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(spiritual) Adventures Of Tom-finn


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[Real story of a spiritual seeker talking to religious friends of all sorts that he met. I re-address his name and call him Tom-Finn TF (par Tom Sawyer - Huckleburry Finn).

 

Some quite humorous but I hope they make you think, so I place in Theological Issues Category over Humor and Satire. There are like 10-odds of his adventure stories. I update it perhaps daily to 2~3 days.

 

Further down there are one or two questions about Buddhism too. No offense and insults to religions intended. Behind the humor they meant to make you think.]

 

Here it is:

 

1. Omnipotence of God

 

Almost all religions believe there is an omnipotent God. On this question TF talked to many people, nobody could explain fully why it is possible to be omnipotent. TF has a good friend M who is a very devout Christian. The kids go to church school, no TV at home (TV is too pornographic). The money goes to church activities while he is keeping the mere basics at home with several simple pieces of furniture, and piles of Bibles and related books. TF was touched.

 

TF: “Didn’t you ever lock up your home? Didn’t you worry about burglars?”

 

M: “There isn’t much to steal. If they steal some Bibles I couldn’t be happier.”

 

TF: “Do you dedicate your whole life to God?”

 

M: “It means nothing if the whole world is given to you, you can’t fight against God. God is omnipotent. With the existence of God, there is existence of all.”

 

TF: “If God is omnipotent, and if God willfully deceives you, how do you find out?”

 

M: “This….is impossible. I have faith (in God).”

But he didn’t want to tell me why it isn’t possible.

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TF: “President Reagan was proposing this Star Wars Plan, a space shield to protect America. How ambitious! Not even God can do this.”

 

M: “God is omnipotent, of course God can do it! But God is not a servant-on-call.”

 

TF: “God willing, can He really make a perfect, flawless shield that is unbreakable under any circumstances?”

 

M: “Of course.”

 

TF: “If even God cannot break this shield, then God is not omnipotent.”

 

M: “Em……”

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2. On the Rich Man and the Camel

 

TF has a good friend C, he personally experienced signs of God before, and evangelized tirelessly. He is a Pentecostal, not only believing historical signs, but also contemporary signs; not only believing a joyful afterlife, but also a joyful earthly life. He evangelized to me, and I attended to him.

 

C: “I personally experienced signs from God, I cannot but believe.”

 

TF: “You are a lawyer, why not donate most of your money to the church and live as a poor man? The Bible said it is even more difficult for the rich to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

 

C: “In the original Hebrew ‘eye of the needle’ means the small entrance door by the side of the gated city wall, the camel has to kneel, bend its neck….it is difficult for the camel to get in, but it is not at all impossible.”

 

TF: “If the Bible needs a Hebrew scholar to explain it, that suggests it is not for the lay public, this itself is a deficiency. Nevertheless, do you believe you will get to Heaven?”

 

C: “Of course.”

 

TF: “Fine, I take your explanations as they are. However, why would you not go through the wide open gates, walk on the open roads; but getting through the small door by the tiny path instead?

 

“The grace of Heaven as compared to the earthly’s, is like one million dollars to a penny. For example, if you are preparing a case that you can make yourself a million dollars, you should devote totally to the case and be watchful for the one million dollars. You should not be sidetracked with the penny you found on the pavement.”

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3. On reincarnation

 

TF is very interested in the topic of reincarnation, and asked many Buddhists on this topic.

 

TF: “Master, do all animals reincarnate?”

 

L: “All living beings possess the Buddha Nature. Animals, after lives of living as animals, can also progress to become Asura (Scotter’s remark: Buddist term for powerful spirits and lost souls in between Heaven and Hell), Man. And keep progressing to attain the Buddhahood, and shall no longer subject to the samsara (Scotter: wheels of life and death) of reincarnation.”

 

TF: “Do bacteria reincarnate?”

 

L: “Don’t know.”

 

Buddhism identifies living organisms as two categories: either animal or plant. All sentient beings reincarnate, and plants do not. But in Biology, fungus is its own kingdom, it is not animal nor plant. Real plants can utilize chlorophyll to manufacture food for self-feeding, and not to rely on digesting other organisms. Buddhism classifies fungi as plants, human serving of fungus e.g. mushrooms, is not treated as carnivorous i.e. vegetarian.

So how about bacteria? And also proto-organisms such as Euglena, has a tail, has sense, can swim, is Euglena an animal? But some Euglena possess chlorophyll, is it plant then?

 

(Scotter found a URL link to Euglena and images:

http://protist.i.hosei.ac.jp/PDB/Images/Ma...phora/Euglena/)

 

Even more difficult to classify as animal or plant is Archaea, it is its own Domain. Domain is a recent classification, bigger than kingdom, further down is phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

 

(Scotter found a URL link to Archaea:

http://www.microbe.org/microbes/archaea.asp)

 

 

TF: “Master, the hereditary genes, brain proteins in my body, do they pass onto my next life?”

 

L: “Don’t know.”

 

The Buddha says Man has self-stubbornness, attachments, ignorance, thus man suffers. Man becomes enlightened because he has comprehension, wisdom. Where comes wisdom if one doesn’t know anything?

 

Matters cannot be destroyed. Our bodies’ carbon atoms, hydrogen atoms, oxygen, phosphorous, they all get recycled – is this not reincarnation already? But the elements of character, physique, intelligence, they are dependent on hereditary genes, memory dependent on (brain) protein. If one’s next life does not possess previous life’s heredity and memory, what’s reincarnation for?

 

(Scotter: I think TF meant to say that how does one progress with wisdom, from one life to the other, to attain higher class, and eventually Buddhahood, if one does not inherit (and accumulate) previous life’s experience, which can only be retained physically by DNA.)

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4. On the question of Cosmology

 

Regarding the origins of the cosmos, TF asked many scientists, philosophers, and TF did not get any substantial responses back. One time, TF humbly asked a friend who studied theology for years.

 

TF: “Why is it that God didn’t want me to understand the Truth (regarding the origins of the Cosmos)?”

 

Reverend B: “Of course God wants you to understand. Once you understand, you will worship Him, love Him.”

 

TF: “Actually the creation of the Universe is much more complicated than the life of Jesus. In the Bible there are detailed pages about Jesus’ biography, but just several sentences allocated for the creation of the Universe. Ultimately, why did God create the Universe? How did He physically create?

 

B: “God makes the Earth for Man to dwell in and commands that Mans loves Him. The Bible did not describe the physical details.”

 

TF: “So you are saying you don’t know because the Bible does not say?”

 

B: “What’s the point of telling you? I bet even God explains to you, you would not be able to understand.”

 

TF: “Can God make me understand?”

 

B: “Of course He can.”

 

TF: “Making me understand is different from forcing me to do something, the former does not tamper with my freewill. Well then it must be that God purposefully wants me not to understand. So why does God want me not to understand?”

 

B was speechless and frustrated.

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5. On Intelligent Design

 

One of the reasons that TF studies religions, is to understand about human life. One time TF went to Sunday church school, Pastor T was babbling blah blah blah, saying how complicated, how and how meticulous and delicate in details the human body is, and that science cannot explain it, so man must have been made by God. TF was almost falling asleep. There was a free discussion after class, and TF got boosted immediately.

 

TF (being polite first): “Reverend T, that was a nice talk. I am most interested in biology.

But….I don’t understand: why is it something that cannot be explained, and we attribute it to the supernatural realm? That does not help answering any questions nor solving any problems.”

 

T: “Science cannot explain all. Only the Bible can explain wholly about life.”

 

TF: “That is wonderful! I would like to ask a few questions:

 

1. Why is it that breathing, eating and drinking, share one throat cord? Every year there are many people choked to death. If divide off breathing to the lung and food via the pharynx being supported by two functional ducts, this can be avoided.

(Scotter attempts to explain: for the occasions of sports and heavy labor, for example, breathing through the mouth helps to take in more oxygen. But as TF said, many people choked to death – Scotter must admit if this is a design, it is not a perfect design, but a compromised design.)

 

2. Why did God give me two legs, but only one backbone to support the heavy upper body? A person is more prompt to sore back pain and injury.

 

3. Why is it that sexual activity and urinal excretion share one conduit? Particularly for woman, she is more prompt to infection.

(Scotter: not sure if TF means if woman’s infection due to man’s structure or due to woman’s own structure)

 

4. Why do we have blind spots? We suffer from traffic accidents. Why is it that squids do not have blind spots? It’s not fair!”

(Scotter: Flies have multi-views too. Good question.)

 

If this is Intelligent Design, then what is Stupid Design?

 

Reverend T: “Man is made by God according to His own image. There is no fault here.”

T’s answer was a non-answer.

 

TF: “So how do we explain those (design) flaws?”

 

T: “Actually it is no big deal that those questions get answered or not. Just believe Jesus, and you’ll get to Heaven.”

 

Actually Salvation is a simple thing, you just need to be stupid i.e. ask not, think not.

 

TF: “Wait a minute, Reverend…..in the class you said since many areas in human physiology cannot be explained by science, so one has to believe God/Jesus/Christianity. How come that just now you said it is no big deal that those get explained or not?”

 

T excused himself off and didn’t give a “concern” to me anymore.

 

Those observations can be explained by evolution: because evolution is about partial advance, not total advance. But “Intelligent Design” is not supposed to have such constraints. A good designer focuses on Total Advance.

 

The “Equal Time” proposal by Kansas Board of Education was even more so fabulous. They said the schools should devote equal time for teaching evolution and Intelligent Design. TF is all for it, and embrace it wholeheartedly! But of course, all Sunday church schools should spend equal time for evolution too! TF is more than willing to provide free evolution education materials.

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6. On Heaven

 

“Heaven” and “Hell” are most probably products of man’s own thinking. How is that? – Why do almost all sacred texts describe Hell in more details than Heaven? It is because man can surmise extreme pain, but cannot surmise extreme happiness.

 

The paradoxes of Heaven are even far more than Hell’s. This is the conversation of a good friend of TF, twice-married Y, and his pastor:

 

Y: “How happy is Heaven?”

 

Pastor: “Ultimate peace, magnificent music, seasoned wine and wonderful food, praising the Lord, it is as good as you can imagine.”

 

Y was more concerned about the realistic issues: “Do I have many women sleeping with me? All the bad women went to Hell, and Heaven only has women saints like Mother Teresa, would I be happy?”

 

Pastor: “What are you talking about? Once you get to Heaven, you don’t have ideas like that.”

 

Y: “If my wife and I, and my ex-wife are all fortunate enough to get to Heaven, who would I be spending my Heavenly life with? Or do I have two partners? Hey, what about my pets? I can’t be happy without my dog. I believe God will arrange it perfectly, but I like to know how it is arranged?”

 

Pastor: “Em….”

 

Is not the heaven for dogs hell for cats? The heaven for cats is hell for rats? Where comes the peace?

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7. On Freewill

 

On this topic TF was discussing with so many experts for many sleepless nights. This is one of the pieces.

 

TF: “Do Man has freewill?”

 

Pastor F: “Freewill is a grace from God. You can freely choose Heaven or Hell.”

 

TF: “Do I have the freewill of not having the freewill to choose?”

 

F was a bit puzzled, “Hm…..in that case, no. Freewill has its limits.”

 

TF: “If I don’t even have the freewill to choose to have freewill or not, what’s this freewill for? Alternatively, not to give Man any freewill, and all go to Heaven, would that be nicely done?”

 

F wanted to talk about Adam-Eve again, but TF heard too many times, so F was like: “Em…..”

 

TF: “Can God predict that I go to Heaven or Hell?”

 

F: “Of course God can. God is omnipotent.”

 

TF: “If He already knows that I am going to Heaven, where is the freewill of choosing Hell? Likewise for the other way round.”

 

F: “God’s pre-knowledge doesn’t mean you don’t have a choice.”

 

TF: “This is too deep. Can I change God’s prediction?”

 

F: “Of course you can’t.”

 

TF: “That means I never had a choice in the beginning, it is only that God makes me feel that I have a choice. Is God cheating me on my feelings?”

 

F: “God does not cheat. You don’t understand, that’s all…..”

Every time he says that, I know in fact he is the one who doesn’t understand.

 

TF: “But can I ask you another question?”

 

F: “Of course.”

F got relieved a bit too early…..

 

TF: “Is there freewill after one gets to Heaven?”

 

F: “Of course.”

 

TF: “What if I do something bad in Heaven?”

 

F: “Heaven is all perfect. There is no Devil, one will not do bad things.”

 

TF: “Wasn’t the Angel of Light subject to temptation? It was that God gave him freewill, and he became Satan? Suppose I get to Heaven, and I want to be on par with God, then I will never enjoy Heaven? On the contrary, if there is no freewill in Heaven, where is the GENUINE happiness?”

 

F: “Em…..”

 

(Scotter has the similar question: if one can only be happy, can only have the happy feelings in Heaven; if one is supposed to be happy in Heaven, is this real happiness?)

 

So it seems. Like Heaven, Freewill is an ambiguous concept.

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8. On the Soul

 

TF used to live in the Bible Belt. As the name suggests, the place is very religious in flavor. TF has a good friend S, who was a brilliant student in college, himself intelligent and a devout Christian. TF has always been a skeptic to religions, but not at all a religion reject, so he thought this was someone ideal to evangelize to. One time we were flying in the plane together, as we chatted, he thought the moment came. He went to his topic:

 

S: “What are the differences between animals and man?”

 

TF knew what he was getting at, but went along with him: “Most animals walk with four legs, and humans walk with two.”

 

S: “That’s it?”

 

TF: “I know that the Bible says a Man has a soul, but animals don’t. But could you tell me, does a baby have a soul?”

 

S: “Yes.”

 

TF: “What about sperms?”

 

S was caught off guard. TF heard S’s questions before, but this was the first time S heard TF’s question.

 

S hesitated for while: “Em…..I think not.”

 

TF was relieved. Luckily sperms do not have souls, or else TF is killing hundreds of millions of souls whenever TF is being intimate with TF’s partner.

 

TF: “And what about zygotes?”

 

S seemed to show some spasms on his face, and after a long while: “You believe yours, and I believe mine.”

 

TF: “There is to each and every individual freedom of belief. But why is it that you could ask me questions, and I could not ask you questions?”

 

S was sweating all over, covered his face with his hands and could not utter a word.

 

TF was sympathetic to S, and was a bit sorry to have embarrassed S. S and TF are still good friends, but S no longer raised the topic of religion.

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9. The Holy Spirit

 

TF has a good friend K, an ultra-conservative. Ultra-conservatives are most usually Christians.

 

TF: “How did you make yourself a believer?”

 

K: “Man cannot rely on himself alone, the Holy Spirit must descend upon you to make you believe.”

 

TF: “How to make the Holy Spirit descend on me?”

 

K: “If you sincerely ask Lord Jesus Christ to help you, the Holy Spirit will come.”

 

TF doesn’t believe God, if TF does, then TF needs not ask God’s help to believe God. TF really wanted to confirm the realness of the Holy Spirit.

 

TF: “Lord Jesus please help me!”

 

K: “Did you feel the Holy Spirit?”

 

TF: “No?”

 

K: “You did not shout loud enough.”

 

TF cried out loud: “Lord Jesus please help me!!!”

 

K: “Did you feel it?”

 

TF: “Still no?”

 

K: “You did not shout sincerely enough. If you are sincere, you would feel it.”

 

TF is like the innocent child in the crowd when the Emperor with New Clothes was parading, he said No when he didn’t see it. TF is not like the wise adults, they are afraid that they aren’t going to heaven, thus they deceive themselves, and deceive others. They know in their hearts in times they suspect too, but they must assert that they believe. If even they themselves have a hearty moment of suspect, how do they convince others? They got to deceive themselves first, and they can deceive others.

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10. Travel

 

One time TF traveled overseas (that was of course before TF got married), TF joined a local tour. There was one girl A without a ring on her fingers, TF started chatting with her. Getting to know that both were from the States, TF and A felt close. After the tour, she was invited to a dinner. A told TF that she was a pious Catholic.

 

TF’s interest (in religion) got aroused: “I graduated from Catholic high school. I studied the Bible for years. Later I was inclined to self-study.”

 

A: “What a coincidence! So you must be Catholic.”

 

TF: “No.”

 

A: “Protestant?”

 

TF: “Not even that.”

 

A: “Buddhist?”

 

TF: “No either.”

 

A: “So what religion do you cling to?”

 

TF: “None.”

 

A: “How is that possible? What do you rest your spirituality on?”

 

TF: “How is that not possible?”

 

A: “Em…..”

 

TF later found out that she was a nun.

 

(Scotter: I think TF was saying for believers, some have a mindset that people of no beliefs is unthinkable.)

 

 

11. Missionary X

 

Most of the missionaries are friendly, especially when they are soliciting donations, but some are incomprehensible.

 

X: “Come join our church. There are many goodies: making friends, people taking care of each other. There are many activities you can join, sometimes there are free movies, free food.”

 

TF wasn’t so smart: “But your church would also ask for donations?”

 

X was a bit indignant: “Donation is voluntary, nobody would force you. The most important thing is: we will nurture your faith, and you will go to Heaven.”

 

TF: “You have been helping people to enter Heaven your whole life, haven’t you? That’s a great sacrifice.”

 

X: “Yes. Heaven is the best reward.”

 

TF: “The greatness is not so great when you look forward to a reward. If God gives you two choices: one choice is you go to Heaven and all others go to Hell; the other choice is you go to Hell, others go to Heaven, would you sacrifice yourself?”

 

X: “This…..God would not possibly do this.”

Don’t have a clue what to answer, then the reply is “impossible”. TF was only asking “If”.

 

TF had a new question: “What if I don’t want to go to Heaven?”

 

X: “Don’t argue for argument’s sake! You can enjoy eternal grace in Heaven.”

 

TF: “Suppose I don’t care for the eternal grace? Most are going to Hell. I feel pitiful for it, I want to suffer with them together.”

(Scotter: The word ‘Most’ is striking.)

 

X: “Sigh. You don’t know what you are talking about. Come to our church, our church will tell you what to think!”

 

This time TF was left speechless. Communist thought control was already overthrown and rejected by the people, but the Church’s millennia of thought controls are still very much alive.

 

----- Thus end the Spiritual Adventures of Tom Finn -----

 

Christians, would you like to address one of more questions from the above posts?

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