Archive for the ‘Inspi-rational’ Category

Hide-and-Seek

May 22, 2009

It was predicted some time ago that humans share a common ancestor with the lemurs of Madagascar. A 47 million year old fossil of one of our common ancestors was found in Germany recently. A small and extremely well preserved monkey, Darwinius masillae, or Ida for sort, had opposable thumbs and short fingernails. She is perhaps one of the greatest Mother’s Day gifts paleontology has ever wrapped up. But let me leave the science to the scientists. For our purposes it is enough to know that you can now go to Madagascar, meet a lemur, and call it cousin. Isn’t it great? There is no more doubt, no more wondering. No more second-guessing ourselves. I know, some of you might have been hoping that these country bumpkins couldn’t possibly be related to us. But they are. And they’ll beet us at hide-and-seek any day of the week.

I would like to go to a family reunion with the lemurs. They would probably be a lot more fun than the forced family reunions that happen to my extended family. Only slightly more evolved than lemurs when it comes to theology, the majority of my extended family happens to be Mormon. We do play a lot of hide-and-seek, though. We start with peek-a-boo so young, and it’s such a fun game!

My dearest mother received the most ironic mother’s day gift this year. Her father died. She is no longer anybody’s little girl. Well, she believes in Eternal Life, so maybe it’s not so hard for her after all? Me? I think denial is a river in Egypt, anyway. But grandpa went and hid this time and he won’t be found.

Do lemurs have extended family reunions when someone dies? Or do they sneak off and die alone, respectfully, like most of the species on earth? My grand-father’s idea of a respectful death was to have an elk embroidered on the lining of his casket. In his favorite version of hide-and-seek he carried a gun, and killed his prey when he found it.

I like to bounce around like the ring-tailed lemurs. If you haven’t tried it, you might just like it. The mama lemurs carry their babies on their back or around their belly, or both. The baby lemurs have really got to hold on tight. My dear mother taught me to bounce around quite a bit, and hold on tight, too. She also taught me to hide.

Ida didn’t hide. At least, she didn’t hide in a tree. She hid in a volcanic ash tomb for millions of years so that she could come forth out of the ground and declare that every year on Mother’s Day, humans and lemurs alike can come together in a great family reunion. They can cry on each other’s shoulders or groom each other’s hair. They can mend each other’s wounds and encourage each other’s successes. They can play hide-and-seek, too.

But when the momma lemur hides, she always wins. We know she is there still, hiding right behind that chair there, under that blanket over there, behind her very own hands right in front of us! What a surprise when she re-appears, calming our nerves and soothing our loneliness.

Ida is our mother. We have no need to ever feel alone.

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10 Reasons to Leave Mormonism

May 10, 2009

(and many other forms of fundamentalism, I would imagine)

1 – True happiness comes from deciding for oneself how to make life mean something.

2 – Not going to church will leave much more time to devote to family and community. This new community can be one based on inclusivity and tolerance.

3 – Not paying 10% tithing to the church will leave more resources to help support the family.

4 – The realization that Jesus and God are merely metaphorical of the human struggle with death can open up the mind to a greater understanding of the gospel. Christ’s atonement is infinitely more accessible and useful when understood as a psychological metaphor of change rather than literal fact.

5 – When there is no hell awaiting the sinner, the only rewards/punishments come in this life. This makes the urgency of developing a healthy conscience more apparent.

6 – A godless universe is one where fairness is completely man made. Life is not fair. Nor is it unfair. The onus is upon us to create fairness as best we can.  

7 – Leaving Mormonism will open your eyes to the wonders of science and the beauty of creation. True reverence for “god’s” creations comes from an understanding of how little we actually know.

8 – Imagination and creativity are inspired by freedom from religion.

9 – For those mormons who just love being right, an understanding of science and atheism will offer an unending source of subjects to study. The mind will be opened to new and amazing truths.

10 – You get to choose your own underwear.

Coming Out

March 25, 2009

Spring has sprung and the light of day is entering the Yeti’s cave earlier and earlier. Waking from a stupor of winter dreaming, the world seems brighter and more alive than it ever has before. The light of intelligence has broken out of a chrysalid formation and burst anew within the eyes of a dutiful observer of the natural world.

 

This Yeti was raised to believe in the gods on top of the mountain, and to be faithful and obedient to the mythology of his ancestors. Living on top of the mountain as a young Yeti, it was easy to see how God was everywhere around him, expressing Himself in every snow-flake and every rock. God was an accepted universal. Anytime intellectual observation of a phenomenon was unable to penetrate the hows and the which-ways of existence, God was called upon to explain the unknown.

 

The Yeti was never distempered by the revelations of science. Science may have claimed that their revelations were godless, but the Yeti knew better. His sacred traditions held that even scientists received their revelations from God, even though they were Atheistic. The regular arguments against the existence of God never caused the faith of the Yeti to falter, or even to list from side to side. There always seemed to be an explanation, or an apology, or a corrective adjustment in the theory of who and what God must be that would account for the grey areas and the incongruities between what was taken on faith alone, and what could be observed.

 

God filled the void between the observed and the unexplainable.

 

Nevertheless, the Yeti had never bothered to abstract his own theory of what it meant to believe in a god. That belief, based on logical fallacy, was much too comforting to let go of all at once. Not to mention the threat of hellfire or outer-darkness for those committed to apostasy. The Yeti may stand on the mountain, apart from all humanity, but he is no iconoclast.

 

To explain the logical fallacy, let us think of the world as a complex watch, one who’s complexity is so unfathomable, that only a supreme being might be capable of comprehending all the ins and outs of physics, biology, chemistry, and every other discipline of science. Without a supreme being to unify all the disparate observations a nation of Yeti might make, how could anyone cull any meaning from this beautiful world at all? The religious masses claim, “Without God, how can life have any meaning or purpose at all?”

 

But the postulation of an infinitely complex God does not solve the problem of complexity in our world. It only makes us wonder: Who is this God of our fathers? And thus springs religion, to help a helpless Yeti. Religion would say “Yes, the world is complex, but that is all God’s doing. If you want to know God, follow us, for we are on the same quest.” But you cannot solve a problem of complexity by postulating an even greater complexity. A wristwatch may be a very complex piece of machinery, but the Yeti that put it together must have been even more complex. And so the religious Yeti chase after a god who cannot exist, let alone be understood. The believers wanter about endlessly, lost in a fog of darkness.

 

The Logical Fallacy of the God postulation has brought into this Yeti’s cave a new light, a new knowledge, and new amazement at the wonder of the universe. Meaning is not handed down from on high, but lifted up by our own minds and limned upon the heavens as a great shadow figure of our own yetiness.

 

This realization that there is in all probability no god at all on the top of the mountain has shaken this Yeti to the core. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so adamant in his early yetihood, it wouldn’t make such a difference to him now. Nevertheless, the sheer wonder with which he can now observe the universe is the greatest compensation for the cost in bravery that he has had to pay in order to make these realizations. He no longer feels rancor towards the persistently religious faithful, only pity.

 

And perhaps a little bit of desire to preach to the faithful masses of their infidelity to the tools of observation that their God has given to them in the first place. If one believes that God exists in any form, it is incumbent upon them to use their talents of observation and intellectual acumen that God supposedly gave to them.

 

Thus, it was no failing of virtue, no transgression of the law, no offense to God, that led me to the realization that there is, in all likelihood, no God at all, but rather a firm moral integrity and righteous judgment that finally left me no choice but to admit to myself and to Yeti everywhere, that to believe in God is to equivocate about the nature of existence in the first place.

 

I am like Jonah, the reluctant prophet of the Old Testament, swallowed up by the whale of Christianity, just as others have been swallowed by Islam, Judaism, or Zoroastrianism. The whale has finally tossed me back upon the shores of reason where I am left to flounder in both wonder and appreciation at the great expression of life; able to observe and describe, but never to explain.

 

The long winter of my discontent has come to an end. Will I mourn it’s loss?