Saturday, 12 May 2018

On God & other Theological/Philosophical wanderings...

(NB. This post under construction... I'm just trying to put some thoughts in some semblance of order...)

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

~ Epicurus [341 - 270 B.C.] Greek philosopher
(Thanks to Will for the link)

NB. Just because I no longer call myself a "Christian", does not mean I will disrespect someone else's spiritual journey... just so long as they do not try to shove it down my throat uninvited. Please don't offend me by trying to 'pray for', 'preach to' or 'convert' me, or by trying to make me one of your "pet evangelism projects". Treat me as a normal human being, and I will respect you and your own spiritual/philosophical journey. Thanks.

As someone who spent seventeen years [past tense] as a born-again Evangelical Protestant Christian (and [at one time, long ago] a small-church Pastor, and a full-time Evangelist!), nowadays I often consider the same question as posed by Epicurus (above) almost two thousand years ago.

My question now is - how can I resolve the unbridgeable gap between 'Christ' and 'his church'? If the church [in its local form] is the living active hands-on 'body of christ' in the world [as Biblical theology teaches us], then why does it act totally unlike Christ himself?

Christ? The Church? I just am unable to resolve the theological and practical difference between the two.

So, basically, my question becomes:

"Kingdom Vs Empire?"

This just should not be. Very, very sad.

These days I'd describe myself as a 'Pragmatic Agnostic'.

"Thousands of years of debate have neither proven, nor dis-proven, the existence of one or more deities. This view concludes that even if one or more deities exist, they do not appear to be concerned about the fate of humans. Therefore, their existence has little impact on personal human affairs and should be of little theological interest... since the existence of God can never be proven, nor can it be disproven, I won't waste my time asking questions to which there are no answers." (Source)
"Absurdism is a philosophy stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning in the universe ultimately fail (and hence are absurd), because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to the individual. The word "absurd" in this context does not mean "logically impossible," but rather "humanly impossible." 
"The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning to be found in the world beyond what meaning we give to it. This meaninglessness also encompasses the amorality or "unfairness" of the world. This contrasts with "karmic" ways of thinking in which "bad things don't happen to good people"; to the world, metaphorically speaking, there is no such thing as a good person or a bad thing; what happens happens, and it may just as well happen to a "good" person as to a "bad" person. 
"Because of the world's absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the Absurd."
Apatheism is also known as pragmatic atheism or as practical atheism. An apatheist is someone who considers the question of the existence of gods as neither meaningful nor relevant to their life. Apathetic/Pragmatic agnosticism acknowledges that any amount of debate can neither prove, nor disprove, the existence of one or more deities, and if one or more deities exist, they do not appear to be concerned about the fate of humans. Therefore, their existence has little to no impact on personal human affairs and should be of little theological interest. 
"Since the existence of God can never be proven, nor can it be disproven, I won't waste my time asking questions to which there are no answers."
Apatheists hold that if it were possible to prove that God does or does not exist, their behaviour would not change.

The journalist Jonathan Rauch believes that "apatheism is to be celebrated as nothing less than a major civilizational advance. Religion, as countless acts of violence in the name of God have underscored, remains the most divisive and volatile of social forces... Apatheism, therefore, should not be assumed to represent a lazy recumbency... Just the opposite: it is the product of a determined cultural effort to discipline the religious mindset, and often of an equally determined personal effort to master the spiritual passions. It is not a lapse. It is an achievement."

The eighteenth century French philosopher Denis Diderot, when accused of being an atheist, replied that he simply did not care whether God existed or not. In response to Voltaire, he wrote: "It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley; but not at all so to believe or not in God." (Source)

It's all fascinating, as it makes some sort of nonsensical sense to me, even in the framework of "Ying-Yang"....
  • What is the nature of good? What is the nature of evil? Of life? Of death?
  • God? Satan? Mind? Matter? Angels? Demons?
  • Freedom and slavery? Pain/misery and happiness/joy?
  • Light and dark. Male and female. Hot and cold. Black and white. Low and high. Up and down.
  • Order and chaos.
  • Justification and guilt.
  • The should or the ought?
  • Motion/movement and stillness/quietness.

Ying and yang. Opposites attract, correlate, depend? Interactions and interrelations... equal and opposite reactions to the same thing?
Yin yang are opposing
Yin yang are rooted together
Yin yang transform each other
Yin-yang are balanced

Dualism, I'm beginning to realise, makes a whole heap of sense to my little mind... especially after experiencing the pitfalls of 17 years of evangelical christian theology. Three years of Bible College and a few years of hands-on frontline ministry... good people, strange applications to simple truths, I found.

No, I'm no Buddhist or whatever.

Sometimes there are no answers to the deepest secrets and mysteries about life. And after all those years of wrestling with those mysteries - I'm happy with coming to that conclusion.

Yes, I have a certain 'spiritual' awareness, but exactly how/what it is, and how it may be expressed, is still an ongoing part of the discovery of my lifes' journey.

Seven levels of being?

I found this wristband (left) at the Eumundi Markets a few weeks ago (September 2013), and I was immediately drawn to it as a piece of body 'jewelry' (wrong words, I know!), as the seven different aspects of the work seemed to symbolize this following piece (below)...
  • Black and white - polar opposites
  • Purple and green - at opposite ends of the colour spectrum...
  • The three threads reminded me of a Bible verse that says, "A cord of three strands is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12)...
  • Together they combine to make seven ("...the 'perfect' number... which represents fullness, perfecting, covenant union and spiritual perfection.") (Source)...

"Seven Levels"
I wrote this free-verse 'poem' back in 2005, as I tried to explain the inexplicable...

There are then seven
Levels of perception I've
Stumbled across... ah 
First is food, shelter,
Clothing - base necessities
To keep us alive. 
Second is those things
We think we need to survive -
Material pills. 
Third is friendships we
Find, grow, loose along the way,
A grieving journey. 
Fourth is love, being
Felt as needed, vital, of
Importance, valued. 
Fifth is a concept
Some call 'morality' - what's
Right or wrong, and why. 
Sixth is the value
We place on those one closest
To us, our loved ones. 
Seventh is mortal -
Birth and death, beginning - end.
These we can't avoid. 
Mind you, the seven
Levels ebb-and-flow just like
Wash tides, seeping through
One-another and
Interrelating, weaving
Webbed footpaths of life's
Levels two-to-seven
Don't process orderly -
They all mingle, change,
Borrow, bleach, fluctuate, mesh,
They are such part flesh. 
It's just a thought, not
A theology of self.
A life examined.
          (Mal Kiely 2005)

Food - clothing - shelter
Material pills
Feeling needed ('Community')

A random note... I discovered that, a few years after I wrote this, the hilarious random comparison... Paul McCartney, upon the first time he smoked dope (in 1965), got Mal Evans (Beatles road manager) to write down what he had discovered was "The Secret of Life"... the next day, upon reading it, a puzzled McCartney read, "There Are Seven Levels". Hahahahaaa.

Richard Barrett proposes "seven stages of consciousness" that progress in a logical order. The progression focuses on “existential” needs directly connected to and dependent on the human condition, all of which are motivating factors for daily interactions. (Source)

Reference Drive
Survival Feel protected or unprotected
Feel in or out of a group
Feel positive or negative about yourself
Act out of your true self
Internal Cohesion
Find similarities between your views and goals
Making a Difference
Align your views with others to make a greater impact
Live through voluntary service to meet your personal goals

Note: this particular post has been re-edited and adapted from old posts from about 4 or 5 years ago.
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  1. it's all a very deep thought...but it's up to all of us to make up our minds to believe or disbelieve...i find that i would much rather believe that there is a god.. But then i wonder why there is so much suffering. The only way to understand that is to die and hopefully come face to face with god himself. Even with all my burdens, i find a way to get thru them...whether it be survival instincts or the help of god or both...I think its better just to live my life the best i can... without evil in my life as much as possible...thanks for sharing mal! makes ya think!!

    1. Thanks Caroline... I'm kinda just 'thinking aloud', but yeah... I'm not going to negate someone elses' beliefs, just because they may not be compatible with mine.