Oh the joy of finding a beautiful, wise, original, meaningful quotation hidden away in a most unlikely source. There I was, sitting in bed last night, half asleep watching on my IPad a boring YouTube video about Turkish Ottoman art when Esin Atil popped in that amazing little comment that forms the basis of this article.
Inside my head it clicked into place several more chunks of the jigsaw puzzle of life and I stopped watching the video and fell asleep with a smile of satisfaction on my lips. I slept well and awoke determined to tell you, my reader, what it all means. If you have a mind that works even ever so slightly like mine, you are going to enjoy reading this article.
So with a blank page of MS Word waiting to be filled on my computer screen I will allow my fingers to weave their magic on my Apple keyboard for thirty minutes while they add yet another sheet to the vault of human knowledge.
Let me start with an illustration, so that you can see where I am going with this:
What is easier for a Christadelphian to believe?
1. Jesus can turn water into wine.
2. John Bedson can turn sunlight into wine.
You see my point?
Christadelphians believe (1) without the slightest hesitation or care in the world; even though there is not one microgram of evidence that it is true and observable reality, science, human understanding and experience all combine to tell us that (1) is impossible.
But (1) is so easy to believe that you don't even have to think about it. It is natural to believe (1). It feels good inside to accept (1). I was a Christadelphian for twenty years and it felt brilliant to believe (1). I never doubted it for a minute.
For a split second you thought that (2) was false; before you realised that it was reality. Come to my home and you can watch as I allow photons of sunlight to fall upon the leaves of my well pruned vines which produce grapes of the right variety, which when crushed, mixed with enzymes and other chemicals, filtered, bottled and left for sufficient time to allow fermentation to take place; produce a fine wine that tastes great with vintage Cheddar cheese, celery and a bowl of the same grapes.
But (2) is boring. For a very few dollars you can buy a bottle of wine at ALDI that will taste significantly better than the plonk that John Bedson makes in his garage. - Where's the fun in (2)? Forget it. It's boring. It's reality and we all know that life's a bitch and that reality is harsh.
Reality is going to work each day and doing a job that we hate. Reality is cleaning the cot after the baby was sick; trapping our finger in the car door; living in a home that is too small for our needs; living next to noisy neighbours; failing to get good grades in our exams; contracting a fatal cancer that eats away at our health and strength and condemns us to an agonising death.
Reality has been like that for Homo Sapiens for well over three million years. That's one heck of a long time. Can you even begin to imagine the stupendous amount of human misery packed into every microsecond of that vey long period of time? And every microsecond of that torment was reality.
So we evolved a way of coping with reality: We ignored it. We blotted it out of our minds and imagined a bright future for ourselves in which there was always food on the table, we married a perfect partner and had perfect kids. Every time reality knocked us down we picked ourselves up and renewed our idealist vision of our future. And we kept doing it until reality finally knocked us down once too often and we did not rise again.
We did it because it kept us sane. It stopped us going mad through fear of the horrors that reality had mapped out for our future. We did the right thing. Without our confident denial of reality and our predisposition to ignore it we would not have advanced to where we are now. Denying reality and embracing fantasy and make-believe has been a wonderful strategy for success for Homo Sapiens. We even invented a name for this behaviour and its name is Optimism.
Animals do the same thing by possessing a very low intelligence compared to our own. They cannot conceptualise the horrors that lie ahead of their present. They don't need to deny reality and live in fantasy and make-believe. My dog never fantasises about any thing. She just lives each day as it comes and it does not enter her sweet little head that one day she will travel to the Veterinary Surgeon on a one way trip to the incinerator. Animals never invented religion. My dog sees no advantage in becoming a Christadelphian; like her master, she is an Atheist.
Approximately one hundred and twenty five thousand years ago we supercharged our optimistic thinking and invented religion. This trendy new human behaviour spread like a grassfire through humanity and remains with us to this day as an almost universal method of erecting a Chinese wall inside our minds between reality and hope. Like automatic transmission, religion insulates the human mind from the grinding reality of what is actually happening inside the dirty gearbox of life.
So I say all praise religion. May Christadelphianism last ten thousand years; or until they finally realise that Christ is not going to return. Its function is to filter reality and to colour actuality and realism until it conforms to a digestible fantasy that tastes like Cana wine instead of Bedson plonk.
The Christadelphian Marriage in Cana fantasy wine is easy on the pallet. Intoxicated by its brew, Homo Sapiens can easily imagine that Evolution never happened and that the Universe is merely six thousand years old. Alternatively, if one is troubled by the observable reality that Evolution did occur, the human mind can easily slide a sheet of coloured paper over the verses of Genesis chapter one and imagine that there is an awfully long gap between verses one and two; or that its "literary genre is not historical" or whatever apologetic excuse one desires to invent.
I could think of a hundred different ways in which I could reinterpret Genesis to conform to the reality that I might seek to impose upon its wording in an effort to avoid its erroneous reality that is stinging my eyes and my brain. Dress it up in academic language to further hide its nakedness; import a woolly Anglican Bishop to let him waffle his support for the illusion, cut/paste anything and everything that even remotely supports my case, launch the fermented result to the Christadelphians here and here
and then sit back to enjoy the magical wine left over from from the Marriage at Cana.
|100,000 years ago humans placed grave goods|
with their dead, suggesting religious belief. The
Christadelphian concept of resurrection
continues this ancient belief.
Today that same religion travels in digitally encoded bytes through routers to our homes and seeks, for example, to convince us that the first chapter of a Holy Book written in the Iron Age means something different to what it says; because otherwise it has been refuted by science.
It's kind of beautiful when you think about it.
It's culture. You just would not imagine that such ignorant and primitive behaviour would be still with us at a time when our robots are digging for fossils on Mars and human stem cells are growing living organs in glass jars.
But we Christadelphian Atheists are privileged to be able to still witness otherwise intelligent Homo Sapiens seek to defend their ancient magic book and their all seeing and all knowing Superman in the heavens.
And all because miracles are always easier to digest than reality!
I once spoke from Christadelphian platforms and behaved like that. But the joke wore thin and I decided that I'd rather steel my nerve and accept reality. I poured the wine of Cana down the sink drain and brewed myself a cup of real tea instead.
And do you know what? - It tastes worse.
But because I adore reality, no matter how harsh; and because I steadfastly refuse to allow my precious mind to fall into fantasy; I am the happiest person on the planet
So unless you choose to join the Christadelphian Atheists and get your thinking straight, I implore you to keep drinking your magic wine of Cana. You are part of the rich and diverse culture of humanity. You add nothing to human knowledge and understanding, but you also do no harm.
Perhaps you do something even more important than contributing to human understanding and knowledge; you are humanity itself and I wonder at its marvellous contradictory complexity and meaningless behaviour
A General once asked how the Humanities Department at Harvard University contributed towards the defence of the United States. The Head of the faculty replied "Sir; this is what you are defending."