Saturday, January 19, 2008
Fear—a force that confines. The individual who fears the water is spared the risk of crocodilian ingestion, but she also forgoes access to the life partner on the far bank.
Fear is sourced through both acquired learning and instinct. A mother knows what risks lurk beneath the sands and amongst the intertwined roots of the mangroves during high tide. She has learned to fear the hide tide through experience—having barely escaped a crocodilian assault in her youth. The mother instructs her child not to enter the mangrove during high tide, and the child instinctively feels fear at the thought of insubordination toward his mother's instruction. He heeds her words, does not linger in the groves for high tide, and is afforded growth to maturity through avoiding the threat of tetrapod attack. He does not learn to fear high tide through a narrow escape as his mother had, he instinctively fears disobeying his mother—an evolved trait of primate and hominid social strictures.
According to developmental researchers, fear is the most elementary motivator in human moral development.
The four-year-old wants to color with a permanent marker on his sibling's arm. He scopes for adult attention, and, having observed an absence of adult awareness, he proceeds to mark up the exposed skin. Had an adult been watching, he would not have colored. Why? Adult presence translates into immediate punishment. His moral world is guided by fear—the fear of punishment.
Maturity of moral development is characterized by altruism. The altruistic does not allow fear of punishment to preclude right conduct. That is, even in the event that established norms of right and wrong, be they perceived divine or human, prohibit a specific behavior, the altruistic realizes that a higher good can be served through transgressing a norm when necessary.
The altruistic Jesus broke the Sabbath commandment, according to Matthew 12, when he permitted harvesting on the Sabbath. The altruistic driver runs a red light, despite fear of an accident or law enforcement personnel, because she knows the sick child in the back seat needs to get the emergency room.
Fear is a force that confines, albeit, for largely selfish reasons. It asks the question, "What can I do while yet shunning punishment (divine or human)?"
It prevents the fearful from partaking of the perceived forbidden.
I used to fear doubt. I used to fear the logical contradictions of my belief system. It scared me to realize that the Bible was refuted by basic science. I was afraid of accepting this conclusion for fear that it would propel me off of the precipice of impiety and punishment. Later I feared transgressing accepted norms. First, I feared eating unkosher chicken. Later, I feared eating unkosher beef. Still later, I feared eating pig. Yet, I have passed these thresholds.
I am not bound by fear. I do not fear wrath. I do not fear God. I do not fear demons or a nefarious numen behind every mishap. I am not afraid of reading the Quran. I am not afraid of questioning the existence of God. I am not afraid of myself. I am not afraid of the pig. I am not afraid of logic, science, the Bible, and any information available for my perusal.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I am a born-again, regenerate agnostic. What, a born again agnostic? Let me explain.
The essence or the guiding drive of the unregenerate (those who are not "born again") is the flesh. "The mind of the flesh cannot please God," Paul advises us. I have always been appreciative of Paul's use of the word "flesh" in Romans 8. It is the perfect exemplar of what it means to be unregenerate or "of the flesh." Paul chose this word, in the KJV mind you, because it carries a secret, embedded message. Spell the world flesh backwards and you get h-self. With a slight degree of anachronistic political correctness Paul refrained from inserting an "im" for "himself" or an "er" for "herself."
"The minding of the flesh" is the minding of oneself. It is a life focused on selfish gratification. However, selfishness or self-interest need not take the simple form of immediate gratification as there are many fleshly, self-interested individuals who, while acting in their own interests, forgo immediate gratifications for delayed benefits. These individual's may appear noble and self-controlled on the outside, but their hearts' desires are often revealed through their treasures....frequently the accumulated capital of ruthless pursuit for the bottom line.
When the unregenerate loves, it is out of selfish interests. By loving a daughter, the unregenerate fulfills her maternal instincts. By nurturing a feral cat, the unregenerate feels warm and fuzzy inside. Though displaying love, the pursuit of the unregenerate is not the interest of the object loved unless such betters the interest of the unregenerate.
There are many Christians in name who are unregenerate or not born again. Their sole focus in life is the self, the flesh. Though they have professed a moment at which they have "asked Jesus into their hearts," they have never forgone self interest. Their sole goal is the flesh. So, while they perform good works and charity, an underlying drive for the gratification found in ritual and outward benevolence reigns.
In contrast to the condition of the unregenerate, the pursuit of the regenerate is the best interests of others. The regenerate loves the other for the benefit of the other without the condition of self interest; hence, the regenerate, the one "born again," displays true love, true benevolence of the most altruistic avidity.
I am regenerate. I am growing weary of being called unregenerate due to my want of faith in the Bible. I am a benevolent person, aware of my selfish nature, who yet operates as a guiding principle in the interests of others. I do not claim to be perfect, but my profession is benevolence or love.
I am a born-again agnostic among the ranks of the many non-Christian regenerate of all the religions and people groups.