Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Tale of Froggy Philosophy

"There is no water," remarked the aged tree frog, known by his closest friends as Sticky.

"What are you talking about? You were born in water. If you climb high enough into the tree, you can see a whole pond of water just yonder. Heck, what do you call that stuff that fell from the sky last night...oil?" questioned Sticky's less enlightened friend, Leaper.

"Leaper, yes, I did believe in water when I was young. It seemed real then. But as time has gone on, I realize that was only a tadpole fantasy."

"Huh? Seriously, the stuff hit you in the face last night and now you're saying it doesn't exist. I don't get you."

"Leaper, to perceive wetness does not mean water exists. It's merely a figment of our imagination, forced upon us because of our weakened, biological and evolutionary state. In time, you will see water as unnecessary for life."

"Seems, like you're going to deny trees, grass, and bugs next...things all frogs need and love."

"Now that you mention it, those things could simply be explained away as neurological stimuli," reasoned Sticky. "Amphibious brains as small as ours can play all sorts of tricks. Confirmation of reality is simply impossible."

"Confirmation of what? Seems to me that if you keep explaining away things that seem plain to see and to experience, you're going to have a hard time explaining your explanations. Why can't some things just be true, plain, and obvious?"

"Leaper, Leaper, my hopping friend, to believe in truth would require us to live with restrictions, rules, and restraints. Who would want that?"

"Well, Sticky, to be honest, why is it restricting to find life from water, food from bugs, and protection from trees? What if the things you are trying to deny are the very things you need to really live?"

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Hell of a Story (fiction)

"There is no hell," explained the professor in his unorthodox dress of cut off jeans, Birkenstock sandals, and a university t-shirt. "All that religious people are trying to do is scare honest people into belief."

The university lecture all went uncomfortably silent. A few students near the front nodded their heads vigorously. They were members of the Atheist and Agnostic Society and friends (read lackeys) of the professor. A number of kids from various Christian ministries on campus were noticeably upset but unwilling to take the bait. They had seen a few brave, but ill-prepared, peers speak up on occasion, only to leave the classroom in tears.

The professor continued, "Occam's razor says the most likely explanation is usually the correct one. As such, in the case of an afterlife, we must conclude there isn't one. There is no heaven, no hell, just coffins and worm food. We would do well to teach people the brevity of life, rather than offer some sort of afterlife fiction."

This elicited more nods from the front and quiet in the back.

Then it happened...a hand.

"Yes," spoke the smiling professor to a late-teens black girl on the right side of the room. She hadn't ever spoke in the class. Most students had never noticed her before now.

"Professor, it seems to me that a belief in hell might do more good for people than the hope of feeding worms."

"But hell is a fiction, young lady, a myth."

"I'm not claiming to know for sure whether hell is real or not, Professor. I did not grow up going to church at all, but you just claimed that teaching people that life was brief and that doubting an afterlife would be better for people. I just don't think that makes much sense to me."

"Of course, it does not make much sense to you. You are young and inexperienced. I have studied the world and seen what these beliefs have down to others," explained the professor.

"Well, professor, I may be young, but where I grew up, I wish people did believe in hell. Most of my girlfriends were raped before they were fourteen. My brother was shot because he helped a friend leave a gang. My dad left my mom when I was four. I think most of the people who did all this believed along the lines you've been describing. They thought life was short and there was no afterlife. They did what they wanted, when they wanted, with whomever they wanted. To be honest, I only hope they are justly compensated in the next life for all that they've done."

"Ah, my point exactly. Your belief in the afterlife gives free reign to your anger. You want vengeance, rather than peace. Just like every religious person I've ever m...," the professor was interrupted.

"You aren't listening professor," the college co-ed was getting a bit flustered, "I'm not religious, but I'm getting to a place in my life where religion seems to offer a whole lot more answers than your textbooks. Without religion, I would pursue vengeance. I'd believe the only way to make things right in this world was to use my own hands to bring vindication. But these religions we've been studying allow folks to wait for a more just, and divine retribution."

"Which divine do you want to bring this retribution? Haven't you realized all of these religions are vastly different from each other?" demanded the professor in a sneering tone.

"You know Professor, despite all your attempts to persuade otherwise, I think the peasant prophet from Palestine looks to be the wisest route to go. Seems like a God willing to die for His people and make provision for anyone willing to repent of their wrong-doing, is the only person who would be able to exact vengeance fairly."

"Jesus? You dare to claim that Jesus is fair in my classroom. You even call him God?? Ridiculous. I won't hear of it."

"Professor, I don't mean to make you angry. I simply think an afterlife with heaven and hell and a God willing to die for others seems a bit more beautiful and life-giving than a future of coffins and worms. One way of believing will lead to reckless self-indulgence until death; the other just might lead to the pursuit of sacrificial love and justice. Seems like those religious people are trying to scare us into living a whole lot better life than what you suggest is true." At this the girl, grabbed her books and exited the class.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rabbit Theologizing

Two rabbits were munching on Farmer Bill's carrots.

Tim, the darker of the two rabbits and the one prone to philosophical ramblings, paused and looking quite disconcerted made this quandary, "Phil, do you think we are stealing?"

Phil, the lighter of the two rabbits and less prone to philosophical discourse said, "No."

"But we did not buy the seeds for these carrots, plow the garden, plant the seeds, or water them."

"Agreed, but we are here to eat them," answered Phil, while an orange morsel fell from his mouth to the ground.

"Doesn't that prove my point--we are stealing!"

At this juncture, Tim came to understand that a quiet rabbit is not necessarily an unintelligent rabbit for Phil slightly turning his head to the left explained, "My dear Tim, we are fulfilling our evolutionary role. Farmer Bill has both the dexterity and intelligence to perform the said functions of buying, plowing, planting and the like. Our task as less-developed mammals (ignoring the fact that my vocabulary is quite robust and our story-creator has the audacity to put speech upon the lips of dumb animals) is to survive. The whims and worries of conscience should be no impediment for the procuring of food."

"Ah Phil," questioned Tim, "If that line of reasoning is correct, we are also at the mercy of that fox thirty feet of away."

"True," said Phil.

"And Phil, since I happen to move faster than you do in open terrain, I have no moral responsibility to assist in your escape. Evolutionary process has given me permission to leave you for that fox's supper."

"Exactly," said Phil.

"Ah, Phil..."

"Yes, Tim."

"Despite your sound reasoning and surprising ability to engage in philosophical discussion, I have decided that morality does exist. We are stealing, and I don't want you to die."

At this Tim ran straight toward the fox and laid down his life for his friend.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Mythological Debate

"You don't know what you're talking about kid," said the man in the nice dark suit and power blue tie.

"But Dr. Schultz, I feel like my evidence should be weighed in this matter," spoke the young boy, appearing to be about age 10.

"What you are saying is not possible, probable, or verifiable," sneered Dr. Schultz, "Science is about facts, not allegations. You say your father is the cause of this; I say, you cannot prove it."

"But Dr. Schultz, you just gave a lecture today on the importance of hearing and challenging every hypothesis. You claimed today that your theory of the sun's central heat being produced by those eleven different atomic reactions is the greatest advancement in solar research in two decades. You showed the weakness of every opposing theory to date. I only want to challenge the newest theory, even if it is yours; it's for your own good," petitioned the young boy.

The dark-suited professor was now losing his general irenic spirit, "You are not giving theories; you are dealing in superstition, myth, and religion. Enough with you and your 'father'."

"But sir, NASA has speculated for years that advanced life-forms may be the cause of numerous inter-galactic and solar activities. What makes you so sure that a person or god like Apollo doesn't really have charge of our sun and it's daily activities before the human eye?"

"Apollo is a myth, and myths contain no truth," ejaculated the now red-faced professor.

"Professor, it seems you are unwilling to allow for hypotheses of all sorts, if you refuse to consider ideas beyond your scope of knowledge."

"Beyond MY scope of knowledge," bellowed the doctor, "I have two Ph.D.s and been tenured for twice as many years as you are alive. What makes you think my scope of knowledge is sub-par?"

The young boy, turned, speaking almost under his breath, but just loud enough for Dr. Schultz to take in the final words, "You too would doubt the knowledge of university education if you awoke each morning as the son of a god. Professors long ago abandoned their ability to see beyond the pages of their own books, and thus the insight to kneel before the power of the gods. Since they quit looking beyond their own brains for answers to the world, all they seem to see anymore is the answers in their own brains."

A Tale of Brides and Dresses

Once upon a time there was a bride set to be married to a handsome king. She herself was born into rags, was unbecoming in many ways, but for some reason known to the king, he had chosen her to be his bride.
                The bride was excited, honored, and humbled. But her insecurities, doubts, and fears remained. She believed the only way this wedding would ever really happen was if she wore the perfect dress. She thought also, How could the townspeople believe I'm the King's bride if I don't look the part? So she collected all the money she had and commissioned a royal tailor to craft the perfect dress. After many days, the bride came to try on the perfect dress. When she walked into the tailor’s shop, the dress looked perfect upon the hanger. Sadly, however, when she tried to put on the dress, her body-shape just couldn’t fit into the dress. She yelled at the tailor and bemoaned that the dress wasn’t right. She charged him again to make the perfect dress.
                The bride left and spent the next week exercising, trying on various corsets to adjust her body shape, and even enlisted the help of the most expensive stylist in the kingdom. Every night she came home, to find that the king had come to visit, but her frenzied activity never allowed for her to return his calls.
                On the following week, she returned to the tailor. Another perfect dress hung upon the hanger, but again, the bride’s body couldn’t fit into the perfect dress. She paid the tailor her every penny, walked out, head hung low--broken, and dejected.
                As she walked the road home, the King approached upon horseback. He called her to look to him. But she refused to look up into his face. He demanded to know why she refused His call and command. To which she replied that she could not fit into the perfect dress. She was not beautiful and would never deserve the King’s hand. And the townspeople would never believe her to be the King's queen.
                To which, the king replied: “My beloved, my love comes in three forms. First, it only comes to the undeserving and the unlovely. Second,  my love for the unlovely is not designed to make the townspeople eye the Queen, but for they, themselves to look upon their King and believe they too can receive His love. And third and finally, my love produces a beauty that no shell of a wedding dress could ever seek to cover. It’s an unfading beauty that befits those who wear rags. Why waste money on clothes that can be eaten by moths when I offer a beauty that lasts forever?" 
                At this the bride looked up again into the face of her King, and it was there that her soul was beautified to be all that it was meant to be. She took His reaching hand and was wrapped up into His love. She spent the remainder of her days a living testimony for all the townspeople that the King takes those in rags and makes them royalty. And rather than bemoan her unbecoming figure or frame ever again, she delighted that the King's unconditional love was evident to all because of her welcome.