Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pondering the soul, and what it means to have one. Also, assuming I do.

All I can see is land and sky.  That seems like a lot, even everything, I suppose, but when it's just the land and the sky, a horizon way off as far as I can see, and nothing else, now that's something.  Yeah, that's something.  No houses, not any buildings to block the skyline, make it irregular.  Not even any plants.  No trees, or shrubs, or even grasses.  I can see forever.

But obviously I can't; if I could see forever I'd see all the buildings and trees on the other side of that horizon.  And I can't, because I'm gloriously alone.  I can see the sun in the sky; it's big and yellow, hanging there like it's got nowhere else to go.  Well, it doesn't really.  It's stuck in place, because what's going to move the sun?  Objects in motion tend to stay in motion; objects at rest tend to stay at rest, or some such thing.  It's sitting in space, a big, fat, lazy ball of simmering plasma, and it's not going to move, dammit.
New Smiley for the sMirC-series. dead
Like this guy.
But me, I move.  I move all the time.  I can't stay still, and this is not just me.  Animals have to move all the time.  Stop moving, and you're dead.  Not just that you'll die, but a state of immobility is the definition of death.  I guess.  Yeah, that works; death is just you being still.  Your heart doesn't beat, your diaphragm doesn't contract or relax, your blood doesn't circulate, your neurons don't fire and the ions don't dance around the synapses.  You're still.  Your soul doesn't move you, because it's not there anymore.

Every living thing has a… soul… for lack of a better term.  The fifth element.  Life.  We are all made up of the five elements: water is in our blood and our breath and our cells; earth is in our tissues, muscle and bone, tendon and ligament; air is the stuff we breathe, and it fills our bodies, allows them shape; fire is in the chemical processes that keep us alive, in thought and movement.  The fifth element, I'll call it the soul, is in everything.  Those reactions, that fire, that moves us and keeps us, don't have to work.  They do work, but nothing except some force means they have to do so.

If I was so inclined, this is where I'd find God. Or gods. It isn't though; they come in elsewhere. Because they have to be made of something, too, right? Even if they're just some pseudo-corporeal manifestation of energy, like particles of light. Sure, two hydrogens and an oxygen are attracted to each other, and they form this molecule called water, but nothing really says they have to. I mean, why? Why is the question of the hour, isn't it? Sure, glucose goes through the chemical process of respiration, and it involves oxygen, and the atoms and electrons dance and we get ATP, which holds energy in the bonds in its phosphate tail. But why? Ask a biologist, she'll start talking about metabolic pathways and evolution, if she is so incline. Ask a chemist; he'll just go back to electron transfers and oxidation numbers and electronegativity. Ask a physicist; he'll talk about the laws of thermodynamics, and matter and energy. Ask a philosopher; he'll probably spout some nonsense about JCGod or a greater power, or if he's a Marxist he'll probably just say something about the good of the whole (note to self: find a Nihilist and ask about why chemical reactions work). But none of them get to the root of it, and this is where human finds religion.

Model of the atom by Ernest Rutherford.
Nope, not here.
Or faith; I have faithReligion (see definition #2) is such a deplorable word.  Burdened with the pain and hatred and guilt and sorrow and zealotry and filth of ages of men and women.  I choose to believe (and I know this is right, but I recognize that my knowledge is reached and accepted in the same way as a priest thumps his JCBible (but he's wrong, I know, for isn't that the basis of faith)) that this fifth element is natural in origin, as the other four.  But what is natural?  JCGod (the god of Christians and Jews and Muslims, and many others I suppose) is a manmade thing; a creation of short-sighted minds fumbling in the dark abyss of space (where they oughtn't be).  They seek an answer where there is not one that is solid, that men can cling to like the slick board tossed in a feral sea.

My fifth element, life, soul, is not concrete in the sense that the JCBible is.  Well, to point out the obvious, the JCBible is an actual book, that I can go to Barnes & Noble and purchase and hold in my hands.  And, may I point out, write in.  But even more than that, there is an intelligence, a design behind those words, those ideas, that I just cannot find in the world.  I reach my faith from observation and long hours of introspection, not from the fantastic (albeit entertaining) ramblings of some random dude(s).

It's not kool aid; whatever are you talking about?
I entertained the idea of a "cult" of sorts, mostly to screw with the norm, though.  I do think it would be fun, certainly interesting, to tell other people what I know.  I mean, I'll tell people what I know, and if they then know it too, that's cool.  But I think there should observation and introspection involved in formulating your own faith.  Faith is very much an individual thing.  That is not saying that there are not aspects for sharing.  Feasts and celebrations are great times for sharing, and in this way I understand the attraction of a church.  In a church, or a temple, or any other sort of religious community, people can find just that: community.  There is a comfort to being with people who believe in the world the same way as do you.  I understand that completely; I wish there was just such a community that I could be part of.  However, there is one basic difference in the formation of community and shared celebration, and in a church-like community: faith is not at all a group endeavour.  Religion is a group endeavor, and, as we have already discussed, I view "religion" as a word not to be spoken without full comprehension of the weight and meaning behind it.

And that's where religion goes wrong; people believe these things that they do not know (and in this statement, I hope you've been paying attention, because in the context of these ramblings of mine, "know," as well as other key words, mean something other than they normally mean in everyday conversation).  It's kind of ludicrous.  There is no truth but one's own; what may be true for you may not be true for me.  This is hard for many to grasp; I myself have struggled a lot with this one.  But I have finally come to the conclusion that truth, like time and perception (and because of perception), is relative.

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