A skeptic friend on Facebook posted the following quote and attributed it to Bertrand Russell:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
I found my mouse attracting itself toward the “love” option and clicking it, but the skeptic in me highlighted the quote and googled it. My google results showed that it’s unknown who said it, according to this page at wikiquote. But who knows what’s what on the internet? I don’t.
Full of Doubts; I think that’s my middle name.
I struggle with doubts all the time. Self doubts. Doubting others. Doubting others perceptions of the universe, the world, the neighborhood, of me.
I wonder if it’s my job to respond to my friend and say, “Great quote, but the skeptic in me questioned its attribution and a Google search resulted in showing it might not be Russell.”
I’m pretty sure I’m starting to hate the Internet and social media in general. Over the past six or seven months, I’ve tried scaling back on mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. I’ve found myself trying not to respond on people’s posts, whether I agree with them or not.
I’m wondering if the Internets aren’t making people stupider. While it’s chock full of information, it’s even more full of bullshit. Memes are the fruits of the devil.
Fortunately, it seems that email forwards are nearly extinct. I think the last dinosaur lives in my building on the first floor. His diet consists of mass quantities of diet Coke, Cubs games, pancake breakfasts at his church, and the adrenaline rush of forwarding the insane stupidity to his email list.
But people like my Dad, Aunts, and Aunts-in-laws have transferred their email forwarding energy to the Facebook for that adrenaline rush.
Then there are my own skeptical friends who post quotes, and I’m skeptical of them, too.
That quote, though, that quote is something that resonates with me. Over the last several years, I’ve been to a few funerals. My maternal Grandfather passed this year. We weren’t close, and it wasn’t upsetting so much to me. I had to check my pulse a few times to see if I was still living. Why wasn’t I upset by this? I found myself in tears after hearing that Gwen Ifill passed, and I didn’t well up at all when Gramps went.
But at Grandpa’s funeral, his remembrance ceremony included speeches claiming that the speaker “knew” that my grandpa was now with Jesus.
People KNOW that a man who died is with Jesus. Jesus, the savior of the world. A guy who supposedly is God. Three in one. A guy who was born 2,000 years ago and used a virgin’s womb and vaginal canal as the tunnel between heaven and earth.
People claim to KNOW that Jesus did this for certainty.
And the tunnel that Jesus used to return to heaven was ascending, literally destroying gravity without ropes or wires … he went up and up and up until he returned to the right side of his “father” and his brother, Holy Ghost. Or hisself. The triune.
And people KNOW this without Google, or the Internet, or an email forward or a meme on the Internet.
They KNOW. Indisputable knowledge. Trademarked Good News, Gospel Greatness. There was no way I was going to walk up to the pastor after my grandpa’s funeral and say, “How do you know my grandpa’s with Jesus?”
Did this pastor ascend up and up and up into heaven while no one was looking, transfer through a tunnel into heaven, see Jesus and Grandpa hug and hold hands?
No, I’m pretty sure he didn’t. No one has seen heaven except the dead. No one except the dead and little boy Colton Burpo who mopped up a shitload of book sales after his daddy wrote a book for him (see Heaven is for Real.”)
Fools and Fanatics. Them there are the people who are full of certainty.
Or maybe it’s the fools and fanatics who are full of doubt.
That quote only makes one kind of person feel better and sheds uncertainty on the other kind of person.
What’s the harm in thinking Grandpa is literally with Jesus? I guess it doesn’t hurt anybody. Or maybe no one really thinks Grandpa and Grandma are literally with Jesus. Being with Jesus is funeral code for “they’re dead.”
It’s the certainty that bothers me. “I know Grandpa is with the dude who I believe created the Universe.”
“I know I’m going to heaven.”
“I know … you’re going to hell.”
These are statements of certainty.
They aren’t, “I know this steak tastes amazing” or “I love it when I get a check for $20,000” or “I know my wife is next to me in bed.”
If she weren’t really next to me, but actually next to a gigolo in Vegas, I’d still have more knowledge than knowing that Grandpa was with Jesus.
My concern is that once you allow yourself to think you’re certain that Grandpa is sitting in Jesus’ lap hugging each other in the afterlife, what else are you able to convince yourself of … with damned certainty?
What is the harm in saying, “I loved Grandpa. He was a great man who lived a great life (truths), and now that he’s gone, I want to believe that he’s with Jesus, who he had lived his life for and who promised him eternal life so long as he accepted Jesus into his heart. Because I can’t see it, I will have to believe this idea to be true.”
That to me is like Hillary Clinton railing against rich people when she herself is rich.
I don’t know if Grandpa is with Jesus. I don’t know if he’s not with Jesus. There’s absolutely NO way to know. There’s no way to know that God is real or is not real. There are good arguments for his existence and good arguments against.
I have no idea if Tina really loves me, but I have a pretty good feeling she does. She acts like it almost 95% of the time. Then there’s that 5% of the time when she wants to scream, “I hate you, Jeremy! You asshole. I hate you, hate you, hate you!”
If it weren’t for 95% of her behavior indicating otherwise, I wonder if I would be more skeptical.
I can’t find myself to accept that God, Jesus and the Spirit are (is?) so trivial that he/they/it would let two perfect people’s disobedience be the rational to allow death, disease, pain in childbirth & toiling the earth and the only way to survive death’s inevitability is to express the following thought, “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Come into my heart.” The ticket price for eternal life in heaven is a thought. The ticket price for eternal pain and suffering is an oppositional thought.
Is this really an idea worth fighting for? Is Jesus really the vaginal canal to heaven?
Do you remember who you were for all of the history of the universe before you were born? Why not? Why didn’t you have consciousness before you were born, but after you were born and you did or didn’t accept Jesus would that dictate whether you felt the eternal burn of hell or the eternal bliss of heaven?
I’m good with “I don’t know” and I don’t know why. I don’t think it makes me wiser. I don’t think it makes me a fool.
I’m the wisest fool I know, I believe that with fantastic fanaticism.
And that’s the problem with the world.