I’ve always been a “middle path” kind of guy. Long before I knew what the middle path was, I was on it. I believe in all things in moderation, including moderation. There are some things I’m extreme about, but not many.
Last week I got into it with a couple of guys on the subject of the truth of the Bible, the existence of God, why “bad” things happen to “good” people, etc. The thread on Facebook went over for a couple of hundreds comments as I recall. There were several people engaged but mostly two people with very simplistic and very wrong (in my not so humble opinion) views. On the one hand, I had a fundamentalist Christian whose attitude is basically “God (the Bible) said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I quickly pointed out to him several places where the Bible said in fact the opposite of what he believes and tried to help him understand God did not author the Bible. This guy’s attitude is God is the micromanager of everything and therefore God is responsible for everything that happens (God being the big white dude in the sky with the beard). On the other hand, I have a materialistic atheist who says “Babies die all over the world all the time. If there were an all powerful, all loving God, babies would not die. Therefore, there is no all powerful all loving God.” This is about the most simplistic and overused argument for atheism I have ever heard. It assumes an awful lot including you know what is good and “evil” and that a loving God wouldn’t allow any “evil” in the world. The logical extension of this argument is that if the world is less than perfect (in your eyes), God cannot exist.
We, of course, went back and forth as I battled both extremes. The Bible isn’t perfect. It’s not the Word of God. And, it doesn’t even make the claim that God micromanages everything. God has regrets. People rebel. People negotiate with God. On the other hand, the “evil” in this world can be explained in any number of ways. Free will, God allowing natural cause and effect, God using evil for a greater purpose. When we take a child to the doctor and he gets a vaccine, the child would say that is “evil”. As a parent, you understand the temporary pain of the injection is more than outweighed by the protection it offers. When we go to the gym, we endure pain and discomfort to make our bodies stronger. There are countless real world examples of how pain (evil) or struggle can be useful as a step to a higher goal.
So, yesterday I ran across a podcast that was a new idea on evolution I had never heard. I don’t buy into it fully, but is has a lot of promise. It could satisfy the Atheistic Materialists (I capitalize because that is actually a religion, not a scientific position). It starts with the fact that the entire universe is evolving. It has evolved from material/physical, to producing life, to producing conscious beings, to producing spiritual beings. Those spirit beings when they “die” go on to an afterlife which is also evolving. It solves the problem of why the world is so chaotic and so magical at the same time by saying the world is chaotic because we are evolving out of chaos into a more organized world that is now being shaped by consciousness. There is no perfectly omniscient, omnipotent God (yet) because God is evolving as the entire universe evolves. The theory holds promise as a stepping stone for Materialists to understand that we are more than just our bodies.
So, I went to present this idea to my two friends. Turns out the Christian Fundamentalist has shut down his Facebook account. According to his brother-in-law, our conversation pushed him over the edge. I actually sought the guy out after the conversation wound down. I apologized to him for any offense. And, I told him I admired him for joining the fray. I guess it wasn’t enough.
My Materialist Atheist friend didn’t react the way I had hoped to the podcast. He wanted me to summarize it for him (even more than I already had). He complained that the theory was too complex. It is pretty complex. The universe is a complex place. And he clings to the fact there is no evidence, no “proof” of any of this stuff. He complained that the host and the interview subject took for granted that we are spirit beings. There is so much evidence, I don’t even know where to begin. The fact that we are spirit beings has been proven at this point way beyond any reasonable doubt by several fields of study. I learned that with this particular guy, don’t waste my (digital) breath.
So, I have successfully alienated both the Materialists and the Religious Fundamentalists. I must be on the right path.