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Monday, November 5, 2007

Part two: A theological quandary

Continuing my thoughts from the last entry...

Okay, after really writing it all down and thinking about it further, it started to click that maybe it's ALL a bunch of horseshit. I started thinking about this whole prayer, miracles and magic thing. I broke it down like this:

Either something is going to happen, or it's not going to happen. Any one thing that happens can be predicted. I can say right now, "Lord, please let my bus be a couple of minutes late today. I don't know if I can make it to the bus station on time today." There. My prayer has been sent to an imaginary man in the sky. Now, the bus will either (a) be late, as I'd prayed, or (b) not be late (that's either early or on time). Again, because we WANT SO BADLY as humans to believe in a higher power, if the bus is late, I thank the Lord for listening to my prayers and helping me in this time of need. If the prayer doesn't work, the failsafe kicks in. But what about this possibility: My prayer, magic spell, etc had NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the outcome of whether the bus was late or not. If it was late, it was going to be late, no matter what I did.

How's this for an argument? Those failsafes are just our way to explain away the times when our predictions don't line up with the way things happen. THERE IS NO MAGIC and there is no real power in prayer. Shit's gonna happen the way it's gonna happen, and we can't do anything to influence it, aside from the physical things we can do as humans to influence physical outcomes. So what about the beloved aunt you saved from cancer with the power of prayer? Sometimes people have spontaneous recoveries for no explainable reason. Doesn't mean it's a miracle. Just means it's unexplained. Just like UFO's. Just because you might see an Unidentified Flying Object, doesn't mean you've witnessed an alien spacecraft. Just means you saw something you couldn't IDENTIFY.

The truth is, we don't want to feel alone. We are such an amazing species, the only one like it we know, that we can't STAND to believe that we all evolved by chance. And we hate to think that once we are dead, it's over. We are the only species with this high level of self-awareness, and so we MUST be special, right? As such, we must have been specifically CREATED as we are, right? So who created us? It could only have been an all-powerful, omniscient being who created us in his image. But guess what? Joke's on us. It is WE who created HIM (and all variations) to fit our needs.

I firmly believe that one must always be open to changing his mind. You are only as wise as the last time you revised your thinking. I've gone so long thinking that the human potential included things that might be dubbed "supernatural," that this is a BIG revision for me to think about implementing. That would mean I no longer consider myself an agnostic or even Satanist, but I officially go for the title of atheist and overall skeptic. But I can't go on using the power of magic once I've concluded it does not exist, any more than I could use prayer once I suspected it was to a God I doubted existed. Can I?

My theological evolution:

Ages 4-11: Baptist. Drilled into my head I must be baptized and saved to reach heaven. Afraid of the devil, but interested in such trappings. Intrigued by Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Price, Alice Cooper & KISS on TV, and legendary stories of "satanic" rockers like Ozzy, Judas Priest & WASP. Got a thrill like I was doing something immoral or illegal and I was about to get caught, whenever I would listen to a "forbidden" record or read something "satanic."

Ages 12-16 No affiliation, raised Baptist. Delve further into forbidden literature, movies, music. Still get a bit of a thrill when I see or otherwise experience something blatantly satanic. Decide it is bad and still to say away from it. Remove music and books from my collection that I find satanic and disturbing.

Ages 17-32 Agnostic/Satanist. Do not personally believe that a God is likely to exist. Probably a creation of man to explain the things he doesn't understand. However, I do not rule out the existence of God as a possibility. I still believe literally ANYTHING is possible, but so many religions in the world throughout history, it's quite difficult for us to know which are genuine. All those who follow anything but the one true religion are likely condemned to hell (or some variation). So why bother? I research various forms of Christianity, attend churches with friends, etc. Read about other faiths, obtain a Book of Mormon, read a little Hubbard, Satanic Bible, take a philosophy class in college... The Church of Satan is the best fit for me. I believe I have always been a Satanist and not had a label to put on it.

Age 33-? atheist. God DOES NOT EXIST. Magic does not exist. It's all up to chance, but we can influence some things by the way we deal with people, using conversation skills, suggestion, etc. Humans exist on Earth as a result of chance and natural selection. There is likely another race similar to us somewhere in the universe. There are likely MANY. It's also likely, given the size of the universe, that we will never have contact with them to substantiate this fact (barring some currently unfathomable form of transportation or communication). However, I still believe we are not as unique as we once thought. We were not created on purpose. We just like to think so because we are egocentric beings. Revolution in thinking? Everything "supernatural" is bullshit? I don't know if I'm ready to concede that yet. I still hope for proof of ghosts, psychics, hauntings, unexplained forces and powers, magic, even the power of prayer or the existence of God. At least if it's proven, it'll give me SOMETHING to believe in. I have no faith; I require proof.

My friends, I am in the middle of a philosophical dilemma. I guess it's best to stay on course, progress from agnostic to atheist, and perhaps maintain my satanic leanings. It's not like I practice greater magic regularly... I can still look at its benefits as a cathartic psychodrama to purge distractions and emotional roadblocks from my path in life. There need be no "belief" in the actual power of magic to benefit from the exercise of ritual. The ritual chamber is, after all, an intellectual decompression chamber meant to induce suspension of disbelief for the purpose of uncensored self expression and emotional cleansing of a sort. Satanism stresses lesser magic as the more potent form of wizardry. And lesser magic is really just manipulation through interpersonal communication. Even LaVey said that "the amount of energy needed to levitate a teacup (genuinely) would be of sufficient force to place an idea in a group of people's heads half-way across the earth."

Perhaps the whole idea of magic or prayer only serves to fortify one's belief in its powers, and thus in the entire belief system entailed, when it "works." Anything that increases your level of belief in that philosophy and gives you more reassurance that what you're doing is genuine, increases the confidence you have while casting that spell or saying that prayer. And the more confident you are in the casting, the more comfort and relief you will feel afterward. It all serves a purpose to make man more comfortable in his own skin.

Holy (or unholy?) cow. Dear reader, you have journeyed with me on a first-of-its kind (for me, anyway) philosophical meandering that has served to coalesce and eventually solidify a core belief that I now hold. If you've actually made it this far, I applaud you. Thanks for taking the ride with me. I think this whole "blog" thing is actually a great thing. There is no better way to get to know someone than by reading what is essentially a public diary. I enjoy reading what my friends post to their blogs, especially if they do a little soul searching. There are some things that are best expressed in monologue form. Conversation is wonderful, but sometimes it takes a more free-form, stream of consciousness method to get to anything REALLY vital. Another participant in the conversation can muddle things and take you on tangents you didn't want to touch.