Eva Marie's Sixth Email

From [email protected] Thu Apr 15 00:14:47 1999
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 23:39:45 -0500
From: eva
To: Reverend Jan
Subject: Re: your mail

Hi Jan,

The weekend is here, and I am eternally grateful for it. It has been an exhausting work week, and I am looking forward to enjoying a few simple pleasures such as reading, practicing my music ( I am learning to play the piano), and replying to your e-mail. :)

I must begin by apologizing for my tendency to "commit typos", a somewhat annoying offense, but I assure you, unintentional. I am (sheepish smile) a bit embarrassed by it, and by my horrendous spelling as well. I must make a confession here. I am an adult sufferer of ADD, and although I do proofread my e-mails, I seem to always inadvertently miss several typos/errors. When I am tired (which seems to be a good bit of the time as of late,) this problem becomes more prevalent. Yes, I also forget appointments, lose keys by the handful, and walk into a room, forgetting what I went in their for. Truly, it can be make me feel quite ridiculous, especially when I forget where I parked my car. It is quite a challenge to appear like I know what I am doing when in actuality I am wandering around the parking lot trying to locate it. :)

The ADD made it extremely difficult for me to succeed at school, as I had difficulty focusing on lectures and retaining information while studying. My thoughts often would drift elsewhere. My natural talents lie in the arts; sketching, composing, writing....Although I loved science, it was probably for me, the most difficult course of study to pursue, simply because of the type of material I needed to absorb. (Especially anatomy and physiology). I probably would have been better suited to a career in the arts, but my practical side argued that this field was highly competitive and therefore difficult to secure gainful employment in.

So, Jan, please bear with me. (I do not have spell-check on my e-mail either.)

What sort of activity do you enjoy during the weekend, Jan?

Let me continue at where I left off at my last e-mail.

Ideally, they take stock, realize that there is still more to be cherished, and go on with their lives. Of course it doesn't always happen that way, but it's something to strive for.

Unfortunately, while you're correct that this sounds rational in theory, the fact remains that it is a difficult tenet (sp.:) to put into practice for anything but the relatively minor upheavals which occur in our lives. Can you imagine telling this to parents who watch in agony as their child suffers with leukemia...a husband who has just lost his only love and life-mate of 45 years, or a young woman who has just been told she has ovarian cancer and will never have the opportunity to bear children, that is, if she lives? (These being just trace examples of patients that I have encountered). I must tell you, that for these people their faith was the only thing that sustained them. Although you may argue that God was a coping mechanism for their grief, perhaps the truth of the matter is that God gave them the strength and peace that they so desperately needed. Indeed, to suggest to them otherwise would be the cruelest of blows to inflict.

Oh, believe me, I did. I had a few one-night-stands, hoping that the endorphins would cheer me up; never tried drugs or alcohol, because the biologist in me simply wouldn't allow it; did drown myself in music and schoolwork, but eventually was deep enough that my friend's faith seemed like the only answer

Have you considered trying St. John's Wort at a therapeutic dose? (3% at 300mg at one three times per day?) I have recommended this to a few my patients who were suffering from mild cases of depression and have had several successes. In fact, I take it myself (at this dose) for the symptoms of PMS, and it has helped tremendously in alleviating the symptoms of mild depression and irritability.

(my friend being a born-again, Fundamentalist type).

I wouldn't say (and if I did, I apologize for mis-speaking) that God was *logical* at that point; it was just the option of last resort for me. Once I had gotten over that depression, I also recovered my reason (no offense intended; that was just the way it seemed to me).

If a person seeks God only to alleviate a temporary problem, it is understandable that when the problem is resolved, they no longer have the need to continue to seek God . Their motivation for seeking him has been eliminated. The ideal situation for seeking God is when a person's motivation is simply knowing him and having a relationship with him. Otherwise, seeking God to perform miracles and assorted other "tricks" reduces God to a commodity. Although God does use dire situations to get our attention, it is with the intention that a person will truly desires a relationship with him as a result of his help. By the same token, I do not believe God inflicts pain upon people, most of it occurs as a result of our human condition.

It helped that I had also started bible study; reading the bible was, for me, the quickest route back to atheism, for reasons I'll go into later.

I am interested on how the bible led you to atheism, Jan.

Baseless? I don't know about that; a lot of the religious people I know are such only because their parents were, not because they've thought about it for themselves.

Yes, this is quite true. I do know, by the same token, that there are atheists who are atheists simply because their parents were, and have not bothered to challenge this. I think what we have here is a case of apathy. I would much prefer a passionate atheist (or theist) to the lukewarm variety of either.

That may, I suppose, make them weak-minded. Whether they eventually embrace the very same belief in all forms is not really the issue, though; I maintain that if, from a tender young age, you are told that there is a god, it will be extremely difficult to overcome those teachings.

Once again, I must counter that this is probably true for atheists as well. Whatever the indoctrination, both are subject to the same obstacle.

You might as well ask me to prove that there are no spiders in my room. It is logically impossible to prove a negative; I could only provide data suggesting that there were spiders (old webs, etc.) or list places that I had not found a spider. Prove to me that the Invisible Pink Unicorn doesn't exist, and I'll get back to you. Besides, as I said before, the burden of proof is on the one making the claim.

My response here is the same for my last e-mail. With all you know to be true of science and its laws, Jan, if someone you knew had died and physically returned to tell you that there most certainly is a God and life after death, would you toss all that you had previously accepted out the window? How silly, but of course you would. There would be no way to deny it. That is precisely why Christ rose from the dead.

To discover the truth about the existence of God, one must only decide if Jesus truly rose from the dead. There would be no need to search further, especially since our knowledge of science, in all truth, is quite limited and ever expanding so that we may never discover all the secrets of nature. Because this was an event in history, one must examine its validity, just as one would examine the validity of any other historical event...through eye-witness accounts and the documentation provided by them. You would also verify the credibility of the eyewitness accounts, and cross -reference other (non-religious) documents to concur whether these events took place. You might even check remaining physical evidence, such as archeological ruins, to determine if the villages, inscriptions, buildings etc substantiated the information detailed in those accounts. You would put to the test the historical validity of this event in the same manner as you would any other historical event, and after weighing the evidence, reach a logical conclusion. It would be unreasonable not to do so merely on the basis of "I don't believe in God". Foolish even, especially considering what is at stake here. We could debate God and the origin of life ad infinitum from the scientific perspective, as the evidence for either is inconclusive. If Christ was not resurrected from the dead and you could prove this, I would throw all I believe out the window. :)) I would like to hear your views on this.

Material possessions offer no spiritual component except for the reactions they might provoke in the possessor. I get a lot of meaning from playing my violin, listening to my CDs, and reading my books... not to mention learning by using the computer, the television, and my friends and associates. That's been enough for me so far :)

Ah, but will it always be enough?

Jan, you mentioned that you "became religious". I am not quite certain what you mean here? Had you asked Jesus into your life?

I had. I meant it will all of my heart and, as I thought then, my soul.

I am not quite sure what happened here, Jan. Frankly, I am confused. I am wondering how you truly accepted him, then un-accepted him. Perhaps you WANTED to believe, but never truly made a commitment. I don't doubt your sincerity for one second. When you fell in love with your husband, and decided to marry him, you made a commitment. That commitment was to put your heart and soul into that relationship, and, for lack of better words, work on maintaining it. I am sure that you would not desert your husband the moment you had an argument, when things weren't meeting your expectations, or worse, leave him if he became ill or maimed. Just because God wasn't providing answers for you on your time table, doesn't mean you weren't going to get them. You just didn't stick around long enough to find out, let alone give it much of a chance. In essence, you bailed out of your commitment.

Many, many times I have sought God for answers. Many times I have prayed for things. He has never failed to answer me. What I did discover, though, was that sometimes I had to wait, and (often) I didn't want to. In the end, though, there was always a reason for it, even though I was lost at the time and it wasn't apparent to me until much later. It often fit together like a puzzle, and I would say in amazement to myself, why didn't I see it? Often, if things had happened when I wanted them, the outcome might have been poor substitute, or even a disaster. Sometime, if you like, I will cite some of these experiences. (too lengthy to go on about in this e-mail)

Are you suggesting that my experience was not a genuine one because I did not have this feeling,

What did you feel at the time, Jan? Where you suffering with depression?

or that I did not truly *mean* it when I asked Jesus into my life? I have to say I am somewhat offended if this is what you are suggesting, as there was nothing at the time that I wanted more than to have Jesus as my savior and in my life. Really and truly.

I am sorry, I had no intention on offending you. I believe Jesus is still working in your life, as he is committed to you, although, from Christ's perspective, the relationship now is a little bit more than one-sided.:))

Yes, as heat energy, and as matter in other forms (in that our molecules mingle with others, in so doing, releasing more energy, and being broken down into different molecules). Not much spiritual about that, I'm afraid. When the brain dies, so far as we know, that's it. End of consciousness.

Or is it?:))))

Nuclear particles?

Formed in the first few minutes after the big bang, after things cooled down (that is to say, after the universe had expanded) enough to allow their formation. I am assuming you mean neutrons and protons, here.

Jan, consider this. Since Einstein's theory of general relativity does accurately describe the dynamics of the universe, the space-time theorem presented by Hawking, Penrose and Ellis can be trusted. The space-time theorem tell us that the dimensions of length, width, height and time have existed only for as long as the universe has been expanding,... less than about twenty billion years . Time, therefore, has a beginning. By definition, time is the dimension in which the cause and effect phenomena takes place. Therefore, no time, no cause and effect. If time's beginning is concurrent with the beginning of the universe, as the space-time theorem states, then the cause of the universe must be some entity operating in a time dimension completely independent of and preexistent to the time dimension of the cosmos. This conclusion leads me to what God is and who or what he isn't. It tells us that God is transcendent, operating beyond the dimensional limits of the universe. It tells us that God is not the universe itself, nor is God contained within the universe. This is why Pantheism and atheism do not square with the facts.

Pantheism claims there is no existence beyond the universe, the universe is all there is, and that the universe always existed. Atheism claims that the universe was not created and no entity exists independent of the matter, energy, and space-time dimensions of the universe. BUT all the data accumulated in this century tells us that a transcendent Creator MUST exist. For all the matter, energy, length, width height and even time, each suddenly and simultaneously came into being from source beyond itself.

I believe Jan, that it is valid to refer to such a source, entity, or being as the Creator, for creating is defined as causing something--in this case, everything in the universe--to come into existence. Matter, energy, space and time are the effects He caused. Likewise, it is valid to refer to the Creator as transcendent, for the act of causing these effects must take place outside or independent of them. Not only does science lead us to these conclusions, but so does the Bible, and it is the only holy book to do so.

Actually, God isn't calling the shots. We have free will, so, basically we are.

You can say that, but assuming your whole biblical system is true, there is no real free will. God, being omniscient and omnipresent and infinite, knows exactly what you're going to do for the rest of your life. Since he already knows, your life has, in effect, already been planned out. He knows before you're even born whether you're going to heaven or hell; he might not interfere, but the result is the same as if he had. Free will is kind of a red herring.

Jan, while its true that God is omniscient and omnipresent, you are making an assumption regarding the will of God, and that is, because he possess these characteristics, he uses them irregardless. My contention is, although God is quite capable of knowing the "plot" of our lives, and could very well, if he chose, peer into it from the moment of existence, he has chosen not to. He made that decision when he gave us free will. Or else, what point would be there in a creation doomed to failure from the start? Let me make an analogy. Jan, you decide to rent a murder movie. At any time, you possess the "power" to fast forward the VCR to the middle of plot, or to the end to discover who committed the crime. Or, you could ask someone who saw the movie to tell you all about it, and then watch it. You possess the ability to discover the outcome, but you decide that you don't want to know it, as it destroys a good deal of your enjoyment of it in the first place. So it is with God.

Why should anyone's' happiness affect you either way? You are merely human tissue, a brain with several thousand chemicals and neurons dictating all your actions and feelings. The same science which can negate the existence of God, also reduces your existence to merely nothing more than matter interacting with its environment. You have no soul, no "heart". You are a product of reproduction, nothing more.

You're making a huge leap there. Just because I don't think consciousness (your "soul") is a supernatural phenomenon does not mean I don't think it exists. I am just as much a feeling being as a theist. Consciousness does not have to be divinely granted in order to have meaning; I hope that's not what you're implying.

No Jan, that was not what I intended to imply. What I was doing was applying your argument for the non-existence of God, which is everything can be explained by science. Consciousness would, by scientific explanation then, be a manifestation of a series of complex chemical reactions in the brain. We would be, in essence, biological machines.

As for my parents, yes, they are atheists. It took a lot of soul-searching (if you will) for them to become atheists, as they were both raised in religious households; they decided that their children would be *truly* free to make their own decision on the matter once they were mentally capable. They did not indoctrinate us with *any* belief system, including the lack thereof. We were not raised as atheists; we were simply raised without religious teachings. After we reached the age of reason, we were encouraged to attend church with our friends, to explore different religious traditions, and the like. Having grown up in a rational household, we found modern religions to be remarkably similar to ancient mythologies. There were some neat stories and a few important moral lessons, but no divine revealed truths. My husband and I intend to raise our children the same way. They may end up experimenting with religion, perhaps even adopting one; but as long as they come to their decisions through reason and experience, I will consider my job well-done.

Using your own argument, though, Jan, children are directly or indirectly influenced by the views their parents hold. Although you may graciously allow them to search out their own spiritual destiny, what you do (or don't) teach them will have an impact.

That is *my* kind of "faith". My "faith" is based the assumption that what existed today will exist tomorrow, barring any physical changes. My "faith" is based on direct experience and the knowledge that the physical laws of the universe will continue to hold true.

Faith, nonetheless. Any hopes in the future at all are merely faith. All we can be certain is the present. Even the past becomes dubious, as the more distant it becomes, the more people question its actual events . I am sure you have heard about the quacks who assert that the Holocaust never happened, that it is some sort of fabrication.

The difference is, my husband is real, can talk to me directly; I can observe his mannerisms if I wish. (If god were to appear physically to me, I could no longer consider it supernatural, as it will have interacted with the physical world in a direct manner, and I would question my own judgement for having seen it.

Wow, you really our a cynical cookie!!!!

This certainly wouldn't provide a very good test of love or faith in God, would it? How hard is it to love and believe something that you can see...doesn't require too much sacrifice... not much work...pretty easy to come by. Can you imagine how God considers those who love and honor him despite these obstacles? I would imagine he would find these individuals quite pleasing, indeed. Someone who simply accepts him at his word. Wouldn't it be great if that was all love involved? People who just loved us for who we are, not for what they could get from us, what we could do for them. We wouldn't have to prove ourselves to them. I suppose God, as we are formed in him imagine, feels quite the same.

I often wondered why God sent us be born at all, why not just let us enjoy his presence in heaven and live it up there, so to speak? Well, in heaven, because we could see God, no need to ever have faith or trust him. In heaven, all is going great. No trials. It would be simple to love and have faith in God when all is going our way, but can we still love God no matter what, even when things are tough and we aren't getting our own way? Maybe that's what God is trying to find out about us.

Bzzzzz, sorry! In fact, when the brain is deprived of oxygen, it produces neurotransmitters that stimulate portions of the brain that may not have been stimulated before. Among these effects is the "tunnel of light" many use to "prove" the existence of an afterlife. In fact, it is simply a result of oxygen deprivation, and may occur even with a person is nowhere near actual death.

Yes, but there are other phenomena associated with this as well...seeing dead relatives, experiencing an all-consuming light of love etc. etc. Many people, of differing religions and cultures have experienced the same thing. I could understand someone who is in the process of dying having a bizarre, nonsensical experience, but the same experience,recanted by many others? I could relate to you some very eerie and unexplainable stories in association with this. One appeared in the American Journal of Medicine in the mid -eighties. A woman in Cans, France, was involved in a near fatal accident, in which her heart stopped, and where she required emergency resuscitation measures on the site. Because the accident occurred on a narrow roadway with no detours, it caused a heavy backflow of traffic. After she recovered, she related to her physician her near death experience of being "outside of her body" and viewing the scene from above. She told the doctor that a woman in the traffic tie up, who was aware of the accident, had prayed for God to "help whoever was hurt" . The accident victim then told her doctor that this was what "caused her spirit" to return to her body. The accident victim wanted to thank the woman who saved her. Her doctor told her that this was impossible, as there were many vehicles in the traffic back-up. (trying to appease her apparent delusional claims). The woman then said, yes, but while I was out of my body I could see her license plate, and I know the number. It was the correct number.

Yes, this sounds crazy, Jan. I know. All I can tell you is what I read. The article explored the numbers of near death occurrences that were being reported to physicians by their patients. There are a lot of other similar stories, some that I have even been told by patients. I can only relate what they have said. I am sure, to an atheist, it sounds like mumbo-jumbo, but these patients are quite sincere about their experiences. Whatever happened was quite real to them.

One might also argue that children of that age have amazingly active imaginations, and will take things they have heard before and may not consciously remember, and turn them into incredible fantasies. I know: I was a 5-year-old once :)

Perhaps. But during the traumatic phase of an illness, children are not consumed by the need to fabricate lies. Children are very centered on what is happening to their bodies.

You don't think her parents *ever* discussed this sibling when she was in earshot, even if she was asleep? I find that hard to believe.

Yes it is hard to believe. No doubt about it. But it happened. I read a book written by a one-time atheist pediatric oncologist, who cited her conversion as being related directly to these death bed "visions" by children.

Why did he stop? A lot more atheists' souls could be saved if he did.

God didn't stop speaking, although quite a few people have stopped listening. Do atheists try to hear from God? You mentioned a few paragraphs earlier that if God or some other vision appeared to you, you would then question your own judgement. How about if God drops a heavenly brick on your head? Just kidding here...

1:1, apparently. If you came to my site through one of the millenialist sites (which have linked to my cloth menstrual pad instructions), I'd say the odds were pretty good someone with your propensity to argue philosophy would happen upon me. Same if you were surfing atheist links. Not an overwhelming coincidence; in fact, since others have written such things to me in response to my writings, I would say it's fairly commonplace. No offense to you, of course.

I still believe there is a reason for our connection. Perhaps it wasn't even to benefit you:) Since our discussion, I have been compelled to search the reasoning behind some my own beliefs, some of which, and I will be perfectly honest here, where I had been a little weak in the faith department on. It has been a great asset to me in strengthening my own convictions:))

I have met people from many different faiths -- Jews, Ba'Hais (sp.?), Hare Krishnas, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Catholics, Buddhists, Fundamentalists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Wiccans, Satanists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Unitarians, etc. etc. etc. All were utterly convinced that theirs was the One True Path. Would you say that these people were also sent by god to me, even though some of their beliefs were in direct conflict with yours? If god is trying to send me a message, he's doing an awfully muddled job of it.

Well, one thing I can assert for certain,that it wasn't God who sent the Satanists or the Wiccans...:) As far as the "muddled job" business, I find it extremely hard to conceive YOU become easily muddled. I think you are playing with me here. I believe that you could walk into a room and discern immediately who was "full of crap" and who had an original thought in their brains. In the same respect, I believe if God was who you were seeking, you would have little difficulty in sort out the baloney from the truth. Besides, the Holy Spirit guides us in these things.

My husband and I are together precisely because we meet each other's requirements. I wouldn't have started a relationship with him otherwise. Of course there was no formal meeting to discuss exactly what we required of each other; we learned each others' strengths and weaknesses as we communicated. I think your analogy is flawed here. Anyway, your god, if he existed, would have known before I was even conceived that I would not be rationally able to believe in him (and presumably he was the one who gave me reason...) given the circumstances. If I go to hell, it is because of his shortcomings, not mine;

Blasphemy! Blasphemy!:) I am shocked by this, Jan. If you go to hell (which you won't) it's because you rejected him. He is not a "Ronald McDonald" God, a entertaining baffoon here to perform magic tricks for your amusement! If you sincerely seek him for the only motive of wanting to know the truth, you will find him, I promise you.

and I do not wish to worship a deity who would give me reason and then punish me for using it.

He gave you reason, but is not punishing you for using it. That's silly, Jan. If you choose to reject God, you are the one who has chosen your own fate. You are the one making the choice. You will be the one to accept the consequences.

Well, I'm here and letting you know. How many others have crossed your path?

An infinite number, apparently; he never sends the same message twice, and I'm not going to get caught worshipping the wrong god!

Well, I have a feeling you won't be caught worshipping any god, Jan. Back to my previous statement. You are intelligent enough to discern the chaff from the wheat.

You and I both know that this is utter nonsense. God created you. He thought you into existence. You have life because of him. God cares about your soul. You are the one who doesn't. (besides, I care)

He'd give life, a brain that can reason, senses that look upon the world and see no evidence of his existence nor any need for it...

Oops. Do you know which, of all sins, the one God despises the most, Jan? Arrogance. The belief that you are "all that" :) and God is, well, weak compared to you. The arrogance that leads people to believe that they are superior to others runs a close second.

and then condemn me to spend ETERNITY in hell for it?

You condemn yourself by disbelief. There aren't many requirements for getting into heaven, but I am certain that that believing in God is on the top of the list.

Nice guy, that Jehovah. The ultimate in forgiveness and benevolence. And who are you to say I don't care about my "soul"? If I thought I had one (something supernatural, I mean), I would; I just don't see any evidence for one.

A soul is not physical, therefore, there is no way anyone can show it to you. Back to the "love" argument. Can't see love either. Can you prove to me that you love your husband?

Well, I would think there would be at least one clearly defined fossil of a creature in a transitory phase. One? Can you direct me to it?

There was a recently-discovered example of a "transitory" fossil, halfway between a small dinosaur and a bird -- had forelimbs with bird-like structure and indications of feathers, but was to bulky to actually fly -- the wings were being used for something else. In modern terms, you might examine the flying squirrel, and other mammals of its type: they haven't quite got wings yet, using the stretched between their limbs to glide, but given time, will probably evolve into fully-flighted mammals, as bats have done. You seem to be under the impression that transitory features have to be useless -- evolution doesn't work that way. What starts out as being useful for one function -- say, an ancestor of the flying squirrel uses its skin flaps for camouflage or warmth -- gets co-opted for another function with time.

Are you referring to Archaeopteryx? I term this a "mosaic" form, not a transitional form. That is, each of its attributes was full developed and functional, not incipient or atrophying. Its wings and feathers were completed and perfect, not half-legs or half-scales in the process of evolving into wings and feathers. It was simply a toothed bird, now extinct, just like dinosaurs and pterodactyls. It was not an evolutionary transition at all.

Well, Jan I have been at this far too long, and I am sure by now you probably agree:) So, off to bed for me. I will be looking forward, as usual to hearing from you soon. Best to you, my friend. Eva

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