Well, I've been debating about whether to write this or a "computer guide", but there's ton of "computer guides" out there already. So, I decided to write this instead. However, if anyone does want to hear my computer hints and tips, I'll be more than happy to post them on here eventually. I deal with many common mistakes made by the "average Joe" on a daily, if not an hourly basis, of where I work at the Geek Squad.
My Religious History
First of all, let me talk about my "religious history". I was raised in a very strong Christian environment throughout most of my life until I got married. Up until I was about a pre-teen, my father was a Gideon (the guys who places Bibles in hotel and motel rooms), and he was also a Sunday school teacher for the men's adult class at his Southern Baptist church. My mother played the piano and the organ at this church, and they both were in the choir and also in a singing group. When my father "surrendered to his calling to preach", he has pastured two churches (currently at his second Independent Baptist church), and both parents are still doing everything they were doing before my father became a preacher, except for being a Gideon or teaching Sunday school. Most of my life, we attended church three times a week, yearly Vacation Bible School and Bible camps, every church and tent revival in the tri-county area (and no, I'm not kidding, either!), and even a private Christian school from 6th grade up through 9th grade, which then my mother home-schooled my sister and I throughout our high school years. To say the least, I've had a very good "dose" of Christianity, and know the Bible better than most of the Christians I've had discussions or debates with. I started questioning everything I was taught by the age of 15, and started making serious "religious changes" while I was attending a local community college.
"…So Let's Do It Like They Do On The Discovery Channel..."
Most importantly, I'd like to state that I have a VERY limited knowledge and understanding of history and the sciences. Although I enjoy learning about the such, I never fully understand, but I usually get the "jest" or the basics and fundamentals. In fact, I comprehend history and science a lot better when I watch these topics on educational television channels because they often try to keep it simple, instead of trying to read about the such from a curricular point of view. With that in mind, I too, make assertions and assumptions about ideas and topics that either I, or any of us, know without any reasonable doubt or certainty.
Instead of debating who right and who's wrong with what facts that can swayed in any direction, I'll just talk about what I personally believe and perhaps even why, while trying to remain non-biased and non-judgmental towards any other beliefs outside of my own. Since people argue, torture, and murder each other because different perspectives and interpretations, I'll attempt to refrain from such. We have enough intolerance in this world to go around...
While I'm on the topic of intolerance, to understand what tolerance is, you must first know true difference between the two. A definition of intolerance can be found from Dictionary.com:
lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.
Often, intolerance (and disrespect) come from ignorance (lack of knowledge, understanding, and experience); and often causes fear from this ignorance. Many people intolerate circumstances that cannot be chosen, such as race and gender. How many of you had the choice to be the race and gender you are? To me, racism and sexism are the most ridiculous forms of intolerance, because no one has the choice to be what they are, predetermined before birth and understanding. Another form of intolerance is against creed (personal beliefs and religion), even though this is a person's choice, is often a product of the person's environment and society in general. Depending upon where you were born and what you were taught growing up often reflects your personal beliefs. Even though you may completely believe differently than what your parental figures believed, you still may carry basic morals and ethics shared by them. I can relate to this from personal experience. It is very difficult to COMPLETELY change your way of thinking if you were taught what your parental figures believed.
However, intolerance often comes from one's personal religious beliefs as well. I hope this is the only time I will say anything negative towards any religion, and I'll even refrain from listing any specific religion that may fall into this category. There's quite a few of them out there, and I hate to admit that most, but not all, of them are monotheistic in nature. But if your religion teaches any form of intolerance, then perhaps you should definitely reconsider why you believe what you believe! I cannot understand why a god or a group of deities would command his/hers/their children that they created to hate and kill one another! In most intolerant religions, their god or gods are usually omniscient ("all-knowing"). With that in mind, why would a god or deities who already know what will become of a person before they are even conceived let them be born if they are committed to die later in life by his/hers/their own followers? Why would a creator(s) want to destroy their own creations, their own greatest work of art, their grandest masterpiece? Besides, if the creator(s) really wanted a specific sect or group of opposing religious believers punished in some fashion, aren't they able to do that themselves? They are omnipotent ("all powerful") enough to create everything, they should be powerful enough it destroy it all, as well. Unless, they allow unbelievers to be born and continue to live and prosper for two reasons:
1. They aren't "god-like" (they're not omniscient or omnipotent), making them a demigod (an inferior god), or not a god at all
2. They allow these non-believers to exist simply because they DO want them to live and prosper, and have "free-will" (the right to choose what he or she wants to believe).
This makes absolutely no sense to me. Mankind will never progress further until we all can learn to tolerate and respect each other, and that's including myself. That doesn't mean that we all have to conform to a particular faith or to a set of beliefs, but at least make a slight attempt to learn and understand each other, what makes us different, and what makes us all the same. You may be surprised how your religion is similar to other religions you may have superstitions about! And when you start examining other religions, I think most people will be very surprised at the similarities between their own beliefs and others. Do some research of these webpages and see what I mean…
Also, many people believe that tolerance is arrogantly looking at others different than them, knowing they are right and everyone else is wrong. Here's a few good definitions of what tolerance is, also found on Dictionary.com:
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
"A fair, objective, permissive attitude", "freedom from bigotry", and "interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc. that differ from one's own" is what tolerance is. A good web site that "promotes religious understanding, tolerance, and freedom" is http://www.religioustolerance.org. I've been learning a great deal from this web site for well over a decade or so, and I highly recommend that everyone should delve into its many pages of vast knowledge. They attempt to remain as unbiased as possible (all of the primary website authors share very different beliefs from each other), yet they don't hold back or "pull punches" when they examine a religion that promotes intolerance. For example, it's interesting to know that 21 different world religions have a version of the "Golden Rule". This common belief of "treat others the way you would like to be treated", though worded differently in these different religions, still holds the same basic principle. If you really think about it, how often do we actually live by that? It's easy to "push our agenda" upon others, but how often do we enjoy that when it's done to us? Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy civilized discussions (hence this blog), but not when it's only "one-sided". Be prepared to hear my ideas and opinions as I will respectfully will do the same for you in return. Fairly, objectively, and permissively listening to beliefs, ideas, and opinions different than our own is how we learn, mature, and prosper as a human race. We all have many different paths in life that are different as we all are individually, but I highly doubt any of these paths should truly lead to harassment, torture, and murder of others who are perceived as being different.
Something else that has always been disheartening for me is the topic of how we treat each other and the world around us. Not only we insist killing each other because of our differences or for some sort of profitable gain, but we also must destroy the environment and all that lives within. If this breaks my heart as an insignificant human being among billions, I could only imagine how this hurts our creator(s) who may know and see everything. I wonder how many civilizations of people and species of plants and animals we have managed to wipe off the face of the planet due to intolerance, ignorance, and greed?
What I Am, Or What Am I?
I guess I shall start off by saying, in general, I'm a "die-hard", "hardcore" agnostic (wow, now there's an oxymoron!), sugared with a little Buddhism, with a slight "lemony" humanistic twist. To be a little more specific, I believe that we really have no idea of what infinite supernatural lies out there beyond our own finite horizons, nor can we comprehend the supernatural or the reasons that we are here. Also, we have very little proof of the true origin of life (abiogenesis isn't even a theory yet... just a hypothesis, but a very formidable one at that!). Since no one was around to record the account of how we got here, I feel that anyone who claims to know such are delusional, afraid of the unknown, and must make "blind" conclusions to feel at peace with themselves. All we have to go by are either what science or religion currently believes or states. I'm more of a man of science than religion, and I fill-in the gaps of where I feel science doesn't currently provide me with "satisfactory explanations" with my own personal beliefs, observations, perspectives, and conclusions. Of course, I also feel that science will eventually provide me with more "satisfactory explanations" as time goes on and more evidence will "unearth". Maybe one day, I might actually fall into the category of "atheist", but not until all of my questions are answered with "satisfactory explanations".
Where Did We Come From?
Since none of us were around when it all began, I must make some assumptions (like everyone else does) based upon what we know today. I feel that some sort of supernatural being(s) or force(s) created this universe, but using evolution to do so. This is definitely not anything new, since some people believe that their god or deities used evolution to create everything. I feel that there's enough evidence to support evolution… (don't believe me, visit these webpages)
…but it all did not happen out of complete chance (randomness). Although there is more than enough evidence to support evolution, I don't think it could have happened without some sort of "external help". However, to call this "external help" "God", and then attempt to explain his/her/their consciousness and nature is far beyond our limited human capabilities.
Why Are We Here?
Seems like a very simple question, but I've never heard a really good simplistic answer. That's because there isn't one. I personally believe we are all here for as many different reasons are there as many people living on this earth. However, I also believe that we all should share one common goal - to learn from each other, to tolerate each other, and to live in harmony with each other and the world around us. And it's a goal that I struggle with everyday, but it doesn't mean that none of us should stop trying. This is an obtainable goal, but we first must have leaders in place who envision the same goal and wants to benefit the entire world as a whole and not themselves or their personal agendas. But in the meantime, we should all do the best we can as individuals and never stop trying. I do often think that what if I were to help change at least one person's life in a positive way... but even that could lead to selfish gratification. Perhaps just making positive changes in my own life may help someone else make positive changes in theirs... someone else grows spiritually as I grow... and that perhaps may be the primary reason for why I'm here.
Where Are We Going?
This is about as simple to answer as the previous sections. Here on earth, if things don't change, then we're facing inevitable doom. Instead of using our ever-expanding knowledge to benefit man-kind and our planet as a whole, we use this knowledge against ourselves and our own habitat. Eventually, if things don't change, we will destroy ourselves, whether it be from some sort of mass holocaust or through the environment, whichever comes first. However, what happens after death? Hmm... I personally feel that you have as much control over your eternal destination as you do here on earth. "What?!" Heheheh... let me explain. First of all, we have a lot more control over our lives and what happens to us here on earth than most people seem to think. I highly doubt the supernatural is as involved in our lives as much as we think they are. People don't like this idea because if you really think about it, you are a lot more responsible over your own life (through decisions and actions) and those lives around you, and things usually don't happen to you for a reason. Sure, bad things happen to good people, but I don't think that cynical circumstances are bestowed upon people by some sort of angry god, deities, demons, or what have you. Perhaps, some of these events may happen to help teach you valuable lessons in life. But overall, negative situations randomly happen to random people, and sometimes these things could have been prevented, and sometimes they can't. When I stopped blaming outside sources for negative events that happened to me, stopped depending upon outside sources for positive events to happen to me, and started taking control and responsibility of my own life, including depending upon myself for strength and guidance, it was one of the biggest, most positive turning points in my life. So, if we have a lot of control of what happens to us in our own lives, I feel that we have a lot of control of what happens to us in the afterlife. I feel that we choose what happens to us. From a Christian's perspective, then think of God as a "traffic cop". He's there to guide us to where we believe or think we belong in the afterlife, whether it be some sort of heaven, reincarnation, no life after death, or whatever you personally believe you will go in the afterlife. I, personally, would like to hang around after death and see what happens here on earth as some sort of spirit. I have absolutely no desire to go to the version of heaven Christians describe. That would be hell for me. If other people want to go to such a place, then so be it. I'd rather spend my eternity else-where. But I promised that I wouldn't speak negatively about another religion, so I'll stop at that.
Sin/Repentance Versus Darkness/Enlightenment
This is probably where a lot of people reading this will get even more angered than the previous paragraph. Since we are very much in control of our lives here on earth and perhaps our afterlife, then I assume we have as much control as to how we get from here to there. "Huh?!" Well, some people believe this is through good works. Other people believe that you pray and ask for some sort of salvation. What if I were to tell you that you are all right? Since we are all different and have different paths in life, why should we all follow the same path to "salvation", which is very personal and different for each of us individually? For me, "salvation" is achieved though personal enlightenment. This is where the sugary Buddhism comes in. I believe that we all have a spiritual "veil of darkness" that cover our spiritual eyes. Perhaps it could be materialism, personal selfish goals, or what have you. But through personal observation of nature all around us, general human nature, and our own personal, individual natures, we can learn and become more aware of who we are, and why we are here, as a whole and as individuals. None of us has to have some sort of psychology degree in order to do this, since we all live on this planet earth together and we all are human beings. Eventually, this "veil of darkness" will very slowly be lifted, and it's a process that may take each of us a lifetime. To understand this world around us, each other, and ourselves is my personal path to "salvation", and hence is why this blog came about. Each of us can experience peace and happiness, but it is through our own unique, individual ways. If you experience such through either praying or casting spells, then so be it, but that isn't for all of us. I have experienced peace and happiness on many occasions, but it isn't an ongoing experience. I have had those experiences when I felt an uplifting, almost spiritual bonding with the world around me and with myself, and I wish those experiences would happen more often with less work from myself, but it does take a lot of work. I have to live a life that is a positive influence on my family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. I have to live a life of ever-growing ethic and moral standards, but without expecting anyone else to live to those same standards I have set for myself. I have to live a life of continuous personal observation (really deep soul-searching, if you will), to keep myself in-check. I have to not only look at my positive qualities, but also really examine my weaknesses, and determine a better, more positive change. I have to live a life that I am proud of, and look back with little or no regrets. How many of us can honestly say that? Not me. Each day I should look back and see what "triumphs and tribulations" I had, and attempt to see why I reacted in what ways.
God, Dark Mass/Dark Energy, M-Theory/String Theory (multiverse): The Study Of Which Cannot Be Studied
Interesting title, eh? I have often thought of all of the different beliefs, ideas, and opinions out there purely based upon speculation (no absolute proof). And unfortunately, there's a lot of it! Even from the scientific community has quite a few of theories and hypothesis, because it's very difficult to observe something that cannot be sensed by any of our five senses. But you also have to keep in mind that many common beliefs in the past were eventually disproven by science, such as the world being flat and lightning was vengeance sent by an angry god or deities. Eventually, science may explain everything, but until then, we unfortunately have to settle with that "f" word I despise with cell in my body - faith. Even atheists have to have faith if they believe dark mass/dark energy or a multiverse exists, since we do not have enough proof right now to fully support any of these assumptions. So, here's my little "insight" on these matters...
Did anyone know that 96% of the universe is missing? I had no idea anyone had lost it! (sorry, couldn't resist) Since most people are familiar with some sort of supernatural ideology (monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, etc.), I won't spend time "beating a dead horse". However, many people have never heard of dark mass and dark energy. Before reading on, I highly recommend doing a little research on the topic, such as Google, to find out more. I definitely do not want you to form an opinion based strictly upon my point-of-view (who am I to teach others science?!).
Now that you may have learned a little on the topic of dark mass and dark energy, my personal opinion (no facts, of course), is that "God", dark mass, and dark energy are all one and the same. "Huh?!" I believe that some sort of supernatural force(s) is what makes up for this unknown (missing) mass and energy, and helps hold this universe together. Of course, this opinion may change if science ever proves otherwise.
The whole idea of M-theory (multiverse) is very fascinating to me, however, once again, holds very little evidence. Again, please do a little research on the topic on your own if you are unfamiliar with M-theory. To me, it's simply an attempt to add more odds in the favor of chances of a planet being able to support life, and the chance of life actually happening without any external help (such as through supernatural forces). So, if you eradicate the idea of multiple universes existing and ours is the only one that does exist, then the chances of a life-supporting planet that actually grew life is almost next to nill. To know what I mean, do a little research on all of the constants we must have here on planet earth and even in our solar system for us to even exist! Complete and total chance? Probably not until proven differently.
But String Theory, along with Quantum Mechanics (Physics), definitely captures my attention. However, along with many people, my puny, little mind has a difficult time comprehending anything outside of our known 3rd dimension. But, I do agree with the concept that we are all connected in a way that can't currently be studied by science (as of yet), and are connected in some sort of way to everything else. If "God" exists, then he/she/it/they exist in all of us, in everything and in everyone.
And while we're on the topic of science, there's a wonderful website with many comments by Albert Einstein that I think everyone should read at http://www.einsteinandreligion.com/.
Welp, that's all I've got for now. Yet, another huge blog, but I hope that someone may enjoy reading through it. I'm also very open to any beliefs, concepts, ideas, facts, opinions, etc. However, keep in mind, that unless you provide some sort of "earth-shattering" evidence, I'm not too easily swayed. No offense, but when it comes to Christianity, I've heard all of the arguments a thousand times, and in thousands of different possibilities.