Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hospitals and Greater Purpose

I am in a hospital right now, in case you haven't gathered that fact from the title. I believe I've mentioned it before, but regardless, my grandfather is in the hospital.

He has Leukemia-Lymphoma, which, in his case means that cancer has spread throughout his bone marrow. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy and has next to no immune system. As a diabetic, my grandfather already has a weak immune system, but these days, we have to wear masks and wash our hands thoroughly before going to see him.

Anyway, as a result of this, relatives I've never met (or heard of) in my life are popping up out of nowhere to say that they will "keep him in their prayers", and that "everything happens for a reason", and all this other crap nobody says until somebody dies.

The good news is, his doctor is optimistic that he'll get through chemo but obviously, I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about my frustration with the phrases above. I suppose every time anything crappy happens this is the type of thing my family members spew, so I should be used to it, but no. I'm pissed.

Maybe I shouldn't be, cause I know they mean well. However, I can't help but think these "comforting" phrases are the most insensitive things you could ever say to someone, especially when it feels like the world is crumbling into a million pieces to them.

I'm taking the news pretty well, admittedly. I guess I accepted the fact that he would die someday long ago, but that's not the point. My dad isn't. Neither is my grandmother, or my brother. But instead of just being there for the grievers, and encouraging them, people feel compelled to toss around false promises and other religious crap.

It drives me up the overly-clean-hospital-walls when people say things like "everything happens for a reason". Because it's a big, giant LIE. They don't know that. They can't possibly know that!! No one can know that, so why don't they stop saying it?

Like I said, my grandmother isn't taking the news or the start of chemo very well, and all anyone says to her is "It's okay, God has a plan", and it infuriates me! My question is, are you really telling this person that her husband is dying for a reason? Are you telling her that when her husband's brain stops running and his organs give out, it's because some deity wanted them to? Because if you are, then are you also agreeing that God was right for giving him cancer in the first place?

What if there is no greater purpose? What if crappy things just happen, and people just die, and everything is completely random? What if life is like playing the lottery, and nobody really gets a say? What if God is just sitting up there in a hypothetical heaven playing the Sims with us all?

What really bothers me is how people, when they say these things, are trying to justify things they believe an all loving God allows to happen. I'm not going to justify anything, and I don't think they should either. I understand everyone must die at some point, but I don't understand everyone's need to assure people that its not as horrible as they think. Because it is. It's death.

I guess my point is that if you know someone who is hurting, don't attempt to justify everything bad that happens. Don't tell them their pain is for a greater purpose. Because its not, it's just life.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"No, your 7 year old is not 'saved'"

"There is no such thing as a Christian child; only a chid of Christian parents." - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Considering the fact that I identify as a Christian, it may seem strange that I am quoting Richard Dawkins, or that I'm bringing up the issue of religion in children at all.  You have likely heard Dawkins talk about it, but as a theist, I thought I would give my two cents.

So, if you didn't know, I was raised as a Christian.  I went to a Baptist Church when I was young, every Sunday up until I was around 4, if I remember correctly.  After that I hardly went, mainly because my parents wanted a church that played traditional music and did not feel as if they fit in anywhere.  Because I have not went to church regularly in over a decade, I still know very little about my own religion.  Over the years I have simply accepted the Bible as fact.

In 2011, however, I began hearing about the subject of same-sex marriage a lot.  It has always been in the news, but I had never noticed before then.  My parents told me growing up that gay marriage was wrong and against the Bible, and made negative comments every time a new state legalized it, so at that point, I had never known anything else.  Anyway, over the course of the year I met some people and did some research that completely changed my perspective (thank God).  Throughout all this however, I ran across one argument that really stuck in my head.  Basically, it said that since no one follows the other laws in the Bible (no mixing fabrics, no rounded hair cuts, no divorce), they have no right to tell gays not to marry.  It all went downhill from there. . .

To make the long, pathetic story short, I became a very confused person, and though I do obviously support gay marriage, religion screws me more every day.  Reading this, you probably assume that since I skipped Church for most of my life, I did not have much of a religious background anyways, and I guess that's true, after about 5 years old that is.  However, it was always stuck in the back of my head and was pushed at me during a child's prime years of development, which makes it very hard to look at other views without bias.

I understand why my parents, or anyone for that matter, would bring their children up with a religious background.  It does make sense that parents would want their children to view the world in the same way, and when I have kids, I suppose I do hope their views are somewhat similar to mine.

But what I don't understand is why parents push religion so early on, when they are not willing to bring up things such as sex or childbirth.  My parents told me that most of the world was going to hell before I even knew what masturbation was.  If you think about it, really, that's pretty messed up - telling your sweet, innocent CHILDREN that they are going to endure endless torment in the fiery pit of hell unless they accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

 I was always told that the reason I was "saved" so early in my life was so that if something were to happen, I would go to heaven, which I have major problems with.  If you think God is the type of person (Deity? Authority figure?) that would send innocent children, that have done nothing wrong - to Hell. . . explain to me again why you worship this guy?

It just seems like Christianity as we view it is a very convenient religion.  My mom told me two days ago, in these exact words, "No, being a good person doesn't matter." in relation to how we get into heaven.

The worst part is the fact that people will actually tell others - whether it be at the church or just on the streets - that their kids are religious and just got "saved".  Well, I hate to be the one that bursts your bubble, but your children are not saved.  They probably had no idea what you were talking about.  They probably just didn't want to disappoint you.  You never hear about 6 year old democrats or republicans.  You never hear about vegan children.  Why?  Because those things come with intellect and maturity!  How could you think religion is any different?

The point I wanted to make here is that, essentially, children are far too ignorant about the world around them to make an intelligent decision about the religion they want to follow.  I was too young when it was pushed on me, and who knows - maybe I'm still too young.  Maybe I'll never be solid in my faith.  Maybe I'll flip flop back and forth my entire life.  But I think that's okay.  No matter what you believe, no one can say that they know with absolute certainty what's out there.  Whether you want to admit it or not, we're all agnostic to some extent.

When I have children, I won't take them to church.  I won't expose them to religion.  I will wait, and let them decide for themselves.  I won't have them Baptized before they can say the word, and I won't push my beliefs on them.  If God really wants us to have free will - and I think he does - I'm sure he won't mind.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Water on Mars - What's Really Out There?

Being the huge nerd I am, when I discovered more evidence had been found pointing to water on Mars, I was pretty stoked.  I mean, it could answer one of life's biggest questions: Are we alone in the universe?  Humanity has been asking that questions for thousands of years, and everyone seems to think something different.  For example, my mother thinks believing there is anything else out there is stupid and naive.  I, however, think life on other planets is somewhat probable.

It seems lately a plethora of new research has been found and in the past 24 hours, the possibility of an ocean ever existing on Mars has been trending (along with the royal baby, of course).  Mars has been under close scrutiny for years and we seem to be getting the same information over and over: It may have supported life at one time, but humans could not live there because of its lacking oxygen and water.  The Mars rover Curiosity landed last year and this may be the most exciting information we've gotten since then.

Regarding the issue of life on other planets, (which is in fact, the point.  I got sidetracked) we really don't have any evidence either way.  No matter how you think we all ended up here, you must admit that the Earth is an anomaly.  The other planets in our Solar System are desolate and empty (as far as we know).  To give us answers, we generally rely on the same things we rely on for answers pertaining to everything else:  Science and Religion.

If you know anything about either of these, you have probably noticed that both tend to be very Earth-centric and therefore don't give us much information on what else is out there.  I suppose that makes sense, considering we have never actually been anywhere outside of Earth other than the moon, but it makes forming a stance on this issue quite difficult.

Of the two, religion seems to be less open to anyplace other than Earth supporting life.  The Bible, for example, (which I am referencing because of the many religions that follow it and my personal understanding of it) tends to centralize Earth with its mention of "the heavens and Earth".  Revelations, which is supposedly prophecy, seems to revolve around Earth's destruction and mentions no other planets.  This leads me to think that either God created only one Earth, or the other planets have no sin. The former seems more likely, but also makes no sense, as I have to wonder why God would have bothered creating the rest of the universe.  Finally, this leads me to the conclusion that either pieces of the Bible were lost in translation, or God has not told us the whole story.

Science lends a different viewpoint, which in some ways makes more sense, as it leaves possibilities open, letting our understanding grow and change with time.  Science suggests that many Solar Systems exist like ours and that they might consist of planets supporting intelligent life (In which case, we're all screwed.  All our satellites and crap would be hard to miss).

I tend to never side with Science, and I'm not necessarily doing that here.  The Earth is too perfect to be a mistake, or the result of a big bang in space.  The alignment of the stars, gravity, the atmosphere that protects us from the outside: there is no way all that could have magically appeared.  Earth is perfect, in my opinion.  It's mankind that's not, which is why I have such a complicated relationship with Science.  But I can't help believing there has to be something else out there.

I can't be just Earth.  If it is, why does Mars even exist for us to find an ocean on?  Why have we spent so much of ourselves trying to find out if there is, in fact, nothing to find?  If humans are so evil and horrible sinners, why would a world exist solely for us?  Are we just the most entertaining of God's creations?

You can probably see at this point that I am quite confused.  There is so much I don't understand, and some things I think humanity will never know.  All I know is that we cannot be alone.  There is too much beyond our understanding: witchcraft, dreams, existence, space.  These things must have an answer, an explanation.  Even if it's just a bunch of little green creatures in the galaxy over, there has to be someone watching.