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Is the Growing Income Disparity a Moral Problem?

Is the growing income disparity in America (and the world) a moral problem?  

Your assignment should you choose to accept it:  Watch this 6 minute human illustration and ask yourself if this growing trend of the ultra rich draining the economy of its wealth (while the lowest, and even upper middle incomes effectively become reduced due to inflation) is a moral or spiritual problem in America and the world?  And if so, what do we do about it?

Thanks to my new friend Paul Nemecek for sharing this video.





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Peace,

Eric CE Alexander

What is the Probability of God's Existence?

 
The Spectrum of Theistic Probability
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Do you wonder about God's existence sometimes?  I'm betting you do, even if you've already convinced yourself one way or the other on the matter.  I think we all wonder about God's existence at times.  To not would rob us of one of the most unique aspects of human experience, which is questioning our very existence.


A 2012 Pew Research poll (shown below) concluded that roughly 94% of Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers believe in a God, although Millennials drop down to 89%, with a significant delta of 10% in absolute certainty between Millennials and Gen X'ers.



While this information is interesting to those of us who revel in such trends.  To discuss such a concept of "God's existence" requires us to accept the task of defining parlously amorphous words like "God" and "exist."  Because without that, the whole conversation can become subjective and possibly misleading. 


Due to these complexities of even defining the terms of the subject, some folks simply bail on the discussion as either too petty, or too deep.  Or maybe because they feel that ultimately nobody knows for sure, so why bother.   


But we can indeed have a conversation about the subject if we examine the concept in terms of probabilities, which is what I want to do today using the Richard Dawkins Scale of Theistic Probability as one of the backdrops.


In regards to the scale, it merely provides us with a basis for the conversation, based on where many folks are coming from having been raised into a "theistic" understanding of God.  It's a good primer, but the rabbit hole goes much deeper obviously. Given that we must use some labels and definitions sometimes to have discussions, we might simply define God here as a "force," or "first mover," or "higher reality," or a "universal energy" that is behind all existence.  In other words, a "something."  We're not talking about a sophisticated anthropomorphic entity like Yahweh, Marduk, or Zeus; as that's a different discussion about various holy books and religious traditions.


In addition to that loose definition, I created a quick video below to review some of the most common definitions of God, in order to get our brains thinking about the many possibilities.  The video focuses on the Christian tradition since Christianity is the largest religion in the world, but the same concepts could be applied to most organized religions.  





Taking the concept a bit deeper now, some folks of a more skeptical persuasion might wonder why they should open the door at all to such ideas in the first place when there is no concrete evidence that it's for real?  Especially when most progressives and skeptics do not consider the Bible to be a literal, inerrant, infallible, or authoritative in the first place.  It seems like I get asked these questions on a weekly basis, and today I am kicking off a two part series in response.

 

In this first part of a two part series I want to take a very logical look at the odds of a God existing using the thinking / mind side of things.  In part two I will look at the mystical side of things (the feeling / experiential side of it).  In both parts I am looking specifically at the question of if someone becomes convinced that the odds for a "something" are better than null, what might be a logical response to that conclusion?  Do we simply wait around for it to prove itself categorically, or do we pursue it?  And what are some of the benefits and risks of the decision to pursue or not using the element of faith?


I liken the idea of pursuit to the Columbus mission for a route to Asia.   He suspected a probability that the world was round.  he decided to pursue his beliefs.   He never did make it to Asia, but he found a new world which would greatly alter his reality.  He didn't know what he had found at the time, but nonetheless his pursuit changed his life, and the history of the world.  This is why we pursue things on probabilities sometimes.


When I compare the pursuit of this "something" to the alternative, I use the word "null" instead of "nothing," because in many ways "God" could also be referred to as nothing, as in "not a thing."  It's an abstract concept, but it's one we have to abide by.  Null, however, indicates a mathematical approach to zero, or non-existence.


Now let's have a quick review of our situation of life:


(a) We are self-aware and loving creatures who very naturally strive to preserve our own lives and connections with our loved ones.  We are also conscious enough to wonder why we are alive and conscious at all.


(b) We are intelligent enough to know that we will eventually die, and so will everyone we love, no matter how resourceful we are.  And we wonder what becomes of us after death.  This creates a dissonance with point (a) because we naturally seek to preserve our lives.


(c) We are enlightened scientifically.  We know that we are floating on a little planet in a vast array of billions of stars across billions of light years, but we have no idea why we exist, or if there's any purpose to life whatsoever.  This immensely incomprehensible reality can complicate the heck out of points (a) and (b).   


Yet despite that situation just outlined, many of us still hold a degree of hope, joy, and peace about life, and a belief in God, even though the facts at hand can seem to point in the opposite direction, which is causing a growing segment of the population to positing a near impossibility of God; and certainly to place no value or effort into exploring the idea.  


Sure, it's certainly true that there is great value on simply living our best life now and letting eternity take care of itself, but if living our best life included a greater connection to a divinity in the here and now, would that make it more interesting?  Perhaps.  And if so, would that make it worth pursuing and studying?  This question of "divinity" and God's existence might be best explored through something I refer to as the Theorem of Antipode Impossibilities of God.


This theorem states that on the matter of the existence of God, given every faculty of human logic, experience, and comprehension that can be employed, there exist two possible conclusions; both of which are (logically) impossible. 


The options are either that (a) there is a God from which existence was created, or (b) there is not a God from which existence was created.”   This is not a "God of the gaps" explanation that states that it must be God if we cannot explain something.  This theorem goes beyond that.


1) The first logical impossibility is that there is a God who created existence.  This position is at face value untenable using only human logic, because who or what could have a created this God with such power in the first place?  How is it possible for us to grasp that a higher "entity" could always have been, and potentially always be?  How is it possible that this entity could transcend time and space?  Where could this entity have come from? 


This argument for God is simply not graspable by any application of existing human logic, laws, or comprehension, and therefore can only be understood as impossible using the logic at hand.


2) The second logical impossibility is that there is no God, and that everything came into existence via some type of accidental “abiogenesis.”  This position is also untenable because something cannot come from nothing as far as we know.  Even assuming that the Big Bang and following evolutionary process are responsible for life as we know it, there remains the question of where the components of the bang came from?  What created the environment for that bang to occur?  What was before the bang?  


This option also defies any logic or laws that humans can apply, and therefore is also impossible.


The concept of both possibilities being impossible indicates that there are missing elements of the equation.  Elements that we simply have not yet discovered, or haven't evolved enough to identify or comprehend.  The missing evidence may very well lead us to a yet undiscovered dimension of existence.  A realm which is not governed by the rules of human understanding, known laws, or employable logic -  and to additional data that could exist outside of the boundaries of length, width, height, depth, and time - as well as being beyond our currently quantifiable five sensory perceptions of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.  To a realm of energy, light, and consciousness, or more...  All elements that do not require a physical realm to exist.  


If that were true, an understanding of this theoretical realm could be required to fully decode the ideas which so many humans feel so deeply to be present and evident in life, including a connection with a deeper truth, incarnation, awe, higher purpose, afterlife, spiritual well-being, mystical experience, and universal love. 


Therefore, given that only two macro possibilities can exist given the only laws that we humans can utilize for experimentation and analysis, neither which can be proven or dis-proven, with only one of which ultimately must be true -- philosophically speaking, the possibility of a non-scientifically quantifiable "God" should be given at least equivalent probability as the opposite notion until further evidence can be attained.  And if that is so, it makes perfect sense for humans to explore and pursue God through a degree of faith by means and inner methods such as contemplation, meditation, prayer, and logic; which invoke methods of energy and consciousness that we do not know much about.  This would be very similar to great explorers searching for new world's both here and throughout the universe, who are using a degree of faith based on the odds and indicators that great treasures may be out there for the finding.   The rewards of this journey could be more peace, joy, compassion, love, contentment, and overall intuitive connectedness.


In the next post in this series I will explore the concept of the "mystical experience" to see how that plays into the equation of faith once we open the door to the possibility of "something more."   And potentially how that increases the odds once we've opened the door to the possibility.


Comment on or share this article here on facebook, and also weigh in on the discussion about where you fall on the spectrum.


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by Eric

The Most Common Christian Theological Fallacies

Christian Theological Fallacies














So maybe you can relate to this...  You're having a discussion about some Christian topic with another person when *BAM* they hit you square in the jaw with one of these theological fallacies...  (a theological fallacy being an "unsound theological argument," and if you're unfamiliar with fallacies you can see more about them here at Princeton).   

The only problem with theological fallacies (which I've simply made up by hacking standard fallacies) is most times we don't actually recognize that it's a theological fallacy, or we aren't quite able to articulate it, we just know it is wrong.   

Now you can breath a sigh of relief as this graphic substantiates the six most common fallacious Christian theological discussion infractions (based on six of the most well known standard logic fallacies).  


So the next time someone lobs one of these your way to derail you during a discussion, you can instantly call them on it, and even direct them to this graphic to illustrate your point! 


I do hope it helps, and please let me know what you think.


Peace, Eric


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I am Coming out Gay and Christian! (sort of...)

progressive Christian Cross
It's official, I am here to proclaim openly that I am a happy Christian!  Wait, did you think I meant something other than happy when I said I was gay?   Oh...you thought, like....I liked guys?  You mean the word gay has evolved and changed its common meaning over the past fifty years?  Well in that case, let's talk about another word that has evolved and changed its meaning over the last fifty years: Christian. (And no, for the record, I'm not gay as in liking other guys)  *not that there's anything wrong with that (quite the contrary)* ... as Seinfeld aptly points out below :-)



Love Love Love is All We Need

As much as I like rolling up my sleeves and looking deeply at a subject, I also very much appreciate images that can do the work of a thousand words, so I try to create a few of them as well.   I don't post them all on the blog, so if you're not already following the facebook page be sure to like (and follow) it to see them all.

A big focus of CE is working to highlight and enhance what's good about Christianity, and to me a big part of that is the message of love that Jesus and others have shared.  So I created the image below to help spread the word that love truly is all we need.

For more reading on love, check out an earlier blog post titled Love is the Solution.

Hope you enjoy!


Love Is All We Need


Can Christians also be Atheists?

Old Testament God
This question about whether Christians can also be atheists (or vise versa) may sound absolutely ridiculous to you, but it's one I felt compelled to explore.   Over the past decade I've noticed a large migration of Christians into the atheist camp because of their preference for logic and reason - instead of woo-woo, irrationality, and blind faith.  But over the past decade there has also been a great emergence of Christians who aren't hiding from the facts either.  Christians who accept science and historical / literary Biblical criticism.  Christians who are not pushing untenable positions on others via a contentious package of ultimatums. Christians who are in many ways a-theists (said another way, non-theists).


Now when I say atheist here, I am not talking about the brand who think that any religious adherent is automatically ignorant, and that the only form of Christianity is the most fundamental and sensationalized form we see at anti-gay rallies.

At the most basic form, I'm talking about "a / non - theists," using the word "theist" defined as one who believes in a supernatural being with a human-like personality (usually like described in the Old Testament of the Bible).  One who typically believes in a God that intervenes in the world based on his whims or the prayers of those who properly warrant his favor, and who seems to get surprised easily and resort to genocide quickly.  



The Stanford Encyclopedia defines atheist in a similar way, as "a lack of belief in a 'God,' when the God in question is one from a sophisticated monotheism."  Non-theistic options can include deism, or panentheism, or can range to strong / militant atheism, where the atheist is strongly against the possibility of anything that can't be definitively proven.  But in this article we are referring to the non- "strong" categories of atheism.


Red Pill Christianity - Come and See

Matrix Christianity

If you've seen the movie The Matrix you may remember this scene where Morpheus offers Neo the option to learn "the truth" - or - to go on believing whatever he wants to believe.   The clip is below (it's only 36 seconds).














I've often thought about this scene when talking to "fundamentalist" Christians who would prefer to believe their own brand of theology instead of being open to the truth (whatever the truth may be).  You can point out that the Genesis story of creation is not literal simply because light couldn't have come before stars, but that information simply cannot be absorbed by the fundamentalist believer.  Likewise, we can point out that Christianity is not about agreement with exclusive belief statements, but instead about a paradigm of transformation of ourselves and the world.  But they often cannot get beyond the belief element.  There is a roadblock.  There is a closed paradigm.

But there is a way forward.

False Evolution vs True Evolution



A (creationist) friend of mine shared this image on facebook today, and I found it troubling, as if it has to be an either-or type of thing.  Like someone cannot agree with evolution and be a humble follower of Jesus.


An excellent curriculum