What’s the most awesome thing in the universe? Is it consciousness? Is it our own humanity? Is it the vastness of space, the randomness of life? Is it God? Is God the most awesome thing in the universe? Is there even a God? Are you a believer? Or are you an atheist? Perhaps you’re a secularist, or a yogist. Maybe you don’t necessarily believe in a “god” but you are very spiritual. Are you a materialist? Is the acquisition of new or extravagant possessions your God? The great American writer and stand-up comedian, Mark Twain, I think put it best when he said, “Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God – and over these ideals they dispute and cannot unite – but they all worship money.” I felt that quote harbored so much raw truth; I had it tattooed on my rib cage like ten years ago. So, is money our God? I feel it is, at least in this country. I mean, we print “In God We Trust” on our currency. Are they trying to tell us something? It used to be E pluribus unum (out of many, one). That was the U.S. motto up until 1956, when Congress passed an act replacing it. Now, I don’t know about you but I kinda dig the old motto. I feel it sums us up much more accurately than “In God We Trust”. I mean, what happened to “separation of church and state”? Okay, I understand the word “God” can be applied generally, but why even set the precedent?
You know, as I ponder my own beliefs, I find it difficult to just say with absolutely conviction, that, “There is no God”. I had a very Catholic upbringing. I was sent to parochial schools my entire life. I was an alter boy. And no priests ever touched me. Actually, there were many aspects of Catholicism that I found to be very positive. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I feel organized religion is a complete crock of shit. But it’s kinda difficult to completely remove the influence it has on you. Today, I subscribe to more “New Age” thinking. I’m not so sure there’s a sky-God, but I do feel there is a universal energy and consciousness, which connects us all – E pluribus unum – and nobody is either better than nor below anybody else. I feel we are all equal and we can accomplish anything we set our minds to, by doing the thing, acting as if and maintaining a positive outlook. I’m also a silly quack who frequently meditates and has been known on occasion to seriously take astrology into account. A well-orated Joel Osteen monologue can motivate the shit out of me. Plus, I have had two very real ghost experiences, and if you don’t believe me, you can go fuck yourself. You’ve heard of Confucius? Well, I’m just confused. But I can philosophize with the best of them.
Epicurus, another ancient philosopher, comes to mind, as I contemplate the existence of God. He had this to say, regarding the subject, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
In college, I wrote a paper on the history of religion. And through my research, I discovered that there were a number of parallels between the Christian views of Jesus and other religiosities, such as Greco-Roman mythology, as well as those of ancient Egypt. For instance, the sun-God Horus, who was worshipped nearly 1,000 years before the story of Jesus, was also born of a virgin, had a mother named Mary, a father named Joseph, was crucified next to two thieves, buried in a tomb and rose again on the third day. I think there’s something like 46 similarities identified between these two; however, some of the comparisons are considered debatable. It’s still interesting though. Makes you think. Is it really all just a bullshit story? Here’s what George Carlin has to say about it: (Invisible man in the sky clip).
“But he loves you and needs your money.” Hahaha, Carlin is one of my all-time heroes. In fact, just recently, I realized that most of the people I regard as “my own personal heroes” throughout history, were, in fact, atheists. But I didn’t have that epiphany until I watched a video on NYC hyphen atheists dot org, the official website of the non-profit, non-partisan educational association, known as the, New York City Atheists. There’s a short film on the site, highlighting some quite prominent movers and shakers of history, and I was extremely surprised by how many of them are deserving of their own FAT ENZO tee shirt.
Anyways, on this episode of the podcast, Mister Martini and I have a sit-down with Dr. David Orenstein, Professor of Anthropology at Medgar Evers College, a senior college in the CUNY system, located in Brooklyn, NY, and his friend and colleague, Dr. Tyson Gill, the author of “Belief in Science and the Science of Belief: A Guidebook for Fact-Based Thinking.” Both are avid free thinkers, activists and members of the New York City Atheists organization. Full Disclaimer: although the following conversation was conducted on campus in the Carroll Street Building at Medgar Evers College, it is important to note that any beliefs, opinions or statements shared herein are solely those of Bobby Pickles, Adrien de Martini and our guests, and we indemnify and hold harmless Medgar Evers College of any or all heretical falsities we promote or proclaim. Nevertheless, without further adieu, here’s our conversation with doctors David Orenstein and Tyson Gill.
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