BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

Listen to the soul complain, “My body pissed
And bled and needed sleep, confused its lust
With love, and when I learned to coexist
With doubt, my body crumbled into dust.”
–Timothy Miller, poet and writer

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Will the reader get into the spirit with me?
In this, our little mortality play, I play the devil’s
advocate on stage earth, while you are ordained
for the role of God’s altar ego….so to speak.

You have the better part, really — the star-power
and the glory — versus the infidel, the bad actor
who casts doubt on words that are righteous and
sacred and good and true and abundant unto salvation.

Still, open-minded (why not?) to the possibility of
immortality, to the appeal of Pascal’s Wager, let
the show begin. In the opening scene, you assert there
will be hell to pay if I refuse to see the light, whereas

I have nothing to lose if I choose to believe….who/what?
In whose God do we trust? Does it matter? If not, what
the holy war is the word of one divided god all about?
So my character dares to challenge your assumption

(assuming it is your assumption) that believers will
be saved; independent thinkers and skeptics, such as I,
will not. You insist there will be Beelzebub to pay, but
this glorious time, it’s not your call. Trumpets sound.

A voice from on high proclaims, Well done, good and
faithful savant, for even fool poets give soul-searching
top billing over hopeless credulity.
The curtain descends.
Of course, it’s only the first act.

 

 

 

 

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19 comments on “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

  1. arekhill1 says:

    Without Googling it and finding out for certain, doesn’t taking Pascal’s Wager mean I should be virtuous?

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  2. I could not play God…ever. But you can be the devil’s advocate, mistermuse.
    Pascal’s Wager tells us that we can believe in a God or not. With different outcomes.

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  3. mistermuse says:

    Pascal’s Wager was one of those seemingly sensible propositions that kept me a practicing Catholic for years after I stopped being a convinced Catholic. To expound on Michaeline’s answer, it essentially contends that it’s rational to be a Christian even if you’ve come to disbelieve, because if Christianity turns out to be true, you win eternal salvation, whereas if Christianity is wrong and there’s no heaven or hell, the Christian is no worse off than the unbeliever who loses either way. In other words, Christianity is always the best bet because a 50-50 chance is better than no chance.
    Of course, the problem (among others) with that is: How do you believe what you cannot believe? Self-interest may be self-serving, but it isn’t belief.

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  4. Don Frankel says:

    14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

    15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

    16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

    17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

    King James Version (KJV)

    Maybe if people paid attention to what Jesus actually said, instead of what other people think he said that served their own purpose and made them some money too, no one would have to rack their brain over things we can’t know.

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  5. mistermuse says:

    Don, that’s easier said than done, if you’ll pardon the pun, because among the things we can’t know are exactly what Jesus meant by some of the things he said. But beyond that, to me the stumbling block that can’t be dismissed is the notion that the Creator is all good, all loving, all compassionate, etc., despite not only allowing evil, but creating evil (if God didn’t create the diseases from which innocent children suffer, for example, who did?). The only way to reconcile this contradiction is to believe that MIGHT MAKES RIGHT, and if that’s the case, God help us.

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  6. rielyn says:

    Perhaps diseases and other such evil things are created due to free will and not God. What if the price of a perfect world with no suffering is our freedom and humanity – would that be worth it? Suppose we have a choice before coming here to earth and in our spirit forms we choose the experience for the knowledge it will give us, individually and collectively. We don’t remember this because it would defeat the purpose. I know you don’t believe in any of this kind of thing but you asked. :p

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    • mistermuse says:

      That’s an interesting theory (sorry, but I don’t know what else to call it), but the first question that occurs to me is what newborn with a terminal illness would have choosen to come to earth to experience the knowledge it will give, if the newborn won’t live long enough to experience anything but suffering? You could say the pre-newborn didn’t know that would be its fate, but then what’s the good of free will if you have nothing but clueless choices?

      I, of course, don’t claim to know the answers – sometimes the right questions are the only answers human beings are capable of, even though they only lead to more unanswerable questions.

      But I do believe in love, which is “What the world needs now.”

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      • rielyn says:

        Maybe a spirit would choose to come here for whatever that brief experience of suffering would give it (and us collectively) or maybe the free will part is knowing any and all possible bad things could happen, as well as good, and accepting that possibility.

        But I agree about the right questions being maybe as much as we can figure out. And love, especially in the form of compassion, is what I believe we’re here to learn. So I think on the most important points, for the most part, we agree. 🙂

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  7. Don Frankel says:

    Muse the more we think about these things the better we are for it. When someone asks whether there is a God or not to me they are answering how much they’ve thought about it. How much they abstract. What they believe, Where they’ve been. They don’t answer the question to me. They more or less reveal things about themselves.

    The human mind does many different things. One oi them is to deal with the concrete like how to throw a baseball or use a shovel. Another thing the human mind does is abstract. What is justice? Take a typical murder trial that gets a lot of media attention. There’s a verdict and half the people following the trial think justice was done. The other half think it has been a travesty. Depends on your definition of justice and your understanding of the facts. But what is justice? it’s an abstract concept.

    God may be the ultimate abstract concept in that it has to do with Creation and life. You can see anything you can imagine. Hence the different interpretations of God and the various Gods and all the different religions. People see what they will. People see what they can.

    What the human mind can’t do is make the abstract something concrete. We’re just not capable of it or so I think. I could be wrong. But we just can’t put the two together. What is love, justice, loyalty, courage and a million other things that people will never agree on.

    We have our limitations I use Jesus as an example because people say all manner of things in his name when he doesn’t seem to have said them. People see what they want or need to or imagine. Just because they say so and repeat it often it doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t mean the people saying it know anything.

    Did OJ do it? The media said yes. The Jury said no. Some people were horrified others exalted. Were any of the people screaming one way or the other there? How did they know anything? They sure as hell thought they did.

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  8. mistermuse says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the two of you about (1) “love, especially in the form of compassion” and (2) “the more we think about these things the better we are for it.” If only more religions would practice the former and more people would practice the latter, I expect the world would be a much more empathetic and less violent place.

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  9. Don Frankel says:

    Muse people are violent and controlling without religion. But since God is the ultimate abstract concept it can be the greatest rationale. Who are you going to argue with God? Perhaps “The fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves.”

    I like the things Jesus actually said. I find them enlightening. I don’t bother with other people’s interpretations even if they have some title. I mean everyone who reads Shakespeare sees something else and something new. That’s why people keep reading both of them.

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  10. mistermuse says:

    Very true (your first sentence), Don, but I can’t help but think the saying “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” applies to “certain” religions….and I certainly agree about Jesus and Shakespeare, even without believing that the former was any more the son (or daughter) of God than any human who ever lived.

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  11. I do not believe in Jesus as being the son of a God. That is an old anthromorphic view ; that is seeing the god(s) as identities similar to humans. The Greeks and the Romans and other cultures did this and thuius worshipped their gods and made sacrifices to appease them. The Romans who had conquered Judea did keep meticulous records of everything. They also taxed the people they ruled over, with a little help from various other kings, like Herod, who was a pagan. I have studied theology and various versions of the KJM Bible, the Catholic Bible , Judaism, and even some Buddahism.
    At the time Jesus of Nazareth existed, whose birth supposedly ocurred in early April, 30 AD. (according to the so called “Great Star”), there were five Messiahs proclaiming they were there to save the Jews from the Roman occupation. Four were crucified and John the Baptist lost his head. One of the crucified was Jesus of Nazareth.
    By the way, the “Great Star” was actually a major conjunction of all the biggest planets, That included Mars, Saturn, Jupiter. Uranus and Neptune. This was seen by the Chaldeans in the Middle East who were not only astronomers but astrologers. They became the “Wise Men” according to the Christian doctrine. They believed this celestial event of importance and rarity foretold the birth of a great king, not a messiah. They were not Christians, of course, and their ancient civilization long ago vanished along with the Egyptians.
    I chose Reform Judaism as my religion because it is so simple. Whether a folower believes in “God” is not as important as raising a family, teaching them their heritage and the language of Hebrew. Education is very important as we Jews believe that we must exist in the material world. We need good jobs in order to support our families and send them to good schools. Our religious school is on Sunday mornings and we are allowed to worship and observe the Sabbath.
    The best part of being a iberal Jew is that we are not going to try and convert others to our religion. We respect others’ rights and we do contribute to those in need with compassion.

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  12. mistermuse says:

    The way you describe it, Michaeline, Reform Judaism doesn’t sound that different from deism. I don’t think either would have any problem sharing the same landscape (physical or philosophical) with the other in peace and harmony.

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  13. mistermuse, you see the reality of our faith. Some Jews, in particular, my husband, the scientist, and his three brothers were all brought up in the Conservative branch of Judaism. However, they now choose to either be agnostic or atheist. We are allowed through our intelligence and knowledge to question if there is a Supreme Being and what its role in the universe may be. That is why I chose this Reform or Liberal Judaism because Catholicism did not answer my concerns.
    We raise our children in the way that is right according to the Ten Commandments. Once they are on their own, they must choose their own path as far as what they may believe in or not. If you wish to call my faith as a deism, that is fine with me. I have my own beliefs and I usually keep them to myself. I will pray as I find it very useful. I also will meditate and try to stay calm when life hands me challenges.
    I like to hear others’ opinions and have an open mind to what ever people may believe. I respect that freedom.

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  14. mistermuse says:

    It seems that the principal difference between deism (as I understand it) and Reform Judaism is that deists believe in an impersonal Creator or God to whom it is useless to pray because it’s a one-way conversation. So, while I wouldn’t call your faith a deism, neither of the two has any reason to feel threatened in the slightest by the other. Why all religions can’t “live and let live” is beyond me.

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  15. lexborgia says:

    Where is the 2nd act?

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  16. carmen says:

    You’re a wise man, mistermuse. (not that I doubted it, even before I read this particular thread)

    I agree with your, “What I do believe in is love” and wish we could all just subscribe to that. And leave the rest of the bullshit alone. (you probably don’t like expletives on your blog but sometimes you just gotta call ’em as ya sees ’em) For that’s what it is – bullshit. Of course, and unfortunately, it makes a lot of money. It’s probably a toss up as to what makes the world go ’round – BS or money. .
    I’ll stick to love. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. mistermuse says:

    I gotta no objection to expletives provided they’re not used gratuitously. As you say, “sometimes you just gotta call ’em as ya sees ’em.” I’m just glad you saw fit to call me a “wise man” rather than a “wise ass,” which I would definitely consider gratuitous (however true it may be). 😦 🙂

    While I’m at it, your comment called my attention to a comment I missed at the time (lexborbia’s) – my apologies to her, but at least it saved me from coming up with possibly a wise ass reply (or an inadequate one, like this).

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