Saturday, December 12, 2009

Icon Et Al

I sat today and wondered what it was that seemed to be missing in my life. I thought to write about an experience at a health care facility. Then I came up with a freaking really cool idea for a book. I needed to do some research about St. Joseph (purely out of literary curiosity). I wanted to avoid the television but found it irritatingly difficult to leave the remote alone. It was time for the imbibing of medication which must be ingested in concert with victual stimulation, and as anyone who knows me can attest to, said activity is a two handed operation for this rotund reporter of the written word.

In consideration of the sacred journey I have embarked on in the last synodic temporal length, I elected to view a program where famous comedian speculated (for 2 hours and 15 minutes) on the existence, or nonexistence of God.

This did nothing to stimulate the artistic salivating gland that resides within me. What it did was piss me off. I tried to launch into a diatribe on the mathematical and scientific proof of the being I find comfort and guidance from. Words escaped me. Frustrated and betrayed by my capacity to inscribe the page, and World Wide Web with both wit and wisdom, I fewlt a sentiment similar to Déjà vu. I wrote on this, I thought. I racked my brain, and went to one of the other locations I inhabit in Cyberspace. There it was! Exactly the emotion I wanted to articulate. Why reinvent the proverbial wheel? So…here is what I have to say about that…

... If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." [Voltaire] I look at this quote and remember the first time I read it. In a philosophy class where the topic du jour happened to be the reality, or nihility of a Supernatural being who is responsible for the conception, design, and fabrication of that which we call life. A pretty good course taught by a Harley riding professor who wore cowboy boots and in all probability imbibed at least one, if not several, products in the extended family of mind-altering, mood-changing substances known to mankind. Not, in and of itself, a pertinent piece of information…after all, it seems to be a required skill-set those who teach philosophy. I mean, how else can one talk in circles and not be high?

Anyhoo, (Yes I meant to spell it that way) we were engaged in what turned out to be a rather heated debate on one particular theorist’s method for achieving the ambiguity all who liken themselves as knowledgeable in such matters strive to accomplish. This speculative sage is a Roman Catholic Saint by the proper name of Anselm. He held the rather lofty position of Archbishop of Canterbury prior to Henry VIII declaring that divorce was not only permissible, but required if one were to birth a male heir. Being a conscientious high ranking cleric, he felt it germane to defend his faith in a book entitled “Proslogion.” At the time (circa 1077) there were still some poor deluded souls who worshipped the earth and maintained a commanding and compelling mystic embrace on the common folk. Hence…the call to duty.
His book was required reading in my class, and everyone read the thing and came out of it with two distinct feelings. First, we wondered, “What the hell is he talking about?” Secondly, and perhaps the more profound item, most of the class stopped believing in God.

The class demographics consisted of mostly psychology majors with some future Captains of Industry seeking to become CPA’s…and me, the “Voc Ed dude.” (An ironic designation given that I am now a teacher of children. Back then all I wanted was a million bucks for my first novel.) The discourse centered on a particular section of the insightful tome. The Five Proof’s:

1. One can imagine a being than which none greater can be conceived.

2. We know that existence in reality is greater than existence in the mind alone.

3. If the being we imagine exists only in our mind, then it is not a "being than which none greater can be conceived".

4. A being than which none greater can be conceived must also exist in reality. Failure to exist in reality would be failure to be a being than which none greater can be conceived.

5. Thus a being than which none greater can be conceived must exist, and we call this being God.

Now, the verbiage does not exactly lend itself to uncomplicated comprehension. I mean this whole “being of which there can be none greater” begins the process of perplexity, and the existing in reality stuff makes one think, no, doubt readily preconceived notions on the state of humanity. (Help! I’m falling in!) The discussion proved reasonably heated and quite amusing. I sat in silence (an unnatural state for me) while the class proceeded to quarrel about how the proof’s actually disproved the existence of a “being of which there can be none greater.” The amusement came from a room full of card carrying, dyed-in-the-wool Baptist’s. There I sat watching people who would condemn me if they knew my read on God, demanding that I not believe in “being of which there can be none greater”

I took the class in the first place because I had a choice between Philosophy and Psychology and didn’t like the Professor in the psychology course that fit my schedule. He began the “Voc-ED” junk when he told me that I probably could not grasp the complexity of the subject being, you know, just a “shop” teacher. I asked him what happened to him when he was a kid to make him the way he was today. After narrowly escaping his office when he erupted like Mount St. Helens, I fled to my Harley riding-dope smoking-Philosophy Dude. None the worse for wear.

That experience, the “shop teacher” rubbish, and the vehemence of a group of devoted Southern Baptist’s demanding that God did not exist has elicited much thought in the intervening years. Exactly what or who is God. I had reason to rethink this recently when one of my kids’s asked me if I were a Christian. “Yes” I proclaimed and thought I had sounded quite convincing. That is, until he asked me what church I went to. The quandary this Loving Child of the same God I believe in presented me with is that, in his world, my pseudo-psycho-socially appropriately intelligent philosophy towards organized religion, mattered little. You claim to be a Christian…you go to church. I escaped the predicament by reclaiming my Roman Catholic roots. Not exactly a lie. When I do go to church I tend to favor the church of my childhood. Maybe it’s the whole guilt/confession thing. But I digress.

What the experience did for me was to reassert that I do, in fact, believe in God and most certainly reject the notion that there is any “proof” necessary. The motivation behind this piece came from a conversation with my last girlfriend (who has since fled the embrace/wisdom of the “Voc-ED dude”) and the ideal that God does need to be proven if not but to bring his glory to those poor demented dupe’s who negate His/Her existence. I believe I won that debate, evidence being the absence of said girlfriend from my embrace/wisdom. Being somewhat unsettled at the disillusion of the ninth relationship this year, I sat to investigate what could be done to reengage some interest in the reestablishment of the embrace/wisdom activities caused by my supercilious ridiculousness. (She kind of likes it when I use big words)

My first effort in rectifying my predicament sent me in search of a simpler way to explain the words of St. Anselm. Here they are:
1. God is that entity than which nothing can be greater.
2. The concept of God exists in human understanding.
3. God exists in one's mind but not in reality.
4. The concept of God's existence is understood in one's mind.
5. If God existed in reality, it would be a greater thing than God's existence in the mind.
6. The final step to God's existence is that God in reality must exist.

All this did was add a step to the process of enlightenment. I mean…what the hell is it with reality and existence anyway? I remember an old 1960/1970’s movie called “Freakout” where Jack Nicholson plays a hippie about to die and his last words being “Reality is a crashing bore!” Profundity at it’s best.

I searched for more in that wondrous universe that is Google and found and a page entitled “Hundreds of Proofs of God’s Existence.” From hence came the removal of confusion, and yet another step on the road to enlightenment. I read many of the differing proof’s and have chosen three if, in my opinion, followed will undeniably prove the existence of “a being than which none greater.” The first is a mathematical perspective;

(1) Millions and millions of people believe in God.
(2) They can't all be wrong, can they?
(3) Therefore, God exists.”

Next came from a phone call reassuring me that not only am I not going to reinvigorate the embrace/wisdom activities I started this piece over;

(1) God exists.
(2) I don't give a crap whether you believe it or not; I have better things to do than to try to convince you morons.
(3) Therefore, God exists.”
The next falls under the “Out of the mouth’s of babes” lexicon;

(1) God is awesome!
(2) Like, totally, dude!
(3) Therefore, God, like, exists and stuff.”
An my personal favorite;

(1) Because.
(2) Therefore, God exists.”

I will report that my path to the God of my understanding comes from the simplicity of the Twelve Step program I am a fervently devoted member of. When I entered into communion (“interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication” - with the saving grace in my life, my belief in the possibility of a being than which none greater existing had been severely put to the test in the quagmire of getting and staying clean. The simple direction from members of my cabal has given me many gifts which, I have come to believe derive from a being than which none greater exists. I have people to love. I have a rewarding job which I love. I have something to do with my ailing spirit…when it is ailing. More importantly I have the ability to share my feelings with others, some of my kind and some who are not. Well perhaps I needed to write this in order to realize that the being than which none greater exists wanted me to, if only to rediscover the beauty, splendor, magnificence, and irony that is life. I love you God!