Faith’s emotional breaking point

Can Christianity’s idealism work in the real world, or is there a breaking point beyond which our faith cannot cope, such as family tragedy, inability to forgive a grievous wrong, inability to suppress one’s sexuality, etc. Is it irrational to give our emotions their due?

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23 thoughts on “Faith’s emotional breaking point

  1. Soulmai says:

    Hi Darryl,

    I really enjoy your videos and the insights that they have provided me. I am curious to know what your thoughts are on forgiveness when it relates to one consciousness. With the awareness that I am infinite consciousness, I am all things, wouldn’t lack of forgiveness for another person be lack of forgiveness for myself? Now obviously, I am aware that emotion around an event that is close to me can be a challenging thing to rise from because it would be difficult to view it objectively. But I don’t understand how holding judgement for something in the past is productive to a person trying to heal and move forward. If I cannot change the past, what do I do in the moment? Is there accountability for attracting something so negative? If I judge someone, is it a mirror to something I judge inside of myself?

    I feel like the judgement of others and the fear of others is really what fuels religious matrix belief. I don’t have a lot of background with religion, but it seems that the basis is fear, fear of being a bad person and being judged for it. Creating standards that ensure you will fail, continue to be bad, continually fear judgement and be easily controlled by this fear.

    I appreciate what you are doing with this videos, they have awoken me to knowing I had inside but could not tangibly express.

    I look forward to your response!

    Regards,

    Soulmai

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    Great question, Soulmai.

    In my experience, I’ve found it a lot easier to forgive when believing that everyone is one consciousness. I had one profound particularly profound experience, where my circumstances put me in contact with someone that I had held a grudge against for many years. When we see ourselves as separate from one another it comes very natural to be dismissive of others, because they ultimately don’t matter. But if everyone is you, then everyone matters.

    This is not to say that we don’t form judgements about people. That is a necessary part of dualistic existence. But the understanding of oneness allowed me to let go of a grudge that was unimportant and petty.

    Conversely, believing what I do now, I have also been put in the position where I had to walk out of a friendship, because the attitude of the other party was intolerant and belittling. Nothing I did could resolve this long-term mistreatment, so I did what I had to do. We might all be one, but you have to make life livable. It was not an easy thing to do, because the person was one of the most important people in my life.

    I don’t there is any kind of ultimate accountability, in the sense of divine judgment or karma. This perspective actually helps one forgive, because if God’s not keeping score, why should I bother?

  3. Robert Miller says:

    I think living “the ideal” is going to cause problems as you describe, some people are called to celibacy – or they are able to live and function within a celibate lifestyle. These people I feel are more the exception than the rule and when you make it a standard for the many then yes it is problematic. That is not too say it cannot be a lifestyle choice for some.

    Likewise for forgiveness, some will forgive much and are able to forgive much, this is to be held up as an ideal. Very few can live up to that ideal, there is one tragic event that occurred where one person harbored bitterness and resentment and the other forgave and sought a more peaceful resolution to events. It was funny to me how many people said that it was impossible/naive/foolish for one man to be this forgiving. Yet the man who forgave struck me as being more content and at peace than he who did not.

    I wonder what you think about the power to overcome as a collective rather than as an individual?

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Rob.

    I’m sure you understand that I don’t subscribe to the view that some are called to celibacy. I know there is scripural justification for this view, but nothing in the real world. I think all of us are unavoidably carnal-minded, and the real solution is to learn to see this as a good thing, in much the same way as any other mammal would enjoy its sexual nature. The more advanced human mind simply gives us opportunity to create a more complex and responsible form of civilisation than, say, canines enjoy. I’m sure you know as well as I do what it was like (and still is) to lust after girls, and feel guilty that you had those urges, because the Bible said it was sinful. That’s messed up. There is so much wasted guilt in my past.

    Can you clarify what you mean by your final question?

  5. Robert Miller says:

    Some people however do not have a “problem” with remaining celibate.

    Those that are celibate no doubt have a desire to express their sexual nature, however they feel quite comfortable in remaining celibate. Now celibacy may or not be a virtue, but some feel well equipped to cope with such a lifestyle. Do you suggest that that is just a wrong mindset? Those who do so at least feel at ease and secure enough to do it. Not through guilt or fear but because they view it as a rational decision?

    I think I am looking at the collective as a way of dealing with a sort of you on your own may not be able to achieve something, but as a collective we can achieve something bigger and better?

    Don’t know where that is fitting in really – let’s see if it will spawn something though – I’m trying to think (must video conference)

    Ta-ra

  6. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Rob.

    I don’t have a problem with anyone who wishes to be celibate, because they can do what they want. I think my problem is more with the deep-seated anti-sexuality sentiment that emanates from Christianity, expressed for instance in the attitude that celibacy = purity.

    Take me for instance: I am the next best thing to celibate because I’ve spent the majority of my life as a genuine Christian who avoided sex. That hasn’t changed because of my rejection of Christianity, because the lifestyle is pretty much ingrained (and because I’m over the hill!). But I’m still as red-blooded as any man. It’s only now that I’m outside of Christianity that I can feel comfortable with myself as a sexual being, for really the first time. Christianity has seriously distorted human sexuality, and the unworkable idea of “purity of thought” is a false pipedream. And I seriously doubt that any celibate Christian is able to live without secretly undulging in forbidden (natural) desires, while collecting a lot of guilt and projecting a false image of himself to the world. It’s my guess that such inner turmoil is the root cause of the paedophile priest phenomenon.

  7. Soulmai says:

    Why do you think human beings gravitate towards religion and limitation? I fully agree that denying your natural sexual desires creates an inner turmoil and perpetuates more guilt, more judgment. But why would I go there in the first place? Fear that god won’t love me when in truth wouldn’t denying myself be not loving self? Is my automatic view of God really externalizing my personal relationship with myself and placing the fear on something outside of me?

    Even if you did believe in a creator from a religious stand point why would you accept that god intentionally creates something that would be used against you? Make you sexual by nature and then deny you and punish you for following instinct, but yet at the same time tells you he loves you? It doesn’t make sense….yet most of the world gravitates towards it anyway.

    I guess it sounds like a pretty insecure God figure, created by a insecure human mindset.

  8. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Soulmai.

    “Why do you think human beings gravitate towards religion and limitation?”

    Because it fulfills a need. On the one hand, these needs are genuine, because religion can and does offer some helpful wisdom at times, for dealing with the problems of life.

    Where it falls apart for me is the religious understanding of the most fundamental of these needs: the problem of evil. The religious answer is to posit the idea that something went metaphysically wrong with the human race some time in the distant past. This is represented in Judeo-Christianity by the myth of the Garden of Eden (and by myth I don’t mean falsehood; I mean the closest approximation to truth that a more primitive culture could come up with).

    The alternative answer to the problem of evil (and one that has the backing of science) is that there is no problem. Put another way: everything is as it’s supposed to be, warts and all. Man is imperfect and unsatisfied with himself only in the sense that he is a product of evolution and still evolving – a journey into greater complexity and betterment.

    I’m merely summarising, but this answer satisfies me in a way that Christianity never could. It is logical, realistic, and forward looking. By comparison, religions dogmatise everything and insist that they’ve had all the answers perfectly from the beginning; that none of its myths can ever outlive its usefulness.

    So, in short, religions succeed because they meet a need that is based on a wrong understanding of human nature.

  9. Thor says:

    Man is imperfect and unsatisfied with himself only in the sense that he is a product of evolution and still evolving – a journey into greater complexity and betterment.

    Interesting theory! What standard are you using to know if the journey is actually leading to “greater complexity and betterment”?

  10. Darryl Sloan says:

    Just observation. Evolution reveals itself in nature as a process of betterment through increased complexity. Homo Sapiens are better than Homo Erectus. Dark skin is better in equatorial regions than pale.

    If we did not feel a sense of dissatisfaction of some kind, there would be no further evolution, because we would have arrived at a hypothetical plateau called perfection.

    The trick is to learn that your eternal dissatisfaction with life is actually not a fault, not something to be cured, but the driving force of betterment.

    For instance, many of the lesser animals are still killing and eating their own young, whereas man’s more evolved brain allows him to see the folly in this – to acknowledge and love his carnal nature, while seeking to improve it.

    The alternative posed by religion is to declare man’s nature as in a state of sinfulness, and to propose an entirely unrealistic standard called “righteousness” or “holiness,” to which everyone should strive despite the realistic and natural demands of the carnal nature.

  11. Thor says:

    Just observation. Evolution reveals itself in nature as a process of betterment through increased complexity. Homo Sapiens are better than Homo Erectus. Dark skin is better in equatorial regions than pale.

    So, you quantify this term “betterment” by empirically observing where complexity lies in nature. Man, you say, because of his more evolved brain sees the futility in devouring his young, whereas some less evolved species of animal still devour their young. Man, then, is clearly “better”, right?

    How, then, do you account for the fact that man is the only species who destroys his own young in utero through a variety of surgical and pharmacological means? Does complexity equal betterment in this case?

  12. Darryl Sloan says:

    “How, then, do you account for the fact that man is the only species who destroys his own young in utero through a variety of surgical and pharmacological means? Does complexity equal betterment in this case?”

    Do you really see the idea of making the conscious decision to have an abortion (after careful decision of all factors) on an equal footing with an animal that follows some primitive biological impulse to eat its own young after birth?

    Of course, I fully understand that abortions are sometimes performed for reasons of great selfishness on the part of the mother. This is unfortunate, demonstrating a lack of betterment that those of us who strive for betterment frown upon. Betterment happens. Is society better now than in medeival times? Of course. Evolution (whether biological or societal) = progress = betterment.

    On a side-note: the abortion question is a complex one, the morality of which really hinges on how you define “life.” To skim the surface of this issue, an atheist may typically feel that it’s okay to abort a foetus, because he has no concept of “soul”. To him, life and consciousness equates to experience. So, a mass of tissue existing inside another person doesn’t yet constitute a life.

    This thinking is abhorent to the religionist, who conceives of “soul” as having value in and of inself, usually seen as beginning at the moment of conception.

    My view? Somewhat in flux, though siding more with the preservation of life in utereo.

  13. Thor says:

    Do you really see the idea of making the conscious decision to have an abortion (after careful decision of all factors) on an equal footing with an animal that follows some primitive biological impulse to eat its own young after birth?

    Objectively speaking, a conscious decision to destroy one’s offspring in utero is, at the very least, no better than an animal who is moved by primitive impulse to devour its offspring post partum. It is still the destruction of a helpless, unique member of the species, and quite contrary to any kind of evolutionary process. So, if “evolution = progress = betterment”, then mankind must be “better” and more “evolved”, at least in this example of abortion/infanticide, only because we are able to make a conscious decision to use advanced medical techniques to destroy our offspring in utero instead of devouring them post partum, right?

    (I’m not trying to force an argument here on the issue of abortion, I’m merely making use of it as an example in order to explore this idea of “evolution = progress/complexity = betterment”.)

  14. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Thor.

    I honestly don’t know why we’re debating anything. This seems perfectly plain to me. The movement of all things towards betterment is clear by comparing all epochs of time – whether you want to compare biological evolution over great spans of time, human adaptation to environment, societal evolution from various forms of primitive culture to various forms of civilisation, technological progress through learning.

    You really think there’s no movement towards betterment? What do you see in place of this? A static view of all aspects of life as being essentially the same (or worse) now as they have always been?

  15. Thor says:

    You really think there’s no movement towards betterment?

    I’m just trying to understand what you mean by this word “betterment”, and how it is measured. I can assume that the evolutionary process exists, and, if I look at history, I can see various forms of sociological and technological advancements that humanity has made. But how do I know that they are necessarily “better” or leading to “betterment”?

    This may seem like splitting hairs to you because, as you say, it all “seems perfectly plain”. But, in the specific example of abortion, I’m trying to see how to apply your theory, because it objectively appears as though greater complexity, as evidenced by the application of conscious decision and advanced medical science, is entirely contrary to any sort of evolutionary process. There are many other examples from empirical observation to which the same observation applies, so how do I determine if they are a true form of “betterment”? If they’re not a true form of “betterment”, then how does this journey into “betterment” happen?

  16. Darryl Sloan says:

    “Betterment” a broad sweeping word that is intuitively understood relative to a wide variety of circumstances:

    Is it better for a hedgehog to have spines or to not have spines? Is it better for me to be employed or jobless? Is it better to be loved or hated?

    I suppose I might define it as that which contributes to survival, and making life liveable, both individually and collectively. That definition may be too narrow.

    Regarding abortion, I don’t see it as an ideal. But on a scale of appalling behaviour, does it seem better than waiting till your baby is born, then cooking him in the over and consuming the corpse? I think so. Maybe it’s a matter of taste, I don’t know. 🙂

  17. Thor says:

    I suppose I might define it as that which contributes to survival, and making life liveable, both individually and collectively. That definition may be too narrow.

    It may be, because many things have arisen out of humanity’s supposed evolutionary journey into complexity which are diametrically opposed, not only to this concept of “betterment”, but to the very notion of “evolutionary progress” itself. Surgical and pharmacological abortion is only one of many examples. So, does this journey into “betterment” really exist?

    How do you think people from non-Western countries and different socio-economic conditions would answer that question? That poor little starving boy from Africa, the one covered in flies whose picture you showed the world in your video to attack the idea of a “loving God”, do you think he would agree with your thesis here? At least the Christians could offer him the hope of their eternal life, but what does your theory on existence have to offer him?

    In fact, I wish to issue you a challenge. Since you think your ideas on life have more to offer society than anything the Christians have to say, I would like for you to record a video and address that fly-covered African boy directly, as though he were your own son. Imagine that, before he leaned over and the photograph was taken, he had turned to you and asked, “Daddy, why am I so hungry and covered in flies all the time? Why life like this? It’s so horrible, why do I even exist?” Put that same picture of him up on your computer in your nice, comfortable study, look at it, and keep looking at it as you hit record on your camera and explain to your son all about your understanding of evolution toward “betterment”, “Oneness”, consciousness, and all the rest.

  18. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Thor.

    Hmm, I seem to have struck a nerve. First, what I believe about “betterment” is not what you think I believe.

    Life is adversarial in nature. Survival of the fittest is a simple fact of life that I accept by virtue of the fact that I’m here in the middle of it. Within this context, betterment seems to occur through that very adversity, as all biological life engages in a game of competition for resources. Survival of the fittest is what gave the lion its claws, the scorpion its sting, the hedgehog its spines, man his cunning, etc.

    What does this offer the child covered in flies? Nothing.

    What does your God offer? Nothing. Your gospel is an irrelevant Western pipedream to a starving child in a foreign country.

    The difference is that I don’t want the illusion. I want to see life as it is, with no rose-tinted glasses. If you believe in an all-powerful God who loves starving African children, make him live up to his claim.

  19. Thor says:

    Struck a nerve? Not at all! I merely think that your idea of “evolution = complexity = betterment” is complete bunk that only seems correct from the confines of your comfortable study located in the affulent Western world.

    If your idea of “betterment” is “not what I think you believe”, then what exactly is it? I’ve asked you to explain it to me already, and you have done so in quite plain and simple terms. So, why are you now attempting to retreat behind a smokescreen of claimed misunderstanding? Does your supposed “journey toward betterment” exist or does it not? Empirical evidence suggests quite plainly that it does not.

    I’m not here as an advocate of Christianity, but merely as a student of philosophy, a seeker of truth, if you will. Your initial thesis struck me as interesting because it is one that would only be uttered by a narrowminded Westerner ignorant of much of history and the rest of the world. If “evolution = complexity = betterment” is true, then it is only true for affluent Western nations, and it is only true in a very, very limited sense. And there is little evidence to suggest that the affluence and accomplishments of the Western world is any more due to an evolutionary process of increasing complexity than it is because of the deep influence of Christian philosophy among those nations.

    Perhaps if you took me up on my challenge, the absuridty of your claims might become clear to you as you try to explain them to a starving boy. Instead, you can quite comfortably sit in your study, look at his picture, shrug your shoulders, and say “Well, too bad, son. It’s just survival of the fittest.” I’m somewhat aghast at the inhumanity of your entire philosophy. Say what you want about Christianity, but at least the Christian philosophy (which is, technically speaking, a middle-eastern “pipedream”) affirms that each human being has inherent dignity and worth. Yours fundamentally destroys any notion of human dignity since each human being is merely the chance product of an arbitrary mechanistic process. The consequences of this idea are indeed frightful.

  20. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Thor.

    You still don’t get what I believe and why I believe it. Your challenge is absurd. I suggested a view of evolution that takes great spans of time, and a great deal of adversity, to measure betterment from. Your response is to determine the value of this view by measuring the life of one single child.

    I fully admitted that’s nature’s adversarial way of achieving betterment through survival of the fittest has no concern for the lives of individuals (animal or human). Is it horrible? Yes. It is reality? Definitely. Maybe you’ve never seen a lion tear up a gazelle? A bird catch a worm? Tribes of chimps go to war against another tribe? It’s winner takes all. Those better equipped to survive, either through physical attributes or brains, will survive.

    So, how can you still hold this challenge up to me, when I’ve already admitted the child’s life has no value according to the dictates of nature?

    Now, in case you misunderstand me again, let me be clear that I’m talking about an observable principle of nature, not the entirety of my outlook on life. Does it appal me that this child suffers? Would I act to relieve that suffering? Yes, of course. Would I prefer a world where mankind distributes resources fairly and ends such suffering forever. You bet I would.

    Your idea that you can hold this one child’s suffering up as an icon against my beliefs and a banner for Christianity is absurd. I could easily have held up the drowned corpse of a misidentified witch from the middle ages, or a slaughtered baby from ancient Amalek (1 Sam 15), or an Egyptian firstborn from Exodus, and I could have said, “What good is Christianity to him/her?”

    My approach is simply to observe nature as it really is, with no cotton wool in my ears when nature teaches things that are tough to hear.

    As for the merits of betterment through evolution’s “survival of the fittest,” if you favour the view that God made things just as they are, this begs the question: why did he make nature a killing field from the get-go? The very adversarial nature of the world as we find attests to the view that it got there by a process of struggle.

    Recommended reading: The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom.

    http://darrylslibrary.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/the-lucifer-principle-by-howard-bloom/

  21. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Thor.

    “Yours fundamentally destroys any notion of human dignity since each human being is merely the chance product of an arbitrary mechanistic process. The consequences of this idea are indeed frightful.”

    I would like to at add note on the above section that I emboldened. I do indeed see that statement as true, and this is a good example of my ability to simply face things as they are, rather than deny reality because it’s too appalling.

    Is it true? Well, look at the evidence of things that really do happen to our young. Abortions, miscarriages, cot deaths, death by starvation, death by disease, child sexual abuse, etc. Does the idea of God (or nature viewed romantically as Mother Gaia for that matter) offer any relief to those lives? None whatsoever. Nature is brutal.

    As for the consequences on my perception of human dignity, I am motivated, naturally enough, to struggle for betterment, in every way I can. And that betterment does include the desire to help the needy.

  22. Thor says:

    Ypu still don’t get what I believe and why I believe it. Your challenge is absurd. I suggested a view of evolution that takes great spans of time, and a great deal of adversity, to measure betterment from. Your response is to determine the value of this view by measuring the life of one single child.

    My goal is merely to inquire into the truth of your original claim. I’ve asked you two simple questions: how do you measure “betterment”, and does a journey into “betterment” really exit? If “evolution = complexity = betterment” is true and as “perfectly plain” as you think it is, then surely you must be able to answer my questions with effortless simplicity. However, it seems that you can’t.

    There is no debate here, just hot air.

  23. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Thor.

    Your reply is pretty amusing, given the detail I went into to answer your questions. If my answers don’t satisfy you, and you want to pronounce some stark judgement of “hot air” (like it carries any weight, while you dismiss or ignore every point I make), so be it.

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