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In further news, I see that the time is now past midnight. So happy Beltaine to anybody who celebrates it, although I think that's probably just me. For anybody who doesn't know what Beltaine is, it's the pagan holiday that falls on the first of May, and (for me) signifies the new year (or, more accurately, renewal, but it's all the same when it comes down to it).

Beltaine is actually rather special for another reason - that being that it is one of very few pagan festivals not to have been corrupted into a Christian holiday. Yule has become Christmas, Ostara becomes Easter (the name Easter even comes from "Ostara"), Samhain becomes Hallowe'en, and the rest... Hallmark has a patent on every conceivable holiday idea there is, granted, but at least in this country, Beltaine is still fairly traditional. The may-day celebrations we used to have at school were full of tradition, harking back to medieval times...

Anyway, here's what I had to say on the subject last year, in case anybody wonders...
Well, another year, another Beltaine... Heh, hard to believe that it's May 1st already. It's now, what, 3 years that I've had my quaint little religious beliefs? Seems such a shorter amount of time...

Wish I'd remembered to bring my special candle with me... The purple dribbly one that's stuck in the champaign bottle from my 18th birthday. Wishes come true if you believe them enough, and tokens and symbols like that help the belief process.

I have an idea of what I can do, but the question is when to do it. Now? Soon? Later? For what I want to do, I have until 5am tomorrow, even though that's no longer Beltaine. Complex....

Anyway, more on that topic later, I expect... Ho hum...
Again - wish I'd remembered to bring my special candle to Uni with me. I forgot it yet again, and still it sits at home. So now this makes four years or so of having these beliefs - that sounds about right... So perhaps I'll take some time out to explain them, since many of the newer additions to my friends list won't know what the Hell I'm on about...

Firstly, I don't expect anybody to believe this. In fact, I actually get uncomfortable if people believe this stuff, because the inner cynic in me still fails to completely accept it. And anybody who'll actually agree with me and tell me I'm right is probably just as crazy as I am, and that's not what I need. So don't worry if you disagree - I disagree some of the time. Question everything, it's the only healthy approach.

I should explain that I came to all of this on my own. Similarities to religions such as Wicca are in actual fact coincidental, and I had most of these ideas before it became the done thing to be an angsty Wiccan goth. As I went through life, I found myself looking for answers to questions, and these are the answers...

Firstly, why do we exist? Why is there life? Why now? The answer lies within what is known as the Anthropic Principle. However, when I came up with this idea, I didn't know of the Anthropic Principle, so I'll explain it as best I can. Time is very much a perception thing - cause and effect, they happen, but how fast they happen is all about perception. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, does it make a sound? Could be. The important thing is that it happens instantaneously. Now, let's apply that to the whole universe. Given that existence is infinite, and full of possibility (which must be a given assumption given observational evidence), the whole thing can go on infinitely until it is observed. Once something arises that can perceive the universe, then time starts to have meaning, and we have this thing in which we live.

The second question is one of higher powers. Is there a higher power? The answer, to my mind, has to be yes, and the proof lies in consciousness. It's inexplicable at this point, and it seems reasonable to assume there is some component of our being that defies the physical, cause-and-effect world. Assuming that we don't take that perception is merely the subsequent rationalisation of the inevitable that has already happened, we have to agree that humans have free will. And if we have free will, we transcend the regular rules of cause and effect that exist in the material world.

Given that we now know there to be some sort of higher power, we have to assess the nature of said power, and how it interacts with the universe. Since we're saying that this higher power is in some way related to conscious thought, it could be said that it is a part of life itself. George Lucas was actually quite close:

The Force is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.

That's about the long and short of it. Oh, how pop culture pervades even my own personal religion - it's sickening. But Lucas did intend Star Wars to be a look at spirituality, so he might be slightly happier to know that I have an entire religion that more or less agrees with what he said. So we have a higher power that exists, in some way, in all life. It is distinct from the material world, although can interact with it. For cultural-influence reasons, I choose to personify this force as being female, just because thought seems to work better as a female thing. I refer to it as The Goddess.

However, there is another power, which comes in the form of the material world. I choose to think of this as being a higher power, just because the material world is an immensely powerful thing. It incorporates the deterministic interactions that exist between all matter in the universe, along with all the ways in which said matter can interact, and what the matter actually is. It's a mammoth structure, and deserves recognition as being a system in itself. Again, because of cultural influences, this is personified as the God.

In my mind, the God is split into several Gods though - it seems fair to think of one God as being the sum of all matter in the universe, another God as being the interaction of said matter, and yet another God to represent the "direction" or "destiny" of the universe, as defined by the matter, and the way in which it interacts, in a purely deterministic way. So we have a Goddess (at least one), and Gods. The reason I personify the Gods is that the Goddess, on many levels, interacts with them. After all, our minds are part of the material universe (a God), yet their actions are governed by our consciousness (the Goddess)...

Another reason there are multiple deities making up the universe can be explained by a computer image. In the event of no God, we have an image that is just black. There is nothing in it, because there is nothing to fill it with. If there were one God, then we could fill our universe with something. But it'd be plain, because where anything existed, it would be the same. If you have red paint, you can only paint red. If you have just one God, you can only do one thing. However, multiple Gods give us the red, green and blue components of the spectrum, and allow any number of subtle variations.

You have to understand, I don't think of Gods as being benevolent men in the sky who created the universe, and watch over it. Rather, they are powers to be respected, which arise as a result of the universe existing. Given that, let's move on, because that topic is getting old.

Is this the only universe? Quick answer - no. If the universe occurs but once, then we're damned lucky to exist in this, the limited edition only-one-ever-made universe. In fact, it's such a coincidence that we can assume that either there are more universes, or that there is a God who made us by design. And if there's a God with the power to design us, who designed him? I won't get into that, because it's too often used as an argument by people who don't know what they're talking about, and I'd hate to fall in line with them. My point is that it seems safe to assume that this isn't the only attempt the universe has had at existing. Other universes have existed, with other universal constants, and other conditions for being. Do they happen simultaneously in other dimensions? Pfft, doubt it. In my opinion, they run consecutively. Universe is born, universe exists, universe dies, new universe is born, slightly different.

And we know the other universes are different, because if they're the same, then again we have the amazing fact that existence got it right the first time. So chances are, each universe is different. And given infinite time (because it all happens instantly, and it's just that humans can't perceive all of reality at once that slows us down) we can assume infinite possibility within the universe. See above for why that's required (about the anthropic principle and stuff).

So anyway, we have many universes which all happen slightly different. Who is to say which one we are in? This has two side effects. The first is magic, the second is immortality.

Yes, see, this is where the whole religion bit takes a turn for the surreal. But I'll try to justify that as best as I can. First off, immortality. See, only one of these versions of me is conscious. You know that whole "I'm the only person who really thinks" thing? Well it's sort of like that - if other Me's were conscious and aware, then I'd know it, see? Ergo, consciousness is unique to this instance of me. Now if we take collective consciousness to be the Goddess, then we have the largest conscious force in the universe. The universe we live in teaches us that staying alive is the preferable outcome. Therefore, the Goddess will strive to stay alive.

An example, with Schrodinger's Cat. This is the cat that has a 50/50 chance of being alive when one opens a box. It seems logical that if presented with a 50/50 choice, the Goddess (which can override laws of causality as evidenced by free will) will choose the way that stays alive. And since said higher power transcends time, it knows in advance which is the preferable outcome. So the Goddess will always be conscious in the alive cat at the end of it (although she is present in all instances, she is only conscious in one). Ergo, one cannot die, from one's own perspective. There will always be some far-fetched way to remain alive forever and remain reasonably happy, and the Goddess will always pick that. Probably. After all, humans typically strive to remain alive forever and to be happy - it seems logical that the force behind human thought would do likewise.

Of course, people around you can die. You just won't. It's not the most comforting thought, since you have to go through a lot of pain along the way, I would imagine, but still, it relieves a bit of the fear of death that I might otherwise have. Although having said that, if I tried to end my own life, £5 says that I'd actually die - if you believe you're immortal, the last thing you should do is try to test it :o)

The second thing is magic. Yes, I believe in magic, which is why I made a reference to this being in some ways similar to Wicca. Given that my will is, in some part, the will of the higher power responsible for my awareness, and given that said higher power (according to my beliefs) has a degree of control over which universe she inhabits, and knows how things will pan out in the long run through her interactions with the Gods, would it not be reasonable to assume that I can, in some way, control which universe I'm in? Or, rather, what happens in the future?

This is where it starts getting really far fetched, and you have to bear in mind that there are still aspects of my mind that disagree with this system, but here goes. If I truly believe that something will happen, then perhaps, just perhaps, it will. Kinda like praying, really. Hence why traditionally, spells are done using objects, like herbs, candles, whatever - anything that helps you truly believe it will work. Doesn't always work, but it can do. I've seen enough observational evidence in my own life to suggest that it at least partially works. There's a more in-depth explanation, but I'm too tired to get into it.

The final aspect of my religion is the morality that goes with it. There is none, frankly. Because we are one with the Goddess (I sound like such a hippy) the happier I make others, the happier the universe is as a whole, and therefore the happier I will be. So there's a general suggestion that making others happy is a good thing. But there's no rules, nothing telling me what to do. I decided long before I invented my own religion that I could never believe something that restricted my own choices. So I don't :o)

Anyhow, so yes, happy Beltaine everybody. In case you wondered, the reason I follow the pagan holidays is that they're the closest linked to the nature of the world, and nature is a massive embodiment of the Goddess, so there we go, that's why....

End lunacy. Opinions, anybody?

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You think too much.

Better than the alternative :o)

my opinion is that i'm too tired to make overly much sense out of that. i have to say, though, that i'd never thought of you as a new ager. :)

metaphysical concepts are eeeenteresting, though.

here's the reason i think may day is important:

::dies of sore throatness and conveniently starts rotting in his bed::

New age my arse, it's not New Age, it's just... well... made up. The fact that it might coincide with New Age stuff is neither here nor there :o)

IIRC the sociological definition of new age is religion derived from pick'n'mixing from other religions and theories, and that's the one i use... it's the whole postmodern thing. :)

Hmm... I didn't so much pick and mix, as invent it all myself, and then discover that somebody else already had ;o)

But I take your point

opinions? of your beliefs? eh?
seem alright to me, not going to harm anyone, so i have no problem!
but bloody hell. thinking to that level is something i never have the patience for. maybe one day i'll formulate some beliefs of my own, but for now i'm alright not having opinions.
my beliefs in a nutshell (i'll follow your post roughly):
why do we exist? = we just do, there is no why.
is there a higher power? = no
is there only one universe? = i dont know. when i was a kid, the definition of universe was given as 'absolutely everything', so i'd say no, other universes or whatever are just other parts of *the* *uni*verse.
magic? = dunno. what actually is magic? controlling things beyond what other people can understand?
morality? = that comes from my upbringing. i have little knowledge of religions etc but i'd say from my experience christianity pretty much has the whole morality thing down - be nice to people. do unto others as you would have them do unto you and all that, that's my bag.

It's not so much a level of thinking, more of just a quantity of thinking - there's nothing especially difficult in there or anything, it just takes a while to sit down and think it all out :o)

And part of the reason, I guess, that my religion doesn't have any specific rules on morality is because I feel I already have those in-built, and don't need my belief system to provide it. Which, I'll readily admit, comes from being brought up in a predominantly Christian country and school, which lays down those fairly reasonable rules like "Thou shalt not kill" and the "Do unto others..." that you quoted. The religion thing really came as an afterthough, when I was in my mid to late teens, and so I was just building on how I already lived my life, which included the morality already. The reason I didn't write about morality much above is because it's wholly independent of any religious beliefs I have - the reason I do good things has nothing to do with how I believe the universe works. Or something...

And I've been annoyed at the use of the word "universe" before - people don't think about the derivation of the word nearly enough. However, since it's a nice word in common usage, and since the masses abuse it, I don't feel too bad when I do, since most people will (hopefully) understand what I mean by it :o). A couple of times above, I did refer to the whole of existence, rather than the universe, because I felt a need to make a distinction between the two...

fair enough.
i meant quantity of thinking! i would have said i never think about anything as much as you have obviously thought about this, because i probably have, buts its always 'simple' and probably material things. great 'important' questions and quests for the purpose of existence never really interest me much. i like stuff.
oh yeah, and as far as god and the creation of the universe and all that...
i go with the monkeys with the typewriters more than the watch in the desert.
ah, the pain of GCSE RS.
futurama is wickedysafe.
my internet connection here at uni is thatnks to the kings network sorta thing, and some people have shared folders and stuff that i can get to. most notably, theres this one dude who has LOADS of futurama, simpsons, red dwarf, and star trek :)
howvere, i have collected red dwarf myself, have succesfully downloaded all 36 episodes of the first 6 series (ok i admit, i got about 6 of them from this guy on the network).
rimmer: step up to red alert
kryten: are you quite sure sir? it does mean changing the bulb.

Yeah, I knew what you meant, I wouldn't for a second presume to tell you that I think deeper than you or anything - that would just be plain rude :o)

And yeah, the monkeys and typewriters seems far more plausible, although I have to say that thus far, the Internet (the largest collection of monkeys and typewriters yet assembled) has yet to produce the works of Shakespeare independent of influence, so maybe there's a flaw in the theory...

Heh, I'm living in town now (second year, but then, first year was on campus without network, so I'm better off here) with ADSL, so I've been downloading a LOT of stuff. I have several CDs of Red Dwarf DivX at home, just because I could :o) Wish I'd brought them with me - I have a whole CD of episodes centered around Rimmer (my absolutely favourite character in anything ever, I believe).... Ah, I love that show :o)

ah yes, i'm pondering about that....
how much does ADSL cost you? becuase i'm sure me and rhydian (my flatmate, and housemate for next year) NEED internet in whatever house we find. We could split the cost between everyone in the house, and network our computer or someting.

Hmm... well it cost me £40 per month initially, on BTOpenWorld, but I hear that that's gone down to £30 per month (I'll believe it when I see it on my bank statement).

Alternatively, NTL offers a similar service, slightly faster downloads, significantly slower uploads (capped at 10kb/s I think), plus cable TV, for a similar price.

Sadly, I foot the bill for this myself, since nobody else is enthusiastic about computers enough to want to pay for Internet access. However, I still think it's completely worth it - I have it connect on startup, there's no timeouts... I've currently been online for 37 hours, and have downloaded 2.5gb of stuff in that time. I wouldn't go back to dialup now even if you paid me...

firstly - hi

next - how does a definition of time answer the age ole question "why are we here"?
what is the difference between free will and instinct?

bah, enough questions. you have written an amazing amount. personally such musings facinate me. however, i see lots of holes that make me wonder where you aquired your assumptions to begin with. i have to think this is a middle thought, not a beginning or end. why do we, as humans, have a need for such answers? why do we seek something more than ourselves to look towards and belive in. tell me, is there life after death? what will happen to the efemeral you when your physical stops?

Howdy :o)

Because my interpretation of "why are we here" isn't looking for a motive so much as a reason. And the reason is that in an infinite universe, we'd have to exist somewhere (Monkeys and Typewriters), and because time doesn't really exist and through the Anthropic principle, that somewhere is here.

Difference between free will and instinct is obvious - instinct is what animals have, it's a response to stimuli arising from the laws of cause and effect. Free will is the ability to override that. I would instinctively not put my hand in a flame, but my free will can override that if I choose.

As for where I obtained my assumptions, for the most part, everything just comes out of my own head. I came up with this four or five years ago (I would've been about fifteen), and at the time I wasn't especially well informed on the subjects above. After I actually came up with those ideas, I did a bit of research both into science and religion, and refined them a little given that new information. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any actual holes in the arguments, merely in my explanations of them - as you can perhaps imagine, having beliefs like that for half a decade, one gets asked a lot of questions, and challenged a lot, so I've been able to fill any holes in the beliefs.

As for life after death, I have no idea. As outlined above, I'm not entirely sure that it's even possible to die (from the perspective of the person experiencing life), but if it is, I wouldn't presume to know what happens afterwards. My beliefs are my own attempt to forge an interpretation of the universe around me, given my experience of it. I have absolutely no idea what would happen after death, only that if my way of seeing things is correct (and I wouldn't presume to tell anybody that it was), that there is some sort of existence afterwards, because death relates only to the physical world, and I believe there's something more than that. But as I said - if I tried to think up an afterlife, it'd be pure guesswork, whereas everything else I believe has at least some sort of actual basis.

thinking makes my brain hurt.
i just spent an hour in a church of some christian denomination for the school founder's day.
i have discovered that more people know the national anthem than the lord's prayer. which is a good thing. i think. as there were fewer vaguely christian people there than there were british people.

but now i have the rest of the day off. which can only be a good thing. so Happy Beltaine...I made a card for Jane... but i didn't see her today... not surprising as i think only 30% of my year turned up. but most inconvienient. i shall give her the card tomorrow. woot.

heh... i'm atheist and fairly proud of being british/english.. yet i know the lord's prayer and NOT the national anthem.....

heheh i know the lord's prayer. but i'm catholic. so i'm supposed to know.

i know the beginning and end of the national anthem... just not the middle bit. hehe.

Woo, everyone's venturing opinions so I think I will.

Firstly, happy Beltane.
Secondly, I'd say something about Wicca and me and stuff you believe and things but, well, it just seems silly when I talk about it. Things seem so much more simpler in my head. There's probably a word for that. It's probably not a good word either. In fact it may well end up with certain people in asylums. But I'll not go there yet. They'll not take me I tell you! Never! Oh the madness! MAAAAAAADDDDDNNNNNNESS!!!!1


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