On the Creation Debate, with Bill Nye and Ken Ham...

I finally got a chance to finish watching the "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?" topic featuring Ken Ham and Bill Nye. I've included the 2:45hr video below.

I have to say, I am disappointed that Bill only alluded to, but didn't directly ask, the one question similar to what Ken actually asked himself at the 2:37:00-ish mark. Ken's question to himself?
If this book is true, and the words in it are true, then what about the rest of the book?
The question Bill should have responded with was "What about all the other books that describe creation and similar stories like the Flood?" Otherwise, the debate itself was as I expected: an effort in futility.

Ken declared that nothing could change his mind. Why? According to his methods of experimentation, no evidence could possibly exist that was collected in an acceptable manner that could disprove the word of God. It seems he has explained himself into a corner that requires first-hand accounts to be true, or it's invalid proof.

The problem I inherently have with the "Young Earth Creationists" is that their entire view of creation is based solely on semantics (as Ken displayed for the entire duration of the debate) and that its basis is on one faith-based self-authority - an authority that, itself, asks you to take it on faith, not fact.

The idea that a proposed answer to a question ("How was the earth created?") has to be accepted by text written by an author, who was given the authority to write the words, but who also writes about how he was given the authority, and all of this must be accepted as true, without evidence, but by faith. This idea is the fundamental flaw in the whole model.

As a Christian in my earlier years, I had no problem reconciling Genesis as a book describing Moses saying "Look, God made all the stuff, bam bam bam...it's not important. What is important is your lineage, people of Israel." To me, that was an acceptable reconciliation of the summarized text of the Bible with the reality of the world. This was especially the case when I would have to randomly field questions about other parts of the Bible and whether they were to be taken "literally or figuratively:" if the author didn't go into detail about it, it is not pertinent to the message the author was trying to convey.

However, when someone discredits the mathematics of plate tectonics because no one was there to see how fast they originally moved, then turns around and takes literally an account of creation that bases their beliefs about the natural world on stories told by a person, who also wasn't there, it calls into question how valid Genesis is as a proof.

Well, to solve this issue, it's traditionally believed that all of the teachings found in the Torah were given to Moses by God, some at Mt. Sinai, and some in the tabernacle. Awesome.

So we have the "believed" direct word of God, given to Moses, and assembled into the first 5 books of the Old Testament. The Old Testament was then taken, along with some other writings (but not all of them) and assembled into The Bible by the First Church of Nicaea, and translated hundreds of times over hundreds of years since the printing press, giving foundation to an alternate view of real world science.

How inaccurate could it possibly be as a scientific document?

Ken's model of trusting what is written in one of hundreds of time-altered religious texts, based solely on the proclamation of belief in Jesus Christ as his savior, is not enough evidence to contradict the evidence he himself could acquire simply by performing the tests and understanding the mathematics, chemistry and physics he is trying to disprove using the lineage story of a middle-eastern family, written thousands of years ago, and translated hundreds of times.

Young Earth Creationists are welcome to believe all the nonsense they want, but teach the nonsense to your kids at home - don't try to get the story told by one religious text put into a classroom and subject young minds to the idea that everything can be explained by simply saying "Because God made it that way."

Religion is a faith-based lifestyle choice, not a fact. If it were a fact, it would not be faith, and would therefore not be religion. This sentence was brought to you by science, a derivative of logic.


Self-Given Authority is Only Valid for Those Who Accept It

I haven't felt the desire or need to write long-form about anything in my personal life in a while, as you can see by the length of time that has passed since my last blog post here. However, I'm tired of being silent about certain things in my life...

One of those things is my religious views. Now, before I continue, if you know me or know my online persona, ask yourself this: "Has he ever done anything that would cause me to think he is a moral-less, evil person that I would not want to associate with?"

If you answered "yes" to that question, why have you allowed yourself to remain associated with me long enough to read this blog post? You should have disassociated yourself from me instantly. Chances are, though, that you answered "no" or "I don't know him well enough."


Now, it shouldn't have to feel like I am announcing some unknown secret to the world, and it shouldn't have to feel like I am risking losing friends to do so, but unfortunately the majority of the audience that this will be directly broadcast to holds strong enough view points that the latter is likely true - and people who I thought were friends will let me know that we never were by their forthcoming actions.

So, with all that in mind, here it is: I no longer subscribe to any religious affiliation.

There, it's out there. Some people have seen it coming, some people already knew it, and some people feared it to be the case. I'm not an atheist, I'm just not associating myself with any religion, any longer.

But where do we go from here?
Well, my real friends will say "so what?" and we will continue our relationship the way it was and is.
But I'm sure there will be a handful or more that think to themselves "omg, he's not a Christian, I can't be around him" (which flies in the face of everything they should have been taught about Jesus in the first place). And there will be some who think "well, ok, that was [un]expected...but it doesn't affect me, so, whatever."

At this point, I would ask the people who thought "omg, he's not a Christian, I can't be around him" to go back to the first question and ask yourself what suddenly changed between the start of this blog post and now...what did I do to you personally that suddenly made you think I am an evil, moral-less person?

Nothing, right?

If that's not the case, however unlikely, let me know why you can't be associated with me in the comments, please, either here or on Facebook. However, if you simply unfriend me, I'll know who did, and come up with my own reasons as to why.

But for anyone else who hasn't decided that I suddenly turned into an evil person, here's some background on my decision. It wan't hastily made, and it has been this way since around 2007.

========== (this will be long, but it should be read before anyone questions my decision) ==========

In the mid-90s, my mother married the man who was now my step-dad.

My step-dad "introduced" us all to what we were told was the type of household described in the bible, because for the first time in our lives we were old enough to comprehend what a husband and wife relationship was, and the dynamics of that relationship between my mom and step-dad...and what that meant for us kids.

Our life was completely oriented around his understanding and interpretation of the bible, and if there was a disagreement about what was said, we were wrong and he was right.

Obviously an environment where no one is allowed to question anything doesn't create a very positive learning or understanding environment...it simply leads to someone else making all the decisions for you, without bothering to, or being allowed to, ask "why?".

It went on like this through high school. We were allowed to go to church, school, work and back home. I attended the adult Sunday School classes because the youth group's classes were pointless and meaningless...I carried a Bible around with my books in High School (because...who knows why)...I tried to bring back the Pledge of Allegiance during the morning announcements (which in retrospect was laughable) and I made certain to only hang around the kids who shared similar views, or at least the ones with the fewest opposing views. However, everything that I did was out of the impression of what my beliefs were, according to my religious figureheads - my parents.

It was that way until I turned 18 and went to college at East Texas Baptist University. For the first time in my life, I had no one to turn to when a decision had to be made, and started making them myself - some successful, some mistakes, and some experimental. I decided what church I felt like I should attend, what friends I wanted to associate with, and started trying to figure out what I wanted in a future wife.

Many of those friends I wanted to associate with are still listed as friends on my Facebook page, and the ones I was closest to during college are the ones that I still talk with today from time to time.

I read my Bible every day either before bed, or when I woke up. I made a point to join various Bible Study groups on campus, like Journey. I met several lovely girls that I got to know and went on dates with any who would agree. I walked to Church on Sundays if I didn't have a ride, and did all my classwork for the week during the weekend before the class was scheduled. That was during the first year.

During the second year, I decided I needed to find even more friends and joined a touring Drama Group that we put together in my circle of friends and we went to the local churches and did performances. I volunteered to become a Resident Assistant to be a mentor and guide to my fellow students. I even created a campus-based social network before that was even a thing to help bring people together and have discussions on topics of common interest.

However, my parents pulled me out of the college half-way through the second year, and things started to get bad between them and I.

Over the course of 3 months, I was told I needed to become the Manager of the local Dairy Queen, but I wasn't allowed to work on Sundays. We changed churches several times during that period because my step-dad disagreed with the pastor on trivial matters. I was told I needed to get into a local technical school and move out of the house. Then I was told I couldn't move out and had to pay rent equivalent rent. We went to the car dealership and I bought a car, then they took the car from me, and made me pay blue book for my mom's old car. Then I was told I needed to sell my computer to pay for the car which I wasn't even allowed to drive. I was told to get my drivers license via the at-home course, and then was told my step-dad would not train me to drive anymore. I was told I needed to start a lawn mowing business, and had to pass flyers out around town. I was told I could not contact any of my college friends, even if they came to town to see me. I could not access the internet or even use the computer. And from 1995 until forever, we were not allowed to contact anyone in our family who was outside of our immediate family.

And finally...March 22nd, 2003, I was told "You have two choices: Join the Army, or move in with your Dad."

I had been kicked out of the family that raised me during my cognitive years, but that wouldn't let me finish college, and wouldn't let me move out, and wouldn't let me get the job I needed to move out. Kicked out of the family that had previously instilled their Christian values in me, but then jerked me around during my formative adult years, right before abandoning me.

I chose to move in with my Dad. I was finally given a choice I was allowed to make, I am glad I made the choice.

March 23, 2003 I arrived on my dad's driveway as they were pulling out to go to CiCi's Pizza for dinner, with a trash bag of clothes (and other items I smuggled into those bags of clothes), hoping they would receive me, after my step-dad had told us kids all kinds of bad things about my dad and his side of the family for YEARS.

I tried to pick up where I had left off in college. I read my bible every day, and went to church even if my dad and step mom weren't going to go. I tried to find new Christian friends to hang around. I tried to figure out what I wanted in my future wife. But also I had to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Some of those new Christian friends are listed as friends on Facebook today. They are friends from when I went to a church in Arlington that I had previously attended before my step-dad suddenly moved us to a country town after my freshman year of high school. I still talk with some of them from time to time when I have something relevant to say.

However, living with my dad was completely different from living with my step-dad. My dad wasn't there to make my decisions for me - he was there to let me make my own decisions and mistakes, and provide advice if I asked for it. Instead of having the safety net of over-protection keeping me from doing stupid stuff, I only had the understanding of the mistakes my parents made as they were growing up and going through the same stuff I would go through.

Don't get a girl pregnant until you're financially capable of supporting a family. Check.
Don't go bankrupt because you let your spending get out of control. Close-call, but check.
Don't gain weight because you get a desk job at 23. Well, I messed that one up.
Don't marry someone too soon, and have to go through all the pain a divorce causes for all the families involved. So far, so good.

Around 2005, I started getting less and less out of my church attendance, and eventually moved out, at a distance where "going through the motions" wasn't as cost effective as simply not going. Instead, I decided if I wasn't going to learn anything applicable at church, I would learn something intellectually applicable, and spent my time watching the Science Channel and the History Channel.

I was still running my "campus based social network" but at this point, it was no longer for the campus, it was global, with people from all points of view, and from a dozen different countries, and nearly every state in the US.

Most of those people who were from my social network, The-Spot.Net, are still listed as friends on Facebook, and I talk with as many of them as I can when there is something to comment on.

Those people introduced a closed-minded religious boy to the fact that the world is bigger than the Southern Baptist denomination...that there are other ways of looking at things that have logical and demonstrable explanations than simply attributing everything to an invisible man in the sky. However, not everyone on the site could grasp the concept of a multifaceted debate, and those people on that site also taught me how to listen to and talk about subjects that are touchy in the least, and often severely controversial.

It wasn't until 2008 when I realized that all the points of view I held growing up, that were instilled in me by my mom and step-dad, were really points of view that were designed to manipulate me into doing what they said without question. It was around this time that my mom found me online, and sent me an email. It was also around this time that I had read the bible through-and-through twice, once in order, and once out of sequence, and read through Proverbs at least 4 times.

In the back-and-forth emails that only lasted about 2 volleys, I questioned why she believed what she did, and the best she could come up with was "because the Bible says so."

For someone who took 5 sciences and 5 maths in only 4 years of high school, who taught himself trigonometry while the rest of the class was learning to recognize patterns, who wrote an operating system for a calculator as a Senior using math and simple logic during Pre-Calculus class because he took it as a sophomore...simply saying "because the Bible says so" is not a valid reason.

The Bible is essentially an anthology of the lineage stories oriented around the people of Israel from "Adam" to Daniel to Jesus. Once Jesus comes onto the scene, the Bible becomes a series of letters from the followers of Jesus to the various churches of the region who are trying to get started in this new religion. However, there are several books of the era that the First Council of Nicaea decided were not worthy of being included in the anthology titled "Holy Bible" and were tossed into the Apocrypha, which is discarded by many protestant religions today.

If you take into account all the stuff in the old testament and the apocrypha, spread it out on a timeline, and start looking at it as a historical account of what happened to the people of Israel, it would make sense that if the events really did happen, then there would be similar corroborating stories from other literary works of the same era that should describe similar events. And it turns out, there are.

Many old religions have a Global Flood event. All of them have a creation myth. Nearly all of them talk about their creators coming from and returning to the sky/heavens/stars. Many of them have instances where various key people are visited (or people who would become key people after the visit) by people from the sky/heavens/stars.

These stories line up and bring validity to the Bible and the Old Testament as a generally (on the large scale of "these events happened, some scenes have been dramatized") valid historical document.

BUT, if the other texts make the Bible valid, then in turn, the Bible makes the other texts valid as well. If that's the case, what's to be said for the other texts...especially texts from the other side of the world?...or texts that are the basis of other religions? What makes the Bible any more "right" than the other corroborating texts?

It was this question that I posed to my mother, to which she responded along the lines of "the Bible says Jesus is the one-true way to heaven." Well, of course it does, and he is...it's his story, and his heaven. But the other books say the same thing about their key protagonist in varying degrees of similarity.

At this point, she started to shut down, unable to defend the things she taught me to believe because she was never allowed, or never chose to, question why she was being told to believe something. It was either decided for her, or she decided herself to remain in the dark about competing religions.

And once more, for various reasons I can't even recall, after various guilt trips, insults and comments, I was told "well, you can write to me again once you are no longer like your father" essentially kicking me out of her life once more - and to me, it was for the final time.

It helped push a personal quest I had already begun, which was to figure out for myself who or what God actually was/is.

There are dozens or hundreds of creation stories on the planet, throughout hundreds of thousands of years of history and prehistory...Yet many people are raised to believe that all of them were conjured out of thin air, with only 1 being accurate to a T?

After 5 years of studying and learning and researching, I've reached two possible solutions that, to me, are far more plausible than an invisible man in the sky:

Either 1.) This human civilization has thrived and destroyed itself at least once before, in the distant past, to the point where all we have left are stone carvings and monuments built from lost technology that cause us to ask today "how did they even conceive of doing this" (i.e. the great pyramids, Stonehenge, Mayan temples, Nazca lines, etc.). And if that's the case, two things come to mind: a.) we'll never know where we came from because that information is lost...and b.) why did the past civilization, who managed to destroy itself, choose to build things out of stone, instead of the materials we have chosen today like steel and other metals?

Or the explanation that fits more logically with all the existing evidence 2.) The creation myths and stories of a person or persons coming from the sky/heavens/stars are actually true, but contain descriptions of misunderstood technology using their best-available descriptions, and we were created in their image, through genetic alterations of existing primate species on this planet. This exact scenario is described in the ancient Sumerian cuneiform tablets, which detail a creation story nearly identical to that written in the bible and other middle-eastern cultures, but takes place about 100,000 years before the bible's dates and has information describing the time before Genesis 1:26. And if this explanation is not true, why do several of the existing stone monuments mirror the Pleiades constellation, and Orion's Belt? What's so special about them, and how did all the civilizations of the world identify those particular constellations as ones of importance? Why and How could our ancestors have had the mathematical capabilities to build such precise observatories to monitor and watch the movements of the stars and planets? Why would they care? How could they care, as cavemen and low-tech cultures? And if you don't believe that a religion can arise out of a misunderstanding of technology, just look to the South Pacific's Cargo Cults: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult

I still don't know who the "God" character really is, but what I do know is that religion is not for me. Religion is taking something at someone else's word without questioning the source - in other words, faith. It's not that I require proof, but rather that I cannot attribute something that has an explanation to something that doesn't.

Defending one religion, whose book is the only authority on itself, telling people what is right and wrong without any supporting materials, and with the explicit instruction to not add to or remove from its contents? Such a religion is no longer for me. And no longer can I, in good conscience, tell someone else that what they are doing will send them to a place that is only described by the same book that says what they are doing is wrong. However, by the same token, I also will not try to convince someone else to abandon their religion and take my suggestions instead.

Religion is either accepted or rejected by the individual when the individual reaches a point in their life where the results they are seeing are attributed to an identifiable cause...whether the cause is an logical explanation or a supernatural force. I have chosen logical explanations.


May 21, 2011 & Oct 21, 2011 - a load of crap

I saw a billboard advertising that Judgement Day was coming on May 21, 2011. I thought it was an ad for a movie release called Judgement Day. Apparently it's not - apparently people are taking it seriously, with a bunch of hand-plucked Bible verses and haphazardly interpreted scriptures to support some numerological "clues" they claim to have found in the Bible.

I'm here to tell you, and prove to you, it's a bunch of bullshit - using the Bible as my source. Here's the gist of the story:

  • The Bible left us clues about the passage of time for God vs that of Man.
  • The genealogy from Genesis "can be shown to be a precise calendar of the history of mankind in this world."
  • The Flood happened in 4990 BCE.
  • God gave Noah 7 days to get into the boat.
  • In 2 Peter 3, a Day to God is equivalent to 1000 years, and 1000 years is a Day.
  • Doing the math, 1000 x 7 days = 7000 years to accept Christ. 7000 years after the flood 4990 BCE (removing year 0, as none exists, results in 2011 CE.
  • Noah was shut into the boat in the 2nd Month & 17th day of 4990 BCE.
  • Somehow, the tract goes on to talk about how the 17th day of the 2nd month coincides with May 22 as the Day of Pentecost from 33 CE, and jumping 1955 years into the future, the church age came to its conclusion on May 21st 1988 (13000 years after the incorrectly calculated Creation date from Genesis: 11,013 BCE)
  • Then you have a 23 year tribulation period or 8400 days from Pentecost of 1988 to cover the "awful period of judgment upon the churches" supposedly found in Matthew 24:21. 23 Years from 1988 coincides with May 21, 2011.
  • Throw in 1 Seal from Revelation that names a time span, say 5 months, from Revelation 9, and then you have a period of 5 months before the End of the World on October 21, 2011.
Now, if you have any common sense (and I know it's hard to come by these days for a lot of people), this should not add up.

I'm not even going to go into the issue with Young Earth Creationists who think the earth has only been around for 6,000 to 10,000 years, and that nothing could have possibly existed longer than the spoken word.

First of all, the Flood is not an allegory or allusion to the end of the world. Second, you can't pluck 1-3 verses, or a handful of verses that aren't even consecutive, and use them to build a case. I know this is a popular "Thing" for pastors to do in their sermons...but it's dumb, wrong, and inaccurate.

If you read the article, as I did [for sheer morbid curiosity] then you'll see that nearly every verse is taken out of context. If you take Genesis 7:4
4 "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made."
you'll see mention to "seven more days." The tract conveniently uses this as their foundation for spanning from Noah to Judgement Day. But what about the 40 days, or 40,000 years of rain? That extends well beyond the current age of the Earth according to their timeline.

Then, pull in Peter from the New Testament, but be sure to take the 3 verses out of context, just before the key 4th verse starts:
6 ...through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
This seems like a valid explanation of conversion of time when talking about supreme beings in relation to mortals. But it's not. If you had kept reading the verses, you would find that verse 9 has the context for those words:
9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
It is a figurative comparison, simply saying "Hey, the guy who's been around since the beginning of time, and will be around for the rest of time, is not concerned about your petty 24-hour periods of humanly devised timekeeping. Oh, by the way, he's sovereign, and cares about you. That's why he's waiting: for your dumb ass to have a chance."

That pretty much destroys the foundation of the argument right there...but let's keep going.

Judgement Day - May 21,2011: wtf?

So, we've got Creation marked as 11,013 BCE. Throw 7000 years on it for the 7 days Noah has to get into the boat...that puts us as 2011. In parallel, The Church Age began on Pentecost (May 22) of 33 CE, the year Jesus died.

Somehow, Matthew 24:21 is supposed to signify that (according to the tract) "the end of the Church Age would occur simultaneously with the beginning of the great tribulation":
21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
Except that it doesn't:
15 "Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
17 "Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.
18 "Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.
19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.
21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ,' or 'There He is,' do not believe him.
24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
25 "Behold, I have told you in advance.
26 "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.
27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
See what happens when you pluck one verse out of a speech? Unless you go back and read the entire context in which it is used, you can use it to support anything. The use of Matt 24:21 doesn't even make approximate sense for supporting the end of one age coinciding with the beginning of another. It says if you see the "Abomination [of /that causes] Desolation" in the temple/holy place, THEN you will be on the eve of a great tribulation as a result of what that Abomination will impose on you. You know...like Rome did just before Nero put the people of Israel through utter hell until Constantine made a political move to make Christianity the official religion of Rome, but also allowing anyone to practice whatever religion they choose?

I'm still not sure where the 1988 references comes from, unless it is simply because this guy, Harold Camping, who is promoting this crap, left his last church that year.

But still, let's say 1988 was the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the Tribulation. For 23 years? Apparently that's related to the reign of Josiah through Zedekiah, from 609-586 BCE, when it was conquered by the Babylonian Empire under Nebuzar-adan, captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard. It's quite an interpretive stretch of the imagination to pluck that one period out of history - especially when King David started his reign of Judah/Israel 400 years before that, bringing the timeline of the "reign of Israel" to 423 years.

But let's move on...So we have managed to convince ourselves that 5/22/88 was the end of the Church Age, and that coincidentally coincides with the start of the Great Tribulation, which will obviously take 23 years, because that's how long the last 5 kings reigned in Judah. That puts us at May 21, 2011 where *BAM* the rapture happens, because just as the 17th day of the 2nd month God shut the door to the ark in Noah's time (cutting off any chance of salvation from the flood), so is the 17th day of the 2nd month in 2011 (5/22/11) the day God will shut the door of salvation from hell, and anyone who didn't accept Christ will perish. Jim, let's go to the map, er verses...
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
OK, that verse is what it is. In Thessalonians, Paul was comforting the folks over at Thessalonica about what happens to their dead Christians. According to the tract, only True Believers will be caught up, leaving the rest of Mankind (billions of people) left behind to experience the awful judgment of God - a horrible period of 5 months of torment upon earth. Where do we find this in the bible? Why Revelation 9:3-5 of course:
3 Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4 They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
5 And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.
*BAM!* Except there's one more thing. This is the 5th Seal. FIFTH! This is not the last thing that happens before the End of the World. It's not even the account of Judgement Day. It's it 1/21th of a series of events (#19 of 21, Rev 9:1-12) leading up to Armageddon with Jesus' Return to Earth as a warrior (#21 of 21, Rev 11:15-19).

So in reality, if May 22, 2011 is the trigger date, then the world should be prepared for a giant ass swarm of locusts that have stingers like scorpions, to bother (but not kill) you until October 21, 2011.

Wow. What a bastardization of an already misinterpreted book of ancient literature. I guess Harold Camping can join Terry Jones & others among the misinformed and misguiding religious authorities in the on-going discussion of "What went wrong" when they get to Hell.


Autumn: A Season of Change


I caught a show on Cartoon Network that I used to love as a kid. It was one of the first all-CGI, 3D cartoons to be a series on TV, called Reboot! From what I can remember it was about a civilization that lived inside a mainframe, and when ever the user wanted to play a game, it would crash down on the city in a huge purple block, and who ever was trapped inside it had to become a player in it. There was also an Antagonist who's sole purpose was to shut down the "mainframe" and if things got too hairy, the protagonists would simply call for a Reboot - but only if necessary, because everything would get destroyed.

Looking back on it, it sounds like the entities in the game were just bits of RAM trying to live their life uncorrupted without having to reboot the system - since that causes all the RAM to reset. But I was a kid back then, and I didn't know anything about computers. I just saw it as a flippin' sweet cartoon. But watching it now on TV doesn't hold the same excitement as it did 15 years ago.

In fact, many things that I once loved I can't get into any more...even things that are fairly recent. I guess it's just that time of year again, just as a Freshman English paper I wrote was titled - "Autumn: A Season of Change."

With the wedding being less than 365 days away now, most of the big things are taken care of. We have picked out the date, the venue, the time, most of the guests, the caterer, the colors, the concept, the honeymoon, and most of the people in the wedding. All that's left are the flowers, the clothing purchases, the ring purchases, and all the parties/get-togethers in between.

Yet, people on the outside don't get to see all of that which is already in place, they just want to ask questions about the frilly stuff...which is all the stuff we haven't picked out yet. The reason we haven't picked it out is because it doesn't matter if we don't have an infrastructure in place for the wedding first.

Going through all of this planning, with the understanding and realization that there is a pretty good chance we're going to have to pay for it all ourselves, puts many things into perspective. It requires a change in how we live our current lives, what we spend our time doing, and making sure that things get taken care of (especially on my part) so that we have an uncharacteristically smooth wedding day, and first couple months.

All the sudden, playing World of Warcraft is much less important in our lives. However, its time allotment has been filled by Sims 3. The game is cheaper (since I didn't pay for it) and it helps put things into perspective. It shows you just how much you focus on your character versus the other characters in the house - especially if the other character is designed as closely as possible to your future spouse.

Both times that I have spent a significant time playing the game, I have found that once my child character has lived to reach her true potential, I am no longer concerned about my character and am ok with it dying. It was strange the first time I played it, because it felt like a piece of me was dying - but I was ok with it since I knew that my kids would live on to be successful.

I guess that is the kind of experience that actual parents have in some form or fashion when they realize that they aren't the 20-somethings their mind's eye thinks they are - but are actually 40-50-60-somethings who are biding their time, enjoying the rest of their life, knowing that their kids were raised right, and will be just fine when their time is up.

Something else I can't seem to get that into this season is sports. With the Official NHL Team taking over the Dallas Stars twitter account, and posting updates manually (as well as Twitter changing their authentication methods, breaking my simple bit of code I was using), I don't really have much reason to keep up with the Stars as often as I used to. I'm sure that comes as a disappointment to the couple thousand people who follow The Dallas Stars and Dallas Stars Live, hoping for live updates during the games...but it's just not there for me. I think 3 years is a pretty good run, and enough time for the actual team's marketing department to pick it up.

I was very hopeful for the Cowboys this season as well, but after going 1-7 in the first 8 games, that quickly went out the window, until their most recent game put them at 2-7. I was glad to see that Wade Phillips was fired - it sucks for him, but he wasn't able to cut it with the Cowboys. Perhaps Jason Garrett can pull them out of this ditch and get them to round 2 of the playoffs next season.

I'm also finding it hard to get back into photography. I picked up the FlipVideo camera, and that goes with me nearly everywhere these days. However I record very little with it - and mainly intend to use it for important events related to the wedding and family firsts. When it comes to photography though, I am forced to rely on the technical shots instead of the artsy ones - I just don't feel the art in me any more. Maybe it's because I've all but lost my Muse, or perhaps I have just been out of it too long, I lost my touch.

Whatever the reason, stuff is changing for me, only this time it's different from the others. I guess it was like when I moved to Plano back in 2008, and I wanted to cut ties with just about everything that tied me to Fort Worth. I didn't do anything the same as I did back at my old apartment - I wanted to feel completely new. Perhaps I'm getting to that point now, with this marriage on the way, and plans to move into a Rental Home somewhere in Plano the month after.

It's nice to have a season of change every once in a while; I just wish it would progress a little faster sometimes.


A fairy tale beginning...

A little more than a year ago, I posted about my "new girlfriend" and how everything came to be in the process of meeting from match.com, and meeting all my friends, going to Quakecon, and then making it official.

During the past 14 months, 10 of which were spent living together, everything has gone pretty smooth. I've been able to adjust to having someone else around the house with me - which has been aided with her busy schedule, giving us each some alone time during the day, but also some time together. I think it has reached a good balance.

We have our share of tickle wars and face-noms (think: goldfish lips on your cheek, with each "nom" counting as a fictitious +1 point.) games while laying together on the beanbag. Things have been about as easy-going as I suppose they should be.

I am pretty sure that there is no one else who could fit my personality better than her, except myself. We provide a good balance for things we see differently, and share enough common quirks that it keeps things fun.

So this past August, I started looking at engagement rings trying to match what she was interested in (and not interested in)...I wanted something red, without much diamonds, and uniquely her. My original thought was to find the reddest pearl I could get, but after a search online, most of them were a light pink, and difficult to find. So I turned to the gemstone variety. But the ring I wanted was out of stock until October. So I had to wait.

Jenna's Engagement RingMeanwhile she kept dropping hints including the phrase "I have to marry you." If that's not a big enough hint for a guy at a positive answer, that guy doesn't need to be in a relationship. October came, and I had enough money saved up, so I bought the ring...a 10k Gold Garnet ring with very few diamonds on it.

When I ordered it, it was scheduled to arrive the following Monday - so I ordered a couple other things so that I'd get a barrage of packages, hoping to conceal its arrival amongst all the others. I bought a customized FlipVideo ultraHD digital recorder (to record everything from the Engagement, to the Wedding, to our kids first what-evers...since I've never owned an actual video recorder), and (what turned out to be a dud) a VGA-to-RCA/S-Video adapter to connect my laptop to the tv in the bedroom.

Unfortunately, the video recorder arrived while she wasn't at home, but the ring and adapter arrived when she was...and the ring came that Friday instead of the following Monday. Since she intercepted the package, I had to go find things that would look like I could have ordered them, but didn't want her to see. Fortunately, that Friday was also the company cookout at work, and I needed to go to the store to pick up some food to bring for the lunch. I grabbed some bags of chips, and happened to see Iron Man 2 on DVD while checking out - perfect! She loves Iron Man, and Robert Downey Jr. even more.

Once I had that part of the package, I had to find something that could have represented the bulge in the envelope where the ring box was, since she got to touch it. It was off to Toys R' Us to find an Iron Man action figure that could have fit inside the envelope. It turned out that the Toy's R' Us shut down where I live, and was converted into a Halloween City. Lame. So it was off to the Target right across the street in hopes that they too would have some toys. And they did...

While I was about to leave, I decided to stop by the Video Game section to see if they had Boom Blox for Wii, since I'd been wanting to pick that up for a couple months now...and I needed a reason to have a Target Bag in my possession...and as luck would have it, they did! So then it was off to her work to tell her that I finally got the video game we have been looking for, and that I had "some surprises at home for you. You'll have to wait and see what they are when you get home. I'm not going to tell you what is in the envelope."

[After everything went down, she said she remembered the name on the envelope from the ring website. So she didn't really buy into the notion that I ordered anything Iron Man in the mail. Oh well...my fault for not having the ring sent to my work instead of home.]

When she got home that night we watched Iron Man 2 and she opened her toy, and everything went as planned.

After about a week of sitting on the ring, I couldn't think of any special events going on in the coming days, to actually base the proposal on. I did find out via one of my friend's blogs that he was also working on his "big news" for next month - so I had to get mine taken care of now (in time for it to wear off for his) or push it back till December. But sitting on a perfectly good ring for another 2 months, when she could be wearing it didn't make any sense to me.

She mentioned that she had Saturday night off since she only worked during the day - so I figured we could go to Downtown Fort Worth, to Sundance Square and have some Uno's Pizza, and then I'd go to a little gazebo area between a couple restaurants, and if it was secluded enough, I could propose there. Then afterward, we could hit up the Theater, and watch RED.

The Plan for notifying everyone was to check in at Uno's Pizza with "pizza with the gf @ Uno's Pizza", and then to check in at the theater with "going to see RED with the Fiance @ AMC-9" and let people gleam the excitement from just those two posts until I could update my status on the computer.

It didn't quite work out like I wanted, because my phone couldn't get GPS coordinates inside the pizza building. While we were eating though, we did shoot a video for her sister to show just how deliciously messy the Pizzaria Uno's Chicago Classic pizza is...

Then we headed off to find the gazebo since we still had another 2 HOURS before the movie started. The gazebo was full of people eating from all 3 restaurants, so that wasn't going to work - and I was at a loss. Things just weren't coming together quite right. On the way to the car to drop off the pizza left overs and pick up her sweater, we happened to see a Cinderella Carriage pulling some folks down the street, and she commented "that would be fun to do if you had to ask me, say, an important question *wink wink*" which I laughed off and commented that I've never been on one before, but since we have 2 hours, we could check it out.

I flagged the driver down and found out where they were loading, and then we headed over there to find out how much it cost and played with the video camera a little bit. The guy that was handling the transactions was also taking pictures for people with their cell phones, and I took a couple shots to make sure my phone would produce a decent picture.

Jenna had a couple sips of some Sangria at Uno's and I had some Raspberry Colada. alcohol doesn't affect me at all, but for her, just one drink will do it...and she started getting goofy while we were waiting for the carriage to return...

I don't remember what started the "in the butt" phrase for that video, and I wasn't intending on recording anything she said - I was actually testing out the night-capabilities of the FlipVideo ultraHD and she just started talking.

The carriage arrived, the guy took an unflattering picture that included my unflattering belly, and then we were off. During the first part of the ride (when the camera was on) I found it difficult to not look at the camera to see if it was pointing correctly...but I also looked nervous because it was a 10 minute ride, and I had to find a time to sneak the ring box (which had a lot of purple frilly wrapping and a tassel rope) out of my cargo pocket, while she wasn't looking. Fortunately, we passed by the Reata and the roof-top plant sculptures caught here attention. So I pulled out the box, and after a few seconds she finally noticed it on my lap by our hands...

And the rest is history. We finished the ride, then went to hang out at the Barnes & Noble/Starbucks where I finally updated all 3 check-in's at once, and about an hour later we saw the first movie of our Engaged lives.

I didn't think any girl would actually want to have a Cinderella Carriage ride - I figured that was too cheesy. But she said it was perfect, and even though she knew I had ordered a ring, she was still surprised that it was happening.


I Write Like Results

After submitting my three most recent blog posts to the I Write Like text analyzer, I apparently have different writing style for each post - these three I can definitely see as being the ones I write like:


Faith like *whose* child...?

If you're new to this blog, this post will probably hurt your head as it will pose an idea you may not be familiar with. You've been warned.

Ever since adopting my most recent perspective on life, everything has just made more sense than it ever did before. I no longer have to struggle with the same things I used to deal with when trying to solve life's issues. Things have just become easier to accept and understand now that the complexly abstract (and rather unfounded) anomalies have been removed from the equation.

Unfortunately the same zeal I used to have for convincing people to believe has been hard to subside when it comes to convincing people to question what is going on around them. It's also a little difficult to see people putting complete trust into something that doesn't intellectually make sense (i.e. prayer).

To read that someone has made an attempt at something, and is now awaiting the outcome while fastidiously praying and asking others to pray seems like more of a reliance on Luck than a request for a "divine intervention." They would actually have a better chance of getting their outcome if they do something to work towards the outcome they desire. This reliance on prayer gives me a visual of sitting in a windowless room, alone, rehearsing pleas in their mind - essentially thinking "please let this happen, please let this happen, please let this happen." It's the same chant we did as kids, fingers-crossed, and eyes tightly shut after we ask our parents to take us to the arcade pizza parlor, Chuck E. Cheese. The only difference between then and now, is that if it doesn't happen, we chalk it up to "oh it just wasn't God's Will" whereas a child will ask "Why not?"

Doesn't the Bible talk about seeing the world through the eyes of a child? That only one who has faith like a child will get to Heaven (Matt 18:2-6)? Surely this doesn't mean someone that "believes blindly." If you're around any child who can form a complete sentence with a cognitive thought behind it, there is no such thing as blindly believing. The path of questions quickly goes from the simple to the completely abstract and existential...all with the simple, one-word question: "Why?"

So, what if "Faith Like a Child" meant putting in the time, effort, and questions to find the real answers to problems...answers that dive to the nth degree of the problem? What if there is a nugget of truth to some of the Far Eastern religions related to reaching "Enlightenment" by obtaining a more complete understanding of the world they live in? What if the end result of those questions is coming to the conclusion that you are what you are, and the world is what it is, and that in the end the circle of life just goes on and on...that the only thing you have control over is how you live your life, and nothing else. What if Heaven and Happiness is finally letting go of everything except that which you're responsible for, so that when your life is over, you have reached the realization that this is inevitable, and you've done all you can with what you can - and are able to go in peace?

I don't know the precise answer to these questions, nor do I know if anyone else actually does. I do know one thing though, and that is the less I have worried about how other people act, and the more I try to understand my own personality and thought processes, the less stress my life has and the faster my time flies by.

For me, prayer was never a big part of my life. There were phases during which I would go through the motions (before meals, at church, prior to reading my Bible), but never would I find myself praying for help, or things, or anything else that I could take personal responsibility in achieving myself. I also never asked others to pray for anything related to me, as prayer requests (especially requests made by proxy for third-parties) seemed more like gossip than a plea for help. And even those that were pleas for help were only prayed for in the capacity of "Lord, you've heard all these things mentioned here today...." Really? Then why even bother bringing them up?

We were taught in Church to turn everything over to God through prayer, but that always seemed burdensome and weak to me - especially when it was taken to the extreme during prayer requests for the stupidest stuff. "No, I'm sorry, I will not pray for your family member to change his mind about something...I will not ask God to override his free-will to meet your whims and limited understanding of how this experience is going to redirect his life's path."

The only benefit I can see from prayer is to turn over something that is ailing your mind and causing you to worry and stress. It's the same benefit that Forgiveness brings, except the issue is internal, and not against somebody else. Sometimes people need an outlet to vent their stress and talk it over. Mine is a blog, for others it's a friend, and for still others it could be prayer.

My concern is not that people pray, but that they let it become the sole decision making engine in their life. It would be akin to me posting a question on my blog with an expectation of an answer or request for an item at the end...and then I sit back and wait for comments or for someone to send me the requested item. And if I don't get them, I assume the answer is "No"...

...when in reality no one read the post at all.


How I see it (part 4)

This is the last segment of this series.
So why is it that some people have to tout these stories as absolutely true, instead of a possible 40-chapter parable? And who told them these stories were true to begin with? And what basis did that person give for them being true?
The main issue that I have with people who want to pronounce things as absolute truth is that they are doing so using the material in question as the authority of it's validity.

People say the Bible is true because God wrote it through man. How do we know that? Because in the Bible, it is written that these words were inspired by God, and thus are true.

That's circular logic, and being a programmer I cannot accept that.

Then there is the chronology of Jesus. Now, I'm not so bold as to claim that no one ever existed named Jesus - I am inclined to believe that the stories about his life were embellished over time. Consider the "man to legend" of common-day individuals: all the Chuck Norris jokes, the stories surrounding those who fought in the Alamo, or those that lived in the American Frontier. Those people haven't been around nearly as long as Jesus' legacy has, yet they are already attributed fantastic feats.

If one portion of the Bible is to be taken figuratively because "that was the writing style of the time," then it would follow that all books in either Testament of the Bible were meant to be taken as figuratively or literally as any of their adjacent books, because they were all written around the same time.

In conjunction with that, is the fact that written records were few and far between. And the finding of the dead-sea scrolls merely indicates that there was a point in which the stories were written down - but up until that point, they were passed down generation to generation by those charged with maintaining the historical folklore.

Then there are the many religions across the world that share the same stories. My reaction to this is that it was because up until Issac and Ishmael, the Middle East followed the same teachings in the Old Testament. After that point, it split. My concern comes up with the similar stories told in different ways, for example the two stories of the Flood of Noah.

Both Flood stories in the Bible vs Koran are similar, except the Koran shows that the flood only covered the known world. The Bible indicates that it covered the *entire* world. Same event, two different tellings - each with different implications.

If the flood covered the whole world, where did the water go? We'd be crushed by the atmospheric pressure if it is all in the sky. If it did not cover the whole world, what else didn't actually happen as described in the bible?

These exaggerated stories make for good examples of the Power of God, but they don't lend credibility to the book they're in when it says one thing happened as described in infallible text, when something else actually happened.

And if it's meant to be a hyperbole to describe some kind of life lesson, then one cannot take that explanation for one story and but revert to a literal translation in other areas where it fits better.

I guess my main concern with all of this is whether or not I want to choose to give up my life - the only one I have - to follow the instructions of one of many religions, with expectations of a reward after death. That's where the Faith part of it all comes into play - whether you choose to believe and have faith that the things you've read in the Bible are true, and will actually take place.

If that were the case, and there weren't so many exaggerations in the stories of the Bible that people get upset about when you counter them with reality, then I probably wouldn't have an issue believing it.

My second concern though, is whether or not I will get to enjoy the "afterlife" period or if my behavior on earth is merely for the reward my soul will get, and I'll have no participatory privileges when the time comes to transition from the physical to spiritual realm.

If I am not going to be aware of the reward or punishment my soul must endure (just as I was not aware of any spiritual existence before birth), then I don't care if it goes to heaven or goes to hell. If I do get to participate in the resulting consequence of my life on earth, then obviously I am strongly inclined to do what it takes to make sure I am on the right side of the pearly gates.

Either way - heaven or not - Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
If the gate to heaven is narrow, and only a few will find it, then how crappy it would be to find out you wasted your life on earth avoiding things, and doing other things that you might not have otherwise done, only to find out when you died that you didn't make it on the guest list to heaven? Why do Christians think they are automatically going to heaven when it's clear that only a few will make it?

I think this is one of the more overlooked passages related to Christian lifestyle and the promise of eternal life. Live a good life, live like Jesus, and follow the rules, and *maybe* you'll get into heaven.

I'm not going to deny the existence of Jesus Christ, or the possibility of God, but I think from this point onward, I'm going to live my life as I see fit, and make adjustments where necessary from a logical/physical standpoint. I just don't see it anymore, when it comes to the spiritual realm and things of the supernatural. There is too much reality getting in the way of faith.

As Lewis Black said "I would love to have the faith to believe that the world was created in seven days... but I have thoughts... and that can really f@#$ up the faith thing...."


How I see it (part 3)

[[This is a blog series - if something doesn't make sense, wait until the series is finished]]
And as such, I have often tried to explain these kinds of things to people who attribute them so, and encounter a closed mind (of which I have been a victim during my religious hay-day), and an unwillingness to even consider there may actually be a physical explanation for things.
It wasn't until I lost my job for the first time, not of my own volition (fired) back in 2006 that I realized what some people tended to do with religion. I was sitting at home, having talked to some people, and found that there were those out there that advised I "pray for God to provide me a job." Pray for a job? Like, ask God to up and give me one? Where's the personal responsibility in that? I've heard it said before that "God is not a cosmic bellhop."

That being the case, there had to be some participation on my part to make this effort come to fruition: getting my resume out there. The odds of me landing a job, simply sitting on my couch praying day and night were extremely slim. Someone would have to do the leg work - whether it was me actively looking, or someone who knew me and my situation actively looking. It wasn't just going to fall into my lap through prayer.

Several other times throughout the past couple years, I've heard similar statements: "It's in God's hands." Or "It wasn't God's Will." And even something along the lines of "You're not asking for the right things."

It wasn't until just recently that I had heard similar after-the-fact statements in a religious discussion on my website, www.the-spot.net, dealing with Job and how God let Satan do whatever he wanted to him, that things became clear. That clarity was how convenient it is to say that something is the cause, after the fact, when really there is a direct cause before it.

If someone dies of cancer, there are 2 ways of looking at it:
1.) They couldn't beat it, and the disease destroyed their body.
2.) God called them home.

But what if they weren't a Christian? Did God call them home? Or did he decide it was time for them to go to Hell, so he pulled the plug. People seem to overlook that part of the scenario when they're at a funeral of someone they know never went to church, and didn't believe in God - they simply look at the crying family members' faces and lie to them about their relative "being in a better place." A lake of fire is a better place than what? Here on earth?

Consider Job from the Bible. Per the discussion on my website, started by others, not me, God let Satan mess with Job - took his job, his possessions, his wife, his family...everything Job had. Then in the end Job got everything back (different, but restored). And throughout it, Job didn't lose his faith.

The commonly voiced theme of the story says God knew Job would be faithful, and he let Satan do all that stuff because God is omniscient and knew Job wouldn't stray. If that's true, there is no Free Will. If it's not true, God isn't omniscient. If it's both true and false simultaneously - then either God knows all possible outcomes to any possible decision branch to infinity - or the story was written after-the-fact in order to prove a particular characteristic of a supreme being that the Bible is in the process of defining to the reader.

I provided the example on my website that back in July of 2008, I knew Obama would become president (for various observances of the national psyche). I also knew that the Health Care Bill would pass, for those same reasons. I could have easily said that I knew the future of both instances, and thus didn't need to vote for Obama, or need to write for encouragement of the Health Care Bill. On the other hand, if they had failed, they would not have shown up as examples in this discussion.

The same goes for various books of the Bible that are often used to pronounce something as definitively true. Saying that I know the future by telling this story is only knocked off its metaphoric-parallel to the book of Job and God by the fact that I am not a supreme being. Writing the story of Job after the fact, and attributing its outcome to God is the same thing as one of my friends writing a blog post about how I predicted the future president and the passing of legislative bills. Creating evidence to prove a case...aka circumstantial evidence.

Unfortunately, extrapolating this throughout the bible brings into question what other stories are circumstantial and written with the purpose of describing God, but after the fact. Nearly every book (if not all of them) in the Bible is written years, decades, sometimes hundreds of years after the fact. Some of them (like Job) are purely about a single person, with a major life lesson in them (and possible other smaller bits one could extract for themselves). In other literature, those life-lesson stories are called "fables." Jesus called them "parables."

So why is it that some people have to tout these stories as absolutely true, instead of a possible 40-chapter parable? And who told them these stories were true to begin with? And what basis did that person give for them being true?

[[Part 4 coming soon...]]

How I see it (part 2)

[[This is a blog series - if something doesn't make sense, wait until the series is finished]]
Consider this: all the time the earth has existed before you were born, you have no recollection of. That is BILLIONS of years of things existing prior to your cognitive recognition that anything could exist.
Now consider this: our life span is merely 120 years tops...often less - far less.
Finally consider this: when you die, without religion in the picture, there is no more cognitive recognition of existence. There is no realization that you are dead...there is no realization that you were ever even alive. There is no realization period - everything in the world will go on without you, and you will not be the wiser. People will continue to be born, and die, and you will have spent your one blip of life doing things that were supposed to make you happy.
What a bleak picture that paints. Rationally thinking, though, it begs the questions - what if religion was put into place to help people cope with such a bleak result to life? What if people knew this was what happened, but in order to console others they conjured up a place of happiness and joy to give people something to look forward to when they died?

This happens to be the premise of a movie called "The Invention of Lying" but there was a time before that movie was even released that I was contemplating such a possibility.

Consider all the rules in the Old Testament that the people and priests had to follow. The long list of things that were unclean to eat (pigs, aquatic animals with out the combination of fins *and* scales, buzzards, rabbits, hawks, camels, etc) usually were carriers of disease or created health concerns. Sleeping with relatives and being gay produced genetic disorders and/or transmitted diseases. Disobeying elders, or authorities, created chaos for a civilization. Worshiping other gods and introducing other religions into the society undermined those which were put into place to maintain order and consistency.

If read from a worldly point of view, it appears that the rules of the Old Testament were to get people into some kind of civilized fashion after having just come out of an environment of slavery and thrust into complete freedom. Such freedom to do and be whatever you want requires constraint or the result is bad...like a teenager moving out on their own for the first time, and realizing they can stay up as late as they want, go out to eat as often they want, and buy whatever they want - only to find responsibility waiting for them in the morning, and when bills come due.

Consider the New Testament: it's mostly about loving each other and not focusing so much on the Law of the Old Testament. After generations of generations had dealt with the Law for so long, the ones who prided themselves on keeping the Law took it upon themselves to make sure others did as well as they had.

Jesus came, saying in Matthew 5:17-20 that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it...that the law was still in place, but his role was to provide an example of how to live according to the law and what that kind of lifestyle should look like.

He spends much of his time teaching people how to love each other and how to forgive. He also spent a lot of time explaining that in order to get to heaven you have to believe in Him, and get others to believe, and also still live according to the rules. He doesn't go into what heaven is like all that much - and if the thought is followed that it's simply a reward-stimulus, it makes sense not to describe it any other way to that to say it's amazing beyond words. After all, I am not interested in going to heaven to spend all my time singing church hymns and being with my family...that sounds pretty boring and stressful to me. I'm also not interested in the proposed alternative either.

The reason I'm not interested in being around this stuff is the people that I've been around here on Earth. It's so often misconstrued that it is the Job of a Christian to go and recruit people into Christianity, no matter what it takes, and whether they want to or not. I've seen it attempted nicely, through guilt trips, and through insults. I've rarely seen it actually be successful though. Someone has to be looking for something else out of life to take on a religion and belief factor. As an academically-minded person, there are too many things that offer more realistic explanations to the very things people attribute to be Works of God. And as such, I have often tried to explain these kinds of things to people who attribute them so, and encounter a closed mind (of which I have been a victim of during my religious hay-day), and an unwillingness to even consider there may actually be a physical explanation for things.