Tuesday, July 5, 2016


I find this to be a curious thing.

Atheists think that religious people are idiots for believing in miracles. Atheists also tend to be mad at the God they don't believe in for allowing evil things to happen.

That is, for not doing miracles. To stop the evil things from happening. Of course, if he did stop some, they'd never know.

And, as it turns out, they are desperate for God to stop things like tsunamis or genocides or earthquakes or tornadoes or serial killers or the Kardashians, but not the evil things that they themselves do.

And then religious people, for whom finding a good parking spot is a miraculous Act of God, somehow don't notice when God doesn't do things like stop tsunamis or genocides or earthquakes or tornadoes or serial killers or the Kardashians.

We are a confusing species. So let's try to figure it out.

There are always things humans do not understand.

As religious people (and humans have always been religious), when we met things we did not understand, we would ascribe those things to God, or the gods.

Volcanoes, earthquakes, sun, moon, stars, cats, mysteries of all shapes and sizes. 

Any gap we found in our ability to explain the universe, we filled with gods.

Later on, science would call this the “God of the gaps” and use it to dismiss religion entirely. This they did from the entirely reasonable perspective that science had explained most of the things we didn’t understand and had blamed on God, or the gods. And they felt pretty good about being able to explain all the things they hadn’t been able to explain yet. They had a good track record.

They have a point. And we haven’t learned the lesson yet.

It’s pretty simple. Bad things would happen. You know, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, famines, plagues, fires, landslides, cats. Terrible things. The Kardashians. Teeeerrible things.

Since it didn’t make sense to us that bad things just happen sometimes, we would figure that the gods were angry about something we did and were doing these bad things to us as punishment.

Since we didn’t know what we had done, and the gods weren’t letting us know, weren’t giving us any hints, we would make stuff up. 

And then we’d try to fix it by doing, I don’t know, whatever. Sacrifice some virgins. Cut out some hearts with black obsidian knives. Shrink some heads. Eat some enemies. Whatever seemed right at the time. 

The gods were fairly irrational about doing bad things to us, so we were pretty irrational about trying to keep them happy and off our case.

There was this sense that we had to sacrifice stuff to the gods to keep them off our backs. Gods - very demanding, very much like little babies, teenagers, bad bosses, mother-in-laws, and Kardashians. It's always totally about them.

The Greeks spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep the gods happy. The Romans, with pretty much the same gods, did the same thing.

Even in our more modern, educated, sophisticated times, religious people do the same thing. 

Hindus have some 350 million gods they have to keep happy by following their dharma to build up good karma so that reincarnation can happen at a higher level next time around. 

Buddhists, at least in its purer, Buddhist form, have to avoid developing fond attachments for the things of the world, including friendships and family relationships. In its more western, less Buddhist form, there are chantings and incenses and good feelings and thoughts. 

Jews have something over 600 laws they have to follow to keep God happy. They have each their rabbinical interpretations of how much to carry and how far to walk and who gets to wear what when and why. It's not really a growth religion because, well, circumcision.

Muslims, luckier than the Jews, have about five laws, but there are myriad interpretations of how to follow those laws. 

Outside of the mainstream religions and denominations, cults are defined by the weird, cultish things they demand of their followers to keep the gods happy.

And Christians spend a lot of time and energy trying to keep God happy, trying, as it were, to stay saved.

They mostly try to do this like everyone else does it - by trying to follow laws and rules and regulations, even though they know better.

Because Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and Confucians and Shintos and Jains and Hindus and everybody in every faith and religion and belief system EVER thinks that what God is all about is 

1) being pissed off all the time because apparently none of you IDIOTS can 

2) follow all the rules.

God doesn't need to use all-caps, btw, but, well, you know.

And atheists and scientists very rightly think to the themselves, God is an idiot, because all he does is demand that people follow of bunch of mostly stupid rules. And he's mean and nasty, besides. If he exists at all, that is.

So the atheists and scientists reject the existence of this God. This mean, nasty, petty, tyrannical, cruel, heartless, arbitrary God who clearly and easily could have created a universe that didn't have evil and suffering in it and should fix it anyway, although that would take miracles, which they don't believe in, because those would be supernatural, and they don't believe in supernatural stuff.

Now. Just suppose. Maybe that's the wrong God entirely to believe in, or to reject. Maybe most of us, believers and non- alike, have God got mostly wrong.

Maybe he is not a God of rules and regulations. Maybe he is a God of interactions and relationships. Maybe he is a God of love.

Humans get it backwards. We traditionally have thought that if we follow all the rules and regulations, then God will love us and will not squash us like a bug. If you want an equation, it might look like this:
Rules => Love. 

Or like this: Obedience => Love. 

And like this: Disobedience => Getting Squashed Like a Bug.

Bug. Not Bugs. Pay attention.

Instead, maybe it looks like this:

Love => Interaction => Rules.

So instead of Acting Right so That God Will Love You, maybe it's

God loves you already, and wants you to love each other, and here's how you might do that. You interact with each other, and out of the interactions come the standards of behavior.

Culture emerges from relationship. The interaction between me and thee.

Just like, gravity emerges from relationship. The interaction between space-time and matter. Matter emerges as an interaction, energy becoming matter becoming energy becoming matter. And so on.

The universe arrived with four, maybe five rules in place, and the rules are all about interaction. Gravity. Strong force. Weak force. Electromagnetism. Quantum Mechanics, whatever the heck that is.

QM might just be the miracle juice we need to make everything happen.

And all the rest of the laws of nature emerge from that starting point as a direct by-product of interactions.

Four rules. Four types of interactions. And the supernatural, the magic, the mystery, the wonder of the quantum universe that gives us something from nothing and a universe that is nothing but connected interactivity between forces and particles.

What the universe does emerges from the interactions. The culture of the universe emerges from the interactions.

How and why what it does, and how and why what we do as humans, as life-forms, as the aliens' aliens, emerges from our interactions.

If we start our interactions with an intention to have that interaction be sort of, you know, nice, um, loving and kind and good and thoughtful and sacrificial and caring and all of that, then what emerges is highly likely, statistically, probabilistically, scientifically, experimentally verifiably, to be, you know, kinda


On average. Over time. Generally. Usually. Interactions are complicated things, which makes it all just that much more interesting and sometimes messy and fascinatingly unpredictable and all butterfly-effecty and emergent and stuff.

But still. Worth a shot.

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