Hellbound Alleee of Mondo Diablo fame gets it right on the nose. There is no rhyme nor reason to the world and this life. There doesn’t have to be. But that is not the subject of this post. I am responding to her episode number 195 of Mondo Diablo where a believer says that the number one question of non-believers is “Why is there evil if there is a god?”. Of course it’s the number one question that non-believers asks because the answer, that normally involves how god gave us free will to test our faith, is incomprehensible. It simply does not answer the question. This whole business of free will and its relationship to evil begs the question of god, as Alleee points out in Mondo Diablo #195 : “What, indeed, do we need god for if we have free will”, she asks. What exactly would be the point?
The whole question of a free will and the fallen world is very foreign to all other non-christian religions because no other religion has this concept of original sin. Why bother to create an Adam and Eve if they’re going to disappoint you and once they’ve disappointed you why not just destroy the world and all its sinners and start over? Oh sorry. Is that what is supposed to happen with the coming of the apocalypse and Armageddon? One might argue that the ways of the superior being are not understandable to us. Then why bother at all believing? If his ways are not penetrable, then why should I waste one moment on it? I’ll tell you why: because there are only about 1.5 billion of us in the world who are self described non-believers in a god and the rest believe in one (or many), much to the puzzlement of non-believers, who spend a considerable amount of time defending ourselves against this offense to our sensibilities called “belief in a god and all that it means.”
Alleee hits another one right on the sweet spot in that episode. I have to say it again because I love it: “The search for comfort is not the same as the search for god.” These are indeed and importantly two very different things. A god is a very terrible thing to believe in. A “bubba meisis” as my mother would say, “an old wive’s tale”, a scary monster thing to tell your children to keep them in line. And then we tell them that it’s ok to believe in the scary monster because they’ll be rewarded when they die by some other fabrication called heaven or resurrection or rebirth as a brahmin, or with virgins in an afterlife that they can rape with abandon.
On the other hand I would like very much to remind Alleee how she got here – Her wonderful show Mondo Diablo, that I have been enjoying for 4 years wouldn’t even exist if it were not for someone’s belief in god. How’s that for a slap in the face?
International Space Station (Photo from New York Times Nasa/Reuters)
On this, the summer of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Special K and I head outside the house one late evening to catch a glimpse of the space station making its way round the earth. We are surprised by its speed, size, colour and certainly by the fact that we are actually able to view it. We have less than five minutes to watch it pass overhead.
Scarborough Dude (Photo by Ninja)
On the first morning of Podcasters Across Borders in June, the Dude was called up for the first jolt session of the conference. This session is meant to be exactly five minutes and is intended to stimulate the mind and conversation during the break before the next longer scheduled session. True to form The Dude expressed himself in his characteristic stream of consciousness way when the alarm sounded ending his five minutes. We took pity on him however and gave him a precious few more moments to read a dude original poem – irreverent yet moving. By the way the Dude is completely NSFW : that is: not safe for work. You have been warned (audio of the Dude’s jolt courtesy of Whitney Hoffman).
Zeitgeist is a German word that means the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era according to the Merriam-Webster. It’s the title of a documentary that you can find at http://zeitgeistmovie.com/. It was produced by Peter Joseph and won an Activist Film award. Its premise could be controversial: That our lives our nothing more than fuel cells for a few lucky powerful people. Somewhat like the matrix except there is no need for a red pill or a blue pill. The produce of our toil feeds the few wealthy and powerful while we ask for nothing more than beer, medications, mindless televison and films, Second Life and other web 2.0 false realities.
He builds his case by showing us first that Jesus never existed. Religion is a tool, he suggests, to keep us under control. God is a myth that is so convincing that we are unable to question it. Next, he shows how 9/11 must have been an inside job. Furthermore, he asserts, no buildings can fall in such a controlled fashion unless they have been preloaded with explosives that result in such a perfect demolition. Finally and this is where for me the arguments become the most obscure: our money has no meaning and no value except what the one central bank declares it has. The rise and fall of the markets and my spending power is little more than at the whim of the controllers of the bank whose own money is always protected. They will get into the market and out of it before I feel its effect.
One nice touch in this movie are some still brilliant scenes from Network (1976) where Peter Finch admonishes our attachment to mindless entertainment in the form of television. The scenes from Network were actually the more powerful message for me. What the newscaster says is still relevant today. But did Zeitgeist itself shock me? No. Did it disturb me? Absolutely. Because at the core of its message I think is an invitation to question basic assumptions of what my life in society really means and to whom it benefits and in what ways. From that point of view I loved the movie. As long as you keep an open mind and do not merely open your mouth like a bird to receive it as some kind of false nourishment, it can be thought provoking and serve to spur on any personal inquiry into these matters that you may have been reluctant to explore.