Adam Hamilton pretends to wrestle with doubt

Wrestling with Doubt Finding Faith: Hamilton, Adam: 9781791029982: Books

This is unrelated to any other threads. My wife gets these books for her Adult Bible Study. I’ve opened them, found bad archaeology and theology on the first random page and put them down. The other night, she’s reading this one to me, because it’s quoting Hawking and Dawkins in the first chapter. That chapter is titled, “Is there a God?”

Hamilton is a master at avoiding the question. After presenting the scientific arguments against God, which, BTW, hurrah, he simply dismisses them. “Hawking was talking about the laws of nature,” he says, so apparently it doesn’t have to do with what’s in Hamilton’s heart. He goes on to talk about the power of community, never mentioning the studies about non-religious communities that supply the exact same benefits, and which I’m absolutely sure the guy has read. He raves about how great his life has been since making the choice, very important he says, that it was a choice, to believe.

In the next chapter he “wrestles” with the Bible. Again, hurrah, he points out the misogyny, the mass murder, the pro-slavery and anti-gay stuff. He does a little razzle dazzle by presenting some historical theological responses to these problems, then just moves on. Oh, he says, only 5% of the Bible is this troubling stuff. The rest is all about mercy, love and justice.

I skimmed a lot. The “Why Do the Innocent Suffer?” question has always been my favorite though. Again, he spends lots of time with examples, starting with people causing pain for people, which can be blamed on people and that pesky free-will God gave us, and admits that natural disasters are real too. But somehow, God doesn’t “intend” for them or something. I’ve seen this word play before, I don’t know how they come up with these, sitting at their keyboards. Anyway, God is there to comfort and guide us after our best friend gets cancer. That’s it.

So, big surprise, another disappoints, right? What would be great, is if one of these authors would start working on these questions and say, oh crap, this whole thing is a disaster. We don’t just need excuses for how someone wrote about killing babies 5,000 years ago, we need to make a Bible with all those highlighted and a page at the beginning telling people that’s not what love is about, that there is no redeeming value to this passage.

That would be a start. Highlighting entire books would be next. Putting explanations of how the Bible was assembled, and that it’s not a coherent narrative would also be good. I know there’s a website for this, I won’t look it up right now, it has almost every line annotated, but that would never make the Bible Study class would it? There must be a way to make it look like theology, but really be a study guide for how to stop believing. The New Testament took power away from the Temple and put it into the hands of those who choose to follow him. It’s time to finish the job and show people that power is only in their hands, nowhere else.

Critical thinking people start lining up.

You know reading through that, I couldn’t help but imagine how helpful it would be simply for people to come to terms with their own bodies along with learning to appreciate that the origins of consciousness and thought lie within our own bodies interacting with our Earthly paradise and not out there somewhere in the cosmos.

I believe I have come to terms with that, but it didn’t change my thoughts and feelings that significantly. After a while the appreciation grew and I got more comfortable with being part of earth than part of some invisible spirit world, but the thoughts of being more than a body didn’t end. As far as I can tell it’s part of being human.

We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and part of evolution is really not that satisfying. Not for me, probably not most people. I’ve found ways to involve myself in the world that give me a sense of purpose, but I was born with a lot of resources and advantages.

I cannot speak to your experience. You look at life through your particular paradigm (lens), the sum total of your experiences. I do the same.

I’ve found contemplating this stuff, amazingly, fascinatingly mind boggling that gets down right mystical. Mysticism built upon actually factual observations of aspects of our existence nothing before had any clue of - it really is fun stuff.

The feeling of spiritually “arriving at home” is nothing to sniff at, especially when entering that certain age, with body starting to fall apart, and that last breath ever more palpable.

Developing this understanding and these convictions founded on biological understanding is pretty big, sure beats believing a one dimensional story written ages ago, that others interpret for us - and it seems worth sharing, even if few have the interest or background to work with it.



Have a sense of being part of a society and part of a biosphere gives meaning, I sure don’t struggle with wondering: Who am I. And I did for a great many decades, it’s been fun finding a truly grounded way of getting in touch of the reality of who I am, with all it’s fascinating varied aspects - with our intimate ties to Earth’s biosphere being a bonus.

I’ve learned that doesn’t cut it on the sexy excitement scale.
I don’t care, perhaps that why I have such mixed feelings towards philosophers, it’s all about keep it provocative and not so much about actually coming to grips with our reality, too much facade, too little substance to build upon.

Let’s not forget, I’m 68, I had my excitement, these days I like things slower, besides I feel like the feeling of having arrived home. The important questions resolved, now it’s time to re-savor the journey had while living a day at a time and then saying good bye.

And sure, these things I wax on about lyrically can’t be conveyed, anymore than an experience can be conveyed. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to describe some experiences as clearly as possible.

In truth, at this point I’m less interested in convincing others, these days it’s simply about spelling it out as concisely and cleanly as possible. Let the words and memes and synchronicity do the rest. Then get on with a different sort of writing project.

I think I understand, because for Christ sake we are the GODS!
Cue up Hollywood.
Nothing less than more of everything will satisfy us, as it wets our appetite for even more, bigger, faster, “better”. If we can imagine it, it’s got to be ours, regardless of consequences to anyone, or anything else, our desires command us.

So can we at least agree that using the descriptive of “self-absorbed” thinking and “self-serving” actions is an objective summary of the human trajectory, at least these past few millennia? Quite probably much longer.

I’m not hanging any moralistic baggage onto that descriptive, society and more importantly empire probably wouldn’t have had a chance without that sort of thinking with the Gods we created for ourselves and our particular needs at the time.

It’s simply a stone cold sober recognition that this is who we are, and it’s what got us into today’s runaway self-destructive trajectories.

We’re content to think Earth and Evolution, even our own biology has nothing more of interest to offer us?
Definitely nothing as exciting as what’s happening in our imaginations.

I mean, colonizing Mars v. learning to nurture Earth’s biosphere - No Contest!
So our billionaires dream and invest into going to Mars and the Moon because it’s soo much sexier then dealing with the mess we’ve made of Earth’s biosphere (read life support systems) and society.


We can dream all we want, nevertheless there will be big (presently unthinkable) readjustments in the coming years and decades - we’re barely past the amuse-gueule stage of the Anthropocene. Things are going to start moving faster and it seems to me our old self-indulgent philosophical debates will fall to the wayside. Then it’ll be each outpost once again left to figure it out for themselves. Whatever something that might work with the horridly different future coming at our children.

Just some quick responses for now.

I can only know my own experience, of course, but we all know much of others through the written and oral word. I don’t think I’m that unusual.

Kinda what I talk about.

The privilege of having lived this long, huh?

Yes. This is one I have trouble understanding where you stand. Sometimes we agree, sometimes it seems you think the human race is on some other path and the current problems are unique.

Didn’t say that or think it.

Birdwatching sometimes takes you to odd places. Like the Texas coast. Watching us burn off some fossil fuel (that little flame on the right side), because it’s too much trouble to catch that byproduct and save it. Looking at the remnants of many a hurricane and the need to clean it up, so we can get back to the business of burning more carbon and creating more hurricanes.