Verifiable Results

There’s an interesting fellow I see often on my drive home from work. He’s a boxer. You can see him almost daily along the Riverwalk in Tulsa. He stands in the middle of the drainage ditch and he jumps rope and shadow boxes. I’d like to know his story, but I haven’t ever had the nerve to find out. I wonder if when he was a younger man that maybe he did real boxing, but now he might be living in his imagination, but then I think that my thoughts are presumptuous. Maybe he just likes the exercise.

Youngsters

When I was younger I spent a lot of time praying. I prayed for the children in Africa and the people I saw on the news. I had no way of physically helping, but somehow the praying didn’t feel like a copout. I felt satisfaction after I prayed and I thought it was proof of results. It seemed that it was a ping back from the source telling me Yes, that’s it. You’re on target. But it wasn’t. It’s not. It’s just the chemicals in my brain telling me I’ve done an action that my belief system approves of. It’s not confirmation of it being effective. Otherwise the continent of Africa would be full of healthy people. The bad guys controlling the countries would be dead or disabled. The wildfires of Texas, Colorado, and California would be over as well as the long drought. And yes, when I prayed for these things I had faith. I got the ping back.

If only

If there is a god and the precepts are true then the results should be verifiable. If a disease or tragedy hits because of sin it should harm only the ones doing the wrong deed, or am I a simpleton. I’m thinking the arrow of disease is coming from the hand  of a just god.

Christians should be by a verifiable percentage of reality these things:

  • healthier than other religious people
  • impervious to disease more so than other religious people
  • not dying from snake bites
  • above only, as in, not enslaved to debt
  • lead happier lives
  • wealthier or having the ability to obtain wealth

Further, the Bible makes specific promises, but these promises are never fulfilled. For instance, John 15:7 states, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is simply not true! How many Christian people have prayed all over the globe for a release from the grip of terrible suffering just to be left in their circumstances with no way out?  Lydia @ DogmaDebate

If something exists or a pattern is true then you should see results. For example, if you take a medication that has been approved by the FDA Federal Drug Administration, it’s already went through Double Blind testing. There are certain tests that show it works. The man on the side of the road is getting exercise. I don’t wish to mock or belittle someone for their efforts. I only want to acknowledge the difference between efforts and results. If you want the exercise of meditation or praying or even shadow boxing, yes they do have their own benefits, but if you want to knock someone out you’re going to have to punch them.

So what works?

In the Bible, James says,

Faith and Works

17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

 

 

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost

The Christianity of my youth was a bubble of protection for me. I didn’t realize how effective the sheltering was until recently. When faced with the opposing belief system, I find myself feeling exposed. Atheism doesn’t believe in God, but it also doesn’t believe in life after death. This is it. No floating towards the light. No reunion with loved ones. None of the comfort of mom’s Thanksgiving dressing and pumpkin pie.

Why don’t I go back home? Back to Christianity or even a milder form of religion? I’ve asked myself the same thought. My goal was to have a view of Christianity from the outside. I wanted to see without the bias of being raised in the buckle of the Bible belt. I practically cut my teeth on a church hymnal. All of my memorization and early explorations were from the Petri dish of religion. I crawled out of this swamp on purpose. I wanted a different view. I wanted to see the world without the limitations of religious doctrine.

Now I realize that I was sheltered. As much as growing up in a large family is different to growing up an orphan. Well, here I am. A lot of limitations are in other’s beliefs also. Why does everyone have to lock down their beliefs? I hate closed doors and locked boxes. Why do we have to believe in anything in particular? What if I went the entirety of my life and never believed any belief. Does that make me a Buddhist? It might take me on the path of Buddha now that I think of it. Humorous how our lives are. We aren’t comfortable with people who don’t decide. The first thing we want to know of someone is their work. What do you do? Then marital status. Married? Children? Then we migrate to political and religious notions. Define yourself, we say.

As I ponder life after death or even just this life, I realize it truly doesn’t matter what I believe. Life is, now. If there is a reincarnation then I’m coming back to fix bad karma and enjoy the good that I have created. If this is all there is, I won’t realize it since I will be gone. As it was before I was born. It will be no matter what I believe. I can’t swallow a pill or chant 1000 times to force a belief. Once exposed, a lie is no longer deceiving. You see it for the illusion it once was, much like the saying, What’s been seen cannot be unseen. I stand in the valley of the shadow of death, but I fear no evil.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

Who Is Real?

At first I thought you had two faces. but now I see one face is real and the other is just a lie. Do you believe that lie?

There was a time in my life that if someone told me their aspirations or beliefs, I didn’t look any farther. That was the person, the one they described to me. Now that I’ve had more experience in life, I realize the person screaming obscenities behind the smiling face is the true person.

I believe it was Maya Angelo that said, When someone shows you who they are, believe them. It’s a matter of training, or in my case, retraining my senses. At first it seems awkward. I see the two faces and I hear the voice speak that tells me they are kind and gentle and that I should believe them, and then there’s the punch in the face. Wow, where did that come from? Business leaders will promote new ideas. They’re for progress, the new style of management. Their employees are their greatest asset, they say. The want to allow their employees opportunity to grow. Then slowly, moment by moment, they take your privileges away. You’re called on the carpet for petty things. They look at you suspiciously and monitor your phones. Which to believe? Was it only the flavor of the month?

A spouse says they love you. They want to spend more time with you and can’t stand to be away from you. But they work late most nights and when they’re not working, they hole up in their office reading financial reports or playing video games. Hmmm, something isn’t syncing.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I tend to be a bit naive, trusting, accepting. I’m also a fairly adaptable person so I take on too much. I step up too tall and I stay too long. Which is fine if I’m with my friends. They know me and I know them. I feel free to say Not today or I’m not feeling well. And we all understand each other and allow the other person to bow out gracefully.

My problem isn’t that I didn’t see the actions or even know the person was lying. My problem is that I wanted it to be true. My emotions were involved. I cared. And that’s where my conundrum is. Do I not care anymore? I have no wish to become an ice queen. Caring is human. I have learned to isolate my caring to smaller and more trusted groups. I’ve learned to detach from caring if  I realize I’ve over invested.  With age comes experience and that grows into wisdom.

I no longer believe your lie.

What Heals?

Just for kicks and giggles I’m going to bring up a subject that is often argued. In one corner stand the believers of the divine power. The religious and spiritual alike believe in the power of prayer, the real act. The words, the beads, the statues, the candles, the water and oil. In the other corner are the skeptics. Those that believe in medicine, in science, in studies and practice. They will tell you there is no god to answer that prayer and any help that is given, is given by people or the ill persons own psyche.

In reality these two sides merge and flow together each sharing their strengths. If only we knew the truth. Studies are done but still each side sees what they believed in originally. If it’s not god, then who? Or what? I think it all comes together if you’re standing in the right place.

The fruit of the spirit is …

Most Christians can quote this one. But what if it’s not talking about THE Spirit. What if this verse were referring to spirit in general, as opposed to flesh.

Galatians 5:22-23

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

We talk about our lizard brain as the control center for our baser self.  We eat, we drink, we sleep, we fulfill all of our lusts. But humanity has other parts also. A portion of our brain encourages us to communicate, to interact, to be generous. These qualities or attitudes are present when people receive prayer or loved ones are near. There is acceptance. There is love. There is this overwhelming feeling of not being alone and isolated. With acceptance comes healing.

There was a study done many years ago about newborns. Those that received touch as well as the needed nourishment, thrived. Grew stronger and healthier. Those that received their food and received only the bare minimum of touch, became weaker. as if they weren’t even fed at all. What can cause such a thing? Was it really the touching alone? The Experience of Touch

So if we want to encourage healing in those around us what do we need to do? Touching? Or praying? It is very possible that we as humans can’t separate our emotions from out actions. If you know you can’t be with someone or show them affection, you tend to avoid them completely. Sometimes we avoid thinking of them.

Another topic I want to explore in the future is WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO THRIVE? How do we thrive?

I agree with Jay McDaniel,  Amma: The Hugging Saint

What the world needs now is less religion and more hugging.  At least it needs less rigid religion, amid which religion becomes ideology; and it needs more compassionate hugging of the kind that nurses give patients in hospitals.

My Skepticism on Religion

True Religion adMy take on Religion, God, and Spirituality has changed over the years. Although I grew up like many in my part of the world, in the traditional Christianity, I no longer claim that title as my Religion.

When I was a kid, if I wanted something from on a top shelf I had to ask someone to get it or scoot a chair to reach it. Our cereal was on top of the refrigerator. Guess what I wanted. I was so excited when I finally could reach the top of the refrigerator without using a step-stool or asking for help. It was a milestone for me. This is how I see religion. Not that we can physically touch any god on our own, but that we can approach the spirit without tradition or allegories.

Face to face. In our infancy and childhood we learn stories to help us understand. The birds and the bees teach us about reproduction. Apples and oranges teach us math. Religion teaches us about God. Whether God is worshiped, feared, deified or loved, we learned from the teachings of our religion. Growing up in a very closed-minded religion taught me that my thoughts were not to be trusted. That whatever I thought was true probably wasn’t. Maybe not everyone’s religion does that, but for me that was what happened.

Religion was the highest power. The highest authority. Even more so than personal experience. It doesn’t matter if God or an angel came down to talk to you, it was not trusted above the unchanging dogma of our religion. Even if you found it in the Bible, underlined it in red, circled it, highlighted with glowing color, if it didn’t match what you were taught as truth, it was a trick of the enemy. Don’t let anyone fool you. I grew up in this stuff and I’ve argued it and studied it. If it wasn’t taught in the dogma, it is a lie.

When religion tells me to ignore those things I see around me such as science discoveries, cultural issues, or astronomy, it is basically telling me to ignore factual evidence. Ignore the truth and just believe. To the point that those people with the greatest faith ignored the most obvious laws such as gravity or chemistry. Yes I do know there are things I don’t understand. And I will admit there are times when someone seemingly did amazing metaphysical, supernatural things. Water turned to wine. Water turned to gasoline.

It is amazing to me that when we look at other cultures and religions that we can see through the veil. It is also amazing that whichever religion you deem as true, is probably the religion you were born and raised in. It was passed from your parents and their parents. Tell me truly, do you believe that your grandparents way of living was the only way? Was Grandma’s superstitious beliefs how you want to live your life? Is it spilled salt over your left shoulder or your right? There are some strange superstitions around the world. The conviction of belief does not make them true. It just makes them believed.

In Russia, its considered bad luck when a cat, especially a black one, crosses in front of you when you’re walking. Some people will avoid them by chasing out or outrun the cat.
If the cat already crosses you, then you have to break the spell by spitting three times over your left shoulder to avoid the bad luck.

In England, it is believed that meeting a spotted or black and white dog on the way to a business appointment is a lucky sign.

In Sweden, it is considered bad luck to place your keys on the table. In the old days, it it believed that prostitutes will often signal their availability by leaving their room keys on the bar.

http://worldsuperstitions.blogspot.com/search/label/Bad%20Luck

I love this short piece I found while reading various blogs, http://wyzzz.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/choices-religion/.

Also, It’s not about the Colors and There is no Savior

Question It All

Question everything. Question everyone. Question it all. Anything that comes across your senses can be faked. A person may be exactly who they say, but may not. The $1000.00 coat looks nicer, classier, better tailored than the $100.00, but it could be a knock-off. Your neighbor may be a successful business person or a drug dealer. It’s not easy to tell sometimes.

If you want to see truth like you say you want to, you must bypass the easy stuff. The cover story. All the mind Jedi tricks that people play are distractions. Don’t be distracted. Retrain your thinking. How? Notice the story they tell you. Look at it then look again. Listen to the skeptics. Take courses in critical thinking. Be smart and use the scientific method. The story is the hypothesis. They say they work at a bank. What type of car do they drive? How do they dress? House? Children? is their lifestyle in the salary range of a loan officer or the president? What type of friends do they have? Check out the salary of bankers in your state. In other words, do the ingredients in this person’s life add up to who they say they are?

There are three main questions to ask if you want to exercise skepticism.

  1. Who is making claim?
  2. What’s the context?
  3. What is the quality of the evidence?

I wanted to share some resources for those who want to dabble in skepticism.

http://www.skeptic.com/
http://www.criticalthinking.net/
Book – The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer
Book – The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Is it Judging?

I was a naive child. Usually playing on the playground with the same group of kids every day. We’d played games like tag or tangle. But one day I was playing in the dirt with a different group of kids. And then there was “Dee,” obviously not her real name. She said open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you a big surprise. Suspiciously I asked if she was going to put something in my mouth. Of course not she said. Okay, silly person that I was, I opened my mouth. Guess what? I got dirt in my mouth. I spit and sprayed while grabbing dirt to throw on her. She was long gone laughing all the way. I need to find her and thank her for a lesson that should have been well learned. You know the lesson, don’t believe everything you’re told. People lie. Be skeptical.

I grew up in an honest home. My parents are upfront, trustworthy, salt of the earth people. You could hand them your entire life savings and when you returned to pick it up, you’d get it all back. My mom would drive back across town to return a penny if she was given too much change. Of course it’s also true that if you did them wrong by trying to cheat or harm them, they will never darken your door again. So I didn’t know deceit. Elementary school was a wake up for me. It was my first experience with lying and cheating.

I’ve learned. I can make better judgement calls now and more so as I get older. I try to discern if they are intending to scam me or if they are honest. What I’m uncertain about is if there is a difference between discerning and judging. I looked the words up online since I’ve always thought there was a difference. Judging was something the Sunday school teacher taught that we shouldn’t do. And it was left with that. No talk about it’s okay to decide to avoid people who appeared dangerous, just Don’t Judge. Judging is wrong. Which left us good little girls in a bad situation. If you prevent judgement in all cases then we don’t have any defense to prevent rape, murder, or any other harm. Surely that’s not what they meant. But God protected us. Where was he when the girl put dirt in my mouth or when some boy was pressuring us into sex? Did we have the right to say no?

Being good and subservient does not go well with standing up for your rights. At the same time purity was taught. If you don’t understand the dilemma I completely understand. I’m not sure I do either. There were very few secrets from the all-knowing God or the pastor that God spoke to continually. He knew every evil thought and every judgement you made about another.

Today, I hate and despise these ideals. I don’t believe kids need to sit down and shut up. I also believe they need to learn how to decide. I say eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eat often. Learn, decide, choose, and be skeptical. We were not meant to be sheep thrown out into the pasture with wolves and dogs. I was unprepared for life and I know that I was not alone. It was a sad trick someone played on us. Dressed up in our frilly pink dresses, we were told to go outside and play, but don’t get dirty.

Maybe I’m just angry. I was powerless and told it was right. Any power I had felt wrong. I worried for years that someone would find out and reprimand me. NO MORE. I’ve worked very hard in my life for freedom. To have the right to discern and judge for myself. I now decide if something is good for me or will do me harm. It’s not based on anyone else’s ideal, only my own well-being. And it feels right.

There are other words. Maybe you can tell if there is a difference.

Discern – discriminate, distinguish, differentiate, separate, contrast

Judge – examine, determine, evaluate, figure out, inspect, interpret

Skeptical – cautious, suspicious, leery, unconvinced, not following