Thursday, November 7, 2013

Part #5: Or Maybe Not...maybe there is no moral arc

Maybe nontheistic scientists and cosmologists are correct: There is no real moral arc, (like Martin Luther King Jr. and other
visionaries think),
but only a cosmic block of amber--lock, stock and barrel--one meaningless, purposeless cosmic time/space/matter/energy existence because of the Big Bang, and an eventual explosive blast of cosmic death...the Big Rip after us (or possibly the Big Return).

That's the end, not Life.

There's an important aphoristic saying" "Begin with the end in mind," when you make important decisions.

What is this end speculated by many brilliant thinkers?

"Most of us are aware of our own mortality, but few among us know what science, with insights yielded from groundbreaking new research, has to say about endings on a larger scale. Enter astronomer Chris Impey, who chronicles the death of the whole shebang: individual, species, bio- sphere, Earth, Sun, Milky Way, and, finally, the entire universe."

"With a healthy dose of humor, How It Ends illuminates everything from the technologies of human life extension and the evolutionary arms race between microbes and men to the inescapable dimming of the Sun and the ultimate “big rip,” giving us a rare glimpse into a universe without us."
How It Ends by Chris Impey, Amazon Website

Allegedly over 80% of modern philosophers think God--ultimate reality, the transcendent--is imaginary delusion,
and nearly ½ of all scientists are Atheists!

According to all of these brilliant thinkers, our goose is cooked—and it’s us. There are no golden eggs, never were.

The cosmos including us conscious, ethical humans won’t last forever.

No good news exists. Jesus and other moral leaders proclaimed no eternal truths; indeed according to some scholars, Jesus never existed.
The New Testament is a fake fictional adaption of Greek myths.

In fact, there are no moral truths, no human rights, no equality, no justice...All of those ideals are illusions, are only "subjective preferences," "relative," and came about via natural selection, probably "spandrels" (the term used by the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould). Or they are "misfirings" of evolution (Richard Dawkins).

We won’t survive our own finite deaths, won’t become One with God, won’t experience everlasting bliss, won’t be transformed by the Divine into creative communion. Christian thinkers are deluded including the French Christian philosopher and paleontologist, Tellihard de Chardin who said that there was a glorious future
for the universe and humanity, a blessed hope, the Omega Point.

No, say the secular experts, theistic scientists such as Simon Conway Morris, George Mendel, and Theodosius Dobzhansky are dead wrong. Tellihard’s views were distorted by his Christian delusions.

Instead, everything is headed for a great Negation. Allegedly, first, the Milky Way Galaxy will crash out in 4 billion years. Our cosmic backyard will cease to exist because it will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy. In the sardonic phrase of the Terminator II: Judgment Day:
“Hasta la vista, baby!”

These 2 galaxies, right now as I write, are flashing toward each other at 250,000 miles per hour. But according to the cosmologists, this vast collision probably won’t cause the destruction of Terra, our planet Earth.

Terrific;-), no terror, for Terra.

Or maybe not...

The same scientists are fairly sure that by then Terra “will become too hot to be inhabited by humans” anyway.
(from CNN Light Years/Sari Zeidler)

Eventually our sun will become a red giant and our dead planet will be caught and pulled into the inferno.

"The drag caused by this low-density gas is enough to cause the Earth to drift inwards, and finally to be captured and vaporized by the sun."
(Scientist Robert Smith, University of Sussex)

This won’t happen for about 7.6 billion years, so don’t worry yet. Of course, our own death will come 6.6 billion years sooner than that because the expanding sun will already have fried the Earth to a cinder.

This depressing end-scenario brings out the corny in me. I just thought of another famous phrase which captures this dismal end: "Return to ‘sender’
address unknown..."

And there’s more about the abysmal end, about how the universe will keep expanding until everything becomes distantly dead and lightless, but we won’t be there to observe and wail.

So Sheol, (Hebrew: the pit, grave), is the ultimate end,
Heaven, not the Realm of God, not Cosmic Communion, not the Omega Point.

Welcome to the funeral wake, our eternal death.


Maybe the words of theistic scientists such Kevin Miller, Simon Conway Morris and Theodosius Dobzhansky and ethical visionaries get the last word. At least they do for those who choose to listen to statements
like this from Martin Luther King Jr.:
"I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

"But I am here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate, Its always been wrong and it always will be wrong."
"Rediscovering Lost Values," Martin Luther King Jr., February 1954

So choose and choose wisely.

Even if we’re wrong, even if the God we trust doesn’t exist, never has, never will...

Even if there is No Meaning and No Purpose, none at all.

Even if the Atheist biologists Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick and the determinists Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris are factually correct...

I plan to live differently.

What do I have to lose living ethically in absurd meaningless matter and energy?

Nothing:-) as Albert Camus so well explained.

If the universe is absurd, I still plan to live my life with creative ethical purpose.
(If 'I' am an "illusion" as they claim, I won't ever know that.)

Through trust in reason and creativity and ethics, I choose to live as this brief life should be lived, to live as the universe OUGHT to be. What is real for humans is NOW! This present moment.

To live a life of compassion, honesty, fidelity, and goodness.

Yes, choose “ought” and trust, not despair or ultimate pessimism.

REJECT the hopelessness of Bertrand Russell" "Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms;

that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins
--all these things, if not quite beyond dispute,
are yet so nearly certain,
that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand."

"Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair,
can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built."
The Free Man's Worship, Bertrand Russell, 1903

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...And if we do act, in however small a way, we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Howard Zinn

Amen to that…

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Part #4: Saved to Slay? "The Immoral Arc of the Religious Universe"

No, this article isn’t going to end with one of those Christian appeals
where all will be solved if only everyone gets saved
or claims the mythical Rapture will happen in this generation
and solve all problems.

Every historian knows that often “getting saved” is the first awful step to evil, to later committing mass slaying and lying and stealing as the religious wars of the last 500 years horridly show. Consider what the other Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, said after he “got saved”:

“When it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism…the stubborn sectaries must be put to death."
“Why do we not rather assault them with arms and wash our hands in their blood?"
Martin Luther, On the Pope as an Infallible Teacher, 25 June 1520

“Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly..”

And for Jewish people: “set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians…”

“I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”
Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543)

And there are countless other examples from Cromwell, Calvin, Augustine, the Puritans, the Popes, etc.

Where is the moral arc of hope if not in Christianity, not in religion since those so often cause evil and despair?

We must be realistically pessimistic. Our own troubled lives are so finite, so brief, so very short. Like Scripture says, we are a “vapor,” then gone.

While God “has been our dwelling place in all generations,” we have to admit we don’t usually see the Good triumph NOW, and won’t in our whole lifetime, or the many future lifetimes of our great-grand kids and descendants after them, on into a thousand years, or a million.

Seldom, even when we do our very best and pray our hardest and finally cry out with Jesus to God,“My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”

And the very worst fact is that Christians like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day are, too often, the very ones doing evil in the name of God.

As explained earlier in the article, Christians have imprisoned and killed many millions of humans.

Thousands of nonviolent Brethren and Quakers were persecuted and killed in the 1500 and 1600’s. Those followers of Jesus died young and largely forgotten by everyone. They never saw “the arc of the moral universe…bend toward justice.”

How many people have heard of the witness Michael Sattler? The Christian leaders of Austria wrote, “Michael Sattler shall be committed to the executioner. The latter shall take him to the square and there first cut out his tongue, and then forge him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongs twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic."

Hutterite Large Chronicle, quoted in William Roscoe Estep, The Anabaptist Story 3rd ed., Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 19960, p. 57.

Or Mary Dyer, the Quaker evangelist, who was hanged in Boston by the Christian authorities?

“Yes, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’

There is something in the universe which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’”
Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Gospel Messenger

Then he got murdered, shot down in a motel while he was seeking to bring justice to humans seeking better working conditions.

So, you see, there is no real slick answer, no easy fix-it, no doctrinal foundation that doesn’t shake when it comes to confronting evil and asking why God doesn’t act soon!

Rather, we have the never-ending job of Job—to wrestle with the God we seek, asking why He doesn’t act and why his followers so often are numbered among those who cause evil, rather than oppose it.

But we don’t lose hope, because we do have this impossible ultimate, future hope like Mary Dyer and Michael Sattler and Martin Luther King Jr. and Tom Fox and so many others, a great cloud of witnesses for truth, so many who refused to accept wrong, who were determined to bring in goodness, who trusted, against all doubt, that God is, despite all the evidence against that incredible hope.

No matter how many future centuries or many millenniums pass, no matter how much evil in all its forms—the petty and the ghastly—continues to destroy…

Good will keep rising,

and failing
until it will, eventually and completely, be defeated.

And then God’s eternal communion will come.

Peace will replace conflict.

Justice, truth, love and mercy will fill the Earth.

Let it become.

Choose to act for justice and mercy, love and kindness, truth and joy-- today, now, this very moment.

No matter how LONG it takes.

Yes, God, lover of all.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Part #3: You Have Been Our Dwelling Place in All Generations—Long Moral Arc

We left off last week admitting…

What a great demonic ocean of darkness still holds sway in the world, in existence.

Where, indeed, is God in a world traumatized by natural disaster and disease and destruction? Where is Jesus’ delivering “moral arc” when millions of humans wreak havoc, harm, and slaughter?

Sure, sometimes in the midst of the suffering and the shame, a rainbow of justice, mercy, and truth does spangle the moral sky.

When Martin Luther King Jr. took up Theodore Parker’s statement for one of his anti-segregation articles in 1958 and later heralded out the prophecy in one of his famous speeches,
all heaven did begin to break loose in U.S.

And America has never been the same.

People, millions of individuals, were changed. Justice and mercy kissed, however briefly.

Yes, King’s witness for God’s love in Jesus, the Chosen, did help transform so much of how we thought and how we acted in the 1950s and 60s.

Except, of course,Wrong has lashed back since. While there is less overt racism now—thank Divine Love and human freedom and the great leaders of the Civil Rights Movement—YET so much other havoc and hell now
wrecks destruction upon many millions.

Almost 50 years after King’s ethical speeches, the condition, overall, of African-Americans is worse today. For instance, in 2013, 72% of African-American infants are born to single unwed mothers!

Where are the husbands? Where are the fathers?


As bad as life was back in 1965, only 24% of African-American babies were born outside of a marriage covenant then.
WHY the drastic change downward?

Currently, young African American men are nearly 6 times as likely to die from homicide as Caucasian young men. Why?
Since the start of the Afghan War, 2000 Americans have died in Afghanistan, but over 5,000 have died in Chicago!

Can’t we get a heart? Can’t God hear our cry? Doesn’t God weep?

How has Martin Luther King’s great moral dream turned into a frightful nightmare?

Even becoming religious or spiritual doesn’t necessarily seem to help. On the contrary, sometimes being a Christian appears to make matters worse. Consider that the Barna Research Group found “born-again Christians divorce more often than non-Christians,” and that Atheists have “the lowest divorce rate.”

So do we need to abandon faith to increase the moral arc?!

Let’s not even look at all the other worse destruction in the world and around the rest of the globe, especially not in the abysses of the East or Africa.

Indeed, why does the rough beast always slouch through humankind endlessly?

For the last 50,000 years at least, humans have been faced with ethical choice—with the spiritual battle between good and evil.

At this point, most readers will probably now expect this long article (in 4 parts) to give a quick spiritual and biblical fix to all this endless horror of many thousands of years. That’s how religious reflections usually end—with a sure confident answer to why God hasn’t brought the Good News to triumph, why the words of Revelation at the end of Scripture haven’t come to pass, why so often faith drastically fails, actually destroys, and utterly so.

Check out these words from the last chapter of the Bible: “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord...

That was 2,000 years ago! Many horrendous bloodletting centuries ago. Billions of humans have suffered and died.

Too long.

Have You been our dwelling place in all generations?

To be continued

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox