I am sure we’ve all been asked this question or wondered ourselves. But have you ever heard the answers given by Buddhists? Scientists? Mormons? Taoists? Roger Nygard, director of Trekkies and Trekkies 2, took his curiosity and sense of humor on the road and asked this important question to hundreds of people. His new film The Nature of Existence tells the tale:
I wrote the toughest 85 questions I could think of, about our purpose and the nature of existence, and then asked hundreds of people all over the globe, such as: Indian holy man Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (The Art of Living), evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), 24th generation Chinese Taoist Master Zhang Chengda, Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind (co-discoverer of string theory), wrestler Rob Adonis (founder of Ultimate Christian Wrestling), confrontational evangelist Brother Jed Smock, novelist Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), director Irvin Kershner (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), Stonehenge Druids Rollo Maughfling & King Arthur Pendragon and many more… How would YOU answer?
I decided to take a look at these 85 questions, and I think we should all try them on for size. Here’s a taste:
- Why do we exist?
- What is the best thing about existing?
- What is our purpose?
- Should religions be challenged?
- Is skepticism a good thing?
- Which religion is right?
- Do we have a need to believe in something?
- What is spirituality?
- Is there a God?
- What does God need from us?
- Who is/are the Messiah(s)?
- How do we determine truth?
- Where does morality, or our “conscience,” comes from?
- Does God want to test us? Why?
- What determines sexual orientation?
- Why is God interested in our sexual behavior?
- Do we have free will?
- Is everything predetermined?
- What is best path to happiness?
- Does meditation work?
- Why do we need an afterlife?
- When does life begin?
- What is the greatest danger facing man’s existence?
How would you answer the questions?
The evangelical magazine Christianity Today (which I’ve mentioned quite a bit) published an article titled “Woman As Folly” about the many curious Bible passages about women as possessions, being below or weaker than men turning women away from Christianity and god:
… “I think men are more aware than women of their tendency to sin,” one of the men suggested. “Maybe they can use this wisdom to help guide their wives.”
I couldn’t believe this was being discussed as a legitimate idea.
“Don’t they understand?” I said [to my husband]. “These sort of misconceptions—the idea that Christianity subjugates women—drive people away from the church.”
I wondered what he thought was so clear—that women bear a greater burden for the fall of man? “If I wasn’t a Christian,” I said, “these comments about women would turn me away from God.”
I wanted to deconstruct the ideas that were chipping away at my confidence in the Creator, but I felt outmatched. Among the men in our group, conversations often felt like a Scripture-quoting duel. Each time a new passage was referenced, I had the same question: What’s the context? Their response was nearly always a puzzled look. It was as if I’d just suggested we tear out pages from our Bibles and fold them into paper airplanes. Scripture, they reminded me, is inerrant.
This woman is starting to see sense. You can almost feel the warmth of the light bulb glowing brightly above her head.
Could this be the birth of a feminist? A liberated woman who realizes her entire religion has been anti-woman for 2000+ years? Maybe she could actually re-consider her belief in a god who would use authors with misogynistic values to be its voice?
But no. She can’t doubt god or the Bible. She has to pound the square peg into the round hole any way she can. So she goes looking for a comforting justification for the sexist teachings in her holy book.Read the Rest! Post a comment (38)
Anne Rice was raised a Catholic and left the religion to do her own thing for many years. Much to the delight of Christians who like to name drop (and especially those who hate vampires), she reverted to Catholicism in 1998, dedicating her writing and life to Jesus.
But twelve years later, the tide has turned once again. Rice recently spread this news via her facebook page:
Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
–Anne Rice, author 2010
You can imagine all the atheists eating this for lunch, can’t you? Can’t you smell the delight over someone famous leaving Christianity? Everyone likes having a public figure on their team. Free endorsements!
Not Good Enough
Good for Rice that she finally recognized the mess of this religion. I understand not wanting to identify with much of Christianity—especially the fundamentalist branches that make a business out of being anti-everyone–but that’s not good enough!
Rice is clearly not abandoning her mythology and superstitious delusions. She’s leaving conservative, fundamentalist Christianity behind and making a political stand out of it. But what about liberal Christianity that is still based on the same myths, but is dressed up in hipster clothing and a laissez faire attitude? When Rice realizes the whole shit n’ caboodle is based on a false premise, then perhaps she might leave for good. Perhaps.
What do you think?
(hat tip goodreasonnews)
Let’s say I’m late for work; I forget my medications; I’m stuck in traffic; My boss is in a foul mood; All my assignments are late or need correcting; The website goes down; My body aches; I forgot about a meeting at which I’m presenting; My car’s falling apart; I lose a receipt I need to return something expensive; It’s so hot Dick Cheney water boarded himself; I’m sweating all over; My boyfriend pays more attention to his game than to me; I don’t have money for laundry and am on my last pair of underwear; The kids who live upstairs are screaming; Our air conditioner breaks; I can’t sleep because of anxiety …
We’ve all had “those days”—the ones when you used to think the universe was out to get you and would stop at nothing to ruin your measly little life—have changed perhaps more than any others in my experience since I left religion and faith behind. Or, more accurately, my response to these days has changed.
I used to think there was a message or a meaning behind every little coincidence or mishap. If I was delayed in traffic, that meant I probably missed a car accident and God was protecting me by making me late. If everything was falling apart at work, maybe God was telling me I needed to chose another profession. If I was feeling depressed or anxious, it was because I wasn’t in line with God’s plan and wasn’t intimately connected with him.
I was arrogantly obsessed with “interpreting the signs.” It’s just as “woo-woo” as it sounds. As a Christian I did it all the time, constantly, and about everything. Christianity involves a lot of guesswork that’s dressed up to look more reliable. Sensing or interpreting “God’s will” or the meaning of the doldrums of life is just part of having faith in a completely silent and unknowable supernatural being. Believers are left on their own to figure out what the fuck is going on and what they should do next. I’ve written more about the Christian life and God’s will if you fancy a read.
As an atheist, life’s journey is simply better and more reliable. As Carl Sagan said:
The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.
I don’t blame my misfortunes/bad luck/coincidences on anyone or anything. Neither the universe nor a god is out to get me or to communicate to me through my circumstances. Since there is no god, I don’t need to worry about reading its mind to find out what it wants from me. A new job? A new boyfriend? Those choices are up to me, just as they should be. There is no grand “will” or “purpose” to interpret or guess. Atheism is, I’ve found, much easier and simpler than submitting to a religion. It keeps the responsibility of life on the individual and not on an imaginary force.
Oh, I guess there’s one exception: I admit to sometimes assigning motives and personalities to inanimate objects. When my computer, Miss Mary Mac (yes, I named her it), malfunctions, I either smack her it upside the monitor and tell her it to behave, or I stroke the monitor and promise it I’ll be nice if it will just work for once. I’m an abusive owner, I know. I don’t actually believe my Mac really has a plan or a bad motive against me; I just pretend it does to work out my frustrations.
Even if I have “one of those days” when everything goes wrong and I nearly fall back into the superstitious belief that there must be some sort of evil plan to thwart my success, I can now comfort myself with the knowledge of the natural world and how shit just happens once in a while. I am not being punished; No one is trying to communicate a message to me; All I have to do is my very best, and that’s what matters.