Food for Doubting Thomas

They may call you doubting Thomas, but I certainly wouldn’t. I’d sooner call you Thomas the wise. You are challenging your religious peers about the dogma they are pressuring you to accept. Truly, you’re being asked to believe things that are completely unreasonable and you’re uneasy with it. They’ll allow you to question things a little, as long as you find your way back into the fold. But when you question things too much, it creates dissonance in their version of reality. They need to gain some ground back from you, so they reframe your common sense and reasonable logic as ‘doubts’. Some of them are your loved ones, and you don’t want to offend them. It puts you in a tight spot. I want to encourage you, because you’re on the right path to question things. They don’t see things logically.

The story of doubting Thomas from the bible, is about the disciple of Jesus who would not believe that Christ had resurrected after his death by crucifixion, until he saw it for himself. It served to illustrate how amazing the resurrection was. It implied that since Thomas doubted and later believed, when he saw it with his own eyes, that no one else need doubt. That’s right, you don’t need to stick your fingers through the nail holes in Jesus’ hands, because apostle Thomas already did. That should be enough proof for anyone.

When I consider the reader of this blog, no serious Christian, Jew or Muslim is going to want to read it. My ideas would likely offend them. Most scientifically minded atheists would accept what I say and find it entertaining, although the sum of concepts I present may not be groundbreaking to them. But I don’t write this only for myself. Someone out there needs this in just the way I say it. This carefully crafted line of logic, language presenting a sequence of thoughts, clearly reveals theism for what it is: fiction. What relief it can bring! Because while you may regard yourself as a believer, if you are questioning the validity of those beliefs, you are only pretending to believe as a courtesy to those around you until you come to a verdict. But you don’t have to feel the pressure to pretend to believe at all. Realize the only reason that the majority embrace it, is because they were born into it, whether it’s good for them or not. Most folks will hold the same paradigm their whole life long. The ones with a desire to escape it are people with a logical itch and confidence enough to question everything. And so who do I write this for? Well Thomas, my friend, this bud’s for you.

Part of loving our god-believing friends and family means accepting them the way they are, without the desire for them to change. Forgive them for being different. Meditate on it, if that’s what it takes to get you there. The ideas I’m explaining to you, are intensely private. Completely personal. Your thoughts are yours alone. I’m suggesting that you separate your mental processes from theirs because theirs are faulty and causing you grief. And don’t misinterpret my tone. Believers are not your opponents. I’m not suggesting that you argue with them. Let believers be their natural selves, while demanding they let you be your natural self. Outside of that, you don’t need to talk about it. There is no reconciling the differences between believers and analysts, you just have to know in which camp you stand.

Okay, now let’s get to the meat of it. First and foremost, there is no proof or physical evidence of any kind that supports the existence of god or any deity. Billions of people have desired such proof, so if there were anything at all, it would be revealed by now and pushed in our faces at every turn. But there was nothing, at all, ever. Nor is there supporting evidence for the existence of any type of spirit, human soul, angel, ghost, or demon. The closest we’ve got are some emotional stories, wishful thinking, and vague clues that point toward a desired conclusion.  Nothing but somebody else’s whispers. The burden of proof is on those that make an amazing claim, and there is no amazing evidence to support such claims. These glaring facts don’t seem to dissuade 90% of the world’s population that accept that there is an almighty god.

When it comes down to brass tacks, there is only one reason to believe in god. Because someone taught you that it was so. That’s it. People born before you believed in god, you were born into their world, and they expected you to believe it too. You did not conceive of god yourself. You didn’t have some experience where god came to you and said, I am god and although you cannot see me, hear me, feel me, smell me, or taste me–behold–you will believe I am real. Some people may have had an experience that was emotionally impactive, and their whisperers told them it was god. Which is to say because of confirmation bias they interpreted certain events to be god. But that only happened after someone they respected told them that god was true, and they took on the paradigm and proved it to themselves.

To understand the belief, look closer at the believer. They are fundamentally emotion based people, opposed to fundamentally logic based–at least when it comes to the subject of god. Although obvious, it bears repeating: they don’t need any factual proof. If something told to them were emotionally attractive or otherwise gratifying, they accept it. Believers aren’t crazy. They’re normal people doing what people do. They do what they are told, and strive to excel within the constraints put on them. They don’t want to break the rules, buck the system, or rock the boat. They are good, polite and obedient people. They are very good at thinking inside the box, and every community needs people like that.

And although they want you to think inside the box with them,Thomas, you aren’t like them. If you were, they wouldn’t be calling you Doubting Thomas. You are a logically based person. You don’t accept things just because you’re told to. If things don’t add up, you’re going to get to the bottom of it! You gather all the information available, and draw your own independent conclusions. But maybe you’re not ready to let go of your beliefs quite yet, and your judgment hangs in the balance. There are some more things you should consider.

I’m going to present a list of ‘cases and considerations’ that might influence you to believe or not, and compare each of them to three different ‘belief scenarios’ to see which scenario best explains the considerations. The scenarios are:

  1. Dogmatic Theism: From the point of view of organized religion; Where there is one true god, he has rules we must live by or continue after death to an afterlife of eternal torture. We must accept him, love him, and obey him. Or else.
  2. Spiritual but not religious: The belief of a loosely defined god consciousness that created everything, without any rules or stipulations.
  3. Atheism: Stop worrying so much because there is no such thing as god.

Cases and considerations:

  • I have prayed to god for a personal connection, message, or some kind of sign for many years but I never get an answer.
  • I participated in group prayer for a sick friend, who was miraculously healed.
  • I participated in group prayer for a friend with cancer, who got better for a while, but eventually got worse and died.
  • I’ve heard stories where people have had these amazing experiences with god.
  • What if I’m wrong saying there is no god, and I end up going to hell?
  • This world and the universe is so beautiful and so complex.
  • 95% of people on Earth do believe in some kind of deity.
  • Demographics of religious to not, educated to not.

Explanations:

Dogmatic Theism:

It says in James Chapter 1,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

It is difficult to know the will of God, and why he does some things and not others. But he has a plan for all he does, and his timing is perfect. It’s important to believe in the Lord’s judgement and accept all things in his timing. God is bigger than you can possibly understand, so don’t constrain him to any of your expectations. He will deliver.

The Lord has placed within all of us, a thirst to know him. He’s also granted us all free will, so we can deny him if we choose. Most of the world, throughout time and across all cultures believes in God in some way. It is no coincidence. Still, there are people that cannot find their way to him. Unfortunately, their torment will last with them into the afterlife.

Spiritual but not religious:

It’s difficult in the modern age to understand the actions/inactions of god based on the definition of god that organized religion provides. There are too many contradictions, and too little consistency when our considerations are based on the dogma of ages past. The pieces are able to fall into place when we change our definition of god itself.

We have the freedom to find something truer when we throw out preconceived ideas that shackle our minds. And we gain new insights when we accept science as a whole. We are ready for a new level of understanding to take place.

A good starting point is the basic human experience when in a relaxed or meditative state in a beautiful natural setting. Whether taking in a mountain view at sunrise, or a grove of trees swaying in the wind on the far side of a park, we feel a connection to the world. It’s easy to realize our symbiotic relationship to the world, considering how we’ve evolved along with it. The world affects us and we affect the world, not separate from it at all.  Surely, this symbiotic relationship goes beyond what science can quantify as of yet.

We know from the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, that all things have a tendency to break down. It’s the way of the universe, the path of least resistance. But life works in complete opposition to that law. Perhaps we can consider the force that propels it to be god. The tendency of life to occur, grow, and develop.

Consider the law of gravity. Science is unable to define what exactly it is or why it happens, but we can detail what it does. We can see the effects of gravity. We can measure how matter is attracted to the center of other masses of matter. Apply this to the law of nature which is god. We can notate the effects god has in our lives, we can see HOW it works. But there is no way to know what exactly it IS. To question the behavior of god, and project your hopes and disappointments on it is a distraction. To judge it as good or bad to you personally, or wish it to work differently is to obfuscate your understanding. Go ahead and project your own will and desire in your thoughts and prayers, change what you can but accept what you cannot.

You will see amazing things happen.

Atheism:

The reason you don’t get signs from god, or answers to prayers is simple. There is no god to answer your requests. Your expectations were inflated by amazing stories from friends, family, or someone on social media but when you try to reproduce it in your own life, nothing happens. Or worse, a little something happens by chance every once in a while which strings you along to believe more miracles will happen in the future.

Some people say the definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same behavior, and expecting different results.  If you keep praying, only to find disappointment, why would you keep praying. If you keep asking for a sign and there never are any, then stop expecting them.

If you want progress in your life, if you want peace in your life, if you want understanding in your life, accept things how they really are. Entertaining fantasy as if it were real will only hamper your life. Being realistic and logical with what you have to deal with enables you to make the best decisions and build your life up quickly.

Analysis of The Insightful Nihilist

I’ve tried my best to be fair to each point of view, and I think I’ve been reasonable considering I’ve held each of these points of view for several years.

The explanation of the Atheist wins hands down. This explanation is the most likely true scenario. I wonder why this simple logic gets lost on so many people. As a rule of thumb, the simple answer is most likely the correct answer (reference: Occam’s razor). A more complicated answer is probably fast talking, or over explaining as an attempt to persuade. A sell job.

Speaking of sell jobs, the dogmatic explanation of the Theist isn’t really an answer at all. Theism encourages you not to question things, but instead to have faith. For all intents and purposes, having faith means to go along with whatever they tell you is true, so as to be part of the group. To say that god is too big for you to understand is nothing but arrogance, especially considering that god is unproven. However, you might go with this explanation because of social reasons. Yes that’s right Neo, take the blue pill. Ignorance is bliss.

The alternative spiritual explanation presented above is just one example of many. It is very thoughtful, and I find ideas like these attractive and fun to ponder. Related discussions can bring hours of entertainment with open minded fellows. But instead of answers, we reveal more and more thoughtful questions. While thoughts and related practices like meditation may benefit your life in some ways, this way of thinking should be kept in the arena of entertainment. Taking it too seriously brings you dangerously close to developing new whisperers that will lead you away from any objective truth.

In conclusion, dear Thomas, the answers you are so ardently seeking are not as elusive as so many would have you believe. The answers are right in front of you, waiting for you to accept them. As much as I’ve suggested to you, who am I to tell you what to believe? Despite what I think is obvious, I know that you may have your own insights. Maybe I’m overlooking something. So what I hope for you, what I love about you, is that you never stop questioning things. And I hope you never make any compromise in accepting the answers.

Stop pretending. Make a decision.

 

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