What If??  What If?? What If??

Oh goody!  We’re going to play a game of What If.  I have not been amused or entertained by one of those for years.

Let’s say you were in a naval battle in the middle of the ocean and your ship was destroyed so you are in very cold water. You know that you need to act now to get on a ship or you will die. Now there are 4 ships that you can swim to. But it looks like all the ships are very badly damaged and unlikely to be seaworthy enough to save you. It’s hard to tell from your position but as best you can tell one ship has a 5% chance but the others have less than a 2% chance of being seaworthy enough to save you. 

What do you do? Do you think well no one has “proven” or “verified” that any of these ships will save me so I might as well die in the water? Or do you start swimming to the ship that gives you a five percent chance (the best shot)? I think that is the obvious choice. You are not in a position to demand “proofs” or “verification.” You just have to make do with the information you have. 

I think this is analogous to the situation we are in when it comes to how we should live. We can’t pause our life until someone can prove how we are supposed to live. We choose to act or not act all the time. And we can’t insist on verification or proof beyond what we have. We just have to take our best shot. 

For me I think following Christ’s teachings is the “best shot.” I may wish I had better evidence or proofs but reality does not bend to my wishes. The rational person bends his beliefs and actions to reality.

People often believe that they are thinking, when all they’re really doing is rearranging their prejudices.  So, you’re going to dream up a scenario that is so outlandish and restrictive, that it makes your already-decided-on choice look good barely acceptable.

I am disturbed that you would advocate a selection with a 95% chance of failure, but, as you inferred, It’s (barely) better than nothing.  Desperation is not considered a good method of choice.  It usually results in wrong decisions.  Even choice is a bad method.  You can attend a Christian church, and repeat all the magic words, but it won’t produce the honest, true-hearted Belief that the unwritten rules call for.

I’d like to ask what mechanism you used to determine what percentage of success your choice, both in real life and in your specious analogy, had.  I see none, other than desperation and gullibility – only an unproven claim.

Unlike your fantasy-novel format, in real life it is both possible and advisable to do some research, so that you don’t end up in these religious shipwreck scenarios.

What if that water isn’t as cold and deep as you believe?  What if you were just told that, by the guy who runs the life-preserver franchise?  What if, no matter which ship you swam to, it sank and drowned you?  What if the ship you chose was an enemy vessel, and the agents of Allah tortured you to death?  What if you stopped panicking, and used your strength and determination to swim toward the big orange rubber raft that the rescue helicopter just dropped, labelled Reason/Reality?  What if you’re not Captain James T. Kirk, and there just is no right answer?

What if you summarily dismiss all of my What Ifs, because you think that they sound almost as silly as your What Ifs??!

Tempest In A Theological Teapot

I recently read a rant about gender reassignment.  https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2022/03/22/one-simple-question-for-woke-atheists/  The author, and six or eight of his testosterone-infused followers had their Theistic jock-straps in a bunch, because Thomas had become Lia.  He titled it One Simple Question For Woke Atheists.  I asked how the title had anything to do with the existence of Atheists, or God.

I got back:  Atheists insist “there is no evidence for god.” Entailed in their atheism is the notion that all beliefs about reality should be supported by convincing evidence. And, personal feelings, personal testimony, personal experience, intuition, etc. do NOT count as evidence.

Woke people believe Thomas is a woman because he, I mean she, says so and if you dare to disagree with Thomas, it is because you are an evil, transphobic, bigot.

I’m looking to see if the Woke atheism is a coherent, reasonable position or whether it is inherently irrational due to its arbitrary, make-it-up-as-you-go, essence. That is, either come up with another way to define atheism or provide the evidence that Lia Thomas is a woman. Of course, I already know that Woke atheism is irrational, so I’m just illustrating it.

Atheism is the lack of belief in God, or gods.  Everything else is something else!  There is no “Woke Atheism”!  There is a Woke point of view, and it is shared by Atheists and Christians alike.  People who accept Atheism, are also likely to support Lia, but there are many Atheists who do not.  Conversely, there are many ‘Good Christians’ who would.  Woke or not, this is not “an Atheist position,” any more than Westboro Baptist Church protesting at a serviceman’s funeral, is a Christian one.

The difference between believing in God, and believing in Thomas as a woman is that, God is external, and Lia is internal.  God is subjective, and Lia is objective.

If God exists, He is outside: outside each believer, outside the Universe, outside Nature, and outside reality.  If you claim that He is real, you’d better come with some solid evidence.  All your faith, and belief, and claims, and hopes, and wants, and needs are not going to magick Him, or my acceptance, into existence.  Nothing is made-up-as-we-go.

Personal feelings, personal testimony, personal experience, intuition, etc. do NOT count as evidence, when applied to something outside yourself.  They are, however, the only valid way to know what is happening in anyone’s mind.  Lia could state that she is a Cincinnati Reds fan, a non-smoker, a vegetarian, and likes heavy metal music, and you have to accept that.  And if she says that she feels more like a girl than a guy despite the plumbing, just as she feels more like voting for Biden than Trump – that’s an objective proof.  You have to accept it, even if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Republican.  She is, and will remain, the best judge of what she thinks, feels, and believes.  She identifies as a female personality, trapped in a male body.

I and other Atheists are approached by Apologists demanding that we Prove Atheism, or Prove Atheism is true.  They seem to feel that, like Christianity, Atheism should have an all-encompassing worldview, with tenets and dogma and scripture, and leaders.  That is not the case.  It is a position on one single point – the lack of belief in a God, or gods.  Atheists have not been presented with sufficiently convincing evidence.  I can quickly and accurately ‘Prove’ my Atheism.  I do not accept your ridiculous claims about your imaginary friend.  That is honest and true, and objectively valid.

Flash Fiction #280

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

UNFOUNDED OPINIONS

Once, I was concerned about what other people thought, and thought of me – principals, parents, politicians, priests and preachers.  When I grew older and wiser – and entered elementary school – I realized that, no matter how smart they are, everyone has one blind spot, where their grip on reality is tenuous at best.  The further from reality, the more desperate and strident they are.

Because I would not blindly accept her religious claims, a Christian therapist suddenly accused me of watching porn and masturbating.  Her problem is not my problem.  I did not descend to insults.  I merely rose above hers.

***

If you’d like to join the Friday Fictioneers fun, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site, and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

’21 A To Z Challenge – U

 

 

I want to believe as many true things, and as few false things, as I can.
I want my internal, mental world-view to match observed reality as closely as possible.

The wife claims that, in the last 5 or 10 years, I have become intolerant and nasty toward religion and Christianity.

I think that it’s just that I’ve been more and more exposed to people who believe – and want me to believe – religious positions based on observably false claims, and I’m just getting more chances to express my discontent.

The wife’s Catholic Father died of cancer when she was 13.  He was sick for 5 years.  His teen-aged children cared for him for a year, but he was moved to the Catholic hospital, and given palliative care for 3 years.  Hospices did not exist back then, and hospitals finally realized that they could not afford to take up space with someone who would not recover.  He was discharged, to die at home.

At the end of the fifth year, he was terminal.  Four times, the local Catholic priest had to put on his cassock, and come over in the middle of the night, to give him last rites.  The first time, he rallied.  Two weeks later, the priest was back with another serving of last rites.  Again, he rallied.  Two weeks later, the tired priest made a third late-night house-call.  Once more, he rallied, but the end was inevitable.

The wife told me that, on his final visit, the priest gave her Father, not the last rites, but

EXTRA MUNCTION

I had been exposed in my youth to Baptist, Presbyterian, United, Pentecostal and Anglican, but not much Catholic.  I knew that The Church had all kinds of rites and rituals, and amulets, and potions, and spells, but I’d never heard of MUNCTION.  I asked, “What the Hell is munction?  Why did he need any, much less, extra??  Is it some kind of herbal remedy, or an opiate to ease his suffering??”

“I don’t know, but he must have needed it, because the priest gave him some extra.”   😯

Years later, I was reading a book about a Catholic who was dying, and the priest attended him, to give him

Extreme UNCTION

noun Roman Catholic Church.
anointing of the sick.
From: unction
an act of anointing, especially as a medical treatment or religious rite.
an unguent or ointment; salve.
something soothing or comforting.

I can’t fault the wife.  Shortly after that, she left the Church because she asked questions that they wouldn’t/couldn’t answer, so she didn’t get the complete indoctrination into the arcane, magical, mystical, mythical, mumbo-jumbo.  I have talked to other people who have been Catholics all their lives, but are no better informed about the Church’s tenets and ceremonies.  From the wife’s aggressive defense, even half a century later, I don’t think that she’s shed all the propaganda, but has obvious discomfort at my criticisms and doubts.

I am strangely reminded of the ‘60s British comedy movie, Carry On Doctor, which revolves around a hospital ward, with 8 stereotypical English males.  One is the brash, loud-mouthed know-it-all, who irritates fellow patients and staff alike.  Finally, a long-suffering nurse tells him to roll on his stomach, and get up on his knees.  She is going to take his temperature rectally.

He hoists his butt into the air, and something slender, round and cool is inserted.  Almost immediately, The Matron enters the ward, and demands to know from him, why his jiggly bits are hanging out in the breeze.  He says, “Have you never seen a man having his temperature taken?”  She replies, “Yes.  Many times.  But never with a daffodil!”   😯  😳  Just go along with it, because someone who claims to have authority, tells you to do something ultimately meaningless, no matter how foolish you look in the end.

It is difficult to take Christian Apologists, and their claims and arguments, seriously, when it appears obvious that there is something going on behind their…. back, and they have no idea that it’s happening, or what it is.

Flash Fiction #267

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast

WHY IS A MOUSE WHEN IT SPINS?

Please ensure mind is in motion before engaging mouth.

I’m tryin’ to think, but nuthin’s happenin’!

Did I actually have my shit together in my youth, and only now is it coming unravelled quicker than a knitted sock the cat found?

Or was I always this spun, and I have just finally achieved clarity?

Old age is like waking from an epic drunk, on someone else’s couch.  It takes at least an hour for reality to come into sharp focus.

Do not operate heavy any equipment while under the influence.  Squirrel-brain is normal.  Afternoon naps are a proven effective treatment.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #253

PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast  

FREE BIRD

It is so comforting to Know – to know no doubts – to have all the answers, even when they are not the right ones.

People feel safe when they can identify – apply labels to others – politics, religion, gender, language, nationality.  It gives the illusion of control of their lives.

Other folks, and their related social problems, are complex, and fully-formed.  They are not easy, one-dimensional, cookie-cutter simple.

It is usually better to make decisions and form opinions based on reality, rather than preconceived notions.  More people should try it.  They might find those feared – and hated – Others…. are quite sweet.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Get A Grip

I have a gripe with English.  It is said that a man with a watch always knows what time it is.  A man with two watches is never sure.  For a word with one meaning, or even several established meanings, I know what is meant.  For words which keep adding, subtracting, and modifying meanings, I am less and less sure what is meant.

The word ‘grip’ originally meant, a grasp, a grab, a hold, by a person’s hand.  Recently, technology has included machines.  Once upon an archaic, the words ‘grip’ and ‘gripe’ meant the same thing.  (Don’t ask me why.  I can’t get a hold on it.)  Now grip can mean a small suitcase with a handle, which can be grasped and carried by one hand.  Gripe can be a nagging complaint by someone who may not have a firm grip on reality.

At one time, ‘grippe’, which is pronounced grip, but which is neither grip nor gripe, was the word to identify influenza, the ordinary, seasonal, gastro-intestinal flu,’ a kinder, gentler, distant relative to COVID.  “Grippe” could cause abdominal cramps, especially among babies and young children.

To alleviate these symptoms, “Grippe Water” was developed and marketed.  My mother dosed me with it several times.  The original formula contained alcohol and sugar in addition to sodium bicarbonate and dill oil – a couple of stomach calmers, some calories to replace what might have been lost to the illness, and a mild sedative to aid with sleeping.  It was once said that the best remedy for a colicky baby, was a good, thick, oak door.

Then the All-Or-Nothing, Save Us From Ourselves, Snowflakes got a grip on it, and removed all the “bad” ingredients, so present-day products do not contain alcohol or sugar, but may contain fennel, ginger, chamomile, cardamom, licorice, cinnamon, clove, dill, lemon balm or peppermint, depending on the formula.

Grippe’ was what caused the cramping, but ‘gripe’ is the term for the actual clutching, grasping intestinal pain.  Since the formula was changed, the name has also been changed.  ‘Grippe Water’ is no more, and the new product is ‘Gripe Water.’  That’s only one of the English terms that I have a gripe about.  😯

Flash Fiction #221

Corona

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

FEAR SELLS

Danger! Danger, all about
Run in circles! Scream and shout!

Dig a hole, and pull it in after you.

‘Dog bites man’ doesn’t sell.
‘Man bites dog’ sells.

A man shoots up a brewery. Five are killed. Eight are wounded. What’s on the news?
One person in the US died of the corona virus.”

A man in Philadelphia is found with three assault rifles, a sniper rifle, three handguns, and 20,000 rounds of ammunition – and a cruise ship is refused docking in three countries because one crewman has the sniffles.

Stock up two weeks’ worth, and don’t leave the house.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site – apply hand sanitizer when you arrive, and again when you leave – and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

Sorry! Once again, this is not so much Fiction, as sad reality – a truncated rant about how we are distracted, and distract ourselves, from far more important things. (Has Khloe Kardashian released a new makeup line?) Even firearms fatalities, as unfortunate and heart-wrenching as they may be, are massaged and manipulated. Ten times as many people are killed in traffic accidents, as in gun deaths, yet we hear no hue and cry to ban automobiles, outlaw Hummers, or confiscate pickup trucks.

Eh?? Did you have a comment? I wasn’t paying attention. ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes died when his steam rocket crashed.

’19 A To Z Challenge – Kludge

Calipers

Three Laws Of Practical Engineering
Force to fit
File to hide
Paint to cover

At the steel fabricating plant where I once worked, the difference between a welder, and a welder/fitter, was a ten-pound sledgehammer. Those storage tanks always fit.

Kludge

Noun – a software or hardware configuration that, while inelegant, inefficient, clumsy, or patched together, succeeds in solving a specific problem or performing a particular task.

Verb – the atypical act or action of achieving such a goal

Coined 1960/65 by American author Jackson W. Granholm.

Too often, ivory-tower engineers design things for the perfect, optimum conditions, and ignore reality. If you design something to be foolproof, someone will design a bigger fool. As James Bond said to Q, in one of the movies, “There’s a lot of wear and tear goes on out in the field.”

The concept of ‘Kludge’ indicates an open and adaptive mind, instead of one bounded by unchanging rules and regulations. Larry the Cable Guy may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but you have to admire his Git ’er done philosophy.

I got this challenge done, and I’ve got a couple more, ready to post soon. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

The Need For Myths

Fairy Tale

Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death.

It may really not be possible to do away with myths. The myth is as much a part of the human need as the allure of it. Even when one does not want to, there will come a time when a person feels the need for a story. This inner need expresses itself as a search, or as a desire. It may come early in life or it may come late. Nevertheless, a person who thinks, is bound to realize a sense of emptiness. Nothing but a story could fill it. All a person would want or hope for is to find a good story, and then, live it.

Finding one’s myth

This is where one person differs from another. It’s easy to understand. What isn’t easy to understand is always, why one person chooses one story to understand his reality, while someone else chooses another. It is to be understood that: Till the time a person finds the story – the myth – that satisfyingly explains his existence and gives purpose to his mind, his soul, the power within is still not released. It is looking for its expression. The myth provides the expression. Only then, when one goes deep into his personal myth, is it no longer just a story, but life itself. Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

Every culture ought to provide a satisfying myth to the people it holds – one might say – captive. Yes, cultures hold at least some persons captive, while the vast majority are simply organized by it. This is what we understand to be a society. Is that not true? The exceptional individuals of society – the artists, the searchers, the thinkers, and the visionaries – if they succeed in finding their creativity-unlocking-myth, will then become the heroes and the leaders. They may even one day become legends that others recall with some fondness and some fear.