Saturday, April 13, 2013

A snowy quiet day with proof

The forecast said it was going to snow lots today, maybe 5 cm or more. In Calgary that means one part of the city can be clear and sunny, and other parts are digging out. It's a good bet that the higher you are (hello NW) the more snow you get. One morning driving to work up Deerfoot I was surprised to see a line of snow across Nose Hill park. Snow on top, nothing below, and the line between could have been drawn with a ruler.

We zoomed out fairly early this morning to get to the market as it opened. There's a new bakery vendor in Kingsland, but we already have a couple of excellent suppliers for bread, and they didn't tempt us. The bakery treats looked ok, but our standards are very high. We didn't try, since I'd picked up cinnamon buns from La Boulangerie. Maybe another time.

The market was very quiet, which was a bit of a surprise. Once home we had coffee and the buns, reading and relaxing. It snowed off and on. I napped with the cats a bit. Stereo purrs are very relaxing. Later on I was on the bike for 30 minutes. There was no pain, but my left leg certainly felt weak. I could maintain cadence with the right alone, but the left alone quickly fell off to essentially nothing. Lots of stretching after, especially the ball on the left IT band. There were some ooooo! spots today. Plank. Pigeon.

I finished Proof of Heavy by Ebon Alexander, though I'm still mulling it over. In my traditional fashion, I'm going to write about it to see what I think.

He was attacked by a rare form of bacterial meningitis and fell into a coma for 7 days. Normally this sort of illness eats your brain till you die, but he appears to have recovered fully and with a remarkable story.

The book is an easy and straightforward read. There's a bit of detail around his illness and what the impact on his brain was. The essence was that his neo-cortex was completely off line.

There are many people upset by accounts of near death experiences. They say it's an elaborate hallucination. Other people just as fervently believe it's proof of God, their God in particular. Lots of people are like me, somewhere in the middle.

I haven't believe a word organized religion has to say for itself since I saw what most people professed to belief, and how they actually behaved. One of my major rules in life is when confronted by what people do, and what people say, believe what they do every time. Then I started reading about the horrors of the Catholic Church over the many centuries up to the here and now. Anybody that thinks they've changed their spots on child abuse is fooling themselves.

So, God as constructed by old white men of Western thought is out. The various gods of the Greeks, Romans, and Norse were no better and often worse than the men worshiping them. At least sometimes afterward there was a good barbecue of fat bull to chow down on. All those gods are long gone.

I'm much less familiar with the God worshipped by various Jewish sects, and with Allah as worshiped by various sects of Islam. What little I knew of them strikes me as a God consumed by minutia and willing to smite anyone who disobeys. Or maybe that's the priests in charge of determining God's will. It's difficult to figure out.

I'm even less familiar with the Gods worshipped by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and many others, and won't go into it. If they made any more sense than the other religions they are competing with, there would be a lot more people holding those beliefs. I take the position that if a religion accurately described a real actual God, one who responded to prayers or demonstrated some tangible evidence of it's existence, and gave rules for living that resulted in everybody having a better life, it would be so compelling that almost everybody would join it. There would be very little dispute.

I firmly believe that almost every one of the people in positions of authority in all those religions are in it for themselves, having discovered a tool to help keep them fed and clothed for doing little more than talk. In some cases they use religion as a club to beat anyone that disagrees with them. Every once in a while you find a kind and gentle soul that really believes, and really tries to do good.

Yet I believe there is more to ourselves than what we see and touch on a daily basis. There are a great many anecdotal accounts of a great many experiences that cannot be explained today, at least not in terms that our science understands. Many people take the position that if you can't measure it, it doesn't exist. That seems short-sighted to me. There are many things we couldn't measure until recently, like light diffraction, yet that rainbow existed all along.

We don't know much about dreams, or the paranormal accounts of people from comas or near death experiences. They might be hallucination, or be the outcome of something that we don't understand acting on our brains, and the similarity of stories comes from the similarities of our brains. If we knew that the presence of condition x produced people giving accounts of NDE, and without it there were no accounts of NDE, we'd be on the way to getting ourselves sorted out. It's just that our brains are exceedingly complex, and the things that could be condition x are very numerous. I don't think we're going to get a definitive answer from science any time soon.

Or, they could be real as our world, in a way we don't understand yet. We don't have the language, and our sensory organs are limited. What Dr. Alexander tells us could be completely true, and we lack the language to accurately describe it. That the universe is love, and an extremely complex entity, complex beyond human understanding, loves each of us warts and all.

Our religions may have started off with someone having a mystical experience, one they couldn't explain in the terms available there and then. If they were sufficiently charismatic about describing the experience, it's easy to see how a religion could be born.

My position is that if you have an extraordinary claim, you need to be willing to provide extraordinary proof, or at least submit to conditions that will rule out cheating. I don't think I have to account to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates for every action or non-action in my life and he decides if I go to heaven or elsewhere.

However, I do think we are here for a reason, and that after we die, we are re-united with a greater part of ourselves, and that more complex entity. I think there is a self evaluation, to look back on your life here and see how you did, in a place where there is only honesty and love. Maybe you didn't learn what you wanted to learn, and you feel you have to have another go at it. Or you did learn, and it's on to the next thing.

Or you go to help someone else, or others in general. We've all met people wise beyond their years. A few words from them can have a profound impact on someone. I've had people tell me, sometimes years later, that I had an impact on them, from something I said or was doing. It's an amazing compliment. I've had people straighten me out with a few words, or I see an example of someone leading a good life.

I'm of an age where I can look back and reflect on life, while still being young enough to look forward to much more. There are things I've said or done in my past I'm ashamed of, and I've tried to do better. The book doesn't prove to me that heaven exists, though I hope it does. One of my goals is to live as if it was true. Not that going to heaven is a reward for being good. It's being able to look back on a life well lived, and present yourself to a greater being with dignity, even if that being is you in some senses.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. "However, I do think we are here for a reason, and that after we die, we are re-united with a greater part of ourselves, and that more complex entity. I think there is a self evaluation, to look back on your life here and see how you did, in a place where there is only honesty and love." Perfect. Thanks, Keith.

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