I arrived at a provocative thesis: those who emphasize “the serious / judging side of God” by actively preaching and promoting it do so because it allows them to live out an innate desire for high-energy social interaction, or for taking strong and even agressive positions. This type of beliefs grant a channel for “energetic behavior” that is legal in their own mindset and the official legal framework of their society. They embrace this opportunity because intensive, highly energetic (at times even aggressive) social interaction is banned by taboo and convention from most other areas in civilized Western societies. There are other people who succeed in completely sublimating this “energy” and directing it towards inner processes, resulting in high motivation to reach objective goals and if necessary forcing themselves forward. But not all people can be that introverted …

A confirmation for this thesis is that “only” people who have strong opinions about things (in other words, who are aggressive and determined in other areas) tend to stress the “serious” side of God. In contrast to people who are careful to take strong positions, fearing they might not be true. However, this is supported only by anecdotal reports, and has to be investigated more thoroughly. There just seems to be such an astonshing correlation between personality style and faith style …

Understanding this, there is not much of a problem: listening to a sermon, I have to just filter the message through a personality filter, to arrive at teh true ojective message, independent of the speaker’s personality traits. There is however an extreme and dangerous variant of this, where people think themselves justified (in their religious framework) to insult other people, to call them names, to judge them, to question the  salvation of nearly all others etc..

First, start with watching the video “2011 حماده هلال أنا مصرى ” below or on YouTube. It is about the 2011 Egyption uprising and is underlaid with a song repeating “Allah Akhbar” (Allah Almighty) over and over.

If you are from a non-Islamic culture, read on. What was your impression from watching this with an analytic mind from a non-Islamic culture (the latter is just to avoid prejudice)? To me, it was astonishingly self-evident that the authors’ faith in Allah is motivated by wishful thinking: they use a notion (idea) of God to promote unity, a hope for protection and victory, motivation etc. among people who have nothing to do with each other in the first case. (Note that this sharp judgement does not relate to the Egyptian revolution itself … I wish freedom to all people in all the world, in every sense of the word … .)

Using this “idea called God” serves as a surrogate for other non-existing bonds (cultural or family), and can be used to create a nation or nation state. And all that without there being any real background behind this particular idea: God as an idea works even if there is no God, simply by people believing there is, and having unity and bonds because of that. This is not the only thing for which “God as an idea” can be used: in other cases, like in Hinduism (read the Vedas!), God is a philosophic idea: thoughts that came out of human philosophical thinking and likewise can exist without being grounded in external reality.

So what. As somebody who immersed myself in natural science for a prolonged time, I am not willing to believe in a God that is an idea only. If there is no substance to my God (Yahweh), I would stop believing. And further, I have the hypothesis that the faith in the one true, existing God (if there is one) can clearly distinguish itself from believing in idea-only Gods, and can justify itself when being compared to them. Ok and that’s the reason I search for what God does today.

So what did God mean when he said: Let us make man, in our image?

Then they made one man (Adam), in their image. So is that all? God compares himself to a single person? Mmmh. Maybe there is more to it. God intended that people multiply, and it would be absurd to assume that society, as a whole, is greater / better / stronger than God is (and God has shown throughout history that this is not the case). So, and here is the new thought, might it be that family (the unit of multiplication) is meant, by God, as just another level of resemblance?

Answer: yes, that is highly probable. In the Bible, the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is often compared to the human father-son relationship, so family is probably meant to resemble God.
And, we can now reiterate that new thought level by level: a human society (like a state) is made of families, and is probably meant to be another level of resemblance. The same for the global society of all the people and other creatures, made up of smaler societies. The same for the universal society, made up of all the interstellar global societies that could potentially emerge from our earth. The same for the multiversal society that could emerge from our universe … .

Could emerge. Could. God probably wanted to see His world growing that way, form bottom up, every level of resemblance filled with love through and through. (We can even find levels of resemblance lower than the individual: how a body is made up of cells that help each other “in love”, and how a cell is made of molecules that help each other “in love”, and molecules made from atoms, each fulfilling its task in the Whole, and atoms from subatomar particles, each one fulfilling its place in the beautiful Whole.)

You can get a glimpse of the power and beauty that this whole system could grow into if you know about some complex system (say, the Linux kernel) managed by humanity. It came into existence because many humans fulfilled their task of contribution, and in essence, the result is something “transhuman”, as it can do things that individual humans cannot do. Or even, we can view it that way: all the current buzz about “transhumanism” is in vain, as it deals only with the potential that God gave us, which also means, that he wants us to utilize.

The fucking problem is that since the Fall, the Whole stopped working. The human mind, which was meant as the source of love (getting that from the relationship to God, probably), had no more love and stopped loving. As a result, all higher levels are no longer filled with (enough) love and stopped working. And the lower levels suffer, too, as people often even do not care for their own bodies, out of a lack of love. On all levels, we now have tyranny instead of love. For example on the state level, there are many dictators.

What is depressing beyond measure about this problem is that you (as an individual) cannot fix it. If you would be perfect, you would fulfill your role and place in humanity, but all your contributions might become useless and get destroyed by the acts of others, and by them NOT taking their place and fulfilling their role. As an example, take a contribution to an existing complex system like the Linux kernel: say you would contribute Ubuntu 10.10 packages for an RTAI patched kernel (which are currently missed desperately!!), but people behind other projects do not accept or forget your bugfixes etc., and finally nobody wants to take over that maintenance task from you. All contributions are virtually lost, then, even though you worked a lot.

Hopefully, the next world is better than this, again filled with love through and through. I start believing that we will be totally free from sin in that world. It will be like waking up from a bad bad dream; we have the memories of the old world, but they fade away quickly, like something totally unreal that never could have happened because it is “so bad”. It is indeed necessary that we lose all sinful qualities in the next world, as these qualities are (mainly) what we have learned in this world, and it is impossible except by supernatural means to unlearn all this (except maybe by 1000 years of training, which is a pain unworthy of the next world as it would rather be found in purgatorial fire).

The best partial solution that we can arrive at while in this world is probably only: being oneself “love filled” at 85%, and having a “85% love filled” family and “85% love filled” small society, like a church or power community. In larger scale, we will never be able to reach (or if we reach, to maintain) a “love level” of 20% or more. Also, do not be hasty: if you cannot manage yourself in love, why would you try to found a family, as that would never ne able to be love-filled either.

But what I wanted to express in the first instance: imagine that a love-filled multiverse of billions of interrelated love-filled societies on love-filled (and highly technicized) planets is just an image of God. God is even more than that all, and more beautiful than it.

This is about the feeling of “falling in love” and other thrills. Let’s start with an ingenious quotation from Mr. C. S. Lewis:

“People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to change – not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamor will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in a beautiful place? By no means. In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this is), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in a beauty spot will discover gardening.

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live until it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through a period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors open all around them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 110-111

What does that mean? It’s like in a video game: after you mastered one level, you are thrown into a new, a bit similar but harder level, to master that one too. For example, once the thrill of having falling in love went out, still there is the thrill of deep mutual understanding to be discovered.

What is a total failure, however, is if people always seek for the thrill on the same level, as they will get more and more desperate during that search. For example, people who experienced the thrill of seeing a special landscape may go on and on in that, travelling the whole world to seek the craziest landscapes, and still will not find the thrill again that they had with the first few landscapes. And all the while, they miss the thrills of the next level in travelling, which is, for example, to bond with the locals, to learn their language, to learn to understand how they think, to develop relationships with them.

So what makes life interesting? The answer is ludicrously simple: emotions. Mainly the positive ones. But not exclusively, because people maiinly want to be entertained by emotion to lead an interesting life, and just on top of that want a good life (and both interests sometimes even conflict). This desire for emotions is behind much of people’s activity to make their own life interesting:

  • starting a romantic relationship
  • starting a romantic relationship with somebody else
  • “involuntarily” creating relationship drama in ones life, with mixed joy and sadness
  • watching movies
  • reading novels; this allows to experience deep emotions (deeper and more faceted than in movies), without the danger and effort of undergoing these experiences in real life
  • extreme sports
  • meditation, prayer, church going: for many, this is just for the sake of the emotions experienced therein
  • listening to and creating music
  • travelling, which triggers emotions of surprise and curiosity etc.
  • scientific research, which feeds curiosity
  • dealing with and marveling at beautiful objects, plants, animals and people
  • engaging in flirting and courting, including dancing etc.
  • engaging in erotic and sexual activity
  • behavior and accomplishments that feed ones pride and self-esteem

The new (at least, new for me) aspect in the above rationale is: people do not do something, in the first instance, because they are motivated by emotion; instead, they are motivated by the desire to experience emotion. That is a hypothesis that has to be checked by psychological experiments of course, but let’s go a step further and for the rest of this article just assume that it is proven correct already …

From a Christian perspective, one can even argue that emotions have been created by God in order to make life interesting for us. At least we can say, God did not create human beings in a way that enables them to easily undergo emotional boredness for any non-trivial amount of time; such an experience is always a time of suffering for a human being.

To master life, everybody has to develop tools and techniques to trigger emotions which let one experience “interestingness of life”. Because, in many cases such emotions are not triggered by ones current circumstances of life on their own. In a modern world, people’s circumstances of life are mostly just plain boring, esp. for poor and otherwise restricted people.

Yesterday, I discussed with a friend how God does help this world.
The alternatives were these:

  1. That God helps “only” from eternal condemnation. With respect to our life in this world this would only be a theoretical concept, as condemnation happens after this life. Christian people would just know that people are infinitely bad, which would keep them from getting disappointed again by others or themselves. But there would be no way to change this in this world.
  2. God would, at times, let good things happen in the outside world. Or they might happen because God kept the outside world from deteriorationg completely, so that a remains of glory is still in it. In any case, people should be grateful if this happens, and not think that it is their “right” to experience such good and rightful events. Because after all, we live in a fallen world.
  3. God would, probably in addition to the prior alternative, help people to deal with their defects of personality, by helping them overcome, manage or work around these on a case-by-case basis. This would keep people from thinking that they “finally learned something”, and thus keep them from pride. They would know that they cannot handle their defects in the future without the immediate help of God. This constant dependency would be a positive thing, though: experiencing God’s help frequently would be something that keeps the relationship to God warm and active.
  4. Like before, but God would mainly try to educate his children to permanently overcome their character defects, by acquiring better character. This would be in parallel to how parents educate their children and teach them new qualifications, and are happy when they get it and finally can live on their own. As children of great character, these would however also be thankful and not proud, knowing that they did not teach themselves, and could never have done so (because as evildoers, they did not want to!).

We agreed that alternative 2 is true, and discussed whether the rest is rather like 3 or 4. The difference of opinion probably is rooted in different images of humanity. If you think that you will always need God’s supernatural power to do good, you think that some supernatural part went missing in the Fall, rendering people unable to even learn  to be good again. (The supernatural part might also be thought as a male sex-linked genetic disease, as it was not present in Jesus who was born from Mary and the Holy Spirit, so not including a man …) If you, however, think that original sin is rather something like the fall of our collective mind, by learning from bad example, to a state where self-education towards the good is impossible for us humans: then you can agree with alternative 4 and think that God can teach us to be good (in principle, but not coming to an end in our lifetime).

If you agree with alternative 4, you might think that “spirit” is another word for “mind” or “brain program”, and that “receiving the Holy Spirit” is a term for the influence of God’s mind (which does not depend in matter implementation in a brain) on our mind. Which not necessarily involves changing our brain content (that would be a miracle in the physical world each time). Because, there might already be an interface prepared for the Holy Spirit, where it can connect to and add “external mind power” (motivation, love etc.) to our brain; like pushing it to an altered, higher state, not unlike the way soem drugs do it. (Note that, then, there might also be an interface for demons …).

These are some philosophical, speculative ramblings about how the human spirit works and how the Holy Spirit interacts with it.

Knowing ones ability to do evil (like murdering someone) is not doing evil. And suffering the temptation to do evil (like murdering someone as the seemingly easiest solution) is not doing evil either. One could argue that knowing ones ability to do evil, combined with logical thinking, is a specific kind of temptation; because sometimes, an evil act seems desirable to the logical mind.

The problem is, resisting temptation needs a mental effort of “good will”, and the human abilitiy to be successful here is simply limited. Temptation consumes “positive moral energy”, and if all is used up, man starts to do evil acts. That’s why people are seen to be “good” under normal conditions, but start to be evil when under stress. See also Mk 7:20-21.

So what man needs is a constant, super-human source of positive moral energy. Jesus can be said to have possessed this source: he was tempted for 40 days under extreme physical stress, and did not give in; that’s clearly super-human.
I assume that the Holy Spirit is this external, super-human source of positive moral energy. When “having” the Holy Spirit, it should probably happen that a “good thought” pops up in ones mind without one having produced it with from ones own good will. That is, such a though would pop up without consuming good will (“positive moral energy”).

Further, we should assume that such a thought has the same physical appearance in the bran as a though created by ones own good will; because it “feels” no different. This does however not mean that a miracle is implied here that contradicts the natural laws. It’s supernatural, but the law of conservation of energy is probably intact. Because, brain activity is a statistical process, including much random activity. So to create a thought in our mind, the Holy Spirit coordinates the quantum probabilities of neurons so that this thought emerges, where otherwise would have been just noise.