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KQµårk 死神 On June - 9 - 2011

Probably my favorite pop science series in the last few years is “Through the Wormhole” narrated by Morgan Freeman which examines the latest scientific theories and boldly relates them to questions of religion and spirituality.

One of my favorite segments in the series is “Through the Wormhole, Is There a Creator?”  The whole series is really a cannot miss if you are curious about the universe around you.

One theorist who claims he knows where  the concept of God comes from was proposed by neurologist Dr. Michael Persinger.   He claims he can demonstrate God is created in the human mind, actually he claims to know particularly where in the human brain.  He uses a devise called the “God Helmet” which stimulates parts of the brain using electro-magnatism no more powerful than a blow drier.  He theorizes that if you stimulate an area on the right side of the brain in the mesiobasal temporal lobes that it creates a sense of God.  According to his studies subjects wear the helmet under sensory deprivation conditions and they frequently reports  “mystical experiences and altered states”.

Dr. Persinger demonstrated this devise on a college student on the show.  When the student’s EEG appeared to exhibit psuedo-delta waves she started to fell a presence in the room and reported different several out of body experiences.  She claimed that there were five entities floating around her.  She had an sesation where she was floating above her body and looking down on herself.  An experience she did not like was the appearance of flames around her.  After the experience she was really quite awed and relaxed after looking nervous going into the experiment.

Her experiences made me think of two cases I had heard about before in my experience.  Anyone who has heard people talking about near death experiences has heard them relate similar out of body experience.  Was Moses burning bush literally a figment of his unconscious imagination?  Was the first question that came to my mind.

Being a chemist by training I also wonder if psychotropic drugs like peyote can interact with this portion of the brain and that’s the source of their halucinagenic effects.

Dr. Persinger claims 80% of subjects experience some kind of “presence” in the room and about 1% of patients say they saw God herself.

Dr. Persinger hypothesizes that this presence most subjects experience is our sense of God, similar to our conscious feelings of self as sentient beings.  He thinks since we are the one species on the planet who really knows what the consequences of death are that activity in this part of the brain is a sort of a survival mechanism that helps us deal emotionally with our own demise.

Michelle Bachmann must have her own personal “God Helmet” or possible uses a blow drier far too frequently to form that perfect “Helmet Head” hairdo.  I really don’t know.  But on Friday June 1st she received a calling from God to run for the GOP nomination.

Michele Bachmann: “God Calling on Me to Run”

The Minnesota congresswoman said she received a “calling” to enter the 2012 presidential race. She spoke in an interview with Iowa Public Television on Friday.

“Well, every decision that I make, I pray about, as does my husband, and I can tell you, yes, I’ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann says she experienced a similar type of spiritual guidance in 2006 when she ran for Congress from Minnesota.

“God then called me to run for the United States Congress. And I thought, what in the world would that be for? And my husband said, “You need to do this,” Bachmann said at The Living Word Christian Center, a megachurch in Minnesota, during her campaign.

Personally if Michelle Bachmann’s God is so cruel that they want to take away affordable healthcare.  I don’t have much time for that God.

 

 

Written by KQµårk 死神

My PlanetPOV contact is kquark@planetpov.com Proud Dem whose favorite hobby is cat herding. The GOP is not a political party, it's a personality disorder. Cancer, Heart Failure and Bush Survivor.

135 Responses so far.

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  1. agrippa says:

    I figure that God ( if there is a god) will “know his own”. I have no idea at all what God is thinking; I do not know his intentions. I do know that there are people who affect to know both. They do have a right to that affectation.

  2. Interesting article, KQ. Maybe Bachman ate the wrong type of mushroom accidentally. Maybe too much hot sauce at Taco Bell?
    Whenever someone says they know what god wants, I immediately become suspicious of that person’s motivations. Like god telling bush he wanted bush to invade Iraq.

    About hallucinations caused by psychotropic drugs, I have heard a neuroscientist’s explanation and it made sense to me. There is a process in the brain called “sensory gating.” It filters out external stimuli that is not necessary for our daily bodily functions. It is also what helps us maintain our sanity. When the sensory gating process breaks down, like when a person takes LSD, external stimuli that is normally blocked, gets let in. That’s why people have reported “seeing music,” or “hearing light.” An acid trip is really a form of temporary insanity. Too much external stimuli that we normally don’t experience.

  3. ADONAI says:

    I’ve never understood the combination of GOD and politics in America. Ever since the first day I sat down to read the Bible I was struck at how everything in book was so in contrast with religion I knew.

    Sundays were full of preachers on TV in their “mega churches”, pronouncing their authority and leading huge congregations in public prayer. Yet, here was this book, the same one those preachers were carrying in their hand, telling me not to do that stuff.

    I would see people praying for wealth, or favors, and other personal things and, again, here was this book, the same one they were carrying in their hands, telling me not to do this stuff.

    I saw politician and preachers shaking hands. Politicians claiming GOD had told them to “save America” by running for public office. Preachers looking to serve the call of money and fame of public office. And, again, I was reading this book, the same one they place their hands on to swear an oath, telling me not to do these things.

    When did GOD become so concerned with earthly politics? You either do good works, or you don’t. You will be judged by your works, not by your faith.

    • AlphaBitch says:

      “You will be judged by your works, not by your faith.” herein is a principle struggle in Christianity; James (the BROTHER -- yes brother -- of Jesus vs. Paul, who never met, never studied under Jesus and who said faith alone was sufficient.) Guess which got more play in the Bible?

      I’m much more into James, and even read an almost 900 page book called “James, the Brother of Jesus”. Fascinating, and even supposes a theory that the thereto unknown Stephen murdered by Paul for his supposedly heretical ways was perhaps James, guilty only of standing up to and contradicting Paul as to what Jesus “meant”.

    • kesmarn says:

      There’s another, more under-the-radar, but very large chunk of religion that is the precise opposite of the TV preachers you saw, Adonai.

      It’s under the radar, it’s often very local, it’s very quiet. It’s a bit more like the real thing, though.

      Its believers are seldom wealthy, flashy or running for office — unless it’s a local one where the responsibility level is as high as the pay is low.

      Its congregations may be smaller, not so well dressed, and may be driving beaters. But they’re more likely to be working in soup kitchens, donating blood, helping with tornado cleanup and running homeless shelters.

      They’re Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, and Episcopalians and they all have one thing in common.

      Quiet altruism.

      No publicity. Whatsa matter with ’em?

      • choicelady says:

        kes -- those are indeed my folks. Every day they do something to make life better for others. The very thing Glenn Beck said was horrific -- social justice -- is precisely what we are instructed to do. A friend and colleague, Rita Nakashima Brock, wrote a super (though hard going) book, “Saving Paradis” in which she noted that before Charlemagne, Christianity was primarily focused on bringing paradise on earth. The divisions of people into “good and bad” came with elevation of The Passion of the Christ -- will you die with Him or deny Him. It led to massive divisions we’ve dealt with until now. Inclusion, ecumenism, interfaith understanding all have their roots in the original forms of the Abrahamic and other faiths.

        But the strains of “worthy and unworthy”, of True Christians vs. everyone else, persist among the fundamentalists. It dovetails very neatly with capitalism and Social Darwinism. So Adonai -- what you see in the way of materialism is their “evidence” of being The Chosen: God will bestow great material gifts upon you if you are born again, accept Him, and bend your will to Jesus (as interpreted through a preacher or politicians who purport to be his intermediaries).

        That notion of material “signs of salvation” began with Calvinist predestination but has become the province of the fundamentalists while the successors of the Calvinists have moved to social justice, back to the original millennium purposes and teachings.

        So when you see 3 a.m. preachers promise you a condo in Florida and a Mer-SAY-deez Benz at God’s hands, you see the strain of sheep-and-goats divisiveness that has become the most rampant tool of capitalism in the 21st century. For the downtrodden whom capitalism has broken, this promise is all they have left.

        The single biggest religious movement in America is the ‘walk aways’ from fundamentalism. You can be told only so often that you are poor or outcast because you are sinful before something snaps. There are millions living with broken hearts and broken spirits and broken dreams because of this pernicious alliance of rapacious capitalism and God’s little helpers.

        • “Christianity was primarily focused on bringing paradise on earth.” CL, in this instance, what is meant by “paradise?” I’ve always found that term to be a bit ambiguous. I’m not being a smart-ass here, I honestly want to know what these pre-Charlemagne Christians meant by the word “paradise.”

          About the materialist fundies, “The Family,” in DC actually preaches the total opposite of what Christ taught. They teach their minions that Christ actually favors those who gather wealth and power. Pretty screwed up huh! It is tailor made teaching to keep the less fortunate on the same team with the obscenely wealthy, so they will hope upon hope that they too will become wealthy and powerful. Talk about the old carrot and stick.

          • choicelady says:

            To KT above and zampzno and kes below:

            Paradise was a world of generous equality with enough to provide self sufficiency for all. It was a world of harmony, of peace. It looked to the common good, not to building hierarchies.

            KT -- The Family are as you describe, and so is the entire New Apostolic Reform movement (also once known as The Latter Rain and several other names.) They believe in absolute hierarchies based on “jesus plus nothing” -- and IMHO, the NOTHING is what prevails with them. Power for the few, subservience for the rest of us, bending our will to theirs. The Divine Right of Capitalists. You’ve clearly read the book -- you are entirely correct in your assumptions.

            Paradies, of course, is unobtainable, but even after Charlemagne lifted up the sheep/goats to an imperial dicta and after the end of feudalism, people in the majority still operated under the guideance of “moral economy” rules -- controls against exploitation, preservation of producers’ rights, community standards on prices and access to markets or establishing productive facilities, preservation of the poor -- these persisted for over 600 years including in the new colonies of North America. The protections for the poor for the producer for the consumer, for balances between the wealthy and not wealthy were forcibly removed by increasingly centralized laws to promote capitalism. Capitalism likely would NOT have arisen with its emphasis on individualism without the new fallback to “evidence” of Calvin’s predestinational salvation. That “evidence” was grounded almost entirely in material gain. For more ecclesiastical history than I can offer -- or that you’d wish to have -- the belief in material rewards as evidence of salvation shifted FROM Calvinists TO evangelicals and pentecostals. The Calvinists and their Protestant ilk moved toward social justice work and away from concern for personal salvation of massive accumulations of wealth to prove it.

            The idea of paradise is both individual and collective -- it is simply a world you make better by the work of your presence in it. A world that is harmony between self and others. Oh that we might perceive it that way today.

            • zampano says:

              Really enjoying your well considered comments here. Thanks!

            • choicelady says:

              KT- Having to reply ABOVE, once again:

              People are and likely always will be flawed. Pursuit of the “bright, shiny objects” has been THE thing leading us astray (I think sex is actually second on the hit parade). What makes a difference is a national or at least local ethos about for whom the bright shiny things exist. A few of us? Most of us? All of us?

              E.P. Thompson, culling minute records of work in craft households, noted that prior to capitalism c. mid-18th C., craftspeople and artisans (there were almost no wage workers before industrial capitalism) worked far LESS time per week than anyone would today because they knew what they could produce, how long it would take, they controlled the price within the local ‘moral economic’ price limits, and worked for sufficiency, NOT for excess material gain. Amazing.

              I did a similar cull of 17th-late 18th-century colonial New England work records (diaries and record books of weavers, shingle makers, farmers, and shoe makers among others) and found that was the same. People worked for sufficiency, not for wealth. They also held land in common (‘the commons’) and treated much of the natural world in ways that were similar to those of indigenous people: no over-farming, over-fishing, etc. They did have private property, but it was the basis mostly of economic responsibility to maintain oneself and one’s family, not to amass huge amounts to get rich. There were hugely rich people -- they’d more or less come to the colonies rich. But the ‘middling sort’ were pretty happy to STAY in the middle, and the poor were far less immiserated than they would be in the industrial, wage-earning age. The rhythms of economic life were patient and far less demanding than we now are. It was not idylic, but it did afford a far greater freedom and equality than we believe from what the 19th-century rapacious capitalism has fed us.

              They did believe they had a responsibility to make the world better for themselves, their children, and the community as a whole. They pursued the moral economic principles to help bring paradise on earth -- where want was barely known, where freedom was paramount, and where consideration for others’ equity was an embedded moral good made manifest in every aspect of their lives. That ain’t half bad as a road to paradise. We could and should learn a lot from those practices.

            • Thank you much CL. That was a very good comment and really did answer my question, quite well in fact.
              I hate to say this, but I think mankind in general has not evolved enough yet to be rid of basic, primal instincts such as greed and aggression. I know that many, many have, but I think far too many have not. Sad.

          • zampano says:

            Great question. I’ve wondered that too, and my personal view is this: since “paradise”, etymologically, simply means a garden, and an enclosed garden at that … in earlier times it presumably represented a place of plenty (at least in terms of nourishment) as well as a place of calm and shelter. In that respect, it is a place that meets all our fundamental needs, and where all the toil and danger associated with meeting those needs in earlier times are excluded. So it’s not difficult to imagine how the notion of being comfortably provided with all our basic needs could evolve into a more materialistic view in the modern age, as those basic needs came to be taken for granted. What a pity it seems so unattainable as to have become a mythological / religious concept.
            Couldn’t agree more with your “carrot and stick” theory

            • Thanks for your thoughtful reply zampano! I think you are absolutely correct that far too many take for granted their basic needs. When people have their basic needs, they are relatively civil and rarely commit crimes. But when those needs are missing, more primal instincts start to surface.
              We in America, at least the majority of us, have it made compared to many other places in the world. We do indeed often take our lot in life for granted. But then, we live in a very materialistic society, where wealth is seen as the measure of a person.
              I haven’t seen you here before, and would like to welcome you to the Planet. Judging by your reply, this seems the type of site that you would enjoy. Glad to meet you.

        • kesmarn says:

          “[B]ringing paradise on earth.” That’s a great phrase, c’lady.

          The words: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” are not so much a request made to Big Daddy and they are an invitation — even a summons — to us to bring that heavenly kingdom into the here and now.

          That does mean us, as you’ve said, c’lady. Heavenly conditions aren’t just going to flutter down to earth from the hands of Celestial Santa. We have to work at it. We have to partner with the Big Guy — not just be passive children with a list of “wantee-wantees.”

          No wonder the fundies run a mile from that kind of religion. After all, shouldn’t you be able to pay someone else to do all that salvation work for you?

          Isn’t that the ultimate out-sourcing? Let those migrants sweat, work, march and pray while you lounge in the jacuzzi that is concrete proof of how much God loves you. You betcha.

          • choicelady says:

            Lovely -- out-sourced salvation! I think that’s precisely their goal. YOU convert, be born again, and I get another run on the ladder to heaven.

            What’s that you say? ME change my ways? How shocking! I’m born again. I can do anything I want. Look at Newt…

            • whatsthatsound says:

              c-lady, that “beep your loved one to heaven” story just about beats everything!!

            • choicelady says:

              KQ -- can’t reply below, so I’ll do it “above”.

              This is the absolute truth, told to me by a reliable witness. In Colorado Springs at the Focus on the Family HQ, they bring families worried about their “dearly departed” to scan the “skies” for his or her soul’s progress to Heaven. FOTF personnel “locate” the soul with blips on a giant screen -- beep, beep, beep, beepbeepbeep as it ASCENDS or B-e-e-p, B-e-e-p as it DESCENDS. To get the soul to Heaven, for a MERE $5000 the FOTF folks will bring in “prayer warriors” to pray the soul up. Oh! Not working? Well, for mere $10K more, MORE prayer warriors.

              And people, desperate to get their loved one to Heaven, PAY it. My friend who was present a couple of times in that auditorium SAW people shell out as much as $25K for this “service”. He was horrified, but these desperate people BELIEVED it.

              We wonder how they get so rich, those FOTF dudes? Well, this is part of it.

              Wonder how much the beeping technician gets…

              I am NOT making this up. It’s the new indulgences project.

            • KQuark says:

              That’s nothing new though. The old Roman Catholic Church use to sell the Kindom of Heaven. If I recall they called them indulgences and I heard their was talk of bringing them back. After all hedge fund managers these days must have more money than God.

    • KQuark says:

      You can actually make a good case God has always been a part of American politics. I mean the whole impedance behind abolition was based on the belief that enslaving other human beings was un-Christian. Of course the other side used Christianity and the Bible to justify slavery.

      Now one thing that is new is the fact that some modern fundamentalist Christians are saying because of their faith it is righteous to be blessed with money and possessions on earth which is absolutely contrary to old time religious beliefs.

      • bito says:

        KQ, not to mention the make up of the colonies (PA for the Quakers, Maryland for the RC….) and even the the First Amendment. Like it or not religion in society has a part of life and society (the people) elect the government.

        • choicelady says:

          I love the idea the religious right wants to go back to the foundation of religion in America. That would smack leave them OUT. Calvinism for New England with American Baptists in RI, Anglicans in NY and the South, Catholics in MD, Quakers in PA, and a few Jews here and there in RI and SC. Not a real evangelical or pentecostal to be seen. THEY got to exist because of the separation of church and state. Otherwise -- they’re exiled.

          Beware of your wishes.

        • KQuark says:

          Exactly, we can’t forget that the earliest settlers were radical religious types that sought life in America because they were persecuted in England.

  4. texliberal says:

    Real buzz down here that Rick Perry will run for the Republican nomination. If he does and wins the general I’ll be in that crowd cheering for Texas to secede. You think W was bad, you ain’t seen nothin. Wait until he tries to privatize the interstate highway system.

    • KQuark says:

      Agreed Perry and allot of these candidates in the GOP field for that matter make Bush look like a moderate Dem. I mean look at Pawlenty’s budget it’s more radical than Ryan’s. None of them have any sort of unifying message at all and that’s how you win general elections. I think in the end their brand of hyperpartisanship will turn off moderate and independent votes.

  5. ADONAI says:

    “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

    (Matthew 6:1)

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    (Matthew 7:21-23)

  6. choicelady says:

    As the Semi-Official Representative of Some Kind of Faith Community (the SOROSKOFC) for The Planet, may I say -- I have no idea.

    AdLib -- I like your balance totally. The 1.5 million people who belong to the organization for which I work, a hefty portion of the Protestant community we represent, all have very different ideas about God. We do NOT have different ideas about science. It has a method, it looks to explanations of how the universe works, and we accept it without reservation. God? Not so universal. Science does not undermine the basic precept that there is Something Bigger than our own selves, but how we see that is as different as the individuals.

    Is it the collective consciousness of all people -- that amazing facility humans have to come together to make something wonderful occur? Is it grounded in the feelings of awe that science and every other positive human force inspires in us? Does God live in all the things that we do that are NOT essential for the maintenance of biological existence -- art, music, philosophy, altruism, compassion, and so forth?

    If there is Another outside of ourselves, it still does not have to exist as an anthropomorphic being. If God answers prayers, I’d be surprised, but the capacity to draw on that larger spirituality for sustenance, especially in times of grief and danger, gives grounding to those in turmoil that they are connected to at least hope and possibilities, and that’s quite a lot. If God is simply drawing on our OWN capacities for expanded engagement with life, that’s fine. Expanded consciousness is pretty darned miraculous in and of itself.

    What bothers me about Bachmann’s God is its reduction to a cranky Santa Claus -- having a list and checking it twice -- culling the “good” and the “bad” based on Bachmann’s values, not God’s.(That’s pretty clear since her dicta on values doesn’t actually show up anywhere but the GOP platform).

    The fundamentalist Dominionists, of which she is a leading light, have taken the God concept backwards to pure superstition and political sledgehammer. They have even reverted to polytheism -- “my God is better than your God” -- that creeps me out. It’s only moments until someone whips out Baal again.

    I think the evidence that God comes from within rather than from without lies less in the God Helmet than it does in this phenomenon -- God exists precisely at the level of one’s own ability to connect or not with other people. Your sense of God is as big as you are and no greater. If you are stingy, selfish, and mean, surprise! So is your idea of God.

    It doesn’t matter what you think about God. It does matter what you DO about it. When having a specific view of God becomes a weapon against others and a device to create and maintain fundamental inequality, then democracy and humanity are in big trouble. God as a political tool just does not advance us at all.

    • KQuark says:

      As for the acronym I’ll respond with equally nebulous terminology.

      Father Ted’s “Down with This Sort of Thing”

      It makes too much sense. :-)


    • KQuark says:

      I’m gonna play Devil’s advocate a bit on the very concept of God. I get the need for God to explain where the universe and we came from but what explains the existence of a being so complex and powerful that they could create all we know and see? It’s the classical where did God come from question? The answer I heard is he just exists and you have to have faith he just exists. Well why can’t I put my faith in the universe just exists to avoid that extra step? As abhorrent as it sounds to people of faith I still go back to the everything is possible model of the universe. Given enough time the universe simply happens. Every other theory including this Matrix theory leads me visually to a universe that contains the mirror paradox where I have to accept an unexplained truth that goes on forever. You know when you set two mirrors parallel to one another and the horizon appears to go on forever for the observer.

      Dr. Garret Lisi in the same episode of “Through the Wormhole” we are discussing puts it better than I. He claims to be on the cusp of developing a theory for everything that is based one a relatively simple concept circle geometries just in different confirmations. Is this the theory of all theories? Who knows but it does not really mater. What he did say about God that I did find poignant was that the concept of a complex God creating and maintaining a less complex universe is a totally regressive concept. It just does not fit in the order of things.

      Of course as a practical matter I agree with you 100%. The your God and my God people are bastardizing any concept of God I ever learned. I grew up Roman Catholic before the church started playing politics (at least in the US) and we were exceptionally tolerant of all religions. So this cranky intolerant God was not familiar to me in my formative years. Unfortunately living down South almost 20 years this God has become all to familiar to me.

      Now again I claim no special knowledge and I can be wrong but until someone explains to me where God comes from I’m not gonna change my mind.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        KQ, that is what I have heard called the argument of endless regress, or as Dawkins puts it, “who designed the designer?” I think that question is only relevant to those for who find it so. People of faith have no problem with it, and frankly, it has great limitations. Even the word, “design” and the fact that it is placed in the past tense, is telling. As humans, we are accustomed to thinking of things that have beginnings and ends. We find it very difficult to hold in our heads the possibility that something could have always been. That God, for example, could ALWAYS be here, and ALWAYS be exactly complex as “He” needs to be to create a universe like this. We’re never going to be able to explain something like that, but we can intuit it.

        The opposite seems strange too. That the universe would suddenly “start”. How could that be? First the universe wasn’t, and then it was? What would have been the CAUSE of that? And wouldn’t that cause, by definition, be “outside” and beyond the universe?

        So, like you said, it just ends up being endless mirrors, and we have to admit that our minds can’t go all that far into the mystery. We can devise arguments, but those arguments hold no value for those who aren’t interested in them.

        • KQuark says:

          Sorry I devised an argument that has no interest to you. I like to explore such concepts to explain things at least to myself.

          The concept of an infinite God is a wholly intuitive argument. Since the middle of the 1920’s everything we’ve learned about the fundamental nature of the universe is counter intuitive. Actually long before that it was intuitive for man to think the world was flat, the sun revolved around the earth and the earth was the center of the universe. In the same way a God who has always just been there sounds like an anthropomorphized construct to me. Where man somehow has claimed to have intuitive knowledge in the past about the universe they have been wrong more times than not methinks.

          Scientists cannot explain the singularity we theorize as the Big Bang but at least one logical possibility is there was nothing there before the Big Bang.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            KQ, sorry if that sounded rude, it’s just that people of faith are a bit puzzled by that argument, as if it would ever cause someone to question their belief in God.

            I guess a better way to think about it would be, does it make more sense to you that awareness mechanically arose from non-awareness, or is awareness the ground of the universe that we are a part of and our awareness is a manifestation of? This was pretty much the whole point of my essay, “The View From The Left Hemisphere of the Universe”
            http://planetpov.com/2011/04/23/the-view-from-the-left-hemisphere-of-the-universe/

            And when I use the word “intuit”, I am not talking about making assumptions from that which seems most obvious to us. I am talking about a deeply felt sense that something is. In other words, in my own life, I have “experienced” God. When Jung says that he “knows” there’s a God, I know what he is talking about.

        • wts, I like your phrase, “into the mystery.” For that is exactly what it is. A great mystery. The ultimate mystery. The Tao calls it “darkness within darkness.”
          When I finally started to understand the Tao Te Ching, much much more of life made sense. Much more of the world made sense. In AA, so many people have a problem with the whole higher power thing. Outside of AA too, I have no doubt.
          The one very obvious higher power is Nature. Einstein marveled at the “intelligence,” inherent in all of Nature. He marveled in it almost to the point of religious feeling.
          Nature is enough for me. Certainly incomprehensibly larger than myself. To me, god is Nature and Nature is god. I accept the mystery. For me, it is enough. I don’t need, or want “salvation.” And I ask myself, “salvation,” from what? Hell? Myself?

          • whatsthatsound says:

            KT, do you know about James Lovelock, the man who put forth The Gaia Hypothesis? I think you would really like his ideas, if you’re not already aware of them.

            http://erg.ucd.ie/arupa/references/gaia.html

            “What is the hypothesis of Gaia ? Stated simply, the idea is that we may have discovered a living being bigger, more ancient, and more complex than anything from our wildest dreams. That being, called Gaia, is the Earth.

            More precisely: that about one billion years after it’s formation, our planet was occupied by a meta-life form which began an ongoing process of transforming this planet into its own substance. All the life forms of the planet are part of Gaia. In a way analogous to the myriad different cell colonies which make up our organs and bodies, the life forms of earth in their diversity coevolve and contribute interactively to produce and sustain the optimal conditions for the growth and prosperity not of themselves, but of the larger whole, Gaia. That the very makeup of the atmosphere, seas, and terrestrial crust is the result of radical interventions carried out by Gaia through the evolving diversity of living creatures.”

            • Thanks for the link, wts. Pretty interesting stuff. I’ve heard of it before, but not in such detail. I know the Native Americans believed in a living earth. They even went as far as assigning spirits to rocks and rivers, mountains and trees and streams. Even the wind.
              In many ways, it makes a lot of sense. Nature constantly perpetuates and improves herself. Sadly, most of our species, mankind, doesn’t seem to understand this and sees Nature as something to be conquered and tamed. I find it hard to believe that all our waste and pollution is a natural part of Gaia. This may sound incredibly pessimistic, but sometimes I think mankind is a sort of infestation, or virus that is really screwing up Gaia.

      • kesmarn says:

        KQ, I would cast your comments as playing reason’s advocate, rather than devil’s advocate.

        I don’t know how my concept of God would square with Catholic theology’s current concepts, but then again I don’t really care all that much, either. If they want to throw me out, they’re welcome to. But I’m not leaving voluntarily. 😉

        I have to ask if it’s possible that God and the universe cannot be separated. Is it possible that something that is infinite is also infinity itself? That something that is infinitely creative is also creativity itself? That something that uses light as its language is the source of all light? (And likewise with darkness.)

        There’s still the eternal problem of evil and where it comes from, but I have to wonder (and it’s hardly a new question) if free will is even possible when there’s no option available to reject goodness. And turning away from goodness, from love, is pretty much the basis of all evil.

        The argument is often made that God shouldn’t have allowed a world to exist in which humans are free to do terrible things. But I have to wonder how many people — if they could chose freedom or an existence of robotic obedience — would choose to abdicate their sacred freedom. (Outside of the fundie churches, that is.)

        Of course, I don’t understand this God anymore than I understand the universe. But what would be the fun in having a God who was totally comprehensible? (Which is not to argue that “it is incomprehensible, therefore it exists and it is God.”)

        That wouldn’t seem very “God-ish,” to me.

        Life needs mystery. Life without mystery would be unendurable to me. Maybe I call my mystery God. Other folks use other names. Art. Beauty. Science.

        Or maybe the Ground of All Being?

        • choicelady says:

          Kes -- Good for you! It’s important never to go quietly. Kicking and screaming gets other people’s attention and makes them occasionally start thinking.

          I know evil does not require the Divvil -- we are quite up to it on our own. I am always aghast that people think there is an outside force making you do terrible things. Nope. None needed.

          What does amaze me with the fundies is how much they embrace their own DOING of evil (including the stupidly incorporated sex stuff which is not, prima facie, evil) and then blowing it off because THEY are “born again” so it doesn’t matter.

          For me God does lie in beauty, art, music, science, poetry -- magnificent work of all kinds; whether it’s entirely human or not is not relevant. It IS the mystery of “wow”. And that’s enough. I never, even as a little kid, felt “another” in my life, but it did not turn me away from the spirituality and the beauty of the mystery of life. I am in total agreement with you there!

          And on the kicking and screaming part, too.

          • The more we learn about psychology and the brain, the lesser exists of that which we used to ascribe to evil and likewise goodness. Many horrible acts in the past could now be attributable to disorders of the mind, or faulty structures of the brain. Tumors, chemical imbalance….etc.

          • KQuark says:

            Oh you tapped into my biggest pet peeve of all. It seems it’s the fundamental religion types that use the “Devil made me do it” defense more than anyone doesn’t it? Whether it’s the mother drowning there kids in a bath or a Ted Haggard soliciting male prostitutes it seems to be the favorite excuse for the most outlandish behavior amongst the Bible beaters.

          • kesmarn says:

            The fundies will remain an eternal not-so-cute mystery to me, c’lady.

            Like you I’m baffled by their presumption (which is a category of sin in Catholicism, as you know) that once they’ve done the altar call ritual and back-flipped down that center aisle, they then have the eternal celestial get-out-of-jail-free card. Wouldn’t you think that would tend to make folks a bit too blase (subconsciously, at least) about sinning?

            “Oh, well…I’ll jes’ come back to church next Sunday and git washed in the blood one more time and ever’thing’ll be jes fahn. Now where in hell is mah pointy hat, SuzyBelle?”

            That and the fact that they only seem to believe in sexual sin. Racial prejudice, denying people basic rights, predatory financial practices, and starting unjust wars don’t seem to register on the fundie moral radar.

            But if Jim and Bob want to become Jim-Bob or Millie Jane opts not to carry her uncle’s baby, then hellzapoppin.

            This on-going struggle to hold two completely contradictory positions simultaneously seems to me to produce a type of madness.

            I just wish they’d drop that madness at the polling station door. :-(

            • What used to really amaze me was realizing, mostly through movies, that the old time mafiosos were religious. They were Catholics that attended church, and made outward recognitions of god, yet they had no qualms about murder, stealing and lying, adultry. They were are a perfect example of the “get out of jail card,” with the “jail,” being hell. If they sought the priest’s blessing and renounced Satan, they would be good to go, in the eyes of god. Or so they believed. Of course, they most likely grossly misinterpreted the teaching of the church. But the idea of confessing your sins, and being forgiven, allows people to be real monsters as long as they know that god will forgive them. Prisons are full of such people.

            • KQuark says:

              IDK if they are that much a mystery. They seem to be all about control and superiority to me. They believe they should control the rest of us because they are our superiors. They just use religion as the mechanism for those ends.

        • KQuark says:

          Life needs mystery. Life without mystery would be unendurable to me. Maybe I call my mystery God. Other folks use other names. Art. Beauty. Science.

          Hear! Hear!

          On evil, I don’t think you could have good without evil. For one thing if there was no evil how would we know what good was in the first place. I look at human existence like a big bell curve. Whether it’s physical traits or the human behavior most people fit within one Sigma but you still have the extremes of human behavior. As to the evils of things like earthquakes and tornadoes and other natural events I think those events are another example of randomness in nature, save for our deliberate influence on the environment like burning fossil fuels.

      • choicelady says:

        Well, KQ -- even in my role as the Giant Acronym above, I would be hard pressed to say most of our folks believe in a creator that is more complex than the universe or is a “creator” at all. Can’t speak for all, of course, but for most of the people with whom I interact, science IS the appropriate answer for how the universe came to be. And it’s AWESOME!

        I’m starting to noodle around the edges of Noetic Science that is studying these issues around the relation between faith and science. I fear it may turn out to be too frequently engaged in narcissistic woo-woo for my tastes, but those who are serious about finding the links between science and spirituality do interest me, and many of the experiments are taken up by Max Planck Institute and other worthy places.

        God as a manifestation of human being’s best possible existence is not, to most of us in the mainline or progressive world, a violation of faith. If we create God but do so with a mind to how much that demands of us in growth and goodness, then fine. That forces us to inclusiveness and wholeness, peace and justice.

        Those with fear, with lives that have proven unworkable, with poor judgment, or, conversely, with grandiosity, selfishness, and narcissism will also create God -- a MAN, a judge, a rule maker, and a divider of people into worthy and unworthy, and that purely takes us back to primitive states.

        Allow me to say -- those pressing for harmony and inclusion are definitely having an uphill, rock-shoving, really hard time of it.

        • KQuark says:

          Alas I generalized and of course that always gets me into problems. I would just say if someone truly believes in intelligent design for example a creator would have to be more complex than the universe they created. Just like oneself can’t create something more complex than oneself.

          Most importantly we both agree faith should never be used as a weapon to divide people no matter what you believe.

          • choicelady says:

            Well, that makes TWO of us who agree faith is not a weapon. I imagine most of the Planeteers would agree, so that’s more.

            But the Religious Right insists on the “sheep from the goats” stuff, and they, of course, are the sheep.

            But until I get a notarized letter from God, I think it’s not their call.

  7. audadvnc says:

    I had a spiritual experience the other day, while singing old Sacred Harp spirituals with a group of dear friends -- it was like we had brought an outpost of heaven to our little group. It felt real to me, so it’s hard for me to say someone else’s experience is not valid.

    OTOH, I think Michelle Bachmann is batty.

    • choicelady says:

      Oh indeed! Lovely stuff there in Sacred Harp!

      And she IS batty.

      You’re right on both counts!

    • kesmarn says:

      Sacred Harp spirituals are totally amazing, aud, and I can really understand the feeling you and your friends had while singing them. That sort of God seems very real and wonderful to me.

  8. whatsthatsound says:

    Well, God said to Batshit, “you’d better run”,
    Batshit say, “You must be puttin’ me on!”
    God say “no”,
    Babs say “what?”
    God say, “Babs, you can do what you want,
    but let Me assure you that you are The One”
    so Babs say, “God, how can this election be won?”
    He said, “Have it out on Highway 61”

  9. Buddy McCue says:

    I also think that this “God Helmet” neither proves nor disproves the existence of God.

    There’s probably an area of the brain that one could electrically stimulate to cause a person to see an apple on a table before them.

    Does that mean that apples do or do not exist in reality? It’s easy to see that stimulating the brain in this way doesn’t provide any conclusive evidence.

    • jkkFL says:

      Have we determined with certainty that there is any brain matter under the hair?
      If KQ can dispute the knowledge of the existence of God, I must dispute the existence of a brain in Michele Bachmann.

    • KQuark says:

      I suppose you could even go so far as to stimulate the brain to make you feel like you are eating an apple. Of course if they did not exist or you never ate an apple in the first place you would not have a reference point to understand what you were eating. I guess you would call that the “Brazil” test.

    • AdLib says:

      Agreed, I mentioned this below as well.

      Those who appreciate the scientific process (Republicans mostly excluded) would never assert an ancillary assumption from a scientific conclusion.

      As you demonstrated with your analogy, a theory about the cause of a perception is wholly unrelated to the existence of that which is being perceived.

      I could look down a desert road and see a mirage of water in the road. Proving that was a mirage would not then prove that water doesn’t exist nor that it has never rained in the desert and water has never been on that road.

      On the scientific side, it’s incumbent on those who seek the truth not to overreach past that which can be directly proven or disproven. On the faith side, it’s incumbent upon those who seek the truth not to reject scientific theories because they may not affirm all of one’s beliefs.

      Science can’t prove or disprove the existence of anything that transcends the physical universe. So science can’t and isn’t designed to be able to prove or disprove the existence of God.

      That being the case, scientific theories can always co-exist harmoniously with one’s faith, even if there is a disagreement over cause and effect with regards to perception.

      • KQuark says:

        Science and faith can coexist that is very true. But at some point you have to put your faith behind one view of the universe or the other. One where a God comes out of nowhere and created the universe or one where the universe comes out of nowhere.

        Of course since scientists just made photons out of nothing which corroborates the latter view of the universe quite well. Along with the zero energy universe hypothesis this experiment suggests. In essence the universe is just one quantum flux equaling nothing.

        • AdLib says:

          You’re right about there being one true way the universe began but for argument’s sake, whatever one’s belief in that may be, one can still propose that God was the initiator of that.

          The beginning of the universe, of all existence would seem to me to be a crossroads between the physical and the transcendent. After all, before the moment that the universe was created, there was no physical universe.

          So science can help us explore what happened as far back as the first moment the universe came into being but it can’t be used to explain what happened and why before physical existence began.

    • Khirad says:

      One could also argue, for the sake of it, that God created us with that faculty to fully know Him.

      At least I imagine that’s what the argument would be.

      • audadvnc says:

        That’s the essence of the Gnostic heresy, that the Church fathers have been attempting to stamp out for 2000 years. Why? Because, if you can talk directly to God, who needs a Pope, or clergy?

        • choicelady says:

          Precisely. Clergy are useful as rabbis -- teachers -- and a source of comfort in times of travail, but most would tell you they are instruments of wisdom, not the origins of it. Those who think they are the latter are deeply scary.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Exactly. It’s like saying you know how a computer works, so you consider that particular machine the creator of the internet. It’s just “making up” all the information that passes through it via the internet, which in actuality doesn’t exist outside it. Nice try.

  10. Khirad says:

    Speaking of people who talk to god.

    Pat Robertson: God Won’t Let Ahmadinejad Start Armageddon
    http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/pat-robertson-iran-ahmedinejad/2011/03/01/id/387953?s=al&promo_code=BC76-1

    In the midst of so much superstitious crazy, there was actually a sober kernel of coherent logic (as much as there can be in this worldview) in there.

    Namely, how would the supreme “Christian” God allow an infidel like Ahmadinejad to blow up the world?

  11. whatsthatsound says:

    God told Michelle Bachmann to have her campaign out on Highway 61.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      I suppose that Bachmann COULD have responded like Abraham did in the song, by saying “Man, you must be puttin’ me on.”

      Assuming for the moment that she really did hear the voice of God, has she stopped to think that God could be setting her up to lose? The article that KQuark linked to says that “only 7% of those polled said they would support Bachmann for the Republican nomination.”

    • KQuark says:

      I hope they play in traffic. 👿

  12. whatsthatsound says:

    Bruce Springsteen told me I was “born to run”.

    He’s God in some parts.

  13. texliberal says:


    We seem to never learn, Aimee Semple McPherson and I believe some of her Four-Square churches are still around.

    • KQuark says:

      On the flip side the story of Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her family was pretty bizzaro world as well.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Great comparison. She was quite the huckstress, faked a kidnapping and everything, when it turned out she was having a liaison with her beau. Her Foresquare Church is still here in L.A and it’s right near where my grandma lived when I was very young. Actually, her parishioners were the very poor, and of course, they are the most generous.

      • AdLib says:

        She was a real piece of work, pretty scary how big her following was at one time.

        Tex has a point, she really was a forerunner to Palin and Bachmann.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          In the phony department, absolutely, but at least she was eloquent. The funny thing is to me is how many people say these women were beautiful. I’m not seeing it.

          • AdLib says:

            Ditto! I look at Palin and Bachmann and see nothing authentically resembling sexuality, just the aura of greed, for wealth, celebrity and power.

            It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes, the GOP minions gaze at them as if they’re beautiful and the rest of us see cynical, mercenary pit bulls with lipstick as they’ve already admitted they are.

            • audadvnc says:

              Reminds me of the spokesperson for the Video Toaster, Kiki Stockhammer. Somewhere around 1992 I attended a 3 day NewTek training seminar where Kiki was the featured speaker. What a lizard -- she looked like she ate traveling sales executives for breakfast.

              Then NewTek fell apart, and then Play Inc fell apart. She went from high rolling geek diva to has-been in a heartbeat.

              But she had t&a going for her, and those eyes -- same as Sarah and Michelle. Go look --

              http://amigairc.amigarevolution.com/kiki.html

            • jkkFL says:

              @audadvnc-
              Greed makes one Very Ugly!

            • audadvnc says:

              I’ve seen that look in the faces of high powered sales women (particularly the ones involved in multilevel marketing scams) -- the Face of Ambition.

    • AdLib says:

      Psst…add the letter “v” after the “http” in a YouTube link and our software will automatically embed the video.

  14. kesmarn says:

    This being Holy Toledo, we had a mayoral candidate in the last election (well actually she’s been in several elections) who was also called by God to run for office.

    God was feeling frugal that year, apparently, because she had next to nothing in the way of campaign funding. So she was compelled to use her personal station wagon as her primary means of advertising. She mounted a big sign on top of it and used a bullhorn to announce her campaign platform to the various neighborhoods she drove through.

    Her platform consisted of pretty much one plank. But it was a good one. She planned to install a gigantic ferris wheel on the river bank and turn Toledo into the tourist attraction of the rust belt. She said we were all sitting on a gold mine and just didn’t know it, but that God had revealed it to her.

    God not only told her to run; he assured her she would win. So when late election night rolled around and the media announced that she had come in dead last with only 300 votes, she did what any God-fearing woman would do.

    She demanded a re-count.

    Just in case you think I’m making this all up:

    [img][/img]

    • KQuark says:

      God must be a Scotsman.

      • Khirad says:

        Ha!

        And yea, behold, the Laird did next say:

        Noo swatch bairns, pennies be fur stackin’.

        Also, ferris wheels aren’t kilt-friendly.

        I think you may be onto something. But quite frankly, I knew it all along.

          • Khirad says:

            Well, maybe not, but He sure has a mischievous sense of humor.

            In the beginning when God was creating the world, He was sitting on a cloud, telling his pal the Archangel Gabriel what he planned for Scotland.

            “Gabby” says He “I’m going to give this place high majestic mountains, purple glens, soaring eagles, streams laden with salmon, golden fields of barley from which a whisky coloured nectar can be made, green, lush, spectacular golf courses, coal in the ground, oil under the sea,…gas”.

            “Hold up! Hold up!”

            Interjected the bold Gabriel

            “Are you not being too generous to these Scots?”

            Back came the Almighty’s reply

            “Not really, wait until you see the neighbours I’m giving them!!!”

    • AdLib says:

      God must be pissed off, this is especially embarrassing when the candidate you’re supporting loses AND you’re omnipotent.

      • kesmarn says:

        Opal’s theory was that there must have been a small box with 200,000 overlooked ballots in it somewhere down there at election headquarters, AdLib. Purely an innocent oversight.

        I wonder if she’s genetically related to Harold Camping.

    • SallyT says:

      I had a friend once who said God told her she was sitting on a Gold Mine. She became a hooker.


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