Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Second Kind of Serious

What good is a blog if you don't use it to really communicate? Not only to communicate the random things in your brain, but also things that are actually significant. Once again, if you're not religious, I won't be offended if you don't like what I write. I don't apologize for it. Not at all. I'm not sorry for what I know and follow. I write these things for a reason, and I do hope you actually read it. But my right to speak doesn't mean I have the right to force you to listen.
Oops. Those pics formatted a little weird. Before I start, I want to point out that there are two different kinds of serious. The first kind is the bad kind. It involves ubiquitous amounts of negativity, most of the time. (Sorry, I just really wanted to use that word. Ubiquitous.) This is the kind of serious you are when you are so focused on "being an adult" that you forget what you knew as a kid. IE. how to see life for it's possibilities and not for its problems. Some kids try too hard to be adults. You're really missing out. You'll be an adult for 70% of your life. Don't stress so much about it. And some adults try too hard to be just like Hollywood models, or try too hard to impress other people with your popularity or possessions. Some people care too much about what some random person in the store is going to say about your shoes or your hair. I don't mean about being clean and decent. I mean when your entire self perspective is based on what other people say and think. Or more, what you think they think. Chill out and get a life. Seriously.
But there is a second kind of serious that the rest of the world under-values, oddly enough. Too much of one and not enough of the other. Some things it's important to be serious about... not because you'll be struck by lightning if you aren't, or because you have to be all morose and solemn for it to take. Not at all. Because it's a different kind of serious. It's a seriousness more in how you understand it, and how you value it's importance. Right now I'm going to be that kind of serious. Which means I might still make some jokes (lame though they may be), and I might still call someone an idiot at least once. I tend to not be able to avoid that. :P But I'll try to be nice.
My chosen topic today isn't deep and intensely doctrinal. It's not some random tidbit I suddenly understood from Isaiah (although randomly a verse from Isaiah was involved in my decision to write this). It's not something that you'll only understand if you're a baptized member of the LDS church. It's very simple. God. And how He is there. And my main course of discussion is this: How can anyone possibly look around them and NOT believe?
A lot of you probably either went "Huh?" or "What planet have you been living on?" I'll answer both of those questions. To start with, as cheesy and lame as it might sound, there is a song, and a scripture verse that really inspire and back up this discussion. The song is called "Everything Speaks His Name" and is pretty much based on the verse, which is in Alma 30:44. The song is kind of self explanatory. Everything in the world testifies that there is, in fact, a God. The verse says a similar thing. Basically he is talking to this dude named Korihor, who is arguing that God doesn't exist. And he says (in summary) I've already told you that I know, and I've already told you that so many dozens of people have told you that they know. It's been shown to them. And pretty much you're calling them all liars. Well there's one sign you can't deny, because everything on this earth shows that there IS a God.
I like both of those because that is how I really know. I mean different people have spiritual experiences in different ways. But the times when I feel the most uplifted and awesome, and just like there really is a much, much bigger picture is when I'm appreciating nature. If you've never been out in a remote place where you can really see the night sky, do. It's worth every minute. Turn off all the lights and music, and just look. Just watch it. It's not cool because it's some spectacular singing group, or because someone wrote great words to a story or poem. It goes way, way beyond all that. There's a grand, vast, magnificence in the stars and planets, even though you can't even see all of them with your plain eyes. There is so much amazing, gorgeous, beautiful, complex, vastness.
Or take for example the mountains and trees. There aren't enough adjectives for me to keep describing the amazingness without repeating myself several times over. Think about how you feel when you're absolutely awestruck by a great bit of scenery. That's God saying "I love you". Think about all the millions of plant and animal species, and how they all just happened to be perfectly made for where they live, and how they all just happen to have all these fabulous adaptations and awesome skills. Random happenstance is NOT smart enough to make that happen on such a huge level.
Still don't believe me? Think about yourself. Your eye for example. Think about how much your eye can see that even the best cameras ever made can't do. Think about how some random tissue in the back of your retina just happens to be able to take light waves, change them into a chemical message, send that message to a lump of gray cells that then takes that chemical message and translates that into a vision that you can understand. Tell me that was an accident. These billions of super awesome, super beautiful, super complicated things were organized FOR us.
That's what the scripture verse means to me. You can find evidence of God in everything you look at. And I do see Him everywhere. I can't look at even this picture of striped fish without feeling the overwhelming gloriousness of the ocean, and how just straight up awesome it is, with all the fish, and the plants, and the underwater volcanoes, and how huge it is, and how some fish glow in the dark, and how sharks are so incredibly built for what they do, and I could just go on for pages, just about the sheer incredibleness of the ocean. But I won't. Because I think you get the idea. So try to go sit out observing a sunset, or a meteor shower, or a volcanic eruption without feeling uplifted and awesome. And I don't mean like sitting in a chair to prove me wrong. I mean really looking. Really watching. Really exploring it. Try it. I dare you.
Here's a metaphor for you. Think back to like 2nd grade. Do you remember a day when your teacher had someone come into your class and talk to you all about something that you don't even remember, and then afterwards she made you all write personal thank you cards for whoever it was that came in? What did you do for that thank you card? You probably just like glued a paper heart in it and wrote something really fast with your unsharpened pencil saying like "thank you. love, Bob." You didn't really care so much.
Now think about a time you made something for someone you really cared about. Maybe it was the teacher you loved so much, or your mom or dad, or maybe your best friend's birthday card. I bet you took ages to make sure everything was just right for it. You put in every detail you could think of. You made sure everything was glued straight, and you used your best writing. You made it your best job, because you really loved that person you were going to give it to.
The earth is the same way. In creating the earth, God could have just given us some berry bushes, and a little stream, and a cave to live in. We would have survived. Because that's all we technically really need. But He didn't. He gave us billions of plants and animals, and different landscapes, and different kinds of weather, and colors, and food, and temperatures, and endless things to discover in space, and the different kinds of people even, with different accents and hair colors, and everything. He gave us all of that because He loves us. He gave us quality work, not just throw some things together work.
All of that is why I really can't see how anyone can look at the amazingness of the world around us and NOT believe. And NOT see God in everything. But what about wars and disasters, and all of that bad, horrible stuff that goes on in the world? How could a God that really loves us make/let all that stuff happen?
Well I'll tell you. It comes in a two part answer, and both of the parts have to do with the freedom of choice, otherwise known as moral agency. The first part has to do with things like typhoons, and earthquakes, and things that people can't control. Why would God let hundreds of people die down in Haiti or over in southeast Asia? First of all, I say to you that death is a natural part of living. It comes to everyone in the whole world, earthquake or not. So that part is entirely irrelevant. But yes, sometimes people suffer from these things. But this has to do with one of the reasons we're on earth in the first place. We're supposed to learn, grow, and make choices. Do you learn anything in your easy classes? No, not really. Do you learn anything when everything is just going along at status quo? No, not really. Sometimes bad things happen, even to good people, because bad things happen to everyone. And this is so that we can learn and grow, and become better people. IE more like He is.
Yes, it still sucks. Yes it's hard. Yes it can make you sad. But that's life. And it's not just life for YOU. It's life for everyone. Ever. People all have different hard things they have to go through. But they all have hard things. You are not an exception. And you aren't getting particularly picked on. You're just like everyone else who ever lived. I don't mean any of that in a calloused "Life sucks, so be bitter and move on" way. I mean that in a "Things are never, ever as bad as they seem, and whether you believe it or not, everything in life has a purpose" way. If God kept all the trials away from you, that would NOT be a sign of love, but a sign of disregard. Like he doesn't really care if you ever become more than you are. Like you're just a whatever. He gives you trials because He loves you enough to want you to be a better person from them. If the only thing you do when a trial comes your way is mope around and be bitter about it, that's your epic FAIL not His.
The second reason God sometimes lets bad things happen, is because of the very freedom of choice that people who are against God so highly prize. (so called.) I say so called, because if you think about it in a completely logical way, there is no middle ground. The choices you make are either gonna lead you toward God or away from Him. It isn't about a choice between following stupid strict rules and doing whatever you want. That's the biggest lie of them all. Because God always keeps his promises, and Satan never does. He leaves you high and dry. So the freedom of choice is not about following God, or following your own plan. It never has been. Either way, no matter what choices you make, it's going to end up being one or the other. The freedom comes in here: You have the unalienable right to be closer to God if you want to be. No matter what anyone says, if you follow what He says, you can be closer to Him. And you also have the unalienable right to run away from Him if you want to. You don't have to be with Him if you don't want. He will never make you. But those are the choices. There is no third option middle ground, no matter how much you try to pretend there is.
That much longer spiel than I planned being said, I move on to reason number two why God sometimes let's awful things happen. It's because he DID give us the ability to choose. And sometimes people use that ability to choose very wrong, very bad things. Sometimes they use it to cause a war. Sometimes they use it to murder someone. And things like that are things that everyone knows is wrong. (Which in itself is proof of a God. Because if there were no God, there would be no such thing as something being wrong. So who cares if someone murders someone else? Big deal? But it is, and most humans inherently know that.) But God does give us this agency, and it is SO important to Him that we have the right to pick which path we follow, that he protects that gift, even at the expense of allowing some of His children to choose wrong. And when some of his kids choose wrong, bad things inherently happen.
That's as succinctly as I can put it. And that is why bad things happening does not prove that there is no God. There is no logical argument that you can formulate that proves there is no God, because He's put proof and signs everywhere that we can see. And if you say to me "Prove it with empirical evidence" I say unto you "disprove it with empirical evidence". A cop-out answer, you may say. But no. Because I have just given you my empirical evidence. The entire world and all its splendors combined with the witnesses of countless people are my evidence. Show me one tiny shred that He does not exist. You can't.
Many people would be scared or embarrassed, or ashamed to put such a "controversial" post on the internet where everyone can see it and potentially rip you apart. I'm not saying it's pleasant to get ripped wide open. To have the things you value be trash talked and mocked. But I do say "bring it on!" all the same. Because I absolutely refuse to go on record as someone who was wishy washy. Who choked when the time came to speak. I refuse to meet God when I die and have to tell Him that I was ashamed of Him. That I was too chicken to let people know what I knew. Oh, man. That would suck SO much more than any rude thing any of you could ever say. I refuse to apologize for saying things that some people disagree with, because I happen to know that God does exist. I absolutely do. And I go on record right now declaring that to anyone who will ever read this post. Let the whole world read it, and then they'll know that I, at least, am one person who will stand up for what I know, whatever you say. No matter what.
I might not be really eloquent about it. I might stumble over my words. I might not know everything there is to know about the way God works. No one does. I might not be an anybody in the eyes of the rest of the world. Maybe no one will ever read this at all. So what. I'm saying what I know. And that it that God exists! And that He loves us! We are His children! Yes, even you.

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