Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view. I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions.
It shouldn't be surprising that those committing their life to a false worldview will have silly thoughts as well as psychologically disturbing thoughts (but these, are not necessarily psychological disorders).
English has no pronoun for a conscious agent without reference to gender, so I use he/she.
Some conceptions of God make God out to be a micromanager to the extreme, who oversees and directs every smallest detail of the universe. This, because they view God via theology, with God as omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere), omniscient (all-knowing).
Christians who seek God's will before doing even the smallest activity certainly think of God as a micromanager — God observes and judges even the tiniest thought, word, and action.
Even though they claim God does this, they have to explain why he/she often (usually) fails to do it. God is like an intermittent father who neglects his children often. But somehow this doesn't sabotage God's character — he/she is still all-good.
And I should mention: they don't explain the mechanism by which God micromanages in a way harmonious with science.
Also neglected is any mention of why God often doesn't interact with us at all as we might wish he/she would. As a non-theist, I claim that God never interacts with us at all; the supposed interaction is all an illusion created by our belief in God; we inject the idea that God is interacting with us into every situation. But, since there is no God, there is actually no interaction from him/her at all; it's all merely our own imagination.
The Christian idea, that, if you are suffering, you must have sinned. This is a very bad way of thinking. Some (many) who suffer have done nothing to deserve it. And is God really that hard-hearted to make people suffer all the time?
Of course it's true that bad choices in your life can lead to suffering in your life.
You just heard a friend from church is sick, so now you have to pray so God will intervene by either: (1) healing them, or (2) comforting them (or at least minimize their discomfort). You have to decide which so you can pray for God's will. (If you pray outside of God's will it is sin.)
So first you have to pray that God would reveal his will to you so you can pray correctly. But there is no time for this because all your prayer partners are looking on expectantly and it's come round the circle and is your turn to pray. So you pray noncommittally, "dear God, please do your will." And they all chuckle under their breath, "no faith in that one."
So instead, you have to suddenly pretend God revealed his will to you: complete supernatural miraculous healing. (There is no other acceptable choice; people will mock you if you pray the person dies, or their illness lingers.) So you pray for complete supernatural miraculous healing — and the person dies. And so now, everyone knows that you are not Spirit-filled and that you have no relationship with God whatsoever. Your ability to superstitiously predict the future is now mocked by all and your reputation as a prayer-warrior is ruined.
All this without wondering how a loving God who heals would allow someone to get sick in the first place.
Then you learn someone was in a car accident and everyone in the car except another church friend died. "It's a miracle your friend lived," everyone says. But you wonder why God didn't just prevent the car accident in the first place. And everyone secretly knows that those that who were killed were living in secret sin which God finally judged.
But then this surviving friend from the car accident dies too, so you have to change your opinion of them to match the others.
. . . . .
Prayer is not like this. You are not responsible for the outcome if you pray that God blesses someone. Prayer is like cuddling with your dogs; you do it because all of you like it, and because they are warm and furry, and you like it that they like it too.
. . . . .
Christians know that prayer doesn't work. If a prayer isn't answered they have all kinds of reasons/excuses/justifications:
And they never study scientifically whether the outcomes are no different than mere chance.
I just heard a Christian pondering whether the mundane task they had to do tomorrow could somehow be considered by God as worthwhile. Then they described a video in which tiny tasks such as smiling at a child caused a dark earth (viewed from space) to get a dot of brightness until finally the earth was all lit up. (I can't imagine how tedious this video must have been with so many dots needing lighting.)
For a religion that claims to only need God's grace, they sure seem to obsess with the tiniest of activities and whether God called them to do it, and whether it pleases God, and how they need to try harder next time.
. . . . .
Seems to me the idea, "work is worship", comes closer to the spirit of how we find meaning and purpose in life in God. But I prefer the idea, "living is worship" — God doesn't need us to work to worship him; just "being" is sufficient. Even dogs and bacteria can do that; can worship God.
Without a God, there is no meaning to the word "worship". So a better slogan is, "living is meaning".
Christians are doing themselves a disfavor by trying to defend the Christian view of God; a God who slaughters innocent children (for example) and commands people to do so on his behalf. And many other atrocities and immoral activities.
Many atheists who vehemently oppose God have in mind this view of God. I would prefer they limit their consideration of God to a view of God not so morally repugnant as the Christian view of God (such as the view I propose within this website).
We had all been praying fervently for weeks for something to happen, but it didn't happen, and never will. Does this mean we were praying without faith, which is a sin?
Should we ever pray for future events, since they may not occur? And even if they do occur, it may not be because we prayed for them but, rather, because they just happened and would have happened whether we prayed or not?
Note: I use the word "you" to refer to a kind of person I'm talking about; not meaning you, the reader, specifically. It's easier to make it understandable this way.
The idea that you pray for a certain outcome, as if you want to manipulate and control another person's thinking and behavior (the person you are praying for). But you are impotent to control or manipulate it yourself, so you ask God, who you think will do it for you, on your behalf. In other words, you are manipulating God, pretending it is for the good of the person you are praying for.
Or, you are merely just informing God of the desires of your heart knowing full well that God has already done everything he/she plans to do; this, because God sits in an eternal timeless reality above and beyond the human realm, seeing the beginning and the end of everything, knowing everything because he/she is omniscient. (A stupid idea about God.)
In other words, God knows everything already, past, present, and future. (Again, this is a stupid idea about God and his nature.) This implies that our free-will choices are already known by God and he/she has already responded to their results.
That means God has already intervened into every situation based on his/her purposes and based on our prayers for his/her intervention. God already knows what you are going to ask and how he/she is going to influence it and what the outcome will be.
You think that God can do anything (but why would he/she?) so you pray; and then you have to worry about whether God will change what you think will happen if left on its own, so that what happens instead is what you prayed for. You have to wait for the future to come around naturally, slowly, rather than knowing it immediately as God does.
In other words, you use prayer to travel into the future, via supernatural time travel, using God as your time machine.
When something good happens, it is a direct blessing from God.
When something bad happens, then God is using it for good; meaning, the goodness will appear later. It is deferred.
This idea is just plain crazy.
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My wife prayed for something and her prayer was answered; but at the expense of someone else (and she felt very bad about this). It's as if there is only a certain amount of goodness in the universe, and for God to help you, he/she has to hurt someone else.
The Christian view of Satan as the way to explain evil and sin, pain, suffering, and death; they have to ascribe amazing powers to Satan. They say he/she is merely a created being yet he/she has godlike powers. For example:
Fundamentalist evangelical Protestant Christians say this often because they want to feel better than other Christians who profess a religion; denominational or institutional.
The actual quote they mean to say is: "it's not a religion, idiot; it's a relationship." (They leave out that word, "idiot", but it's implied in the tone.)
But Christianity is a religion. It has all the characteristics of a religion. Redefining the word "religion" doesn't suddenly make it not to be one.
(Hebrews 11:1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The word "hope" is not of wishing, but, rather, believing something is true because an authoritative source says so. It's anticipating something known to be true.
So if you believe in heaven or the new heavens and new earth as a certain event to occur after death, you hope for it, meaning you long for it and anticipate it. This firm belief, of forming your present reality based on the yet-future event, is called faith.
But what if the yet-future thing hoped for is based on false revelation? In my view, religious revelation and spiritual revelation (revealed knowledge) are untrustworthy sources of truth and knowledge.
The only yet-future events that can be trusted are those based on science, for example, that a weather satellite will continue orbiting the earth. But something might knock it out of orbit, and whether this occurs can't be known. And whether the natural laws will suddenly and abruptly quit functioning, this cannot be known with certainty.
So it seems the only sensible approach to living is to not expect or anticipate any particular outcome or event, especially regarding the afterlife. There is simply no way to know.
Notice that my initial view already doesn't allow for God's interaction with us; sort of a deist view (but I didn't think of myself as a deist at the time).
I'm embarrassed by how long it took for me to realize that Christianity is fiction.
The reason: ignorance. I sensed there to be a spiritual realm, and I looked for truths about this topic from revealed religions and revealed spiritual paths instead of philosophy and science, including biochemistry and psychology. Now I only listen to Ph.D.s (but I ignore those with theological degrees). Not having the internet was certainly a factor in my ignorance; I couldn't quickly verify information and study various views.
Scientific atheism repelled me because of its insistence of materialism.
As a Christian I foolishly limited myself to Christian sources of information. Archaeology, scholarship of documents, science, anthropology: all from Christians who distorted reality to support the Christian story.
Only when I began seriously studying science and philosophy in their own right, that's when it all came clear.
It would have been helpful if there were people out there open to the possibility on views other than materialism, that perhaps consciousness resides in the spiritual realm, and that perhaps there is a God. But many atheists are annoyingly dogmatic: insisting that mind-body dualism is false.
If you buy a really big lottery ticket, and win, you might say, "it's a miracle". But someone always wins. So if you want to create a miracle, merely establish a lottery. Every time you draw numbers and someone wins, you have created a miracle.
I've been listening to Christians who take one tiny little point about evolution to prove that evolution is false. Perhaps an atheist says something which, taken out of context, appears to contradict evolution (even though the person who said it doesn't think this).
Then, once they have "proven" evolution to be false, the assume this to mean that they have proven all of Christianity to be true. But it's easy to disprove the claims of Christianity for all kinds of other reasons.
I just heard a well-known Christian preacher say, "If God exists, then he created you". This is why I don't listen to them anymore.
How did God create me? Did he/she guide a specific sperm cell to join with the waiting egg cell? Did he/she choose which specific genes would be within that particular sperm cell and egg cell? Did he/she somehow "create" the fertilized single-celled egg, the zygote? But how did he/she create this zygote, which never did anything miraculous as the DNA joined together in the usual way using the usual biological processes?
Did God create me as the zygote began to perform the usual repetitions of cell divisions? Which specific cell division should we consider as the instant God created me?
Did God create my soul at the instant the sperm cell and egg cell joined? Or did he/she create my soul just before this, hoping the joining would occur successfully and he/she was then able to "attach" the soul to the zygote? Was this soul fully-formed as "me", merely waiting until the brain was developed sufficiently so that it (I) could finally experience its (my) first glimmer of consciousness?
Did God create my body, or just my soul? If God created my body, how did he/she do this without violating the laws of nature? Perhaps he/she fiddled with the quantum mechanics randomness of wave function collapse. But is it possible to create a body this way, a body which was preplanned by God to be "me"? Does God really micromanage the movement of every electron and atom this way?
And if God only created my soul, but not my body, how did he/she guarantee that the body which finally developed had all the corresponding characteristics of the specific soul he/she created to be "me"? Did God read into the future to see how all this complex developmental biology worked out, to see specifically which pathways atoms and molecules took as they were all jostling together under the electric forces?
Does God "read" the DNA of the zygote and create a soul having corresponding attributes? If so, he/she is not creating me (like a symphony is created by the composer), but rather, merely building me from a blueprint already in existence.
I think these Christian preachers assume that God micromanages every detail of the universe, but they don't bother to consider what is occurring at the biochemical level, and they don't bother to consider the interaction of the body and soul.
Upon learning my wife is a Christian, someone asked her, "what kind?", and my wife said, "the annoying kind", meaning, an evangelical, a fundamentalist.
I thought to myself that, actually, all the kinds are annoying.
The non-evangelicals expect you to dress up for church and to listen to an hour of religious indoctrination every week. And they have other annoying practices and traditions and habits as well, including: who they vote for, and their views about those less advantaged than themselves.
And the liberal Christians (those who disbelieve such doctrines as the virgin birth of Christ) still want to get together weekly to practice a historically-based liturgy and reflect on teachings from scriptures they don't even believe. Weird. It's like someone starting a church based on Hemingway's novels. It all reminds me of young girls playing house with dolls and plastic kitchens and ovens.
I understand people's wish to fellowship with like-minded people, to have friends, and to help each other. Too bad there are no such groups based on things other than religion. But I suppose even groups like this would have all the drama that churches have, with leadership struggles, and gossip, and group splits, and etc.
From the New Testament:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
After hoping for a happy family circumstance to replace a sad circumstance, and believing it would occur, even praying it would (having "faith" in it, if you will), we were all saddened when it didn't materialize. In fact, the sad circumstance got sadder, now with no hope of resolution.
Does this mean our faith was misplaced? Or that it was false faith, a lie to ourselves?
Is it even possible to have faith for circumstances occurring while we are still alive since they may prove to not occur as we hoped for?
Should faith only be used for hoped-for circumstances occurring after death? For example, eternity with God in heaven, or in the new heavens and new earth? And for other happy outcomes that can't be proven whether or not they occurred (at least while in this life)?
This means you can have faith in absolutely any circumstance you choose as long as the hope is directed to circumstances that can only occur for you after death. No justification is needed for this kind of faith since it is disconnected from provable knowledge.
I just prayed for a family member, for something good that either will or won't occur soon.
Musing about prayer and what it is, particularly the Christian idea of it:
Seems like a lot of baggage for prayer, very tricky to get it right.
Prayer is better used for expressing your feelings and desires to God.
But until you resolve how a good and beautiful God can create or allow suffering, there is no basis for prayer. How can you love a God who creates suffering? You can overlook such weaknesses in people, but not in God.