Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hypothetical Heaven

Chopin, fine tobacco and coffee that lacks light and is sodden in my olfactory and gustatory systems start off this, just another, restless night. BUT!!! If suddenly, under a cognitive lapse, I swallow my cigarette and inhale my coffee, causing my lungs the bother of trying to extract and feed to my brain and blood, oxygen from coffee, and my lungs burn and stutter, causing, well, my death, should i spend my next thirty minutes being fitted for wings, smiling and dancing with unrecognisably  un-decrepit relatives? I think not. AND, more profoundly, that if my hypothetical death scenario's reaper is sharpening his scythe and swapping the placement between my coffee and cigarette at the moment I type this, and before this gets titled and posted I'm twitching with my face in the ash tray, I absolutely hope that i will not be joining some cloud bouncing party with the people I love. And it is because that if heaven is a place where only constant happiness endures and misery is forgotten or impossible, then what is and was the fucking point? For it to be truly happy all things and memories annoying, disconcerting, boring, sad (a funeral of a friend for example), itchy, uncomfortable, of hunger, painful, loneliness, and yes, even empathy would have to be eradicated from our consciousness. And what would be left of those memories? Almost nothing for, I would guess, all of us. We could either not know of the suffering in an apparent hell, or, not even give the slightest fuck about the burning and tearing of flesh of bones of people we probably knew. I must ofcourse mention that trying to reason about a hypothetical paradoxical situation is rather difficult with almost completely unknown variables.      And as my coffee finally drains the last of rather viscous matter down the tubes adjacent to my bronchials, I shall end my penning for this night. But never my pondering, my thinking, my reading. Hence the no sleep.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The "Alto-Cumulus" Miracles

In the brisk flitted consciousness I have had the pleasure and the pain to experience, I have noticed the forceful comings and the hesitant goings of ideas of the supernatural. I may add though that I myself – and I count myself lucky- have not ever had the desire for supernatural virtue. Susceptibility to supernatural belief is something that seems innate in our human condition, I might add, but that is not relevant and for another pondering. On to the matter of miracles.  The Christian mind has a way with miracles which renders a deep suspicion in its reasoning that engages a great deal of thought.  The elasticity of what might occur to be a miracle can stretch to the bounds of the ridiculous. The miracle of a saved parking space to the miracle of sunny day seems to fit those bounds rather snug. But what of things like shrinking tumours and the finding of a long lost child? But of course these are things that could have gotten better without the hand of god to squeeze a tumour small or guide the stork that saves the child. I don’t want to go beyond the obvious and point out that, tumours can shrink and children can find their own way home, but it seems I must to prove a point. Of the millions of cancer sufferers there will undoubtedly be a portion of those who pray, and undoubtedly a portion of those whose tumours shrink, therefore a group will exist containing an overlap of the two –who pray and whose tumours shrink. Are these therefore miracles? Of course not. The same applies to missing children and to any other misery that could have gotten better anyway. Miracles also have tendency more miraculous if told to a more na├»ve, young or trusting audience. This brings up the point of the sincerity of the teller. Whether it be control of minds, egoistic soothing, a coercive push towards antique beliefs, an amount of scepticism is certainly necessary when it comes to the authenticity second hand accounts. Personal agenda of the teller or all the previous tellers who informed the even more previous tellers before him is maybe an obvious reasoning, but a reasoning that has yet to burst through the meninges of impressionable brains. Miracles also –like any unbelievable word of mouth story- have a snowball-type effect. Through each generation of the stories existence it might alter slightly from misrememberings or mishearings and these effects get passed down to the next generation of the story. There also is the effect added to the story through each of its generations, including amplification of certain details for theatrical effect or leaving parts out for censoring purposes.  As these stories “evolve” -if I might be so bold to use the term- the seemingly minor and superfluous details can retain their place in the story, therefore becoming not, obscure and trifling irrelevancies, but part of the dogma. Just to be complete I shall add that as parent stories give rise and birth to daughter stories , an ever increasing variety of stories shall exist, expanding and adapting, nay, mutating, meaning two stories might have shared ancestors, but cease to have many similarities with each other or with, indeed, their ancestors. The issue of “evolving” stories retains practical relevancy only for miracles with a history sufficiently large to have caused adaptations which change the probability of the miracle being true. Now to a rather tedious endeavour - explaining the issue of finding sufficient validation (of the mere miraculous) from biblical text.  This is a rather hopeless and endlessly insufficient proof, and I shall begin with an importation of words from a man with better words than I.

“Here then we are first to consider a book, presented to us by a barbarous and ignorant people, written in an age when they were still more barbarous, and in all probability long after the facts which it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous accounts, which every nation gives of its origin. Upon reading this book we find it full of prodigies and miracles. It gives an account of a state of the world and of human nature entirely different from the present: Of our fall from that state; Of the age of man, extended to near a thousand years: Of the destruction of the world by a deluge: Of the arbitrary choice of one people, as favourites of heaven; and that people the countrymen of the author: Of their deliverance from bondage by prodigies the most astonishing imaginable: I desire any one to lay his hand upon his heart, and after a serious consideration declare, whether he thinks that the falsehood of such a book, supported by such a testimony would be more extraordinary and miraculous than all the miracles it relates; which is, however, necessary to make it received, according to the measures of probability above established.”
David Hume – An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 

 This passage (As the highest pitch of the eloquence of these words ring in my ears, I have now a realisation, that this is what must be meant by ‘Atheist Porn’) leads obtusely but directly towards my next reasoning.(A miracle that seems molded to a biblical form, most probably, is molded from one.  As I make this assertion, it seems at the present moment, to be of little relevancy to my current point, but a tangent, into the relevancies of another.)  So I continue; Biblical text itself (the King James Bible, preferably.)  is suppurating with grandiose miracles and scientific ignorance(and yet the Christian mind’s claim is that it holds every answer you could ever need for scientifically graced, un-grandiose life of the modern human) which immediately gives reason to suspect the truth of any action in its poetry saturated pages. This book, then, falls from ever affecting whether the miracles inside it are probable - to an extent which would make the most deluded lottery junkies feel hopeless. The assertions of biblical events remain evidenceless and unmatched by History, which is why these very events are not taught to students as History, but as religion. The reason most biblical events are not included is that fantastical lack of evidence, and it is evidence that gives us our knowledge of history. The French Revolution, Hitler’s Final Solution, The Fall of Hellenic Society, are presumed to be true, because of the overwhelming amount of evidence that is bestowed on us by the scientific method. Therefore, the insidious suspiciousness that is validated by the lack of evidence for biblical miracles, becomes an inevitability, an almost necessity, in dealing with this matter.