To Sex and Power, Add Constancy

I believe the most consistantly compelling motivation, the most determining factor in the human experience, is the fear of death. The core, most primary thing we know about being alive is that somewhere along the line we won’t be anymore. Everything we are, do, think and feel is necessarily founded upon and grounded within the terrible, brutal fact that we — or at least the we as we are now — are as temporary as temporary gets.

At some level, this abiding (if unconscious) surety of the tenuousness with which we own life instills a panic in us all. It makes us nervous, greedy, appetitive, angry, fearful.

Mostly, the underlying fear of imminent obliteration tends to trigger the Two Great Human Drives: the drive to sex (whether it be physical gratification or the desire to reproduce), and the drive to power.

Sex and power. That’s what makes our world go round. Those two things make all people — Christians, Muslims, atheists, basketweavers in Mongolia — absolutely bonkers. We want them. We crave them. We’re repelled by them. People are so driven one way or another by them that it … well, that it’s created the world around us, for one.

But I don’t think there are only two ways people primarily react to their innate fear of death. I think psychologists, theologians, and philosophers should add to the drives towards sex and power the drive toward constancy.  I think the desire for constancy — for permanence, changelessness, enduring equilibrium, unending stasis — is every bit as compelling, as motivating, as crazy-making, as informing a drive in people as is their desire for sex and power.

Everyone, all the time, imagines themselves in an absolute state of peace and contentment. When I’m out on my own. When I get that job. When I land that deal. When I’m famous, meet the right person, get married, have children, retire, get to heaven. The need to achieve a state of indissoluble contentment is forever before us, forever pulling us ahead, forever pushing us from behind. It’s what makes our personal  world go round.

I think our desire to finally achieve a state of immutable harmonious equilibrium is as compelling as is our drive to sex and our will to power.

I also think it’s one of the key reasons Christianity is so perfect. Christianity acknowledges that we can’t live in a state of absolute peace while here on earth (while at the same time, awesomely enough, providing us a means to get back  to a state of perfect and absolute grace before, just by being alive, we begin blowing it again). Moreover, Christianity promises us that when this life is over, we finally really will  get what for our whole lives we’ve longed for, which is is peace and joy unending.

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Amen to the discourse on Christianity's perfection.

    Don't fear the reaper.

    40,000 men and women every day.

    Regardless, I would posit the peace, love and understanding shown by God and "clear-headed thinking" inspired by God's Holy Spirit leads to a contentment keeping many from shuffling off the mortal coil in advance of their recall date.

    How do you explain Kamikazis and, more recently, suicidal terrorists, though?

    -Sam

  • Leif Sr.

    Amen.

    Part of the fear of death is the unknown aspect of it. There is a dread that comes with that. Christ conquered death and so, as a believer in Jesus, we can be free from the fear of death. Because we can doesn't mean we always rest in that truth though. Our humanity distracts us often, however, the choice is there each day for us.

  • Leif Sr.

    Amen.

    Part of the fear of death is the unknown aspect of it. There is a dread that comes with that. Christ conquered death and so, as a believer in Jesus, we can be free from the fear of death. Because we can doesn't mean we always rest in that truth though. Our humanity distracts us often, however, the choice is there each day for us.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    John Shore wrote:

    Mostly, the underlying fear of imminent obliteration tends to trigger the Two Great Human Drives: the drive to sex, and the drive to power.

    I am not sure how you got that "fear of death" leads to sex and "drive to power". If there is any evolutionary trait that is clearly understood, it is the drive to have sex. This is true of every species that has even a rudimentary consciousness…including humans. Most of those species would have no comprehension of death-of-self…or 'self' for that matter. Natural selection would, necessarily, put those that sought out sex (with it's inherent offspring) at the front of the line for biological success. We are tooooootally wired to enjoy sex and to seek it out.

    I imagine that, over the past bazillion years, there were some that were born (human and otherwise) that that did NOT enjoy the sensation of sex and, hence, didn't go out of their way to have sex. That strain died out. To the rest of us, the sensation is really, really, really, really good (despite what we are tempted to tell our teenagers).

    Anyway…back to fear of death and sex. All species, whether cognizant of death or not, seek sex because they are wired to do so. (A brief note on morality and sex: Sex is natural and, arguably, the most core, innate impulse we have. Sex is not immoral, it is natural. Irresponsible sex is immoral.)

    As far as the "drive to power"…

    I would argue that we are all wired to want to be compared favorably to our peers. I think it is innate in us to want to be leader of the pack and we are wired to seek out affirmation of our comparative superiority over others. In other species, this would usually manifest itself as being the biggest and strongest. In our more complex society (as result of our bigger brains) we can get those rewards by being the better singer, or the better academic, or richer, or the more attractive, or bigger/stronger, or more politically powerful, or more socially active. (I am not ranking or commenting on the merits of these). I think, again, that this is a fundamental stimulation that we seek regardless of our imminent death.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    John Shore wrote:

    Mostly, the underlying fear of imminent obliteration tends to trigger the Two Great Human Drives: the drive to sex, and the drive to power.

    I am not sure how you got that "fear of death" leads to sex and "drive to power". If there is any evolutionary trait that is clearly understood, it is the drive to have sex. This is true of every species that has even a rudimentary consciousness…including humans. Most of those species would have no comprehension of death-of-self…or 'self' for that matter. Natural selection would, necessarily, put those that sought out sex (with it's inherent offspring) at the front of the line for biological success. We are tooooootally wired to enjoy sex and to seek it out.

    I imagine that, over the past bazillion years, there were some that were born (human and otherwise) that that did NOT enjoy the sensation of sex and, hence, didn't go out of their way to have sex. That strain died out. To the rest of us, the sensation is really, really, really, really good (despite what we are tempted to tell our teenagers).

    Anyway…back to fear of death and sex. All species, whether cognizant of death or not, seek sex because they are wired to do so. (A brief note on morality and sex: Sex is natural and, arguably, the most core, innate impulse we have. Sex is not immoral, it is natural. Irresponsible sex is immoral.)

    As far as the "drive to power"…

    I would argue that we are all wired to want to be compared favorably to our peers. I think it is innate in us to want to be leader of the pack and we are wired to seek out affirmation of our comparative superiority over others. In other species, this would usually manifest itself as being the biggest and strongest. In our more complex society (as result of our bigger brains) we can get those rewards by being the better singer, or the better academic, or richer, or the more attractive, or bigger/stronger, or more politically powerful, or more socially active. (I am not ranking or commenting on the merits of these). I think, again, that this is a fundamental stimulation that we seek regardless of our imminent death.

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Hey ladies….where are you? Comments so far are from the guys….it figures! Mike, or was it you, John, said: "We are tooooootally wired to enjoy sex and to seek it out. " Well, you're biologically right on that point, but, you're speaking for your own gender. Please, don't speak for all the ladies. Sad but true….guys can be cruel in their pursuit of power and sexual pleasure. Ask any lady, single or married, who has been forcibly raped, or any little girl who has been molested repeatedly. Uh-uh…..not all women are toooootally wired with the same drive as their male counterparts!

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Hey ladies….where are you? Comments so far are from the guys….it figures! Mike, or was it you, John, said: "We are tooooootally wired to enjoy sex and to seek it out. " Well, you're biologically right on that point, but, you're speaking for your own gender. Please, don't speak for all the ladies. Sad but true….guys can be cruel in their pursuit of power and sexual pleasure. Ask any lady, single or married, who has been forcibly raped, or any little girl who has been molested repeatedly. Uh-uh…..not all women are toooootally wired with the same drive as their male counterparts!

  • Cibola

    Amen, John. I see the drive for constancy in myself all the time. When I’m struggling with problems, I invariably start thinking things like, “If this problem would just go away, I would finally be able to settle into a nice, peaceful life.” Then I catch myself and realize how divorced from reality that is. It seems like the best peace I’ve had in life is when I can be content with things the way they are—you know, in a good way, not in a passive, “oh well” kind of way. It’s best when I can be content in knowing that God is loving and good, and is teaching me the lessons I need to learn through these particular problems.

    Another thing I've found to be so great about Christianity is that there’s so much peace to be found in knowing that if we’re seeking a relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus, then right now we’re right where we should be in life. That doesn’t preclude working to solve problems or make things better (this seems like a good place to interject a compliment to you, John, about how you’re working to reduce landfill by reducing how many times a week…month?..you shave.)

    Sometimes I think that the constant striving for stability, peace and contentment are an echo of our need for reunion with our God. Nothing’s ever enough for us, because only God is enough.

  • Cibola

    Amen, John. I see the drive for constancy in myself all the time. When I’m struggling with problems, I invariably start thinking things like, “If this problem would just go away, I would finally be able to settle into a nice, peaceful life.” Then I catch myself and realize how divorced from reality that is. It seems like the best peace I’ve had in life is when I can be content with things the way they are—you know, in a good way, not in a passive, “oh well” kind of way. It’s best when I can be content in knowing that God is loving and good, and is teaching me the lessons I need to learn through these particular problems.

    Another thing I've found to be so great about Christianity is that there’s so much peace to be found in knowing that if we’re seeking a relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus, then right now we’re right where we should be in life. That doesn’t preclude working to solve problems or make things better (this seems like a good place to interject a compliment to you, John, about how you’re working to reduce landfill by reducing how many times a week…month?..you shave.)

    Sometimes I think that the constant striving for stability, peace and contentment are an echo of our need for reunion with our God. Nothing’s ever enough for us, because only God is enough.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wonderfully said, Cibola. Perfect. Thank you for taking the time to express what you've said so well.

    Grace: Good point! It triggered me to go back into the post and add "(whether it be physical gratification or the desire to reproduce)" after my first mention of the drive for sex.

    Mike: Excellent points! But to whatever degree our will to power is hardwired into our DNA, I think a HUGE part of it is also driven by the innate need to beat death by establishing as much control over as much as we can while we're here.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wonderfully said, Cibola. Perfect. Thank you for taking the time to express what you've said so well.

    Grace: Good point! It triggered me to go back into the post and add "(whether it be physical gratification or the desire to reproduce)" after my first mention of the drive for sex.

    Mike: Excellent points! But to whatever degree our will to power is hardwired into our DNA, I think a HUGE part of it is also driven by the innate need to beat death by establishing as much control over as much as we can while we're here.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Greta,

    I am embarassesd for my gross oversight. Obviously the sex drive manifests itself quite differently between the male and female. It is my understanding, though, that it still feels really, really, really, really good for the ladies.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Greta,

    I am embarassesd for my gross oversight. Obviously the sex drive manifests itself quite differently between the male and female. It is my understanding, though, that it still feels really, really, really, really good for the ladies.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    "…I think a HUGE part of it is also driven by the innate need to beat death by establishing as much control over as much as we can while we’re here."

    I think that sums it all up, John. Power, constancy–control over different things.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    "…I think a HUGE part of it is also driven by the innate need to beat death by establishing as much control over as much as we can while we’re here."

    I think that sums it all up, John. Power, constancy–control over different things.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    It was Woody Allen that said:

    I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

  • http://jon-gilbert.blogspot.com Jon Gilbert

    "Everything we are, do, think and feel is necessarily founded upon and grounded within the terrible, brutal fact that we — or at least the we as we are now — are as temporary as temporary gets."

    As true as this is, when someone reminds me that 'life is short', I have to correct them. I assure them that life is actually the longest thing there is. Can't get much longer than living to the end of your life.

    Unless you don't make it for some reason…

  • http://jon-gilbert.blogspot.com Jon Gilbert

    "Everything we are, do, think and feel is necessarily founded upon and grounded within the terrible, brutal fact that we — or at least the we as we are now — are as temporary as temporary gets."

    As true as this is, when someone reminds me that 'life is short', I have to correct them. I assure them that life is actually the longest thing there is. Can't get much longer than living to the end of your life.

    Unless you don't make it for some reason…

  • steppingthru

    The fear of death is a fear of the unknown. When you have had a near death or "slightly" after death experience (it would be hard to explain), then you realize that there is such a peace at that moment that the fear will no longer haunt you. That is IF you are a Christian. It's not he fear of death that bothers me. It is the fear of those few minutes or hours just before death that worries me!

    Jon: Sorry, but I disagree. We aren't temporary. Our shell, our body, our outer garment might be but not "us". There is so much more to "life" than here and now. God created us for eternity. This is just the staging ground for the real thing.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    steppingthru wrote:

    There is so much more to “life” than here and now. God created us for eternity. This is just the staging ground for the real thing.

    As long as you don't compromise this "here and now" life (the one we KNOW we have) in anticipation of the one the one you HOPE you have.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    steppingthru wrote:

    There is so much more to “life” than here and now. God created us for eternity. This is just the staging ground for the real thing.

    As long as you don't compromise this "here and now" life (the one we KNOW we have) in anticipation of the one the one you HOPE you have.

  • VIRGINIA

    I THINK WE NEED TO STICK TO THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL.YOU KNOW , LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO KEEP THINKING AND SPEAKING ABOUT SUCH THINGS WHICH REALLY DO NOT MATTER.THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE POWER , THAT IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    So … what did you think of my piece on my special relationship with Kermit the Frog? No good? What if it'd had been HERMIT the Frog? Better, yes?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    So … what did you think of my piece on my special relationship with Kermit the Frog? No good? What if it'd had been HERMIT the Frog? Better, yes?

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I THINK IF IT WAS HERM–sorry, didn't mean to shout. I think if it was Hermit the Frog, and if he was a hermit meaning a sequestered monk frog, you could stretch it (very, very far) to be talking about the gospel.

    But then again, if all you talk about is the gospel, what will you talk to Jesus about? I'm pretty sure he knows about it.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I THINK IF IT WAS HERM–sorry, didn't mean to shout. I think if it was Hermit the Frog, and if he was a hermit meaning a sequestered monk frog, you could stretch it (very, very far) to be talking about the gospel.

    But then again, if all you talk about is the gospel, what will you talk to Jesus about? I'm pretty sure he knows about it.

  • Zach

    I think there is a big problem here that people are treating their lives like something they have to sit through before they are allowed into heaven. It’s not the destination that brings happiness but the journey itself. For a lot of people their lives are this progression of tasks that they have to complete so that they can earn some reward at the end. You have to go to school so that you can get into college. Then you have to get your degree so that you can get that good job. Then you work your way up the corporation to be successful.

    Then one day you will have worked yourself up high enough, got enough promotions, made enough money, become successful and then one day you realize that you don’t feel any differently now than you did before. This is where the midlife crisis comes from.

    Another way to think of this is a movie. You don’t make the end of the movie the only important part of the movie. If this were true then everyone would only go to the theaters when the movie is ending so that they can catch the last scene. When you go to the movies you aren’t just sitting there waiting for it to end so you can go home, you try to enjoy the whole thing.

    If you’re just sitting around waiting to die then I’d hate to think of what you are missing out on. And I really hope you won’t be disappointed by what you find when you die. I have this friend, who is a nice kid, but he spends way too much time obsessing over heaven. He’s as Christian as they come, he never misses church, he only listens to Christian music, and he even works at one of those Creationism Institutes. And he does this so that Jesus will let him into heaven.

    All day every day, he talks about heaven. Honestly I think it’s the only reason he can pull himself out of bed in the morning. All his life he’s been waiting to die. And one day years down the road he is going to get old and then die. Now if he just ceases to exist then he won’t be around to feel disappointed. But if there is an afterlife, and it’s not 24/7 all orgasms all the time, then he might fly into a psychotic rage.

    Also as far as peaceful consistency I can think of anything more consistent than being dead. You can spend the rest of eternity lying in a wooden box. You will always have the same haircut. You will always live in the same neighborhood. You will always be next to your spouse and never get divorced. There are no noisy neighbors, no domestic disputes, and no subprime mortgage crisis. Other than being dug up and baptized by Mormons it’s about as peaceful and consistent as you can get.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Zach wrote:

    I think there is a big problem here that people are treating their lives like something they have to sit through before they are allowed into heaven.

    I am right there with you Zach. I find it sad…even tragic…that some would forego the many rewards and pleasures in this [known, actual] life all in preparation for an [improbable, speculative] afterlife. It is the ultimate price on something with infinitely worse odds than any lottery.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Zach wrote:

    I think there is a big problem here that people are treating their lives like something they have to sit through before they are allowed into heaven.

    I am right there with you Zach. I find it sad…even tragic…that some would forego the many rewards and pleasures in this [known, actual] life all in preparation for an [improbable, speculative] afterlife. It is the ultimate price on something with infinitely worse odds than any lottery.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    It's absurd, guys, to assert that a belief that one is spending one's life within the context of a divine reality means forgoing the many rewards and pleasures of this life. It might redefine some of those pleasures–but I think it's safe to say that the pleasures and rewards experienced by people who believe in God are every bit as trenchant and real as those experienced by people who don't. Whether or not people are sane has nothing to do with whether or not they believe in God.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    It's absurd, guys, to assert that a belief that one is spending one's life within the context of a divine reality means forgoing the many rewards and pleasures of this life. It might redefine some of those pleasures–but I think it's safe to say that the pleasures and rewards experienced by people who believe in God are every bit as trenchant and real as those experienced by people who don't. Whether or not people are sane has nothing to do with whether or not they believe in God.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    John Shore,

    I certainly don't claim that it is a majority or even a significant percentage of believers that forego real-world rewards and pleasures. There is, however, a minority of those with supernatural worldviews that are so restrictive in their observances that it keeps them from social relationships, imposes dietary restrictions, clothing restrictions, music restrictions, art restrictions, literature restrictions, career restrictions, etc. etc..

    A former employee of mine (a Seventh Day Adventist I think) declined a significant promotion because taking the job might have, several times a year, involved being called into work on his sabbath. This was a young, intelligent man with a young family that really could have used the extra money.

    Obviously my perspective as a non-believer is different than most represented here. We non-theists find no compelling evidence (and many bad arguments) for the existence of a concerned deity and hence dismiss just one additional god than most here. We then see individuals consciously decline success (as in the case of my employee) in deference to that which I consider a mythological fabrication. Decline alcohol?…OK personal choice. Decline a leg up on financial security for your family?…sad.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    John Shore,

    I certainly don't claim that it is a majority or even a significant percentage of believers that forego real-world rewards and pleasures. There is, however, a minority of those with supernatural worldviews that are so restrictive in their observances that it keeps them from social relationships, imposes dietary restrictions, clothing restrictions, music restrictions, art restrictions, literature restrictions, career restrictions, etc. etc..

    A former employee of mine (a Seventh Day Adventist I think) declined a significant promotion because taking the job might have, several times a year, involved being called into work on his sabbath. This was a young, intelligent man with a young family that really could have used the extra money.

    Obviously my perspective as a non-believer is different than most represented here. We non-theists find no compelling evidence (and many bad arguments) for the existence of a concerned deity and hence dismiss just one additional god than most here. We then see individuals consciously decline success (as in the case of my employee) in deference to that which I consider a mythological fabrication. Decline alcohol?…OK personal choice. Decline a leg up on financial security for your family?…sad.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    All I'm saying is crazy is crazy. There are crazy Christians. There are crazy atheists. There are crazy Elks Lodge members.

    Crazy's everywhere. So, you know. No fair attributing the CAUSE of crazy to a belief in God, is all I'm saying. Why spend time criticizing a percentage of believers that even you say is insignificant?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    All I'm saying is crazy is crazy. There are crazy Christians. There are crazy atheists. There are crazy Elks Lodge members.

    Crazy's everywhere. So, you know. No fair attributing the CAUSE of crazy to a belief in God, is all I'm saying. Why spend time criticizing a percentage of believers that even you say is insignificant?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Because, John, it is my observation that a there are far more bad decisions (like those mentioned) for religious reasons than for fraternal organization reasons.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Because, John, it is my observation that a there are far more bad decisions (like those mentioned) for religious reasons than for fraternal organization reasons.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Something to ponder. When you hear stories of parents withholding medical treatment (for treatable conditions) for their children and they die; how many of those are for 'religious reasons'? …how many for 'non-religious reasons'?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Something to ponder. When you hear stories of parents withholding medical treatment (for treatable conditions) for their children and they die; how many of those are for 'religious reasons'? …how many for 'non-religious reasons'?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yes, good point. It's hard to argue with your reasoning. You've proven that belief in God turns people into insane child killers.

    If only Christians were more rational …

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yes, good point. It's hard to argue with your reasoning. You've proven that belief in God turns people into insane child killers.

    If only Christians were more rational …

  • Candace

    Boy, for someone who's such a "thinker", Mike, you sure do like to pose your questions from a position of inherent bias. Cherry-pick much?

    (Just my observation, of course, and only offered since I have indeed observed every instance in which you've posed a question, and thus have an unlimited perspective.)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I suppose I have been too obtuse in my framing my point. Of course the great and vast majority of believers are perfectly sane, nice, reasonable persons. Here I will try to succinctly and directly state my position.

    We have different people interpreting their holy texts in vastly different ways. When speaking of 'interpretation' there is no wrong answer. Most Muslims don't fly planes into buildings…some do. Most Christians don't kill abortion doctors or try to change our country into a theocracy…some do. Christians all start with the same owners manual as do all Muslims.

    I will not…can not…must not…restrain myself from speaking out against that minority. The rub comes in how one goes about that. As an engineer, I am man of root causes (for a leaky roof; the solution is not a bucket, but a patch). In the realm of religion, the matter of interpretation addresses a symptom. There is no winning an argument of what is a reasonable interpretation and what is not. The root cause is belief systems that transcend secular law and have no evidence of being true.

    If attacks on the truth of supernatural worldviews puts the moderate, reasonble theist in the line of fire…so be it. But if the reasonable theist complains of these attacks, it is tacit protection of the extremist.

    I simply need demonstrated that one of the myriad religions are something more than mythology. Is that unreasonable?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    I suppose I have been too obtuse in my framing my point. Of course the great and vast majority of believers are perfectly sane, nice, reasonable persons. Here I will try to succinctly and directly state my position.

    We have different people interpreting their holy texts in vastly different ways. When speaking of 'interpretation' there is no wrong answer. Most Muslims don't fly planes into buildings…some do. Most Christians don't kill abortion doctors or try to change our country into a theocracy…some do. Christians all start with the same owners manual as do all Muslims.

    I will not…can not…must not…restrain myself from speaking out against that minority. The rub comes in how one goes about that. As an engineer, I am man of root causes (for a leaky roof; the solution is not a bucket, but a patch). In the realm of religion, the matter of interpretation addresses a symptom. There is no winning an argument of what is a reasonable interpretation and what is not. The root cause is belief systems that transcend secular law and have no evidence of being true.

    If attacks on the truth of supernatural worldviews puts the moderate, reasonble theist in the line of fire…so be it. But if the reasonable theist complains of these attacks, it is tacit protection of the extremist.

    I simply need demonstrated that one of the myriad religions are something more than mythology. Is that unreasonable?

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I’m confused Mike. I thought we started with the problem that some people act like freaks in the name of their religion (after John started with sex and consistency). How did this turn into wanting proof on faith issues?

    And sadly the answer to your question is that, reasonable or not, I don’t know of any (human) person who can give you what you’re looking for. There are historical records of some religious figures, but even with those there’s no way to empirically prove they were/are who they said. As an engineer, you know that. Even when Jesus was here on earth there were atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions who thought he was full of crap. The biggest accusation against him was blasphemy, since he was going around claiming to be God’s son.

    Which really bums me out because believe me I’d love to give you something more than my own messed-up-faker-church-kid story, and I absolutely wish that people who claim to experience God’s grace would knock it off with the pious-sounding behaviors and saying that everyone needs to act like them to know God. ‘Cuz that’s not the case.

    But…I’m pretty sure respecting people with different beliefs includes the freaky-deaky ones. I’ve had to learn that, just like you can’t win people to Christ by beating them over the head with a Bible, you can’t make Christians experience grace by forcing it on them.

    Wish it were possible though. ;)

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    I’m confused Mike. I thought we started with the problem that some people act like freaks in the name of their religion (after John started with sex and consistency). How did this turn into wanting proof on faith issues?

    And sadly the answer to your question is that, reasonable or not, I don’t know of any (human) person who can give you what you’re looking for. There are historical records of some religious figures, but even with those there’s no way to empirically prove they were/are who they said. As an engineer, you know that. Even when Jesus was here on earth there were atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions who thought he was full of crap. The biggest accusation against him was blasphemy, since he was going around claiming to be God’s son.

    Which really bums me out because believe me I’d love to give you something more than my own messed-up-faker-church-kid story, and I absolutely wish that people who claim to experience God’s grace would knock it off with the pious-sounding behaviors and saying that everyone needs to act like them to know God. ‘Cuz that’s not the case.

    But…I’m pretty sure respecting people with different beliefs includes the freaky-deaky ones. I’ve had to learn that, just like you can’t win people to Christ by beating them over the head with a Bible, you can’t make Christians experience grace by forcing it on them.

    Wish it were possible though. ;)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Okay, I've shut down comments on this post. I can't host another "debate" between Christians and atheists. It's just too … lame, frankly.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Skerrib wrote:

    you can’t make Christians experience grace by forcing it on them.

    I absolutely agree and, hence, don’t try to. I respect everyone’s right to believe what they want. It seems that it is my role to bring to light what we actually know empirically and historically about our world. How ethics and morality seem to be an evolved trait. How miracles don’t stand up to scrutiny. How truth claims (i.e. prayer) don’t hold up to scrutiny. How popular religious narratives (i.e. Christianity) share many key parts of other, long-dead, religions (i.e. born of a virgin, Dec 25th, etc). How the complexity of life can be explained through natural, observed processes. How the state of our universe can be explained through natural physical laws. Etcetera. Etcetera.

    I am pro-knowledge. If one is ignorant of scientific explanations and empirical evidence, then I can’t blame anyone for falling back to instinctive, inculcated stories. If one is exposed to these contrary explanations and evidence, then one must at least take the trouble to dismiss what we ACTUALLY know about things in favor of the stories that have been handed down. Promoting some of these things is not easy. The human mind is not innately wired to comprehend some things (i.e. the billions of years necessary for evolution). Add to that, that religious narratives have themselves evolved (Google “Memes”) to resist critical thinking.

    But…I’m pretty sure respecting people with different beliefs includes the freaky-deaky ones.

    Therein lies the insidiousness of the moderate protecting the extremist. I do respect one’s right to believe what they want, but I am not obliged to respect what they think if it foments hatred, intolerance, or violence. Indeed; I feel that morality obliges us to counter anything that foments hatred, intolerance, or violence.

    Again…If we could have the philosophical discussion and universally land on the most benign manifestations of religion, that would probably be enough to shut down most vocal non-believers. But let’s see…we have been interpreting holy texts for…oh…THOUSANDS OF YEARS and still haven’t gotten their meanings buttoned down. Let us agree that philosophy and interpretation have pretty much panned out without conclusion. This leaves belief systems that transcend secular law and can and will always be interpreted such that some some minority of followers will readily demonize others and will happily and eagerly kill for the glory of their god.

    I really wish I could leave all the nice people alone and address the “freaky-deakies” directly, but you all have the same instruction manuals. (the same one that I had when raised as a believing Christian) I cannot sit idly by while that tiny minority gains strength and influence to suppress science and get weapons of mass destruction. Here today, we have 14th century minds (Islamic fundamentalists) actively seeking 21st century weapons of mass destruction that will use them GLEEFULLY for the glory of Allah. This could make the Stalinist purges seem quaint by comparison. Personally, I don’t think we can sit down with these factions and debate passages from the Koran and convince them they have it wrong. Even if we could, the Koran would still be there for “misinterpretation” in the future. The next step would be to debunk the Koran and Islam…which necessarily puts [at the very least] every faith based on the god of Abraham under scrutiny.

    I am sorry that the faith of good, tolerant people comes into question, but that is just the way it shakes out. In the long run, however; I firmly hold this truth to be self evident: Decisions, on the whole, are always best made based on real knowledge as opposed to mythology.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Skerrib wrote:

    you can’t make Christians experience grace by forcing it on them.

    I absolutely agree and, hence, don’t try to. I respect everyone’s right to believe what they want. It seems that it is my role to bring to light what we actually know empirically and historically about our world. How ethics and morality seem to be an evolved trait. How miracles don’t stand up to scrutiny. How truth claims (i.e. prayer) don’t hold up to scrutiny. How popular religious narratives (i.e. Christianity) share many key parts of other, long-dead, religions (i.e. born of a virgin, Dec 25th, etc). How the complexity of life can be explained through natural, observed processes. How the state of our universe can be explained through natural physical laws. Etcetera. Etcetera.

    I am pro-knowledge. If one is ignorant of scientific explanations and empirical evidence, then I can’t blame anyone for falling back to instinctive, inculcated stories. If one is exposed to these contrary explanations and evidence, then one must at least take the trouble to dismiss what we ACTUALLY know about things in favor of the stories that have been handed down. Promoting some of these things is not easy. The human mind is not innately wired to comprehend some things (i.e. the billions of years necessary for evolution). Add to that, that religious narratives have themselves evolved (Google “Memes”) to resist critical thinking.

    But…I’m pretty sure respecting people with different beliefs includes the freaky-deaky ones.

    Therein lies the insidiousness of the moderate protecting the extremist. I do respect one’s right to believe what they want, but I am not obliged to respect what they think if it foments hatred, intolerance, or violence. Indeed; I feel that morality obliges us to counter anything that foments hatred, intolerance, or violence.

    Again…If we could have the philosophical discussion and universally land on the most benign manifestations of religion, that would probably be enough to shut down most vocal non-believers. But let’s see…we have been interpreting holy texts for…oh…THOUSANDS OF YEARS and still haven’t gotten their meanings buttoned down. Let us agree that philosophy and interpretation have pretty much panned out without conclusion. This leaves belief systems that transcend secular law and can and will always be interpreted such that some some minority of followers will readily demonize others and will happily and eagerly kill for the glory of their god.

    I really wish I could leave all the nice people alone and address the “freaky-deakies” directly, but you all have the same instruction manuals. (the same one that I had when raised as a believing Christian) I cannot sit idly by while that tiny minority gains strength and influence to suppress science and get weapons of mass destruction. Here today, we have 14th century minds (Islamic fundamentalists) actively seeking 21st century weapons of mass destruction that will use them GLEEFULLY for the glory of Allah. This could make the Stalinist purges seem quaint by comparison. Personally, I don’t think we can sit down with these factions and debate passages from the Koran and convince them they have it wrong. Even if we could, the Koran would still be there for “misinterpretation” in the future. The next step would be to debunk the Koran and Islam…which necessarily puts [at the very least] every faith based on the god of Abraham under scrutiny.

    I am sorry that the faith of good, tolerant people comes into question, but that is just the way it shakes out. In the long run, however; I firmly hold this truth to be self evident: Decisions, on the whole, are always best made based on real knowledge as opposed to mythology.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Oh…..

    Skerrib asked:

    I’m confused Mike. I thought we started with the problem that some people act like freaks in the name of their religion (after John started with sex and consistency). How did this turn into wanting proof on faith issues?

    I just evolved from responses to comments to ‘steppingthru’, Zach, and John. I don’t like getting off topic, but I need to respond to questions or mischaracterizations. My apologies

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    Oh…..

    Skerrib asked:

    I’m confused Mike. I thought we started with the problem that some people act like freaks in the name of their religion (after John started with sex and consistency). How did this turn into wanting proof on faith issues?

    I just evolved from responses to comments to ‘steppingthru’, Zach, and John. I don’t like getting off topic, but I need to respond to questions or mischaracterizations. My apologies


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