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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

92

#92. I generally lump magic, God, and the Powerball lottery together, and eye the lump warily.

Okay, this subject is a bit ‘heavy’ for this blog. I try to keep things light and breezy around here, but I can see where this one could get a little dicey. So I’ll do my best to explain without proselytizing. (Or prophylactizing, for that matter. Though I can make no promises as to the latter. You’ve been warned.)

Anyway, I suppose I’m a bit of a skeptic, generally speaking. I need quite a bit of proof before I believe something (or believe in something), and the things listed above just haven’t made the grade in my book. (Well, okay, of the three, I certainly believe that lotteries exist, just not that it’s realistic to participate in them. But of course they exist. They’re not like giraffes or platypi or anything nonsensical like that.)

That’s the beauty of being a skeptic, though. I can say that I really don’t believe in something — God, let’s say — and go merrily along my way. But I’m a skeptic because I don’t see sufficient proof, or a rational, coherent explanation, that suggests there must be a god or gods, and that he/she/they/it are of a certain persuasion or demeanor. Ah, but being an open-minded skeptic, I can always leave the door open for actual proof to sneak in. What kind of proof would be convincing in this case, I’m not sure. There are an awful lot of things that I can explain away by just deciding that I’ve lost my fucking mind. Not that I’ve needed to up to this point, you understand. But I reserve the right to do so, if that explanation makes more sense than the alternatives. And it’s not exactly unlikely, now, is it?

And so, I cast a critical eye on the things that I cannot explain, and haven’t personally experienced. Well, most things, anyway. Certainly, I’ve never seen a child being born, and I don’t quite have the wherewithal to tell you exactly how and why it happens. But I’m pretty sure that people are born, rather than dropped by storks or hatched from eggs or beamed down from Mars, so I’m willing to give in on this one and believe that childbirth is a real phenomenon. No, really, I just said I believed, okay? I don’t need to see it. I believe! I believe! La la la la la la la…

The things I mentioned originally are different beasts, though. Magic and god(s) were created to explain things that earlier people couldn’t. If religion is the opiate of the masses, then magic is the hemp of the counterculture. It’s romantic, it’s mysterious, it’s sexy. (No, really. Fairuza Balk in that horrible witch movie a few years ago? That was hot. And the chicks in Charmed and Buffy don’t exactly hurt my case, either.) But I’ve never seen anything that suggests that it’s real. Not for me, anyway. I’m all for relative truth — if it’s real for you, then more power to you. You go, Wiccan! I’m not one of those snarly sorts of skeptics who has to convince others; you go your way on this issue, and I’ll go mine. It’s all good.

God works pretty much the same way for me. Or doesn’t work, to be exact. First of all, basing your whole life around an old book seems just a bit daft. I don’t go around worshipping Beowulf. (Though I’m not so sure my high school English teacher didn’t. Weird woman, that one.) But I could probably get over that if the book weren’t filled with parables and innuendo, inconsistencies and flat-out contradictions. Not to mention the fact that if the Bible is the ‘word of God’, then what about all the changes and revisions that have been made over the years as monks and various holy men transcribed and ‘edited’ the text? Did the Lord change his mind? Was he correcting spelling errors? And which is right? The old text, or the new? What if we don’t have the right text, and the original has been lost forever? What then?

Plus — dammit, I really wasn’t gonna get started on this — there’s the matter of interpretation. Most people believe that the Bible’s not to be taken literally. And really, like I said, it can’t be. I’m sure the yahoos are going to come out of the woodwork in response to this one, but it’s: Just. Not. Possible. Besides the unlikelyhood of many of the events in the Bible happening, it contradicts itself more than once, and with little room for wiggling it’s way out of the inconsistency. Page so-and-so, John the Baptist is dead at Jesus’ baptism. Page such-and-such, he performs it. As Joseph may have said a few years beforehand, ‘What the fuck?

So, most people trest the Bible as partly — if not mostly — parable and example. Fine. I’ve got no immediate beef with these folks, provided they’re not holier-than-thou fire and brimstone types. Believe what you want, or need to believe, and I’ll do the same. My problem in this particular case is: if you know you’re not supposed to take some of what you read literally, then where do you draw the line? The burning bush — real or example? David and Goliath — history or life lesson? The ten commandments — divine will or just friendly suggestions? Who’s to say? Not me, and frankly, not you. You didn’t write the shit — we agree that it’s open to interpretation, and that the author ain’t talking. Basically, we can take anything we want from it. No wonder there are seven thousand different kinds of Christians running around. What’s next? A new one for everyone?

It’s personalized faith! Be the Church of You! Act now, before all the good stained glass is used up! Call today, and get your face on a cross figure. Limited time only.

All right, that’s probably enough of that, and then some. You get the idea, and I’m not here to convince anyone. Like I said, believe what you want. At least there’s a code of ethics and conduct involved, and for my money, that’s the real payoff. It doesn’t really matter where you get it from, just that you get it and you apply it. Don’t kill people or steal from them or be mean unless you really have to. Those are the basics, and you can get them from any holy text of any major religion on the planet, not to mention most of the wacko cults. It’s pretty basic stuff, after all. Hell, you can get it out of Blue’s Clues, if you watch a couple of episodes. All hail the Church of Blue!

So, anyway, what’s left? Oh, the lottery. Yeah, pretty much everybody under the age of blue hair-ness knows that these things are a waste of time. You have a better chance of Ben or JLo — whichever’s appropriate for your particular preferences — dropping the other to marry you than you have of ever seeing more than a free scratch ticket from any of the lotteries out there. They’re rigged to make money, and again, thank the heavens that they do. That money goes toward state projects like roads and schools and Senator kickbacks, so hurrah for lotteries. If you play them now, don’t listen to me — keep pumping that money in there. You’re paying for my smooth ride downtown, baby. Keep it up. Hell, buy an extra one, ’cause I’m not gonna play. You can have my ticket, too.

Well, that’s about all I have to say on this subject, I guess. I suppose — given my own outlook — that I’d advise the rest of you to adopt a critical eye yourselves. Question what you’re told; look for proof, or at least reason behind what’s laid down before you. You might be surprised how few things really make any damned sense at all. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t tell you that. For one thing, it’s a tad hypocritical, since I’ve already stated that I think you should believe whatever the hell you want to believe. So why stop believing them and doubting your various faiths, just because I say so? Plus, I’m not sure a whole world full of people who scoff at ‘because I said so‘ would really work out very well. We’d probably just end up arguing all the time, and being mean to each other without a good reason. We might even start stealing each other’s shit, out of spite, and even killing each other. And that’s just wrong, no matter where you get your beliefs from. Hell, the back of a cereal box could get you that far.

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