Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 8, 2012

Doing Without, Going Within

      “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other [people], living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.” –Albert Einstein

      I don’t know how long this entry is going to be. I’m not angry or feeling defensive, so I’m not going to fly into a frenzy like a mad maenad at religion today. I have a stack of answers and one big question: “What are my questions?” The biggest busy-work issue I currently am working on to avoid contemplative meditation is a desire to de-deify my language. That, I think, is part of the addiction. However, it also leads to knowledge, so perhaps there is a method to my temporary mania. Or at least a way to draw recovery from it, by “depending on the labors of other [people], living and dead[.]” By the way, that original quote says “men”, but I find women tend to have some of the better guidance for me–probably 75% to 25%.
     
      So, this brings me to an article on freethoughtblogs.com by Greta Christina, written 19 December 2011: “Some Thoughts on Godless Language.” The significance of the death of atheist writer Christopher Hitchens, brother to theist writer Peter Hitchens, occurred only four days before.
     
      On my forty-second birthday. I find it sad and strange that while I was wandering around with my towel on Thursday, Christopher Hitchens–a writer whose works speak to me–died of cancer in Texas. I don’t see a pattern to it, just an odd coincidence that while the current year of life I am living began, his life ended. Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows, to quote the host of The Original Amateur Hour. It’s amazing to think how we are a product of the world, of the universe, we live in–that we are so interconnected.
      Anyway Greta Christina writes in this blog article about secularist speech and I think I agree with her statement:
     
      “I don’t object to raising the issue of secularizing our language. I think these conversations are worth having. But I’d like to see them be conversations, and not arguments.”
     
      We have enough conflict already in the world as people of religion and people of rationalism scrimmage on the front lines of politics and science. I am definitely a believer in the “I don’t know, therefore science” over “I don’t know, therefore God.” I find that pop science is one of the greatest hurdles of the scientific community–a little knowledge in the wrong hands leads to extreme ignorance under the guise of throwing up misleading and outright false proofs. Science is like a jigsaw puzzle to me; just because there are holes in the puzzle as it is being worked does not mean I should draw a picture, set it underneath the completed parts, glue the lot, frame it, and call myself done. The other pieces are out there waiting to be set in their places to make the whole picture. And it annoys me that people don’t understand that theory means a lot more to a scientist than it does to a layman–which I struggled with when I learned about scientific theory in school. I consider that the layman term “theory” is closer to the scientist’s term “hypothesis”: A considered question which has yet to be proved. A theory, in science, is reproducible, yet still holds humility in the terminology–future scientists will make advancements (which, of course, get kneecapped by the term “discovery”, as if it was generated from nothingness at the moment it was first observed). In an effort to make science approachable, the average person reads a popular science article and may assume s/he knows all there is to know about the subject. What’s worse? The concept that irreducible complexity is the mark of intelligent design is a leap of faith that just is too far. There isn’t even a logic to leaping to “equals God”. I mean, what about the wasps which lay their eggs in living creatures which are fated only to have an agonizing death. For the wasp? It’s survival. For the unfortunate nest-slash-prey? It’s cruel, wasteful, torture. Baby seals, therefore God. Digger wasps (and others like them–of which there are many), therefore . . . the Devil? Therefore . . . don’t think about it because it’s yucky? Or perhaps Ampulicidae, therefore God, because they do it to cockroaches–and nobody likes cockroaches.
     
      Why is it so, so hard to say, “I don’t know,” with conviction? I am not the center of all things, nor was I ever meant to be! Like every complex multicelluar organism, I am a product of generations of “Hey, baby, you got something that I think will make our progeny create progeny.” Humanity selectively bred for intelligence, because that’s how we survived. Like Survivor’s tag line, human evolution was, is, and will always be: “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay.”
     
      I cannot say for sure there is no God because I cannot perceive the arena of existence God is rumored to exist. I suppose by taking a label for this human-turned-pickle-jar, I have to pick up “Atheist” and slap it on. Does it mean I have to smack around the religious? Well, I am an addict. If I get into a situation where I can’t practice “Acceptance is the Answer” because I am not yet recovered enough not to let that resentment trigger character defects? I will scrap and come down hard with what I know. And I am learning more. I would like to reasonably say, “I see no proof of any intelligent design, any non-corporeal intellect guiding anything. Honestly, if I do? I see a sadist in the sky, which is callous, cruel, wasteful, and bloodthirsty.” I find more comfort in looking at the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” without God put into it. To dismiss the bad as “having a higher purpose” puts it back in the deity’s court, and a reasonable mind which doesn’t stop there must examine a deity which would have a higher purpose for such wretched and disgusting and pointless cruelties and wastes in the universe. Natural selection has an answer which works for now. Scientists have advanced, are advancing, and will advance and expand (not discover!) the scientific thought related to it. They are finding the tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces of the big picture and are filling in the holes with what belongs there–not what is easier and faster.
      So, program, then. I think perhaps program resonates because I see it and don’t think “Therefore, God.” Perhaps my anger with it is that it is like intelligent design arguments–something so beautifully simple had God injected. I know it was part of the culture. I accept that perhaps that was the easiest way to get people on board in a nation of believers suffering the Great Depression after just coming off Prohibition. And, as a child indoctrinated by organized religion? I can see it so clearly. There are days when I fear Hell, which makes me angry. I don’t want Heaven if I have to follow a deity which allows inequality on this world. The sanctity of life is removed if this world and this life are treated like a test for the next. The pain and eternal suffering? Don’t particularly want that, either.
      Ugh, now I’ve gone and gotten all snitty again. I really didn’t mean to jump all over religion yet again. I just want a very real and very true answer from people when I want to understand how intelligent design explains babies and children getting cancer. How certain insects are able to procreate generation after generation on the suffering of others. Ugh. And how people do, too–if we’re going to bring it to human level. Why do we accept enslavement to the 1% in the name of God? If anything, a person who believes in God should consider the complacency to be an affront to God. Obedient to God? Fine. But why stay in the cesspit of life when the opportunities are out there? And I’m not talking just money. I am talking those nobler traits within ourselves. Certainly not traits like this, which I am pretty sure the offenders would proudly state their religious affiliation.
      I believe in free will, and the righteous subjugation of a group within the population because people are standing upon their religious convictions (which as horrified as I am to say it, the current Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates are treating women like chattel in terms of a woman’s right to choose, ie. THINK FOR HERSELF). The blatant ignorance is terrifying, and I do not understand how moderates within the religion are not standing up against them. Extremists represent the moderates because they are the squeaky wheel, the vocal minority.
      Just like the antitheists are terrifying people into turning toward God harder because they’re so emotionally aggressive–just like aggressive proselytizers. Or people who believe intelligent design belongs in science instead of philosophy classes.
     
      Well, it looks like Greta Christina and I share something about our writing: I’m tone-trolling instead of making it about recovery.
      Acceptance is the answer, and I am just trying out my legs as a born-again skeptic. And yeah, I can tell I am as big a pain in the butt as a born-again non-smoker, a born-again vegan, a born-again religious convert. And, as ashamed as I am to admit, a born-again OA 12-Stepper since the end of September 2009. This isn’t about the heart over the head. This is about heart, head, and body working together to evolve an egotistical, mouthy, opinionated, self-centered, emotionally punitive, angry, controlling woman into a humane being. No, that was not a misspelling. I want to live humanely, with boundaries and acceptance. Not a doormat with hidden pop-up nails. I don’t want to live in the insanity that is addiction, and I am afraid.
      Oddly enough, that dark and fearful place is where I can see the tiny candle flame of hope best. And I think . . . recovery has more to do with natural selection for me than intelligent design. Suffering without cause is a kinder thing that looking to the sky and asking, “Why did You let this happen to me as a child, God?” Surviving because the traits to survive were bred into me, being able to show my progeny that I was wrong and insane in addiction and that they were not insane when they perceived that insane behavior in me. Natural selection bred a person able to walk into a 12 Step room after generations of addictions and abusiveness and just plain scoundrel behavior. But I am that first generation who’s ever walked into a room, because people before me have left me vast resources. To be fully human in the noblest instead of mundane sense of the word, I want to some day be able to give back what I have received from those who have come this direction before me. Even their mistakes. Especially their mistakes.
     
      My name is Jess. Still food-and-toxic-love obsessed–trying to drown in it or strangle it out of my life with pure will. Progress, not perfection. There’s a mental process going on, and I feel that anxious emotional bottleneck which usually precludes a pretty good enlightenment moment. Well, or, if I decide to settle into self-delusion? A nasty, nasty, rage-filled tantrum which was part of the inescapable slavery of addiction. Well, until I decided slavery to my addictions was worse than personal revolution.
      I still have no idea how I’m food sober. I wanted to binge last night. But, well, I looked at that little piece of paper that represents my food plan, and it “felt” bad that I couldn’t lash out with food if I wanted to keep that precious day of abstinence (with three hours left in twenty-four, it was put into perspective that the majority of the work had been done, and if I had to binge? It could “wait until tomorrow”.)
      Well, I hope my words become gentler as I ease into the vast accumulation of human inspiration and effort and ingenuity and compassion and, well, nobility. It isn’t a gift, given without effort. It is there for us to take at any time, true, but we have to reach out and take it.

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