Believers have long argued for the existence of beings in the “spiritual realm” which affect the physical universe but cannot be physically detected (except in very certain circumstances and with very few exceptions). This is convenient, of course, because the believer is free to posit whatever entity he or she wishes without having the arduous task of defending that assertion with actual evidence. What does “spiritual” mean though? The dictionary defines it as follows:
1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of spirit; incorporeal.
2. of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature.
That doesn’t really tell me much. If we’re talking about incorporeal things apart from the physical nature, how is this any different from being imaginary or fictional? Why do we make such a concessionary definition for a word like “spiritual” when the end result is really the same?
was always taught as a child that god was in charge. He was the ultimate authority, the first and last word on any subject, and the law. He took orders from nobody and had nobody to whom he had to answer. God made the laws of nature and he could break them any time he wanted. There was absolutely nothing he couldn’t do. Then I read the Bible.
At many points in the Bible god is seemingly forced to take some kind of drastic action to intercede in his creation and at every one of these points he chooses (or must choose) the most elaborate, ineffective, and sometimes flat-out silly means. It seems that every time he has to step in and take action he’s constrained by the Hollywood villain code of monologuing and setting up a trap that’s just way too complex to work. Here are some examples:
everal times during my childhood I heard a pastor preach on the creation story in Genesis. While I was still a Christian I thought it was just about the coolest story I’d ever heard — every time I heard it. Here’s the run-down:
In the beginning there was god. God got the urge to create stuff so he fashioned a planet with land and water and light so he could put plants and animals on it. In order to make this his crowning achievement he then placed humans and a talking serpent on the planet. The habitable area on this planet was constrained to a garden, in the middle of which was a tree that god had created knowing that it would destroy the humans someday.
Pretty awesome, right? Well, kind of. When I was a Christian I followed along in my book while the pastor read and never asked questions. This is how the sermon almost always went:
“Genesis 1: 1 — In the beginning, GOD. Now, that’s all I need to know. This tells me that god was always there, is there now, and will always be there even after I die. Praise the lord!”