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Religion: What's it all about?
OK. You asked for it. And if you didn't, tough shit. This is what I think, and you're not going to change it by whining. Come up with a better model for reality, and I'll accept it. Feel free to skip this post if you're not in the mood for reading 2300 words about my religious beliefs - I'll forgive you :o)

Why does the universe exist?
Because in an infinite nothing, given an infinite amount of time, something is bound to happen. And more than once. Why are we here right now? Because we're capable of perceiving the universe, that's why. The universe can go an infinite amount of time without anything happening, and since there's nobody around to notice, it goes by as if in a single second. It's only when there are people around that time has any meaning. And given an infinite amount of time, it's quite reasonable to assume that ultimately, the universe will create self-aware entities. Which is us. The universe is here now because we're here to perceive it. This is sometimes referred to losely as the anthropic principle, or something like that. However, I thought this up on my own ages ago, without any prior knowledge of this. This is a way of the universe working that I came to by myself, in a period of quiet reflection. And it works.

Is there a God?
Not just the one. There are many Gods. I can explain this with the following parallels:

1. The universe is like one giant JPEG file. You have a canvas, and you want to paint it.
Case 1: There is no God. If this is the case, then there is no canvas. Just because the universe was created without God, the existence of anything in it directly results in God. I'll explain that in a minute
Case 2: There is one God. In this case, we have one big JPEG, and only white pixels to put into an already white picture. The universe is a boring place.
Case 3: There are multiple Gods. Suddenly, you can assign to each pixel an RGB value - you can have different amounts of Red, Green or Blue in each pixel, varying the colour. The more primary colours to choose from, the most colours you can make (although not in our spectrum, granted). The more Gods, the more variety in the universe. My observation points to two Gods. Here's another parallel, which suggests this further.

2. The universe is like lots of atoms. Shit, it is lots of atoms. Ignoring sub-atomics (I don't want to get into the six types of Quarks right now), this can be said to be like God.
Case 1: There is no God. Then there are no atoms. Duh
Case 2: There is one God. Then all atoms are made up from one thing. No variety, it sucks.
Case 3: There are two Gods. We have positive and negative. Individually, these represent protons and electrons (we're not dealing with antimatter here), and put two together and you get a neutron. Suddenly, you have everything you need to build a universe out of.

You see what I'm talking about? You need more than one God, otherwise God can only create things in his own image, and nothing further. Nothing else exists. And two Gods works well - you have direct opposites of each other, which can create a whole spectrum of things in between.

Am I saying that Christianity and other monotheistic religions are false? Hells no. The Christian God is merely the product of combining the two Gods I believe in. I certainly would never presume to tell people that there are no more than two Gods, but I rather doubt the existence of just one. PErhaps, as in Hindu beliefs, there are many many Gods. It still fits in with what I'm saying. This explanation does indeed cover all theistic religions.

Who are the Gods?
Well, we need names for them. We have two Deities here, and there's a difference between them, in that they are opposites. So I look for a parallel here on Earth. And I find one - men and women. So we now have a God and a Goddess. They are without gender, but it's a convenient naming structure, since the framework is already in place for it. Anyhow, yes, so we have a God and a Goddess. But what are they? Where are they? Arbitrarily, through media brainwashing more than divine inspiration, I have elected to associate the God with the physical world, and the Goddess with the spiritual. That is to say, my body is merely a part of the universal one that is the God, whereas my mind, my consciousness, is an aspect of the Goddess. Again, there is no gender issue here, just so you remember. Anyhow, the God himself has many aspects. These are all different - the physical world has many combinations of different aspects in it. So while I have two major deities, I have many minor ones, which make up the major deities. Similarly with the Goddess, she has many aspects, which in different combinations make up the key components of the psyche.

That's a very simple explanation - I can go deeper if required to, but you might not care :o)

While slightly off topic, it fits in with my view of the universe. I do not believe in atoms. I've done sufficient Chemistry and Biology to be sure of just one thing - the world doesn't work like that. It sure looks like it, but I don't give a shit whether you can prove it to me or not - the world doesn't work like that. This particular belief is my one concession to unwavering lunacy, inherent in all religious systems. My desk is wood - not atoms. My body is my body, not cells. You show me a microscope and the wonders of genetic science, and I'll bash your head in with a brick, and conduct my own experiments. I know you can see cells. I know you can see atoms with scanning electron microscopes (I think that's the one that does it, rather than transmission EMs). It means jack shit - that stuff is there, sure, but it's not how it works. Atoms exist, but they're like hand puppets - they're there, but they're not the things that do stuff. It's what's behind them that controls the universe. So there.

Yes, I do "spells". I make no secret of this. I can explain it perfectly rationally. Not only did the universe have infinite time to conjour up substance, but it also has an infinite number of instances in which to do that. You know, the whole parallel universe thing - for every choice in life, both are played out. A theory popularised by some bad movies and even worse science fiction series (although there are many that I enjoyed greatly). Now, let's assume that everything happens somewhere. Well I know I'm only in one place - my consciousness is right here, in this particular branch on the timeline. But what of the decisions yet to come? Might I be able to steer my consciousness down one particular branch?

Well, my religious beliefs say yes. See, the choices involved are made through chaos particles, or whatever the pop name for them is nowadays. Those particles whose behaviour cannot be predicted. These are what make the choices. They do everything at once, just all in different universes. These are the driving force behind consciousness and free will. Free will exists because if I decide to kick somebody's ass, then that's the path on the timeline I follow. And that path exists, because there's a certain way the chaos particles can act which will lead to this happening. It's true - the predictability of chemical reactions leads to a deterministic model for the universe, but these things break that sufficiently that choice is possible.

Now, if you can choose to go down the path where you kick somebody's ass, why can't you choose to go down the path which leads to an easier test paper, and your being able to remember all your revision for it? It's the same thing - you're choosing which path to go down, and this is where your consciousness goes. At the same time, an identical you is taking the same test and failing it miserably - this still happens. But not to you. To a different you. If I tell people that, through magic, I will make a table disappear, then I may well do so. But obviously, in their own little realities, I don't, because they're not on my path necessarily. The odds that they are on my path are equal to the odds that I can vanish a table using pure science - slim to none. However, on my path, it works.

There is a drawback. This is a very powerful belief. I find it to be a comforting one. However, I'm not so deeply involved with my beliefs that they are unchangeable. It's like the good film Dogma says - it's better to have ideas than beliefs. As such, I would never "cast a spell" (simply undertaking the meditation involved in convincing myself that something will happen - I choose for it to happen, and have to believe that it will) that was too "out there". For instance - according to my belief system, I won't die if I believe I'll live. This is all very well, but I'm not going to endanger my life just to prove it. It's times like that when God ignores you, because you're being bloody stupid, and lets you die. Plus, while I may not die, I will die somewhere, and it will hurt others. So I keep away from that.

So what am I allowed to do? What must I avoid doing? Well, since we are all one, it is for the greater good of my higher existence that I don't harm anybody else. On an underlying level, we are the same person, after all. Beyond this, it's a matter of personal choice - I may do something, I may not - it all depends. Much of my moral system comes from both my parents, and *gasp* the Bible. While nobody in my life ever encouraged me to read it, I did anyway. If taken at face value (and since wars have been fought by people who read into it, that's probably the best way), it's an excellent source of moral guidance. The teachings of Jesus, especially. Let me just talk about Jesus for a minute.

Due to my (perhaps warped) perception of reality, I have to say, I believe in Jesus. If enough people believe he exists, then perhaps through their belief, he does. If people act as though Jesus once existed (but he didn't), eventually they'll end up in exactly the situation that the corresponding people would in a universe where he did exist. Perhaps we're already at that point, perhaps not yet. Regardless, for all intents and purposes, should Christianity thrive and grow further, then he will have existed. It's an interesting theory, which is dangerous in the hands of people who think they can change history by convincing people that it never happened. However, it works for me - there's no difference whether he existed or not, so why not just assume he existed, and at least justify peoples' beliefs. For this reason, I actually believe in the existence of many religious figures who could otherwise be considered mystical. Provided there's sufficient belief in them, who's to notice whether they existed or not? Anyhow, I'm slightly tired, and I don't know if this point is getting across OK, so I'll save it for later.

But yes, rules. Be nice to other people. Don't break any major laws. And in the words of a certain insectoid cartoon - always let your conscience be your guide.

So what happens when you die? I dunno yet - not decided. But, if I play my cards right, I won't die anyway. Let me explain.

Many years ago (well, 1996, so 5 years ago) I made a deal with God. This was long before I believed any of the other stuff, but I did believe in some sort of higher power. And I made this deal:

"I can't die until I hear, consecutively, the following three songs, in any order:"

I ain't going to tell you which songs. Basically, I did this because I didn't own any of the three songs, and didn't want to go until I heard them all together. I believed strongly then, as I still do now, that this deal will hold - seriously. I won't die until I hear those three songs together. They were, at the time, my three favourite songs, more or less. That won't help you though. The problem is, I am now in possession of all three songs on CD - I could, if I wished, listen to all three consecutively. Now, I dunno if I'd die shortly after this, or whether I might live another 80 years before dying. All I know is that until that day, I won't die.

I know it sounds nuts, but I honestly believe it. I have to wonder what sort of mental state I must have been in at the time to actually accept such an odd belief, and keep it for so long, and believe it so strongly. But I do. Perhaps sometime I'll give examples of various spells I've tried (and succeeded with), or more detailed insights into anything here that isn't commonly understood (I dunno how clear I've been). But until then, there you go - that's my religion. Comments? :o)

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Interesting ...

Some of it semi-mirrors my own beliefs (I haven't thought out anything to do with science or three songs though ;-) ) ... but I'm way too tired to get philosophical or religious atm. ;-)

Here's a question, though - you admit yourself to the hospital and start filling out the forms; in the blank beside 'Religion: ', what would you put?

Either "Pagan", or simply "None". In terms of hospital stuff, my religion has no bearing on what goes on, so it's not important :o)

Wow, like Deb said, interesting. I won't start saying "no that's wrong" and "I don't like that" because that kind of defeats the whole point of a personal belief system.
I won't say I agree with you either, but then what would be the fun in that? ;-)

As far as I can tell your a sort of bideity existentialist. Which is a very cool mix, though it must make some daily rationalisations awkward.

I stand by my belief that religion was created by the people for the people to fill some kind of self imposed void in their minds, but Ali started prodding me last time I said that in public :-)

Anywho, good for you. A belief system you can, er, believe in is a hard thing to craft. Don't want to sound like a patronising old geezer, but to have such a well defined thing at your age is impressive. Of course no doubt you'll have some sort of earth shatter revalation in a couple of years and have to start it from scratch. But then what's the point in individuality if we can't constantly re-evaluate ourselves and the universe in which we exist?

I don't deny that my religion may have been created to fill a void in my mind, but it's my belief that it's a void which should be filled :o)

I'm quite a fan of my belief system, since it actually makes sense, and I made it all up. That's not bad going. And yes, I'll probably change my mind within the next few years - I'm constantly evolving the ideas behind it. That's what so great about it being my beliefs, rather than those of a church - I can change what I like to suit how I think the world works :o)

"I can't die until I hear, consecutively, the following three songs, in any order:"

Unlike me, who evidently will top himself if he hears that bastard Toploader tune, Dancing in the Moonlight one more bloody time...

*forms an evil plan*

Sounds a lot like a variant form of Wicca...but then just about all forms of that are variant aren't they...

So would you call yourself a Wiccan then or just simply pagan? : )

Some interesting takes on things in that post, glad you finally made it : )

It's kinda like Wicca. There's more nature stuff behind it, but I didn't go into that. And really, it's less the worship of nature, and more the worship of existence on the whole. Everything is holy :o)

I would sometimes call myself a Wiccan, but it's not entirely true, so I try to avoid it :o)

hehe I know though:

Led Zep - Stairway to heaven

AC/DC - Highway to hell

And.....any song by Agnostic Front


Close, but no cigar :o)

The antrophic principle is that there are an infinite amount of universes, and that we are here because *this* universe has the laws of nature necessary to sustain intelligent life.

Anyway, further on, in any equation dealing with infinites then you will always be given an infinity as an answer. In a universe with infinite time everything will at some point happen. In a universe with infinite space, everything is happening every moment. In a universe of infinite space and time, everything is happening in every moment and will continue happening for an infinite period of time.

Personally, I would like the Universe to go from a Big Bang to a Big Crunch (as it gives a form of continuity) but sadly this does not appear to be the case - the universe will continue expending infinitely, if current readings of Omega (the mass of the universe) is the be believed.

Also, the universe seems to be finite but with no boundary, which I think is nice. If the concept is difficult to grasp, think of Earth in 2 dimensions. Finite space, but no boundary. But that's beside the point.

The thing is that, with Hawking Evaporation, even black holes are finite - which means that the universe must continue to excist in a living fashion forever.

Any Corrs song?

Belief is everything and nothing all at the same time: If you didnt beleive in anything there would be nothing, we need "something" to believe.

Hence belief is a paradox as is religion. And everything we "see" "know" and "do"

Time is the only true dimension, everthing else is a variable...
This could lead to all sorts of complex stuf, but anyone with an "idea" could continue this, you dont need me to do it for you.

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