Archives for the month of: July, 2012

One of my best and oldest friends (going back to middle school) writes a blog, also here on WordPress, called “Enigmatic Fish.” Originally created primarily as a platform to offer observations and advice on the practice of independent videogame development, “Enigmatic Fish” occasionally tackles broader subject matter, and on June 26th, 2012, a post was made titled “A Case Against a Loving God,” which deals with some deep and important issues related to the existence and nature of God and to the state of nature itself.

Having been interested in philosophy since around the time I was 14 years old, much of the subject matter of the post was familiar to me, and the issue it covers is, I think, a vitally important one for anybody and everybody.

While the original post is “A Case Against a Loving God,” in other words, a logical argument or contention (though it is admittedly closer in form to a brief reflection than an expansive argument), my reply will not be an attempt at any argument. I personally don’t feel very proficient at making a “case” for much of anything; my thoughts are simply too scattered most of the time. While I do sometimes make such attempts at crafting a solid argument, most often, as is the case now, I feel more inclined to simply make a few observations and share a few ideas and questions and potential counterpoints in response to the points made, and the ideas underlying them, in the original writing. I apologize in advance for how rambling this post shall inevitably become. If you intend to return to my blog after reading this, then you may as well be warned that I do tend to go on like this; this post will not be an isolated incident in terms of length or rambling.

Before reading my reply, please take a moment and read the original post at “Enigmatic Fish.”

http://dream-forever.net/Blog/2012/06/26/the-case-against-a-loving-god/

In the opening paragraph, this line in particular stuck out to me:

“The leaves rustle to the gentle cadence of the breeze, and the wild birds, distant and near, play their continuous song in unbroken bliss. There is not a one thing out-of-place in the natural order in this singular moment, indeed, the illusion is so great that it is easy to believe that God built everything from the foundation of love.”

The idea that the apparent perfection of nature is an illusion is one that has occurred to me many times before, often during many moments just like the one described here.

For this reason, I too have been bothered for many years by the arguments for the existence of God (or, with respect to this post’s specific issue, a loving God) that rely heavily on the idea of nature’s perfection. I am certainly no expert in evolution, and can’t claim to understand its intricacies well at all (I say this as a disclaimer, because though I feel I have reasonably good understanding of evolution in a basic sense, I often see philosophers and writers who mention it criticized for misunderstanding it somehow, though rarely is the nature of their misunderstanding elaborated on by the critics).

Nonetheless, it seems to me that on the surface one could draw the conclusion that evolution, in which the continuance of life is based on a “merciless” world that grants brief lives to all creatures, and grants slightly less-brief and more pleasurable lives to those creatures that unthinkingly come to adapt more fittingly to their world, is governed by an either cruel or, perhaps more likely, indifferent power.

Yet the arguments of many theologians persist that the apparent “perfection” of nature is proof of a Creator, and generally these same thinkers also claim that the aforementioned “perfection” is also proof that God is loving and perfect.

As pointed out in the example quoted paragraph from “A Case Against a Loving God,” however, this conclusion is most easily reached in quiet, peaceful moments outdoors. Has anyone had an epiphany that nature is perfect and proof of a loving God while being attacked by a wild animal? While being mauled by a bear, does the thought occur to a person: “Gee, nature is so harmonious?” Has anyone drawn the conclusion, during a fit of violent vomiting caused by accidentally eating a poisoned plant, that only a loving God could have created our world?

Yet there are even more striking reasons to draw the opposite conclusion. Going back to the issue of evolution, in which nature seems to move forward in a kind of trial-and-error, has anyone ever truly been struck by the perfection of nature upon seeing a creature, even a human, born with a serious physical deformity or mental defect?

It has, for a long time, seemed to me that even one creature born with a deformity, anything that ruins either the ability of the creature to reach the fullness of its species average lifespan or to draw any pleasure or happiness from life, essentially trounces any argument one might make that is based on the idea that nature is “perfect” or “balanced,” not even taking into consideration the issue of a loving God having designed nature to be so. Nature, it would seem, thrives on imperfections, creating problems at random and then solving them by a constant stream of death and extinction, with no particular telos, or purpose, at all, or at least none apparent. All the while the illusion, for humans, is built up that life is perfect, because that which thrives appears to be the norm, and only on closer inspection does one consider the flaws. Life itself, it would seem, or nature, moves forward, unthinking and unfeeling, with no goal in sight except to keep on moving, and doing so seemingly endlessly. Looked at this way, it is difficult to say if it would be worse for nature to continue moving forward forever, totally void of meaning, or to finally drop dead into nothingness.

There is precedent for this negative/pessimistic view of nature. Arthur Schopenhauer’s work comes to mind here. Many theologians, in their defense of the nature-as-perfect argument, point out that modern science has shown just how low the probability is for the existence of a world such as ours, sustaining life as it does. If only a few elements of nature were to be off by one infinitesimal point, such as with the orbit of the planets, sun, and moon, life as we know it would not be possible. However, as Schopenhauer argued, in opposition to Leibniz, that in spite of the argument that says that because the universe is structured with this delicate balance it is therefore “the best of all possible worlds,” the very fragility of it, the nearness of it to total destruction, actually makes it “the worst of all possible worlds.” It awaits collapse at any moment, with even the slightest thing out of place, and it would seem that everything, including the health of every living creature, was designed either with the outright intent of decay, or with a flaw causing decay to be inevitable.

One thing that strikes me about this point, however, is the subjectivity of it. “Best” and “worst,” as used in these two phrases, seem to me to be entirely subjective. There is really no objective criteria I can think of with which one can weigh these two views. Both acknowledge how delicate the balance of nature and life is, that isn’t in contention. Schopenhauer is often called the most influential Pessimist philosopher, and in common language a person is not called a “pessimist” in reference to a philosophical system or argument, but in reference to that person’s subjective view of the world. The perception of a “glass half-empty” versus the perception of a “glass half-full” is not a clash that can be solved with philosophical argument, and no matter how well-stated and logical Schopenhauer’s overall worldview/philosophy may be, the argument over whether we live in the “best” or “worst” of all possible worlds strikes me as one philosophically untouchable, no more open to logical/philosophical resolution than whether one song, movie or book is more enjoyable than another (based, say, on a criteria of whether or not a story would keep its proper structure if one element of the plot were to be removed or changed).

Views such as Schopenhauer’s (though in saying this I in no way mean to imply that views like his are the only views that are subject to this) are tricky because they are generally presented objectively, with a great deal of excellent logic and solid argumentation, but nonetheless rely very much on a foundation of subjective perception. Perhaps all or nearly all philosophical arguments/worldviews do this, but that is an issue for another time.

As already stated, I find it difficult to see a difference between personal, emotional pessimism and philosophical pessimism, yet in the academic world this difference is considered very real. Before going further, it may be helpful to examine this issue briefly, as I feel it relates to my reply to “A Case Against a Loving God.”

Wikipedia phrases  the difference between the two types of pessimism thusly: “Pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates negative outcomes . . . Philosophical pessimism is the similar but not identical idea that life has a negative value, or that this world is as bad as it could possibly be. It has also been noted by many philosophers that pessimism is not a disposition as the term commonly connotes. Instead, it is a cogent philosophy that directly challenges the notion of progress and what may be considered the faith-based claims of optimism.”

I am able to understand that a view founded on optimistic faith may be defeated by a good argument to the contrary of the view’s claims. It seems misleading to me, however, to call this sort of counter-argumentation “pessimism.” Perhaps my complaint here is more about language that the philosophy itself, but it is, nonetheless, a point worth noting. Schopenhauer’s views, and many philosophical views referred to as forms of philosophical pessimism, do, as I see it, exist upon a foundation of pure emotional, personal, subjective pessimism, not merely refuting optimistic arguments. If one argues that the universe is in a state of unstoppable decay, that does not imply a value judgment. One is free to view the unstoppable decay of the universe as a good or bad thing. Emotions and individual reactions, needless to say, are not universals. If I were to, hypothetically, construct an airtight argument that you will go to Heaven when you die, you would still be free to react to this as you will, with either happiness or sadness or any other emotion. It would be another thing entirely, in either case, for an argument to be made that either the decay of the universe or going to Heaven have a “negative value,” which is what I believe philosophical pessimism does, at least this is what I have concluded from my admittedly limited exposure to it.

I would amend Wikipedia’s definition, then, this way: “Pessimism is a state of mind in which one anticipates negative outcomes. Philosophical pessimism is not a personal disposition, but a cogent philosophy founded on a personal disposition.”

I may very well be wrong here, but I can’t comprehend how a philosophy can logically argue that something has a “negative value” without the very definition of “negative” resting on a subjective evaluation of the facts. The old aphorism goes “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” One might also say that “One man’s Hell is another man’s Heaven.” The world will eventually end, this at least appears inevitable. Whether you consider that terrible and “evil” or wonderful and “good” is another matter entirely, and I am not sure that it can be resolved philosophically or logically.

If you’ve pardoned my brief tangent here, I’ll now bring things back to the original subject.

Later in “A Case Against a Loving God,” one will come across this paragraph:

“It’s interesting, because I see minute traces of the good in the natural order, but it is saturated with the negative. If a loving God (whoever that might ultimately be) did create the universe, then why did he not saturate the order with the good, and have but traces of the evil? Indeed, all life seems to be constructed to cause agony to some other life form.”

I suspect that this part of the essay relies on certain assumptions that are worth inspecting further, related, I believe, to what I perceive to be the false-objectivity of philosophical pessimism and Schopenhauer-esque thought.

First of all, I’m not sure that I agree that the natural order is comprised of a “saturation of the negative” with only “minute traces of the good.” This is a very broad evaluation, and I think asserting it should require at least some argument with proof. I cannot help but view it as far too subjective a basis for the claims made after it. I might be convinced if more evidence or solid argumentation were given, but as-is I find it to be too broad and too subjective.

I imagine there are those out there, just as reasonable as my friend, who would argue that the world is the opposite of how he views it. The burden of proof remains for any claim on the subject, but nonetheless I believe that, as “A Case Against a Loving God” is just that, a case, in other words an argument, there should be at least more clarification, if not proof, for a claim such as this, insofar as so much of the weight of the argument seems to rest on it.

As for my own views on the subject, I make no claims to making an argument, or using this view as the basis of one, but I suspect that nature is more or less equally “good” and “bad,” if one defines “good” in terms of “love,” “pleasure,” “kindness” and “life,” and “bad” as “hate,” “pain,” “cruelty” and “death.” For every optimistic view of nature I’ve been exposed to and found lacking and overly subjective, I’ve been exposed to a pessimistic or cynical view that, while making the opposite point, is equally lacking and overly subjective. When I observe nature, or even human behavior, and history, I seem to find roughly the same number of acts of kindness and love as acts of cruelty and hatred. For every birth there is a death and for every death there is a birth. Perhaps the optimists are correct, or perhaps the pessimists are, but I, at present, see no way of discerning the truth here. To me, it seems that if the world and nature were designed, they were designed to be as ambiguous and vague and unclassifiable as possible, totally incompatible with the subjective bias of either optimism or pessimism. Whichever you expect to see, the positive or the negative, you’re bound to find just as much of the opposite, and if you don’t see it, then you are likely viewing the world in a bias way, seeing only what you have convinced yourself that you will. Then again, I’m no psychologist.

I’m also curious about the question “why did he [God] not saturate the order with the good, and have but traces of the evil?” I’m not sure why one would assume there needs to be traces of evil, or any evil, at all? If one is to presume that God is cruel or indifferent for creating a world saturated with evil but with traces of good, why would one presume God to be loving for including even “traces” of evil? Wouldn’t it be just as questionable for a perfect and loving God to create/allow any evil at all?

(It is a question, in and of itself, that has been covered by many thinkers countless times before, and it would likely take a whole other essay for me to cover it, but I bring this up briefly here simply because I don’t understand why, in “A Case Against a Loving God,” it was assumed that “a little evil” wouldn’t still be a problem when contemplating the goodness (or lack of goodness) of God.)

In the following line, we can draw the conclusion that “A Case Against a Loving God” presumes at least one form of “evil” to be agony, and the cruelty of one creature to another:

“Indeed, all life seems to be constructed to cause agony to some other life form.”

Reading this reminded me of a song I enjoy by a “pop music cult” you’ve probably never (but almost certainly should have) heard of. The “pop music cult” is Hussalonia. The song is “I Want to Live On an Abstract Plane,” from the January 2011 album “Deep in a Donut Dream.” (You can download the album legally, for free, at this link: http://archive.org/details/HussaloniaIsDeepInADonutDream )  In particular it brought to mind these lyrics:

“I pride myself on compassion and empathy,

But itʼs just impossible to live completely cruelty-free.

Flesh betwixt their jaws, my detractors force feed me their pills.

They say, “Everything, if it wants to live, must kill.”

But I want to live on an abstract plane.”

I suspect that “I Want to Live On an Abstract Plane” could be the theme song of “A Case Against a Loving God,” or it could be if theo-philosophical essays had theme songs.

I can’t say I lack empathy for the sentiment of  that line from the essay and those lyrics from the song. It seems that this is a point with a bit more weight, as far as an evaluation of the world and its cruelty-to-kindness ratio goes, simply from general observation. Even herbivores and vegans must eat living things to survive, the only difference being that the living things they eat do not appear to be conscious and therefore don’t suffer consciously.  The great majority of creatures, nonetheless, do eat conscious living things, and aside from scavengers, this does involve killing, which, no matter how humanely it is done, is still not likely to be pleasant for whatever creature is being eaten.

I confess that I do feel a certain guilt at times when eating meat. I have my own (perhaps strange) sensibilities in regards to this. Years ago I suddenly became disgusted by boneless chicken wings, after seeing them prepared on a hibachi grill and eating some cold leftover wings that didn’t reheat properly. Since then, I’ve begun to find “processed” or ground food in general to be disgusting, though I still eat hamburgers and tacos. I suspect my disgust at seeing food “liquefied” and “reassembled” stems from the sense that such preparation is “unnatural” to me, and I’ve come to feel that it “disrespects” the animals. This may be totally nonsensical, but perhaps it is due to having a Cherokee heritage; perhaps I experience genetically stored memories of a certain respect for earth and the spirits of animals. Who knows? Regardless, aside from the aforementioned exceptions, I prefer to eat meat unprocessed, bones and all intact upon serving. I somehow feel less guilty and more justified eating it this way, and not nearly as disgusted. Nonetheless, I have at times considered going vegetarian or vegan, as not all of the concerns over the ethics of food have left me yet. Time will tell if I come to a different and more definite conclusion later on.

As for how this relates to both the existence and disposition of God, there are a number of proposed explanations. When dealing with the concept of theodicy, more commonly known as the “problem of evil,” most theologians and philosophers that I can recall have specifically referred to human moral evils, such as man’s violence against man, rather than the issue of life itself being reliant on the destruction of other life (though natural disasters are sometimes brought up, and a lot of questions in the same realm as “why do bad things happen to good people?” and such).

In Christianity, of course, the state of nature, which political philosopher Thomas Hobbes once described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” is the fault of man. In general Christian thought, God created the world as perfect, seemingly gave man free will, and man chose to disobey God, bringing down a curse upon the world, which God then repaired through the sacrifice of Christ, and which is to ultimately renew the earth, leading to a paradisiacal time in which “the lion will lie down with the lamb.”

If one accepts this explanation as essentially true, there are still a number of points of debate (for example, is God not still to blame if, being all-knowing, God knew that mankind would bring about such suffering upon itself?) that have plagued Christian thinkers through the centuries. “Enigmatic Fish” touched upon this in a previous blog entry, and “A Case Against a Loving God” touches on it as well, but I will return to that. My point here is that in Christian theology, there are a number of explanations for this issue. There are too many to go into here (and if I’m able I will attempt to write  a reply to the previous post on “Enigmatic Fish” that dealt more directly with this subject in a Christian context), but I will say that I find a number of them worthwhile, though just as many strike me as outright ridiculous, but all of them that I can recall have either serious flaws or at least questionable foundations. Regardless, I do not think one ought to write them all off out-of-hand, at least if one is predisposed to accept the basic premises of the theology underlying them, even if only for the sake of being hypothetical.

With the intent to move onto the specific question of God as presented in Christianity in a later post, I’d like to cover a couple of final points raised in “A Case Against a Loving God.”

There is one assumption underlying the entirety of “A Case Against a Loving God” that I find particularly questionable and uncertain: the idea that nature is outside of humanity, or that humanity is outside of nature.

At the end of the second paragraph, there is this statement:

“The best way to understand God is to move past religion and look upon the creation itself. It is then that we can scrutinize the intent of the true God, instead of whatever God we were taught to believe in via religion.”

While questioning the teachings of one’s childhood is, I believe, a wise decision, I can’t help but wonder if the idea that “[looking] upon the creation itself” is perhaps categorizing humanity out of nature. There is an ancient argument in philosophy, and one that comes up often today as technology becomes ever more advanced, especially in regard to medical science and bioethics, over whether or not humanity is “natural,” whether humans are a part of nature, essentially very advanced animals, or “special” or “different” in some sense. Ironically, I think that perhaps a Biblical influence is more often than not the cause for the very assumption that man is “different.”

Now, my point here may be reading too much into the original statement; I imagine humanity’s part in “the creation itself” is assumed in “A Case Against a Loving God.” Nonetheless, I feel this is glossed over a bit in favor of a perhaps overly broad view of nature.

Considering a bit more closely the idea that what is human and what is natural are not separate, one is left to consider that what is human is, at the very least vicariously, also what is “creation,” as in created by God, or else simply as “mechanical” as “nature” is. Atheist writers such as Daniel C. Dennett and Richard Dawkins have been known to espouse the view that religious belief itself can be explained in evolutionary terms, and this is one view that can result from the idea that there is no inherent divide between man and nature, that nature simply is “what is.”

However, if one thinks through the issue accepting the premise (again, if only hypothetically) that “creation” is in fact created by God, then one might be brought back to the beginning: if “creation” includes a book, seemingly written by mortal men but with claims of divine inspiration, then perhaps that book does have “divine value.” At the very least, it would have no less value for discerning the nature of God than watching a lion hunt and kill an antelope, or rain falling onto a tin roof. If man and nature are not separate, then to “move past religion” would be to ignore a part of creation every bit as valid as watching non-human creatures live their lives. Absolutely everything would have to be considered, including things both contradictory and not easily interpreted, or not even interpretable. One would have to look for God both in the “dog-eat-dog” behavior of animals, the social-power dynamics of humans and animals, the seemingly neutral moments of leaky faucets and desert sands,  Adolph Hitler’s atrocities, Mohandas Gandhi’s self-sacrifice, the great apes beating their chests, the female spiders eating their male mates, the fish that eat the leftovers of sharks, the scavenging of vultures, the orbits of the planets, the movements of the stars, and hate, love, cruelty, and kindness all at once. The world, I think, is simply not very easily categorized or made sense of in any metaphysical sense, and so any attempt to find God in one aspect of it must either fall short, or at least prove inconclusive.

I offer no conclusion here; exploring religion (or any other part of existence) as further evidence for discerning the nature of God can lead one down different paths, and I have no intention of rambling down them at this time, as it is, once again, a subject expansive enough for its own focus in another essay.

Underlying my point here is an assumption of my own, at least for the sake of this writing, but I also offer it as a potential counterpoint: that there is no reason to assume that God is only revealed in “wild nature,” outside of humanity, or in the general, historical, biological, mechanical workings of the world as we know it, even if humanity is included in the equation.

To assume that God’s nature is only discernible through the historical-wild natural-biological-etc. workings of the world does, I suspect, require a “leap of faith” of sorts, assuming without proof the existence of God as impersonal and essentially Deistic, and that any religious view of God is corrupted and wrong.

There is another view that I find most worthwhile, but it is one that essentially brings us to the end of logical argument and philosophy when it is brought up.

It is this: that God is not impersonal, thus God’s nature not being discernible through an analysis of the natural world, but instead entirely personal, therefore all knowledge of God only is only accessible through personal communion with God.

This idea will, for most readers, bring to mind the Christian belief that one must have a “personal relationship with Christ.” I do not bring this view up with a strictly Christian interpretation implied; I only intend to raise up this view as its own valid, theo-philosophical concept, regardless of what (if any) religion it is associated with.

Many thinkers of an atheistic or agnostic viewpoint will likely consider this the end of discussion with a theist, and they are, in a sense, right. Christian or not, this view implies a personal challenge of sorts, one that, depending on the religious context in which one receives it (or, as in this rather neutral presentation, a lack of one) that takes one into uncharted waters that may or may not have even any internally logical guidelines on which one can proceed. These are realms seemingly teeming with mysticism and superstition and a lot of reading into everyday events. In other words, it takes one into the realm of nonsense.

I am speaking, essentially, of entering divine madness, a blatantly incomprehensible and potentially very dangerous state. In Christianity, figures are venerated based on their extreme loyalty to God. Yet would any modern Christian really praise a man, whom they know personally, who claims that God asked him to kill his own son, but then changed His mind at the last minute, simply because the man was so faithful? The most vicious attacks on religion by modern atheists are based on the fact that so much terrorism and cruelty in the world is carried out in the name of religion, and so certainly the dark side of “divine madness” is not difficult to see.

Yet is not the idea that God, perhaps a living embodiment of unchanging, objective Reality, is only accessible through a subjective experience or relationship, nonetheless a worthwhile one to pursue? It is, of course, not strictly logical, certainly not scientific. You cannot scientifically prove that which by its nature refuses to exist objectively, and a personal, perhaps mystical experience cannot be studied objectively. One might study the objective elements of it, such as neuro-chemical changes during a “spiritual experience” and the like, but by the very nature of the experience there remains the claim that something occurs beyond observable, objective reality, and so attempting to draw it out into an observable and testable form proves fruitless.

Despite the atheistic criticism of theism that the burden of proof of God rests on believers, the idea itself that God is accessible only via subjective experience is not even a claim that pretends to be provable. In fact, I offer it here not as a hard and fast claim, but as an idea about the nature of God that could very well be possible and requires some effort on the part of you, reading this, to “test” it, but to “test” it in a way that will never be provable to others and will not even be, strictly speaking, describable. If God and God’s nature are only comprehensible via some personal experience, then the only way to know God and God’s nature, loving or otherwise, is by some attempt at personal contact with God; this is the only way that God can or will be known by anyone, at least by any effort on their part, at least if the premise itself is true that God, presumably by God’s own choice to be revealed subjectively, that God is only knowable on a subjective basis.

Now, if one, hypothetically, “calls out to God” in some way, it rests on the individual to discern what he learns. Perhaps there is no answer, only an echo in the void. Perhaps there is an answer. Perhaps the answer is simple. Perhaps the answer is complex or mysterious. Assuming there is an answer, if the individual seeks God in honesty and good faith (regardless of whether or not God turns out to be loving or otherwise) all the individual is left with is a personal testimony with no solid corroborating evidence. Subjective as it is, it will likely convince no one except those predisposed to agree with whatever claim of experience with God that one makes. It certainly won’t be provable in any objective way. This is why the discussion must, by necessity, stop here. No further argument can be made about what one finds when diving into the world of the potential subjective relationship with God.

I recently read “The Divinity of Doubt” by lawyer and agnostic thinker Vincent Bugliosi. While I may review this book in greater detail in another post, one part of it is worth mentioning here. At one point, Bugliosi says something about some advice that one should pray to God “God, if you are real, please let me go to Heaven,” and Bugliosi then adds that he will “never” do this. While I find the “please let me go to Heaven” line to be a bit too loaded, the idea of an “experimental prayer” is essentially what I have spoken of in this essay, and I find it fascinating that a thinker who prides himself on not giving into the extremes of either religion or “radical atheism” and of being very logical and open to exploration would simply dismiss this premise out of hand. Bugliosi’s views are, he admits, very much anti-Christian, so perhaps the very idea reminds him too much of countless “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” questions well-meaning believers have flung at him. Regardless, it seems a shame to me that the basic idea, divested of any particular religious affiliation, that God can be known in at least some degree via personal, subjective connection, should be written off for no real reason. Bugliosi never even offers one, he simply rejects it out of hand and never explores it further at all.

“A Case Against a Loving God” concludes with a question (as, I suspect, most good arguments ought to):

“I am left with the logical conclusion that God is, at best, overwhelmingly indifferent. What is your conclusion?”

Though I feel I’ve brought my rambling thoughts and observations as far as they can go on this particular subject, I’d feel inadequate to close without giving an answer to this most direct question.

Based on my personal experiences, I believe that God is good, benevolent, and loving. Perhaps I misinterpret my own experiences, but I choose to believe that which seems, in terms of internal logic, most logical to me, and that is my conclusion. I have no intention, however, of trying to prove that to you, whoever you are. My intellect, by necessity, remains more or less grounded in a sort of agnosticism, regardless of what I actually “believe” in any spiritual or religious sense.  If God is, in fact, accessible only subjectively, then only you can seek God and then draw your own conclusion.

If I’m wrong, then I welcome any and all correction. Please let me know what I’ve missed.

Lastly, to finish, I wish to give thanks to my friend for this and his other excellent blog posts. They’ve been most inspiring, giving me some much-needed mental stimulation. I fear that I’ve been away from this type of writing for too long, and his writings are just the sort of things I’ve needed to get me back into “philosophy mode” again. I may be a bit rusty starting out, so if you’ve made it all the way here, to the end, forgive me for the detours and thank you for your patience.

Vaya Con Dios, and all the best to you,

Leo

Hello, gentle reader.

My name is Leonard Kirke and when I’m not slogging through the dying, sluggish final years of earning a (most likely worthless) college degree, I occasionally create things.

Not necessarily good things, but things nonetheless.

The primary things I create, or aspire to create, are various aesthetically-pleasing arrangements of words collected into books, or whatever the modern equivalent of books are (I don’t follow what-all the kids are doing these days). Most of these word bouquets take the form of fiction, or as I like to think of them, “non-literal truths,” which some might call “meaningful lies.”

My fiction works tend to be in the form of one or two broad genres: traditional and experimental (or, rephrased, enjoyable and weird, though I personally find the “weird” to be “enjoyable” just as often if not more-so than anything else).

In terms of my “weird” stories, you can read my work via my contributions to “The Collected Works of Jeremy Kellerman Volume 1,” a free eBook available for download on Archive.org (and dedicated to the public domain!). My work with Jeremy Kellerman, a Michigan native and self-described “advice guru,” always tends to fall in this category. You can read more of our work on Jeremy’s blog, aptly titled “The Jeremy Kellerman Blog!”  http://jeremykellermanblog.blogspot.com/

I also sometimes write short, surrealist stories independently of the Kellerman project, these being generally less humorous (or at least, less obviously so) than what I write for Kellerman, and some of these stark, surreal stories of absurdism sometimes become longer works, including the novel in-production for nearly a decade, and which I consider perhaps my life’s work, which I refer to at present only as “PM.”

I have also written a comedic, surreal short film script called “Roadkill.” I may eventually post that online and invite independent animators to take a crack at it, if they wish. I’d love to voice act for it.

In terms of my “traditional” stories, none are currently available online, and few are actually finished, due to the aforementioned wasted years of focusing on a college degree. As I write them, I plan to post excerpts, or whole stories, or links to whole stories here on this blog for the public’s consumption.

The primary project I’m working on is a fantasy series about a world in which many animals, unbeknownst to humans, speak and think as humans do. The series follows the adventures of several of these animals, and their new-found human friends, as they learn to overcome their differences and discover secrets about animal-kind hidden from history. Along the way there is a fair amount of alchemy, magical shenanigans, and adorable animals that you’ll just want to hug and hug and snuggle and hug. (The series was originally written specifically for a friend, and then decidedly for a child/youth audience, but I’ve since gone all Tolkien on it and given the entire thing a centuries-spanning back-story, even after specifically declaring that I would not do such a thing. As such, I no longer have any idea who or what the target audience might be. Cie la vie.)

If you haven’t realized by now, I’m not terribly adept at promoting my own work. But it’s better than it sounds. Trust me.

Going back to genres of literature, in addition to fiction, I also sometimes write philosophical musings and observations, which may wind up here. If the blog’s name didn’t give it away, not to mention the fact that we share a root-word in our surnames, I am heavily influenced and inspired by the works of Danish philosopher and theologian and all-around wacky, neato guy, Soren Aabye Kierkegaard. He has inspired me philosophically to roughly the same degree as Franz Kafka, Osamu Tezuka and Satoshi Kon have inspired me in a literary sense. All of the above, being big influences, will likely see their work reviewed here on this blog (or they would see it, were they still alive).

I work on video projects rather more seldom than writing projects, but occasionally some video-based idea does come to fruition. Once again, the bulk of my recent video work is the result of contributing to the wonderful world of Jeremy Kellerman, as can be seen on his Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJeremyKellerman (side-note: I can’t recall if I’m actually in the credits of anything on there, and I’ll leave it up to you to guess at random how much involvement I’ve had in any of it).

I have, for the past few years, been an advocate of Free Culture. I will likely write reflections on why I believe Free Culture is not only a valid concept, but also a vitally important one, later on this blog. As a show of support of Free Culture, I plan to release most, if not all of my work under free licenses. A future post will hopefully be able to explain the license-status of each of my writings. I may also use this blog to occasionally link to good Free Culture-licensed works that I find online that one may use. For more information on Free Culture, I recommend the website QuestionCopyright.org, a very helpful resource indeed.

You should also visit the blog of a friend of mine, the founder of Lotus Games, an independent video game developer. That blog is called “Enigmatic Fish,” and can be found here: http://dream-forever.net/Blog/

While I’m promoting other peoples’ blogs, I may as well mention a recent inspiration of mine, Daniel Suelo, who has a blog at this address: http://zerocurrency.blogspot.com/ and a website at this address: https://sites.google.com/site/livingwithoutmoney/ and who has recently stumbled upon a bit of fame thanks to a biography published about him that you may have heard of, called “The Man Who Quit Money.” I highly recommend the book, and I even more highly recommend reading Suelo’s websites. You may not feel like giving up your life savings or your second Prius after reading the words of this modern-day hobo-philosopher, but you will likely look at the world in which you live in a rather new, worthwhile and interesting way.

Lastly, I am a janitor. I like to clean things. Janitors do important work. Give them gifts, if possible, and try not to leave too much of a mess wherever you go.

That is all for now.

Vaya Con Dios and be excellent to each other,

Leo Kirke

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