold fusion, cure cancer and then mysteriously disappear.

Your first inclination is to go get really drunk and keep it all to yourself. The problem is you really do know how to do cold fusion and cure cancer. You also know that in a room of 1000 people 1000 of them will be skeptical or downright hostile to your claims. History is full of people burned at the stake, stoned in the town square, tied to chairs and dunked in the river, nailed to crosses, or locked in padded rooms whom I know with absolute certainty told the same story I am about to tell. The problem is they didn’t tell it right.

I am not a religious man. My personal piety is born of skepticism. I have been showered in the eternal flame of reason, tested by the relentless avalanche of man’s logic and tempted at the altar of science and certainty. I am a zealot in the pursuit of the secular. I will repeatedly claim that I am not a religious man. I am not a man of faith, yet I am asking people to take what I say on faith. I am not asking anyone to perform any rituals or chant in a certain way. There are no reasons to bow or scrape, face a certain direction when you pray or even to pray at all.

The accoutrements of organized religion have no bearing on anything here. No altars, no crosses, no podiums, no lecterns, no pews, candles, hymnals, sermons, fonts, rugs or symbols. No prophets. No dietary rules. No rules about how you should be dressed. No sacred places. No churches, temples, mosques and certainly no tent revivals. You can take every noun associated with religious activity of any kind lock it in a box and toss the box into the ocean. Yet this is a tale about God. Not just about God but about meeting God, at least hearing God while being held up by angels.

It has been thirteen years since I wandered back to my hotel room in Lakeland, Florida, more than a bit dazed and swore myself to secrecy about the events of that day, but here I am, spilling my guts to the world at large, counting on man’s skepticism to keep me alive and counting on their curiosity to keep me financially solvent. Don’t get me wrong. While I am conveying information that could change the world if taken seriously, I am also selling a book and chances are after most people read it they won’t take it seriously. Why should they? It wasn’t written thousands of years ago. It contains little or no lofty rhetoric. No one dies, no one is born to a virgin, no water into wine miracles and no one gets resurrected or ascends into Heaven on a horse. It has little or nothing to offer the common religious person.

For all of these 13+ years, I have been among the enlightened. I have carried around a knowledge unique to these times but common to history. Following is a set of narratives, descriptions and opinions setting down in print, what I know and what I think it means. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given any extended intellectual capabilities that would help me understand any of this better; I was simply given data and information. It is human nature to try and apply our opinions to our knowledge and I will not shy away from that. I definitely have a set of opinions that encompass the scope of this knowledge and it is included here. Everyone gets to accept or reject all or part of anything I have to say. We are all free to judge, we do it all the time about everything else, why should an alternative explanation of God be any different? Skepticism is at the very core of Free Will and Free Will is at the very core of everything.

I have good news and bad news. God exists. Depending on what you currently believe that news is either good or bad. God doesn’t interact with us on any level other than the conveyance of knowledge from time to time to randomly selected individuals. There is no evidence that the selection criterion is based on anything other than randomness. You get to decide which is the good news and which the bad. I wouldn’t know.

None of this is good news for the organized religions of the world unless they have a sincere desire to get to the bottom of the nature of God. When considering their reactions in the past, this doesn’t seem likely. In another time, I would be burned at the stake. In some places that may still be true today. I am not trying to convert anyone to anything because anything they would convert to would be a guess on my part and a waste of their time. While any guess is as good as another, so far, human beings have guessed incorrectly and the results have resulted in a less than stellar set of consequences to civilization’s humanity.

I may yet regret writing all this down. But my regret, like all else human, will be short lived. After all we don’t live forever…at least not in a biological sense. Based on what I know now, forever appears to be finite as well.

The lives of mankind over the centuries have all been guided. We have been convinced, cajoled and controlled by wave after wave of stories turning into traditions, turning into rituals and finally turning into commandments. We have been manipulated by a higher power and that power is ignorance; fed by the deliberate infusion of specific and clearly articulated knowledge that plainly isn’t true. The outcome of this historical distribution of faulty knowledge is not the motive for our existence. That motive is benign…God’s motive. To enlighten us is to bring us closer to understanding why we are here and why we are as we are.

The unforeseen consequence of enlightenment has been centuries of unbelievably stupid behavior driven by man-made dogma. Dogma imposed on us by people who misunderstood what they were being shown or by people who decided that what they were shown held no personal profit delivered “as is.” It had to be embellished to hold the attention of the audience.

So religion was born. Rules were written. Dogma was imposed. Death and destruction soon followed. We are gullible beings. Pretty much anything delivered from a position of authority will be embraced by someone and once embraced, fanaticism soon follows. We are willing …eager even, to use force on our fellow humans so that we aren’t alone in our irrational belief systems. Numbers mitigate doubt. Power removes all doubt. Absolute power removes reason and always leads to oppression. There is no such thing as the benign dictator because no power that controls our Free Will no matter how compassionate is ever benign.

Until 1995 I had led a pretty unremarkable life. I was born in the summer of 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. We were living in the Fort Worth area because my brother had a severe case of scoliosis and my mother moved the family around based on what doctor he was seeing. Not much was known about the immune system during those times and excessive X-Rays may have compromised his resistance to infection and 3 years later while we were living in rural Oklahoma, he contracted an infection that is associated with chickens and died. Before you could say Munchhausen by Proxy, we moved back to Texas where I grew up on a farm just outside of Gainesville where ironically enough we raised chickens.

We were raised as what I term “holiday Methodists.” My mother wasn’t really very religious and neither was our father. Mama felt obligated to expose us to church so that we didn’t grow up to be heathens. It didn’t really work out. So we sporadically attended services. We also went to church with the family who lived across the highway from us, Marshal and Dosie Chapman. They had lost their son in an accident when he was 6, the same age as my brother.

The Chapman’s were very religious. Mr. Chapman, who smoked 4 packs a day of unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer and their already zealous religious fervor, took on a decidedly fundamentalist and strident aspect. We often found ourselves in someone’s house sitting on couches being screamed at by a fire and brimstone preacher who had broken off from the already conservative church up the street as Marshal looked for a miracle. Marshal died in 1968 and I miss him still. God didn’t save his life. God saves no lives. God is only interested in your soul and your soul only presents itself to God when you die. All that happens before that sad event is the providence of man not God.

My next episode with religion was when we moved into Gainesville from the farm and started attending the 1st Methodist Church. My older brother and I attended Sunday school along with a lot of our friends. The Church Fellowship Hall is where I learned to play pool (Trouble in River City). Church to me was a place to play pool and meet girls. Bars played the same role in later life.

I was a kid. I wasn’t really paying much attention to the repetitive nature of the rituals. I know now that each service was exactly the same as the last one with the only variety being in the sermon and choice of readings and hymns. The Sermon’s were basically the same from year to year based on where on the church calendar a particular Sunday fell. People spend their entire lives going to church and repeating the same words, listening to the same message about the same set of events, their entire lives. It never changes. It is the antitheses of Free Will.

This repetitive liturgy is the foundation of a religion that claims to embrace Free Will yet believes in an omnipresent supreme being. Religion is illogical by definition if logic is the absence of contradiction. Basically the Methodists believe in the sacrifice of the perfect to the imperfect. It is not unlike casting pearls before swine or using the best table wine to make a sauce. They see no harm in it. I guess even knowing what I know now I see no harm in it…just a wasted Sunday morning that could be spent doing something constructive, like sleeping.

During my high school years, I discovered that nothing ticked off the adults around me more than a teenager spouting atheism. So as a typical rebellious teenager, I embraced it. I was once removed from a classroom for taking the Lord’s name in vain. I said, “for God’s sake.” It was Texas in 1971 and the English teacher was mortified, offended and angered. She had me remove myself from her presence to the principal’s office. I had to tell the Principal that I was an atheist so that I wouldn’t have to apologize to the old bat.

My youngest son has basically the same outlook now as I did then without quite as much cynicism. He is a true believer in not believing and therefore a zealot in the army of the irreligious and unchurched. I think there isn’t much difference between a fundamentalist Christian and an unrepentant crusading atheist. Both have the potential for making unbelievably intolerant utterances and each think the other is the harbinger of society’s eminent collapse. Opposites are equal.

They are both steeped in dogma and can be counted on to quote their leaders as if quoting the gospel truth. I on the other hand am a true believer in the ambiguity of God’s plan. At this point I know what God’s plan is and it doesn’t really include us except in an abstract way. God isn’t interested in us per se. He is merely protecting his main concept which is one of our many aspects from interference. It is kind of like the prime directive from Star Trek. Unlike Captain Kirk, God sticks to his guns and doesn’t violate his prime directive.

Our relationship with the almighty doesn’t kick in until our biological body dies and frees our soul from the prison of the flesh. Imagine what this sudden freedom must be like for a victim of brain damage?

So, this is the story I am about to tell along with the commentary that goes with it true? I believe that is the wrong question. You should ask, ‘does it really matter?’ It is what we do with the information that matters. The truth of it is irrelevant. We are judged; objectively, based on criteria that is unknown to us and will not be revealed. So there is no dogma to cling to. There is certainly no reason to force a dogma on others no matter how compelling the temptation because we are judged as individuals and not as members of some artificial affiliation with groups, races, creeds, nations or gender. When you stand before the almighty, no one will ask you what groups you belonged to, the color of your skin or the language of your ancestors. We are simply judged on the content and bearing of our souls based on criteria we aren’t allowed to know. So choose prudently your life’s philosophical bent.

My son, who is my sounding board for a lot of this, wasted no time in telling me how unfair such a belief system is. My response is that this is not a system and no one is being asked to believe it or do anything about it. It is just a fact, like gravity and just as unfair and fair. That it doesn’t require you to do anything and doesn’t ask you to emulate perfection with the expectation of failure, requiring forgiveness, makes it a lot more appealing to me than the proclamations of the Methodists. I don’t mean to pick on the Methodists. You kind of go with what you know. The Methodists don’t really expect much either, but they pretend to. I could just as easily have picked on the Lutherans…maybe even more easily.

I don’t have a church. Instead I have an expectation and am completely in control of what I do from a spiritual and every other perspective. I am not in control of my afterlife since I don’t know the criteria for salvation. As long as I don’t pretend to, I don’t foresee any crusades on behalf of Free Will. After all, you can’t impose Free Will on people, you can only leave them alone and “Free Will” will find them. So hold on to your hats.

What I intend to do in this book is explain what happened, what is happening and what it means to me. You will have to work it out among yourselves what it means to you. Here there are no offers of salvation. No promises of a final outcome. The God I know doesn’t care if you pray. He isn’t listening anyway. If you are living a decent life and are happy then you have to admit that life has been more than fair. If you are living a terrible life not of your own making no one is to blame except circumstance and we are in charge of circumstance.

You could be living in abject poverty squatting to pick the runway gravel out of your daily ration of wheat paste that UNICEF just airdropped near what’s left of your war ravaged village. You might be hoping that the water you mix it with to make that paste for your evening meal won’t give you cholera or terminal diarrhea. Life is random, death and dismemberment even more so. We shouldn’t waste a minute of it striving to meet unobtainable expectations of a deity who hasn’t made an appearance in 2000 years. Individual people don’t have an attention span of more than a few minutes yet collective mankind waits indefinitely for Jehovah to make a return visit.

Most of the people reading this will be sitting in their living room with the high definition TV turned down and a nice cup of coffee or tea on the side table. You have exactly the same shot at paradise as that fellow squatting on the runway in Darfur. Fairness is a concept that sits in the middle of a road that we really don’t want to go down. I for one don’t have a problem with the ambiguity of it. I don’t believe that misery loves company. I don’t have the power to fix all the stuff that is broken and now that I understand that God doesn’t either and wouldn’t if He could, I can finally relax and enjoy what is left of my biological life.

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