My conversations with Eva Marie

From [email protected] Thu Apr 15 00:14:29 1999
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 20:12:24 -0500
From: eva
To: Reverend Jan
Subject: Re: your mail

Hello Jan,

At the risk of appearing to be some sort of fanatic, who has nothing better to respond to write e-mails, I should explain that I have been at home the last few days, recuperating from a bout with the flu, so I have had a bit more time on my hands:)

I would argue that this, in fact, makes you a Christian who prefers some Jewish rituals to the traditional Christian ones, rather than a "real" Jew who, by definition (afaIk), does not believe the messiah has yet arrived... but that's just semantics.

Semantics, yes. The congregation that I am a member of consists of "real" Jews, that is, those born of Jewish parents, descendents of Joseph, Jacob, Abraham and Isaac. These particular Jews, feel, after close scrutiny of the Torah, that the prophecies regarding the Messiah were in fact, fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. I think they would take offense to any reference that a "real" Jew is only one who does not believe in Christ. They would probably argue that being Jewish encompasses much more than this.

Actually, I am very curious to know why you chose this particular branch of religion over all the others in existence. Surely this was not a scientific decision? (You did imply in your first message that your belief in a higher power was based on reason and science, after all.)

True, I did not conduct any scientific research in choosing this form of worship:) I did investigate their history and beliefs, which struck me as being rather forthright. Historically, Judaism is the oldest existing monotheistic belief, one from which many subsequent religions have been derived. I have read several books on Biblical archaeology, which have confirmed the existence of many names, places and events related in the Torah. I belief there is no "right" or "wrong" religion. For those that believe in God, following a particular religion is merely a form of personal expression. Having said that, believing in God doesn't require membership in any particular group, but, for me, participating in my form of worship has deepened my spiritual commitment.

I would argue that this already rendered your judgement -- and I don't mean this in a negative way -- somewhat questionable. "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will have him for the rest of his life" as the (paraphrased) Bishop said... If you are raised to believe something as a child, the brain forms very substantial connections to reinforce that belief (just as for sight, touch, logic, etc.) and as an adult, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to break those connections -- and I mean that literally and figuratively.

Yes, this sounds plausible. I was raised by devout Catholic parents, though, (indoctrinated, so to speak) but have severed ties with these beliefs. I also (sheepishly) believed in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, and have shrugged off these as well. If the brain forms connections to reinforce beliefs, one must assume, then , that as a logically thinking adult , that there are viable rationales which exist to reinforce these beliefs. The question, of course, is what is considered viable by one individual may not be by another, so this tends to be rather subjective.

by my very nature (stubborn and curious), I had to be certain that what I had been taught, was, in fact the truth, at least for me to embrace it unreservedly.

If you embrace it unreservedly, that means there is no room for argument, yes? This certainly implies that if someone were to present you with a data point from the "other side", you would not be willing to change your beliefs to fit this data point... as a scientist would, since science relies on the existence of evidence to the contrary to shape its hypotheses and theories.

Yes, but at what point does the scientist conclude that theory is fact? When all the data has been researched and gathered? When all the data appears to point to one conclusion? When the research to the contrary is limited and/or filled with discrepancies? When what is probable outweighs what is possible? Hmm. I would say here that you and I are quite alike in a certain respect. You demand proof of a God, I demand scientific proof that there is not, and neither can provide the other with the physical evidence.:))) I'd say we are both operating from faith.

Ah, the familiar story. How many truly happy and contented people find god? It always seems to be the ones who are not finding meaning in their own lives who need to have meaning from a higher power. I myself became religious... not when I was happy, but when I was in the depths of depression. After I got over the depression, the idea of a god was once again as illogical as it had been beforehand, and I believe that is a data point for some chemical "need" for meaning.

Jan, let me ask you this, how many truly happy and contented people do you know? Are you truly happy and contented? What is it do you think people find meaningful....I find this a curious statement. Let me consider this...money, position, education? No, if that were true, everyone would be trying to achieve these, and when they had, would be as content as butterflies flitting about the planet. I don't see a lot of flitting going on, do you? What about relationships...husbands, boyfriends, children, parents...maybe. But husbands , boyfriends and children leave (or die), then what of contentment and happiness?

Seems like "happiness and contentment" relies quite heavily on others or exterior circumstances. Rather unsettling, isn't it? How can contentment and happiness be based on something as fragile as exterior circumstances? Ok, one may say, "I have inner peace and happiness" but based on what? This goes back to square one... "Oh, I have a great job, good friends, terrific husband..." all transient . What happens to a person whose circumstances change drastically for the worse? I am curious as to why God was logical to when you were suffering from depression, but after you recovered, became illogical. Perhaps, during your depression, there was no other logical solution than God. Otherwise, if there had, you would have tried it. (just an observation). Jan, I am truly glad you recovered, though. I have worked with the mentally ill, and those suffering from depression and I know quite well how this can be devastating and crippling.

... and because you couldn't accept it, it mustn't be so? I don't mean to take you lightly here; I know exactly how you feel (believe me), but the argument from non-acceptance is just as faulty as the argument from disbelief. I have a hard time accepting that one day, the universe will die from heat death (entropy reaches a maximum and the universe becomes a uniform sea of heat energy), but that does not invalidate the physics behind the theory.

I've often wondered about scientific proof of life after death. The law of energy conservation states that , in a closed system, in any transformation of energy from one form to another, the total amount of energy in the system remains unchanged...energy cannot be created nor destroyed. The (live) human brain , which operates on electrical impulses, detectable by EKG's, the absence of which is used to determine brain death...if (Here the letter ends abruptly, as Eva had saved it to work on later, and one of her children accidentally sent it. It goes on in the next section, however.)

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