1 + 1 (+ n) = ONE?

It is time to come clean. When I started A Look Back, At the Beginning of Life, and through the Sum posts, I thought I had a definite goal in mind. I’ve talked about it before, but not as in depth as I want to discuss it now.

Ever since my NDEs I have felt the spirit of life inside me, an actual though unknowable something I can only call life, or spirit. I have no other words for it. Sure, I went through life knowing I was alive, but my understanding of alive changed. It became real, as it were a being all to itself. If I had to commit to anything, I might say life has a personality. But that would be so wrong. I might try the word consciousness, but that isn’t right either. Maybe, just maybe, I could say life has beingness, but what would that even mean. Life, for me, is so much more than us just being alive, it is everything about being alive.

What life is not is God, or a god, or any kind of super-superior-supreme being. It is a kernel of being, like what you might imagine the spirit of an individual cell to be. Tiny, obscure, barely able to sustain itself, except that it has no need of sustenance. It is. End of thought. And while it may be, probably is, capable of intelligence, that intelligence is not what we think of as intelligent. If anything, it is, or has the potential, of intelligence, but of a kind so far beyond the intelligence of earthly beings as to be unimaginable to said intelligent beings as we.

Yeah, I know I am not making much sense, my mind is just not capable of imagining such a being, and yet I know I can sense its presence within me, and within you, and within every living being on this earth, and anywhere else life is occurring in our cosmos. Yeah, it is like religious people talk about their God being everywhere, but as I already said, life is not God! It has no ulterior motives, needs no worship or adoration, no need to be supreme in any way. It has no ego! I guess that is what I am trying to say. LIFE HAS NO EGO! Life has no ego…

But life is still something we all have, and share. That is why I wanted to go back to the very beginning, the primordial soup which seems to be the origin of life as we know it, some 4.5 billion years ago. I have always felt that living beings did not always have the spirit of life in them. Life was around before living beings, but was separate from them for a time. Somehow, I thought life came to be aware of living beings, and sensed that living beings could lead it to self-awareness. But that would mean it already had to be self-aware, wouldn’t it? Going back to the dawn of life-on-earth, I hoped, would help me see some point at which living beings gained life, the spirit of life, the force that is life. But it has not!

It seems to me, after writing these posts, and probably 20 or more different drafts of this post, that my task is beyond me. I have feelings, but I do not have words. I can imagine, but I cannot see. I can sense, but life is unsensible. I know it, but I cannot share it.

This saddens me in a way. My brain is horrible at languages! English is the worst possible language in which to try to discuss things beyond reality. But it is the only language I have, and that frustrates me to no end. I have failed. I have failed me. I have failed you. And I have failed life itself.

But failure is merely a roadblock. I will try again.

The title of this post, 1+1 (+ n) = One? is a formula that came into my mind while agonizing over how to describe what I want to say. Maybe to a mathematician out there it may have actual meaning. To me it is just an expression of my frustration. The first 1 is life. The plus sign is the connector. The second 1 is the first living being, a one-celled organism of the simplest kind. The opening bracket is a distinguisher, the passage of time. The second plus sign stands for physical evolution, the advance of one-celled organisms to organisms with more than one cell, working together to produce a more efficient being. The n symbolises the fact living beings can have any number of cells of many different kinds, doing many different tasks, and numbering every number between 1 and the largest number possible for the number of cells in a living organism. The closing bracket is now, the point in time, ever-changing, when life is being actively observed by living beings, if they have the senses to observe with. The equal sign denotes that a change has taken place. Individual things have joined together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. Then there is the one, or the ONE, that is what life, working together, has become, living being mixed with life yet being joined in a way that all life is just one life. There is no doubt all life, wherever it exists, in whatever form it exists, is directly connected to all other forms of life.

Lastly comes the ?, the question mark, the wonderment. Is this possible? Is life possible? If life is, then is there a purpose to it? Or is it just a thing that is born and then dies for no other reason than that the biology works that way.

Life, living, probably started out as one cell that somehow managed to reproduce itself. From there it evolved into all the beautiful and ugly but nonetheless hugely plentiful life that exists on this earth in so many different forms, varieties, species, and even us humans. To me, life cannot not have purpose. We have a drive inside us to improve, to advance. It is not given to us by anything, unless that thing is ourselves. That drive existed in the first mitosis that took place in the primordial soup, and it is still with us today. It appears it will always be with us, as long as there is life somewhere in our cosmos.

And though I have failed in my task to reveal where life became a living being, I hope I have succeeded at least in some way to inspire even one someone somewhere to at some time take up the search to find where life came from, so we can learn where life is going, at least in our imaginations….

Somewhere in the present

Lies a vision of the future

Understood from the past

Lost

In the eternity

Of now

The end, for now…

MORE THAN THE SUM OF MY PARTS

I just woke up with a question in my head: Are we really satisfied being the people we seem to be born to be? I cannot answer this question for anyone but me: No! I am not!

This is not the question I wanted to ask when I started this series of posts, in fact I was not intending to write more than one post. But as I explained to a blogger friend of mine, when I start to write something, anything, I really do not know what I am going to write. I have an idea, or maybe I should say an idea comes to me, and I let it grow from there. My typing finger starts hitting keys, and I watch as words form on the screen. Some people might call that automatic writing, but I do not. I just call it being a conduit for my spirit to talk to me. While I do publish, Word Press style, these writings where others can read them, I do that not to teach anyone anything. To me, as I have said in a previous post, trying to teach someone something is a crime against their humanity, as well as an insult to their being. No one knows what it is someone else needs to learn. Oh, you can teach someone how to talk, how to write, how to do mathematics, those are the tools of human communication, we need those to function in a society, to function as a society. But beyond that, trying to teach others who they are, or what they are, is something no one can know for anyone else. I do not know what you need to be you!

However, that does not stop me from telling you how I came to be me. And I came to be me, not by listening to others, but by learning to be the person it makes me happy to be. By looking inside myself, at myself, I came to understand I did not always like the person I found myself to be. At that time I realized I had a decision to make: I could go on being that person anyway, or I could change myself to be someone I could not only love, but someone I like. I have to live with myself for the entire extent of my life, therefore only I can be my best friend, so why would I want to be friends with someone I don’t always like? It makes more sense to me to be someone I want to spend my whole life with.

Hopefully I am not telling you anything new, things that you have not already learned for yourself, but that did not come automatically to me. As a child, I had no idea I could be anyone but me. I was still discovering who I was, and I just took it for granted the person I was was me, and I could not change. As it was, as I was, I did not question myself. I absorbed being from all the people around me. I did not consider myself as someone I had to be around, I was already me. No, the people I was around most were my family, and I learned who I was by seeing myself through other people’s eyes. If you know anything about my history, which I make no pretense to hide, you know I grew up as a physically and mentally abused child. Nowadays I can see that I was also spiritually abused, but at that time I had no idea I even had a spirit. Me was just me. And me was told everyday of my life that I was useless, worthless, and a total failure by my dear loving sperm donor that told me he was my father. What the hell kind of a father does that to his own child? My father did it to eight of my siblings also. He would have done it to all ten of his offspring, but my little brother was born with Down Syndrome, which he blamed my mother for, and the poor kid was already worse off than my father could possibly make him. But this is not about Donny, or even about my father, it is about me. Everything is about me, right, like your life is all about you. Don’t bother answering that, it is not a real question; it is merely a figure of speech. Reality is I grew up seeing myself as my father told me I was, useless, worthless, and a total failure. Something had to change, or I would have had to kill myself. I had no value, why bother living?

But something inside said I had to have value, why else was I even born?

So I went in search of that something, and, again, if you know me, I believe I found myself, inside of myself! (And the only reason I use the word believe is because some of my readers do not believe there is a self to be found. As far as I am concerned I not only have a self, but that self is now me!) Further, this self I know is not a function of my ego, but a demonstration of my spirit (which has nothing to do with demons, lol).

But what is spirit?

The search for spirit is one of the reasons for this whole series of posts, starting from A Look Back, At The Start of Life. I want to discover whether, as some people believe, spirit, or soul as they call it, is a function of the human race, or a function of all life. If the first life on earth, the cells which are the building blocks of all life on earth, have spirit, then all life on earth has spirit. However, if all life does not have spirit, if the earliest life on earth does not have spirit, where did it come from, and at what point did it enter into the lives of living beings?

If you are a skeptic, you will see my obvious assumption, that there is a quality about us that can be called spirit. Not everyone believes there is. But, as I said, I have found my spirit inside of me, and therefore knowing how to recognize it, I have seen spirit in many other people around me. Spirit manifests in people as caring, or what some people might call empathy–the ability to see someone from their point-of-view as well as from our own point-of-view, the ability to feel their pain and suffering without filtering it through the filtering systems we have developed to see ourselves, accepting that others are not us, but still very much in relationship with us. The corollary question for me is, do we feel empathy only for our fellow humans, or do we feel empathy for all living beings? And can non-human beings feel empathy for us, and others?

This looks like a good resting point. A time for those who want to consider these questions for themselves, if they, you, want to consider them. Probably not everyone will.

Till next time…

More Than the Sum of Our Parts

LOOKING FORWARD FROM BACK THEN

Last blog I took you back to the beginning of life on earth. I will not speculate on whether it was the beginning of life in the universe. As improbable as that sounds, anything is possible… Well, almost anything…

Back at the beginning, when the first cell was splitting for the very first time, what was happening? Are we going to assume that the first living cell made a conscious decision to live beyond its upcoming death by cloning itself. As ridiculous as that sounds, again, anything is possible. The thing is, the first cell did clone itself, and immortality began. One split led to another split led to another split. These splits are still happening today, billions of years later. What is it that drives a cell to go on surviving, motivating it to reproduce itself over and over and over. Look at our own bodies. Yes, we start by the joining of a sperm with an ova, but then what happens. The cell thus formed reverts back to its time-immemorable task of splitting itself to create another cell, and those two cells splitting to make two more cells, then those four cells splitting to make to make eight cells. Somewhere along the line, an order comes from our DNA, I guess you could say, and instead of one cell reproducing itself exactly, it changes itself and splits into a new kind of cell, say, for argument’s sake, a fuel-consuming cell. Consuming fuels immediately requires yet another type of cell, a waste-eliminating cell. Now, suddenly, we need a fourth type of cell, an energy-transporting cell. You can see where I am going with this, I hope. I am describing the growth of a multi-billion, or maybe even multi-trillion, celled being, possibly even a human being–starting from one cell. But as of yet, neither you or I cannot know what type of being is growing out of that first combined sperm+ova cell. A kitten, a baby whale, or a baby human, the what does not matter in this discussion. For matters most, for me, is the how, and the why. And even the how is just a curiosity for scientific study. The why cannot be explained by science, other than to say our DNA requires the cells thus growing to become a certain species of being, related, of course, to its parentage. But really, that is the story of how. Nothing in our understanding of life can give us the why of life.

But let’s try, and it is here my own mind is engaged in two opposite, and not necessarily connected processes. One, the drive to survive. This feature of life, I don’t know that it was a motivating factor or not in the original cell-splitting event, but likely the more the cell reproduced itself the more it wanted to go on reproducing itself until it became a drive to survive. And this drive led to the first mutation of a cell–an attempt to find an even better way to survive. First, I would argue, a different cell, a cell that could last longer than its predecessors. Later, symbiotic cells, or possibly parasitic cells. (Here, a discussion of virions might be helpful, so if you don’t know about virions I hope you will take a quick look.) Whatever the reason, cells started working together, which made for longer-living cells–specifically longer-surviving cells.

Is that a how or a why? The primordial soup is beginning to get fuzzy. That was process one. Process two is from a different point-of-view, the idea that there is an unseeable factor affecting this survival process. That factor is life, the idea or condition that there is more to cells than we can learn about through science, the existence of life spirit. Here I suspect, if I were standing beside or behind you as you read this, is where I would start to hear you laugh. I know some of you will be, but I expect that. Life for you is the process of living, not an actual spiritual condition, or addition. But remember, we are working on the assumption that anything is possible. For me, not only is life a possibility, it too is a probability. The drive to purpose, the drive to be different, the drive to be better than one was previously. I do not see any drive, except survival, coming from a cell all by itself, and even survival might be a stretch.

But enter life, a condition totally unrelated to physical or material processes, and things start to make sense. Well, at least they do to me. Atoms and their building blocks are not capable of wanting to survive, they are what they are and nothing more. No matter how many electrons, protons, or nucleons make up a thing, it is still a thing. It is not capable of any movement except that caused by physical forces such as gravity or centrifugal force. Yet, these proto-motivations, if I may call them that, are real, just not in a physical sense, but in a life sense, or–my words–a spiritual sense.

What that means to me, even if to no one else, is cosmic, to say the least. And the purpose of this post was to introduce the concept of spirituality to those who don’t know much it, or who may have never even considered it.

And for now I will leave this concept here, and to allow you, if you are so inclined, to wonder what the hell I am even talking about. Hopefully, that discussion will come soon.

A LOOK BACK, AT THE START OF LIFE

I am not a scientist, not even close. But I learned a bit about science in school, and a bit more in university. But I am not even as much as an expert. Especially I am not a biologist. I have never taken any course in biology. But I am an expert in my own spirituality, this I have studied for over 50 years now, since my mind was first opened to the possibility religion, in particular Abrahamic religions, had gotten it all wrong. Two things in particular were very problematic to me. One was the idea that there was an all-loving superbeing who could willy-nilly judge living beings of not being adequate to join him in his heavenly home, and thus condemning them to a life of eternal suffering. What love is that? Two, that this same superbeing created everything in existence, yet in the book he supposedly wrote, knew nothing beyond the land of the Levant, being what we now call the middle eastern part of our world. Does that make any sense? Not in my mind it did not! So I went in search of what seemed true to me. What has this to do with science, in particular biology? A bit more patience please.

Whether this post will be of any real value to anyone is not up to me. I am just the blogger. But I would like to say it was more or less inspired by my fellow WordPress.com blogger, The Common Athiest, a man named Jim. I first met Jim by reading a post of his about life being nothing more than the result of a functioning brain, a completely physical process. That I disagreed with him goes without saying, I am what I call a Spiritual Atheist, and that requires a spiritual component to life. But the ideas behind his words had some weird connection to my own ideas, so I set out to explore them. After all, the seat of my consciousness, and probably yours, seems to sit in our heads, so probably in our brains. That part made sense. But Jim wanted mental life to be nothing more than chemical reactions happening inside our brains, though he never delved into how particular chemicals got into our brains, or how they combined is just the right amounts to make us think we can think. But ignore that as unimportant. The main thing I could not accept was there is no spiritual component to chemical reactions, and if there is one thing I know, without doubt, there is a spiritual component to me. And as I am a living being, functioning in this world, I have to believe there are others in the world who also have a spiritual component to them. Please note, I said living beings, not just human beings. As far as I can tell, all life is connected. Human beings, which are but a tiny part of all life on Earth, are just part of the whole of life. Nothing special about us, though we love to see ourselves at the top of the evolutionary ladder.

Oops, there is that word, evolution. The bane of Abrahamic religions. Their bible teaches that their God created the universe, full blown and heavily populated with all kinds of life, about 6000 or so years ago. Complete with fossils showing the evolutionary paths life took to culminate in our human species. That was quite an amazing feat, but since the ways of God are unknowable, but he knows everything there is to know, he obviously seeded the world with said fossils to lead us astray, a deliberate trap like so many other deliberate traps he set to catch those of his chosen people to test whether they truly believed in him or not. And, no offence intended, if you truly believe an all-loving god could use such trickery to keep his creations from joining him in heaven, then something has gone wrong with those chemical reactions that are going on in your brain.

But, what do all those fossils really tell us? They tell us that life has proceeded in some haphazard fashion from original one-celled beings of ancient pre-history to the multi-trillion-celled beings who inhabit our world today alongside beings of all number and form of cells going back all the way to the original one-celled beings who started the process off some 3.5 to 4.5 billion revolutions of the earth around the sun we humans call years ago. And this is the time period I would like to look back at, using scientific descriptions, but as seen through the vision of my spirituality, for it indeed does go back that far in time.

Not being a scientist, I needs trust what they tell me fossil records show, because I know fossils exist, and that we think we can understand at least some of them. And humans have found enough of them to be able to tell a story about life. It is, of course, not a complete story, but it is a story worth telling. Our scientists have tried their best to fill in the blanks, and have, I think, done a credible job of it. But these fossils, these pre-historical records, are kind of like Jim, The Common Atheist. All they can see are physical records. By the very nature of spirituality not being a physical or material thing, it cannot be recorded physically. Yet I think the records are there, if only you know how to read them. I dabble at trying to read them.

These records exist, not physically, but spiritually, in the memories of the cells that are decended from the cells that lived in those early times. Impossible, you say? Think about it. How do cells reproduce? They do not use sexual methods to reproduce, they use cell-splitting. They reproduce by dividing their tiny bodies in half over and over and over again, and have been doing so for longer than we can conceive of in our petty little minds. But what does that really mean to those one-celled beings who exist today, or will exist tomorrow? It means that their memories, however we humans want to think about them, still have that within them that was there at the beginning. Mitosis, I think the scientists call it, is the splitting of one into two. This does not involve change, as would a human baby have genetic material from it’s parents but with changes that set it apart from those parents, but an exact replica of the material found in the very first cell that ever replicated itself. The exact same material. Think about it. No changes, completely unaffected by evolutionary processes, unaffected by time. Immortality, if one is willing to go so far, if one is willing to look with open eyes, and an open mind.

So, the one-celled beings that exist in the world today are exact replicas of the very first one that managed somehow to replicate itself all those billons of years ago. I cannot prove this of course, maybe there were many one-celled beings who managed to do this at close to the same time, but to put this into a different perspective, there are scientists who believe all humans are descended from one mother who started the whole human evolutionary chain. I will not agree or disagree with this theory, because the possibility is logical.

But looking at one-celled beings, this theory is not only possible, but probable. Somewhere, at some time, there was a FIRST LIFE, and life, I do mean all life, on Earth at least, is descended from that first life. And that fact means all life is connected, in some way, and that is what I call spirituality.

There is more to be said, I think, but for now I think this is the goal of this post, to put the idea out there, we truly are all related.

Thank you, if you managed to read this far. Please feel free to comment.

i’ve reached the last page

A while ago I stopped putting poems on this blog, beginning a new blog at

https://wordartbyrawgod.wordpress.com

for my creative writing. But looking over some old poems tonight, I found the following poem that I thought I could better share here with you, the readers of my blog. It sort of, far-fetchedly, which rhymes with wretchedly, connects to my last two posts.

As introduction, I commend to you the novel Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delaney. A dystopian novel of sorts, it follows the experiences of a young man coming to a city ravaged by riots, a city which has somehow become disconnected with known reality. In case you read the novel, I won’t tell you much more. But I will tell you, reading is as a rebellious youth in the 60s/70s, it made such a great impression on me, I wrote a work of poetry/prose based on the life of the fictitious anti-hero of the novel, mostly from the point of view of said protagonist. When I sent it out to try to get it published, I got backlash from certain editors who accused me of plagiarism. I thought it was a celebration, but that is water under the beaver dam.

The following poem is me writing as the character, and he has come to the last page of the notebook in which he has been writing poetry about the city lost in time. All of which is irrelevant to the poem, but I just thought I would give you the background because I felt like it. The complete work is called A Bouquet of Brass Orchids.

I’ve reached the last page

i’ve reached the last page of this book
and if i don’t write between the lines
this is the last poem i’ll compose
so i should make it sound profound

but what is there that i can say
to change this world in which we live
i don’t believe in god or hell
so all i have is you and me

is this perchance the gift of life
to realize there’s nothing there
except the love that one might feel
towards a person dear to them

i’d like to think long on this thought
but i don’t have the time nor space
suffice to say that were i wise
i’d say to you god bless the atheist

WHY AM I AN ATHEIST?

Before I wrote the Preface to this post, now about forty-some hours ago, I had a certain plan in mind. I derailed that plan by writing more about my life as an xian than intended. My apologies to the blog-that-should-have-been. My gratitude to the blog-that-is. And, despite the fact I did not summarize that blog with a stunningly-amazing conclusion, I actually went through a bit of catharsis writing that Preface. I am a bit less conflicted today than I was two days ago.

So, I don’t know about stunningly-amazing, but I should have concluded something like (please know as horrid as I made my early years sound, they were actually more horrid than I could put into words) everything good that came into my life was because I caused it directly–by myself! My own decisions and the actions following therefrom were what saved me from a life of continuing the cycle that did not start with my father. He too had been mistreated and abused by his father, according to an aunt with whom I discussed this with years after he had finally died. No, this does not earn him my forgiveness. He did not have to continue that cycle, but he gave into it, and made no effort to change. That to me is unforgivable.

But, one more childhood statement, and it is time for me to move on. I did have happy times in those years, despite all else, as I spent a lot of time away from my family, places where I could be safe, and live for awhile without fear. Also, my two closest-in-age siblings, sisters, helped immensely, for we consoled each other in our misery. (I only learned, again, years later, that he sexually abused both of them, and likely an older sister too, after my mother died when I was just nine.) Had I known at the time, and understood what sexual abuse was, probably I would have killed him, or myself, and I would not be who I am today.

But I survived my childhood–god did not!

The change took years, and a lot of self-exploration and self-discovery, but it started in my youth, and I believe I am the better person for it.

Yes, I am an atheist. I can be nothing else, even while being so much more. Atheist is a label, not a necessary one, but one I am proud to wear. I took the worst life had to give me (as I insinuated, there are many things I did not tell you, because I am not looking for sympathy, merely stating facts) and came out the other side, scarred, but mentally and spiritually intact. I still suffer bouts of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but even when those feelings take hold of me, I am a happy person through and through. I bewilder my various therapists by smiling and making jokes while talking with them about my childhood. One therapist went so far as to accuse me of hiding my real self behind those façades, but I disabused him of that theory. My happiness is genuine, and comes from having no delusions about life, or gods.

Again, why am I an atheist:

In no particular order, I am my own person. I rely on myself, and while I do sometimes disappoint myself, I never break under pressure. I am whole.

I blame no one but myself for life’s hardships. I could have given into anger or self-pity, but they do nothing for me. I am in control of who I am. I seek help when I need it, but usually I seek it within me. I allow other people to make suggestions, which I give serious consideration to before I accept or reject it (usually somewhere in-between the two), but I do it on my terms.

I believe only that which speaks to me, from inside of me. If it comes from outside of me, such as the ideas of god or morality, they have to fit into my life. I do not adapt my life to fit anyone else’s beliefs. They must ring true, to me. Because others believe something means absolutely nothing to me. Neither of the above examples fit into my life, not in those words.

I do my best to think without boxes. This is not easy in our world, there are so many many people and things that demand we think or believe certain ways or things. I try to always examine what limits or constraints these things put on me, and then work to overcome any barricades.

I once believed an adult when he told me I could not do something which I had been doing up until he told me I could not. He was a trusted adult, one whom I’m sure had no bad intentions toward me. But he had his own constraints, and he passed this one onto me. The thing became intentionally impossible afterwords, though I still have flashes of ability when I least expect them. Still, my life is sadder for having believed him. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I have discovered life. Life exists. So many people take life for granted, they are alive, and that is sufficient for them. Most people, no insult to anyone, think love makes the world go round. I know, for me, life is the prime factor. Without life, there can be no love. In fact, without life there would be no nothing as we understand it. What good galaxies of rocks if there is nothing to be aware of those rocks.

Above all else, in my experience of life, there is no possibility of god, gods, creators, omniscient beings, all powerful beings, or anything other than that which is. There is not one thing in my life that speaks to anything other than life. And should you say to me, god is alive, I shall not believe you. I have studied life from every angle I can think of, and I have learned one thing. At least in our version of reality (I am aware there are other versions than our own–I have experienced them!) life has certain characteristics that cannot be ignored, however inconvenient. The main one, life changes. I do not say this lightly, but in my experience, no life is ever completely stagnant. It’s corollaries are birth and death. To exist in our reality, all things must come into being somehow, be it mitosis, meiosis, from a spore, from a seed, or from an ova, all life starts somewhere. (And if you look closely, all things actually use mitosis and meiosis to grow. They are the basic building processes of life.) All living things also die. Death is a necessary part of life. Things stop living. And throughout the period between life and death, all things change. They grow, they take in sustenance, excrete that which they cannot use, and then do it all over again, until they stop living. And we take in ideas, by which we change or not, excreting those ideas that do not have meaning to us. According to those who believe in a god of some kind, gods do not abide by these characteristics. Except mythical gods, who did go through these processes, gods never come into being, and they never cease to exist. They do not eat. They do not pee or poop. They do not die. And above all else, they do not change!

This may sound childish to you, or simplistic, but do not let that fool you. If something is alive, it changes, physically, mentally, or spiritually. If something does not change, it is not alive. If a god knows everything, sees everything, is everything, it has no reason to change. It must be perfect as it is, and nothing, not anything, can be that perfect, for what reason would there be for it to live. All living things evolve in some way, sometimes too slowly for us to even see. And likewise, all living things eventually end their life processes. Nothing is indestructible. God does not fit any of these parameters.

Yes, I say I do my best to think without boxes, and you could look as these parameters as boxes if you like, but to me they are the facts of life.

And yes, (though I did not say it here) I believe our spirits (not souls) are eternal in our way of thinking, and our spirits change. They are not stagnant. They evolve.

Atheism itself for me is the next logical step after theism, though you may disagree with me. If you have theism, you must also have atheism. And thus I am an atheist.

PREFACE to WHY AM I AN ATHEIST?

I’ve heard this question before, and paid it little mind. Answers like “Why not?” or “It’s just the way I work.” come to mind most of the time. I’m sure you, since you are reading this post, odds are you, an atheist yourself, or at least a searching agnostic, have been asked this many times over by xians or people from other religious persuasions. But they seldom seriously want to know your answer, so why bother giving them a serious answer.

Yet, when I was asked this question the other day (in the comment section of a Word Press post by Saania Sparkle, I believe) I suddenly felt moved to answer it seriously.

What I am about to write, however, is not copied and pasted from that answer, which was written quickly with just a modicum of deeper thought. I actually want in this post to give it more attention than I think it generally deserves, and, at the end ask you, in your past or present understanding, what would you say to this question if seriously asked. I’ll bet, no two answers will be the same.

But before I can answer this question, I feel I need to start with its opposite, to wit: Why was I ever an xian? Please allow me to look backwards in my life. (I almost used the word reminisce but that implies happy remembering. My xians days were not very happy.)

My family were not church-goers. According to my father he was brought up Catholic, but did something to get himself ex-communicated. I had no idea at the time what that meant, of course, being a young child, but then I had no understanding of gods or religions at that time either, so I took him at his word. (He never did tell us what he supposedly did, but whatever it was I doubt he was ex-communicated, for that appears to be a very serious process. Knowing him now, deader than a door nail, I suspect it was just an excuse for not going to church on Sundays, though in the 50s he did go through the legal process of changing our surname for some reason, from the very Catholic surname Desmarais to the very non-dominational surname Miller. Again, no idea why, and no reason to want to find out.)

But, the thing is, when I turned about 5 years old, suddenly I was forced every Sunday to go to Sunday School. It was around the same time I graduated kindergarten, and started regular school (a year early, you might notice, through some kind of age-related administrative mix-up) and I thought the two were related. In public school I was being taught facts, so at Sunday school, I thought I was being taught facts too. (No, I doubt my thoughts were that advanced at the time, but I was quite precocious, so maybe I did, to some extent.) Anyway, I believed my teachers in both schools, and quickly earned attention from the authoritative adults around me. In other words, people were paying attention to me. At home, being the ninth of 10 kids, the tenth being still a babe-in-srms who was getting more attention than anyone, I got no attention from anyone, except that my father took the time to beat me every day whether I needed it or not! That kind of attention I did not need, or want.

The attention I got at those schools was different, everyone fussed about how smart I was, and that went to my head. I had never gotten praise before, not even from my mother, who was too busy raising 9 children (at that time) to notice she was mostly ignoring her ninth child. Praise from my father was unthinkable, he told me every day I was the dumbest–read stupidest (he thought the word dumb meant stupid, not unable to speak)–kid ever born. He hated my guts, at least that is how he treated me. (He did treat me with kindness, once, when I was about 8 years old, but not knowing he could be kind I did not recognize that until I was an adult, by which time I had removed him from my life. One day, in the almost 6000 days I was in his care! How generous of him. I’m sure he felt good about himself that day. No sarcasm here at all folks.)

Back to my story, and moving it along, I was persuaded at Sunday school to accept the Lord, my God, as my Saviour, and became an xian. I even told myself that made me a good boy, on Sundays, but that did not stop the Sunday beatings, or any other day’s beatings, either. Even when I prayed to God to stop the beatings, he ignored me too. My Sunday school teachers were gaga over my conversion, but no one else important in my life was. That was the first crack in my xianity, but in the great scheme of things it wasn’t a big one. I was a xian, and that was going to change my life.

I said above I was quite precocious as a child. I was a fast learner, and a good learner. I could quote scripture with the best of them. I read the Bible through from start of Old to end of New. I listened to what everyone had to say. And I learned to watch what everyone would do with the other six days of their weeks. The world was still dark or light at that time in my life, I took the bible literally. The Thou shalts and Thought shalt nots meant what they said, not what people decided or interpreted them to be. The biggest one, Though shalt not kill, had no basis in real life. Television was just becoming a big thing, and with me not knowing the difference between fact and fiction yet, I saw people being killed every day. Especially on the news, where there seemed to be daily reports on wars and insurrections, I watched people being killed, and God was not sending anyone to hell as punishment. If anything, the killers were being praised as heroes. Crack 2, slightly bigger than the first one.

Jumping ahead, the biggest crack yet came when I listened to my Sunday school teachers talking about going to heaven. They told me, in not so many words, that as long as you asked for forgiveness in church or Sunday school on Sundays, the other 6 days a week were virtually open game. I heard adults swearing, using the lord’s name in vain, lieing, stealing, all kinds of things, killing animals and plants without a thought about Though shalt not kill! Come Sunday, they prayed for forgiveness, and knew they were still going to heaven. In my little mind, if you were forgiven for something, and went out and did it again the next day, you weren’t being sincere, and you sure were not going to heaven, but straight to hell.

But I had been assured by my teachers, even my public school teachers, that heaven was a good place to go, and everyone should strive to be worthy of going there. So why were they sinning 6 days a week, and pretending they were so good on Sundays. It boggled my growing mind. I wanted to believe, I really did, but if I looked at the facts, as science told us to do, belief had a lot of problems.

So I started to look for solutions to my heartfelt spiritual dilemmas. And the first answer I came up with–had I heard of reincarnation by this time, or did I come up with this theory on my own, I’ll never know now. Too much water has flowed through the tap, open 6 days a week, closed on Sundays. (Do you remember when everything closed down on Sundays? So people could have time to go to church or otherwise contemplate the existence of god? If you were born after the 60s, this might seem strange, but hardly anything was open on Sundays, including grocery stores, and restaurants. Churches, and a few very essential services like hospitals and cops were all that were allowed to be open. It was a sin to do business on a Sunday. My how the world has changed. Money is now more important than your eternal soul, what a bunch of religious hypocrites!

But I was not there yet. I still thought there was a God, and a heaven. But I no longer believed in one life, and done for eternity. It only made sense, if god was a compassionate god as the New Testament considered him to be, not the angry demanding god of the Old Testament, he would not condemn a person to hell after just one try, because heaven would be a damned lonely place to be, all facts considered. I wanted god to be a compassionate god. No one else seemed to care. But when I started making such suggestions not only in Sunday school, but also in public school, I lost all those adults who had been praising me, and I was no longer wanted in Sunday school unless I recanted my sins. That I did not understand. Here I was, telling them the truth, and giving them a solution to the problem, but I began to hear words like sinner, blasphemer, infidel, and savage thrown at me, as they closed the door in my face. I was all alone. And no one cared.

But did this stop me believing in a god. I hate to admit, it did not. Yet!

The world is a lot different today than it was in 1962. Kennedy had not been assassinated yet. Why do I bring up such a bad memory? Especially since I am not even American? And there had been all kinds of history-changing moments before that? I can only speak for myself here (or anytime, anywhere for that matter) but on November 22nd, 1963, as I was riding my bicycle down a busy highway, a car pulled over beside me, the driver rolled down his window, screamed “Kennedy has been shot,” at me, then picked up speed and drove off. Hell, I knew nothing about politics at the time, had the barest inkling Kennedy was a President, that the USA was just a country that bordered Canada. But some guy I had never met and probably would never meet again, thought it was so important Kennedy was shot that he just had to tell someone, and he chose me. That too boggled my mind. But as events unfolded, I think I lost my innocence that day. Certainly, the world I knew changed!

Today, in 2021, as I write this post, we have a tool that was not available in 1963. It would not be available for almost three more decades. I have no idea when the internet was even invented, if that is the correct word. Discovered might be more appropriate. No matter, through the internet, the world is at our fingertips these days. Kids know so much more than I could ever have dreamed of way back when while dinosaurs dominated the earth. Or even farther back, when life still belonged to only one-celled beings, about 4.5 billion years ago. The universe had no idea what was to come, at least not the universe according to man, or biblical god. No one knew anything.

I did not know it was possible to not believe in god. Everyone I knew believed in god. Everyone I had ever heard of believed in god. (My world was very tiny, lol.) Atheism had not been invented yet, as far as I knew. But I also knew something was wrong with religion, and the only place I could look was in the library, our reservoir of all human knowledge. I had heard of Protestants and Catholics before, I was a Protestant living in a Catholic stronghold at the time, the city of St. Boniface, the biggest French community in Canada outside of the province of Québec. Catholic students had a class called Catechism Protestant students were not allowed to attend. At the time I was jealous, they got out of having to study chemistry, or physics, or worst of all, geography. I hated geography, the teacher was the most boring teacher in my world. I fell asleep in his class every day. They got to go to Catechism. Not fair. A few years later I learned a bit about Catechism. I was very glad I never got to go. Catholic nuns were a holy terror!

But I digress. I still did not know it was okay not to believe in god. I had never heard the word atheism. A few years past, and I discovered Science Fiction. I don’t remember which book it was, probably A Case for Conscience by James Blish, but I came across the word atheism, an ism that permitted people to not believe in god, and my mind was free to consider if I had to go on believing. The answer became “No.”

All that was the sum of my life up to then. Not the total sum, but a comprehensive summary given the space and time. It is time to stop for today. Tomorrow I enter the age of my rebirth. I hope you will be there to join me.

The Spirit of Christmas…. Trees

Once upon a time I believed to celebrate Christmas properly, I had to have a real Christmas tree. But why? What is so important about a real tree that each and every year, leading up to the Christmas season, a billion trees will have their lives cut short to satisfy some whimsical need to have a dying tree all dolled up in its funeral best to celebrate an event that happened over 2000 years ago, maybe!

For some, this celebration lasts a month or more, while for others they decorate their tree on Christmas Eve, and undecorate it on Boxing Day. For this a life was taken? This writer can no longer condone such action by remaining silent! Stop killing softwood trees for your viewing pleasure. Buy a human-made tree, and use it over and over and over. Save lives, don’t spend them basically uselessly.

Do you know that the average lifespan of a softwood tree like pine or spruce or hemlock is anywhere from 100 to 1000 years. A perfect tree that can overcome disease, bug infestations, and avoid fires can live for 5000 years. The average lifespan of a Christmas tree? 7 to 10 years. That is like killing human children before they reach puberty. Why are humans, Christian humans and their offshoots to be precise, so protective of human fetuses then so spendthrift with the lives of nature’s children?

And for what? What does a real tree have that a fake tree does not, except an agonizing and prolonged death in your living room or den. If you require the death of a tree to celebrate the birth of a man 2000 years ago, I think you are one sick excuse for a human being.

You may think I am crazy, or a scrooge, and you would be right on both counts. I am crazy about life, and hate that it can be cut short so wantonly. At least when we cut short the lives of living beings for food, we make use of them by eating their bodies. (I would much prefer we let plants and animals die naturally before we harvest them, or as in the case of fruits and nuts and berries just pick the seed pods and let the main body survive, which is ideal!) I do not like that we kill to live, but I cannot fight that.

I can fight to save the lives of a billion trees a year that are not harvested for food, but for useless (to them) celebration.

Please, think about the tree before you buy another real Christmas tree. You are wasting its life for your pleasure. Is that really the kind of person you want to be?

Maybe This Post Will Get Published…

I have started so many posts of late, but as you know, it has been a long time since anything got published. There are a couple of main reasons for this:

1) If I don’t finish it at one sitting, I lose all enthusiasm for whatever topic I was writing about, or

2) I just plain forget halfway through what I was trying to say, or what point I was trying to make.

So, really, this post is more of an apology to you, the readers, than anything else. Is it Alzheimer’s, or some other form of senility? Is it just the world is so screwed up these days that I wonder if it is worth my effort to try to communicate with others? Or is it just laziness on my part–I get bored with myself so easily these days? I really don’t know the answer.

Or maybe it’s Covid, but I really don’t think much of Covid, it is not a worry for me. I am not an anti-masker, though I occasionally forget to put my mask on, as I did today as the convenience store. I know Covid is not a hoax. I am just resigned to the fact my immune system has-been non-existent for so many years I catch any bug that comes within hailing distance of my lungs, and I will probably get this bug too. With my medical record, if I get it, most likely I will die. No big deal. I used to chain-smoke, knowing that would kill me someday. My choice of how I would die. I even smoked while running around a quarter-mile track trying to stay in shape. Yup, I knew I was killing me. Then I woke up one day and never smoked again, ever. No withdrawal symptoms, no cravings, no nothing. I didn’t even know I was considering quitting smoking. It just happened. That was 35 years ago. Now the odour of stale tobacco makes me sick. Well, so does fresh tobacco stink, but the stale stuff makes me wonder how I ever put that shit into my lungs.

Actually, quitting smoking was a spiritual thing for me. Life became more important than death. Not that I was afraid of dying, I dealt with that contigency when I was 19. That was when I had my LSD experiences, which I have written about elsewhere on this blog, and learned that life itself is eternal, not in a christian or religious way, just in a natural way. And certainly not in an ego way, ego only lasts along as the body does. Spirit is forever. So at first I chose to choose my manner of death, lung cancer. Then 17 years later, I chose life over death.

But probably I am digressing from whatever it was was trying to write about today, which was just to actually publish a post despite my own inability to do so of late.

So, no, I am not dead. No, I have not caught Covid. No, I have not stopped blogging, yet. I just haven’t been able to complete a post. Now, today, I have,

Time Out for some Awe-Inspiring Photos.

Here are two pics taken in my back yard. The second one I get to see every autumn, and it makes the other seasons worth living through just to see this for a few weeks every year.

The first pic is total serendipity. I awoke at dawn the other day. My eyes opened onto this image coming through my bedroom window. I grabbed my tablet and ran outside to capture it for posterity. I hope you enjoy them both.