Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A World of Nouns

I had a realization last year that will be articulated in this post.  How it came to me was when I reflected that the word verb is a noun.  It has to do with the English parts of speech and human language as a whole.  I realized that our world is made of only nouns.

As Google defines it, a verb is "a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence..."; and a noun is "a word (other than a pronoun) used to
identify any of a class of people, places, or things..."  The word verb fits the definition of a noun, and Google identifies its part of speech as a noun.  This means that any verb - such as touch, hear, jump, etc. - are nouns as well.  Don't believe me?  Look at the bold-ed word in this sentence: verb.  You can see it on your computer screen; it is a word; and words are nouns.  Therefore, the word verb, and any word that is a verb, is a noun.

The main argument against my thesis is that the action a verb describes, in real life, is not a noun.  My rebuttal: a coordinate on a graph is a noun.  The Cartesian plane describes space in three dimensions: height (y-axis), width (x-axis), and depth (z-axis).  These dimensions are used to describe all the things (nouns) we decipher with our eyes and feel with our body.  There is the idea of a fourth dimensional axis called time.  If time were to be thought of as just another axis on a graph, then moments of time could be set on a graph as coordinates, capturing the still frame of every moment it took someone to move their legs to run.  Still don't believe me?  Even if the act of running was looked at as a whole, not being separated into its coordinates on a 4-D graph, it's still a noun.  Running is an act and an act is a noun.  An act is "a thing done; a deed."

To further this train-of-thought, all spoken languages are like this:  All their words, even in their own definitions, are nouns.  This is because we, as humans, live in an entirely subjective reality.  We are
unable to see the world in its entirety so we compartmentalize it into words: shorthand representations of worldly things.  Speech is the universal form of communication for humans; and it limits us to describing ourselves, someone else, and anything else, with definitions.  There are things unknown to humankind, things we can refer to as undefinable.  But again, we retreat to our desire to understand and henceforth label anything we can't comprehend as "indefinable".  The word itself is a definition and definitions are nouns.

Humans don't need to understand everything; we don't need language to survive.  In our Earth's
history, as far as our knowledge of it goes, no other species than humankind has used speech.  No other animal has felt a need to understand all about the world to be happy.  There are other ways for communication other than speech.  Many different cultures and religions practice meditation and silence to break the boundaries of speech.  There's even an hotel in Orlando, Florida that has an annual event called Silent Weekend.  It starts June 19 and lasts till June 22; and the purpose is to have participants refrain from speaking and writing for the entire weekend (with a few exceptions.)  The event does not include refraining from forms of sign language (which is not much different, in essence, from speech).

What is the use of this information?  For me, it's food-for-thought.  Maybe through desolating speech we will be able to better understand the world; maybe animals in and their simplistic understandings of the world come closer to the truth than our own.  Maybe not.  Can humans communicate without using nouns? Either way, now you can safely say all words that are preposition, adjective, adverb, verb, conjunction, interjection, and pronoun are quintessentially nouns.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How is God Useful?

When writing my last two posts about the existence of God, I realized that the message I was trying to send through them would best come across by answering this question:

How is God useful?  This is what faith boils down to:  People have faith in what's useful for them.  Faith in Him often goes hand-in-hand with certainty, closure, and happiness.  It's reassuring to believe in a divine figure that watches over you and provides for you, if not in life, in death.  With Him comes a straightforward set of principles that grant eternal happiness.

I do recognize sensible arguments against Christianity and religion as a whole.  Uncountable lives have been lost in the name of God (or any god).  Religion, as it supports its own moral code, can be, and has often been, used to justify segregation, persecution, murder, and torture.  In contemporary America, such things manifest most commonly as anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, sexism, and polarized politics.  In the past, such things have manifested as inquisitions, crusades, and religious totalitarianism; specific examples are the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Papal States, the burning of witches and homosexuals and Jews, the never-ending Catholic and Protestant antagonism, Sunni and Shiite skirmishes, and female circumcisions.

I also recognize that much of what was done in the name of God (or any god) masked an ulterior motive.  The farther back in history, the more connected church and state were.  Religious and political stratagems were not separate.  Many of the proclaimed religious movements in history were more about power hungering than vanquishing heathens.  Furthermore, in countries which separate church and state, such as China and North Korea, it is more obvious that any oppression the people experience is the fault of their ruler, not an organized religion.  The Great Leap Forward led by Mao Zedong created the Great Chinese Famine through 1958-62; an estimate of 30 million died under Mao's rule of Communist China, an atheistic country.  Project MKUltra was a series of experiments regarding "biological and chemical agents" tested on unwilling US citizens.  The First Amendment of the US Constitution declares that our government will not operate with any established religion.

Not only bad things have come of religion.  What about all the good things that have come of it?  Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu and he was undeniably one of the greatest social activists in history.  Buddhism is a religion that revolves around self improvement and discipline.  The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) practice recognizing the little light of God within every single human being.  Unitarian Universalism has seven main principles, one of them being "Justice, equity, and compassion in human relationships."  Some Christians' beliefs reflect compassion for all such as Matthew's saying "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."

It is important to avoid generalization.  The world and the human mind is not simple.  There are many reasons and excuses for violence, God being one of them.  But if a person wants to harm another badly enough and they cannot justify their desire to themselves or others through religion, they will find another way.  What God does for people is provide certainty, closure, and happiness.  A good umbrella term would be motivation.  God should be used by those who find him helpful and inspiring.  As for the nonreligious people (such as myself), just because we do not find Him helpful or need Him does not mean we should put down those who do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Does God Exist? (Cont.)

In my last post I described how God can exist in a universe completely subjective to the human mind.  In this post I will write about how God can exist in an external world.

The human species is proof that an object can amount to more than the sum of its parts.  Every bit of
our body by itself would be lifeless; but when combined, they create a consciousness that is, for the most part, unaware of our own body's internal processes.  We don't have to think to breath, to digest, to pump blood, or to blink.  We don't have to think to operate our cardiovascular system, respiratory system, endocrine, muscular, skeletal, digestive, nervous, immune, or any of our other bodily systems.  This is the same for most animals.

Even material like plants, rocks, and water amount to more than their individual parts:  They have important connections to other worldly things.  Everything on Earth is connected in codependency, resulting in many different natural cycles and ecosystems.  Ecosystems can be described as
organisms:  They can be healthy with a plethora of diverse life; they can be sick with an excessive death rate or barrenness; they are in constant motion; they can grow or shrink; and they can compete and destroy one another.  Not one thing can be removed, or else the entire matrix of life that we know of would fall apart.

That being said, is it such a stretch of the imagination to theorize a higher order of consciousness comprised of greater parts?  It could be comprised of all of the known material on Earth.  A similar notion to this is called the Gaia Theory.

Or it could be comprised of something a little simpler, such as the human race.  There is a more scientific term for this idea, and Carl Jung called it the "collective unconscious".  There are many documentations of alleged losses of individual consciousness, ranging "Proof of Heaven".  It describes a neurosurgeon's near death experience when he entered a coma for an entire week.  In that week, he encountered "the Divine source of the universe itself" and claimed he felt a loss of individuality.  He became one with God and retained his memories while acting unanimously with another mind.  And mob mentality is often described as a single mind controlling
an entire groups.  People will often do things against their usual nature in a mob.  This is widely understood to be a consequence of mental pressure to conform and desire for a place of belonging when within a large group.  What I am suggesting is that there could be a mind that binds all others; a being that feels and acts upon the accrued desires of every human that has ever lived and are still alive.  It would be a carrier of all the thoughts, memories, and feelings of the entire human race; and when we died, we would be fully assimilated into this being and come to exist in a state much like what the neurosurgeon described in his near death experience from metaphysical experiences to mob mentality.

This being, I'll call it the All Soul, would depend on the existence of the human race.  If our species went extinct, the All Soul would die too, unless there was an even higher order of consciousness such as the Earth, the solar system, a constellation of stars, the galaxy, or maybe the universe.

Is this scenario likely?  I do not think so.  But my point is that it's hard to disprove.  This theorized version of God relies on the human mind, and psychology is not a well understood science.

This version of God also breaks the traditional American Christian conception of God as it contradicts the idea of God as a pure being.  This version says God holds all the evil and good of humanity, and that all people, sinners and do-gooders, leave this world for the same place.

This series of posts was inspired by some of my peers who claim things such as "Christianity is a religion based on self-denial" and "I can easily disprove God" and "all Christians are fooling themselves".  I am an atheist, but I cringe whenever I hear people say such things as if it is so blatant.
 If the answer to the question "Does God Exist?" is so obvious, then why is it still being asked and why does 80% of the world's population still believe in some sort of deity or pantheon?  Personally, the idea of God or any divine, immortal person seems unbelievable; but I can respect and even understand why so many people put faith in a superhuman being.  The percent of atheists and nonreligious people is usually in the tens place all over the world, with the exception of East Asia.  That percent decreases the farther back in history you go.  All the amazing astronomical, anatomical, and mathematical discoveries came from religious men and women.  So I set out to prove the possibility of God.