Video Games – our very human desire for escapism

 

2011-09-19-01-19-46.jpg Video Games – our very human desire for escapism

 

I love video games. Ever since playing DUCK HUNT on the (NES) Nintendo 8-bit, I’ve been sold on them with a vengeance. Despite still enjoying them now, as I’ve gotten older I’m starting to see video games with a new perspective. If video games have proven anything to so many people it’s that the fantasy of new experiences trumps reality. Experience demands freedom, and this is a powerful thing, and what a varied and crazy mix of experiences offered in a video game (ones of sufficient decent depth.)

Anyone who knows me, knows I grew up as an avid gamer, and truth games that offer compelling and immersive stories (or huge worlds) compel me the most. Sorry to disappoint anyone, but this won’t be a specific video game review, but perhaps something a bit deeper, so stick with it! As of late I’ve been trying to focus more on increasing my experience points and level with a very important game; the game of EXISTING, I’m giving more credence every day on the idea that REALITY actually trumps FANTASY…but I’ll admit it’s been a hard sell, because the sort of freedom found in so many games is intoxicating; not only the freedom of action, skill and movement, but most intriguing, the freedom from consequence. Most of all, these open-world design games grant us the ability to be totally reckless (even “evil” for a time) – Stealing from and killing people, committing all manner of crimes (think: Watchdogs, Grand Theft Auto, etc.), and we don’t think twice about doing it in these games…well, many of us don’t. (I usually have somewhat of a moral qualm, even though I’ll suppress it often to “experience” what happens next.)

The truth is, if we dig deeper into these video games and their characters, we realize that there is no way (most of us) would choose be those characters at all, even if we were somehow afforded divine power and could make it happen. It’s a fun thought on the surface as we sit there holding a controller, but most people would shy away (and many run away screaming) from so many of the events that occur in games like Watchdogs, Halo, Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto and so many others. We wouldn’t be the heroes featured and controlled on the screen; we would more likely be the innocent passerby being gunned down or ran over by some crazed sociopath collecting “points” or “credits”.

Video Games – our very human desire for escapism

As humans, we are overwhelmingly attracted to what we don’t already have. We want to escape from the common things and try something else…even people who profess to have everything they need, still want something. This is true even in the short term…If it’s too hot, we want it cold. If it’s too cold, we want it hot. If it’s perfectly temperate, we’d like to drink something hot or cold…so these feelings of satisfaction are ALWAYS temporal, and this appears to be ingrained into us. Guilty as charged!

In my own life, being older now, at 37, I’ve come to realize that it’s new experience most people lack in life that leaves discontentment and a longing in the heart; the experience of meeting new people, the experience of going to new places (this is a huge one), and these all creates a deep emptiness in us, demanding to be filled. Some video games fill this void in a very artificial way (for a brief time), but they can’t give a person the long term satisfaction that a life; one better LIVED with REAL EXPERIENCE can provide.

I want to encourage you to start doing exactly this. Find more time to do the things you love, and when possible with the people you care about (yes, even if that’s playing video games), but above all, mix it up and experience new things, force yourself out of habits and patterns of a “typical day”, because we all have a temporary amount of time in this world, and we should make the most of it.

For me, I do this with the dream of granting myself more time to cherish my life by broadening my experience and skills. To grow where otherwise I would stagnate. One way to do this for many of us is to contribute in what small way we can toward others and THEIR experience…always remembering that we have the potential to leave a legacy behind for those we love when it’s time to check out…

Do you also want more time to do the things that matter to you “out there” IN REALITY, or are you content mostly living mostly in fantasies created by other minds? Do you live your life doing the things you hate while only dreaming of what you love? Share your thoughts below.

Marriage and my Vows, and what it means to me.

wedding vows
Marriage and my Vows

From John Lennox’s book, ‘God’s Undertaker – Has science buried God?’ – p. 40,41
“Let us imagine that my Aunt Matilda had baked a beautiful cake and we take it along to be analyzed by a group of the world’s top scientists. I, as master of ceremonies, ask them for an explanation of the cake and they go to work. The nutrition scientists will tell us about the number of calories in the cake an its nutritional effect; the biochemists will inform us about the structure of the proteins, fats etc. in the cake; the chemists, about the elements involved and their bonding; the physicists will be able to analyze the cake in terms of fundamental particles; and the mathematicians will no doubt offer us a set of elegant equations to describe the behavior of those particles.

Now that these experts, each in terms of his or her scientific discipline have given us an exhaustive description of the cake, can we say that the cake is completely explained? We have certainly been given a description of how the cake was made and how its various constituent elements relate to each other, but suppose I now ask the assembled group of experts a final question: Why was the cake made? The grin on Aunt Matilda’s face shows she knows the answer, for she made the cake, and she made it for a purpose. But all the nutrition scientists, biochemists, chemists, physicists and mathematicians in the world will not be able to answer the question – and it is no insult to their disciplines to state their incapacity to answer it. Their disciplines, which can cope with questions about the nature and structure of the cake, that is, answering the ‘how’ questions, cannot answer the ‘why’ questions connected with the purpose for which the cake was made. In fact, the only way we shall ever get an answer is if Aunt Matilda reveals it to us. But if she does not disclose the answer to us, the plain fact is that no amount of scientific analysis will enlighten us.”

—–

If there is anything worth learning, it’s that we DO NOT know everything, and no single system of understanding will EVER give us such knowledge. The above example stuck to my mind as I was about to be married, not only as a powerful refutation to the validity of scientism (” the dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measurable”), but I was imagining someone attempting to give such a comprehensive explanation of my love and commitment, laying it all out…in the hopes of removing any spirituality behind it, just trying to make it all physics and biology…just imagine this: A man in a nice suit shows up, a very well educated person who just ran all of the correct tests on the subject, and he’s going to break it all down for me and explain every physical molecule and how they moved and interacted to make this all possible, and the thought made me want to laugh. How much more mysterious, complex and glorious is this human life, and so much more then what we give it credit.

Marichu and I was married on October 5th and we are now a happier couple. Personal Vows were exchanged. Shiny gold rings now adorn us, and I kissed my lovely bride with a mild tipping motion which officially sealed it.

I think about what this all means, these VOWS we give during a wedding in particular…and the first thing that seems obvious about any marriage, (regardless of it’s actual love-content) is that a person gets to have less taxes taken out of their paycheck, as the law recognizes me as a married man (cool, I guess, but not motivating at all to me as a REASON to marry)…beyond the legal ramifications involved in no longer being ‘single’ according to the law, what does this union of two lives really mean? In particular, Why do we humans take the time to give vows at all? Certainly these deep assurances being spoken are already understood at some point during the relationship, in order for it to be agreed that we should be standing there in the first place, getting married, and words can hardly be considered the most reliable and sincere vehicle of human intention (as the saying goes: “put your money where your mouth is”), and not all (I’d guess very few) people cling to HONESTY as an actual Principle..it’s something you “try” to live up to, sure…because like the golden rule, “you treat others as you would have them treat you back”, (but only when the risk is low enough) …certainly for most HONESTLY is not something so important you’d do virtually anything to avoid damaging it, but yet here we are, getting married and speaking the most meaningful words we can bring forth in our life that we have ever spoken (and getting very emotional over them), to that one special person that completes us. We make bold promises about our future, hoping against all odds that our ability to be honest IS seriously valued by our special someone as something more than a pragmatic “best attempt”.

Most people highly regard the sincerity and integrity in others (even those that lack it them-self), and they do so regardless if such things are weighed against any divine judgment that can later make amends of any falsehoods, or by weighing it more tenuously against the opinions of men/women they respect; but there is something about words so wrought (in VOWS) that brings about a very profound trust that as human beings, we can rise above the base animal-physical-mammalian level of merely existing, procreating, evolving, exploiting for gain, etc.. so much so that perhaps even the most adamant materialist among us can for a moment experience something akin to the non-physical (God), something transcending the “random unguided/undirected process of life” that is so blindly (pun-intended) championed by such a purely humanistic person. As humans we enjoy much phenomena that exists beyond mere physicality, these experiences and choices that MAKE us distinctly human are not something any other creature can partake in. Human choices and relationships not driven by a blind mechanical process, but rather a designed, intelligent, intentional one. What OUGHT TO BE (vs. what IS) is not easily decided by those that would demand and insist to measure it with their already intelligently-designed instruments before coming to terms with the answer.

Any methodological human system (science, philosophy, religion, etc) that is divorced from the entire scope of humanity and it’s experiences (and ALL that it includes, EX: that data which falls outside of it’s purview), will never be able to prove or explain my love and my conviction to Marichu on our wedding day, of how much she matters to me, of what this commitment we are making means; forever these things are powerfully subjectively mine and uniquely human. Because I have come to accept there is something higher, something more perfect, something of which my perfection tries to mimic and clearly never WILL match (at least in this life) as a standard for myself, this will motivate me and inspire me to continue to improve myself for her, and for us. Our willingness to make such vows during a ceremony and subject it to the criticisms and evaluation of others, all while existing in a less than stellar level of perfection than the ideals we hope to achieve, acts as a promise to one another (in the most sincere way) that we believe it’s possible to exceed what it means to be human, and any limits the world or others would place upon us in the future; and I believe that level of excellence is worth fighting for.

————

Wedding Vows

these are vows I spoke to Marichu on Oct 5th, 2013, they are what I’m fighting for, and always will:
“How do I express the depth of my heart for you with mere words, to speak so briefly and somehow do it justice? It’s just that I know how easy it is to merely say words of love and commitment, how little effort it takes a person to merely open their mouth and form words, but…

My love, if ever the strength of my words should be lacking, now or years from now; or if my ability to even speak someday be compromised, I vow that my heart would still beat just for you, and as strong as it does right now, standing here, in the witness of God and family, and friends, and I vow to you that it will never fail to find its most sincere expression, in some way, perhaps where words can be discarded as useless or irrelevant, because whether it be in light or darkness, in sunshine or rain; I vow that THIS love will always be for you, and you alone.

Even if the world should crumble around us, I vow that I will commit myself to keeping us both safe in the arms of God, always focused on our joy and passion, always aiming for greater sincerity and truth. My resolve to love you, protect you, keep you, and to cherish you every day of your life is beyond reproach. I vow with not only these words, but also with every deed of my life from this day forward, that I will stay true in my love to you, until my very last breath, and if God would see fit, if He would bless me so abundantly yet again, I will find you even when all the lights go out, to continue loving you beyond death, even beyond time itself.

I have been blessed to learn from a wisdom far, far greater than my own, a profound truth, and that truth is this: that, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails, and I vow that our love will never fail.

All of this and so much more I vow to you, my only love. Now, and forever. ”

I love you Marichu!

Science: Response to ‘A is for Atheist’ web blog, to an article supposedly refuting the Intelligent Design argument

Response to ‘A is for Atheist’ web blog

Response to 'A is for Atheist' web blog post supposedly refuting intelligent design

Response to ‘A is for Atheist’ web blog post supposedly refuting intelligent design

The article responded to is on the: a is for atheist5760 blogspot.com site  (had to remove the link because now it attempts to install a malware/flash installer when accessing it)

I posted my response as a comment on this article, but as you can see there are almost NO comments on the site on the bottom, and this article has been posted for a couple years now; so I thought I’d put this, fleshed out more, on my blog.

Here was my reply to the above “refutation”:

—————–

“I reject both premises as false as neither are necessary, hence Stephen C. Meyer’s ID theory as an explanation of origins doesn’t fail. There is no scientific need to explain more than what is “possible” [edit: or probable] to be a valid explanation in science.

I reject the notion that a theory leading to a supposed infinite regress = FALSEHOOD. The logic simply doesn’t follow that something is false because more data is not forthcoming at the moment. Such reasoning would invalidate many of the sciences that study past phenomenon. If we are seeing signs of intelligence in the biological facts we do currently have, then that’s enough to conclude it as a best explanation (as per current scientific knowledge, but the testing, the theorizing, the experiments, etc. aka: THE SCIENCE doesn’t STOP there and that is KEY)

…but we can still INFER and conclude one theory makes more sense vs. another given the available data, but one thing a person should NOT do is refuse to allow intelligence as an explanation (in order to conform to some materialist bias) because ultimately the TRUTH (facts) of the matter is what IS important.

If a person rejects intelligence primo de facto as a cause, it certainly should not be done solely because a person WANTS to A.) Avoid an infinite regress or because B.) They don’t have the full rap-sheet on the designer in question…in the first objection, how do you propose to resolve such an infinite regress as the multiple-world hypothesis which is the leading materialist explanation of the origin of the universe?

Let’s face it, no matter what we do, concerning discussions of ‘origins’, it ALWAYS comes back around to either an infinite regress  or an “unmoved mover” (something not suspect to an infinite regress) as a starting foundation, and so it seems clear to me at least that this is a philosophical (not scientific) argument at its root of whether mind or matter is being primary, and then we go on arguing what else we accept/reject from that bedrock, so I say to all:  Take your pick I guess.

Thank you for the interesting article.”

——————-

Refuting the Intelligent Design argument? – I think not.

Refuting the Intelligent Design argument? – I think not.

To further clarify (both generally and concerning my point B above.) I mentioned above anyone can come up with a premise they feel will negate someone’s position if they can prove or disprove that premise (note: the premise only).  In reality such a tactic does no such thing IF that premise can be logically rejected. (Of course doing so doesn’t prove the counter position either, but that’s not the point)

ID Theory is clearly based on a study of causality and the inference (from observation) of the FACT that intelligence does in everyday life reveal for us a solid uniformity of experience (in being responsible for the creation of many things that cannot arise through “natural means”) as an example of this:  imagine a computer evolving if given enough time….never needing a mind etc..now stick with me, this is NOT an argument by ‘false analogy’, just an idea to get a basic point across. The truth of the matter (as far as all human experience and science tells us) is that complex specified information has one “known” cause in the universe, and that cause is IS intelligence, but in this article the author is attempting to refute the ID position on the grounds that the conclusion “intelligence most likely did it” must ALSO somehow necessarily (absolutely) provide additional explanations before it can be taken seriously. (for EX: “what” intelligence is it exactly? Is it God? Which one? or is it Aliens, or a powerful sentient floating teapot, etc..?)

The fact of the matter is we don’t know & likely cannot know according to the limitations of ID (not to mention the scientific method itself, the assumption that science MUST explain all of reality alone is NOT a scientific claim, it’s a philosophical claim and that’s a whole different argument…) , but this isn’t good enough for this militant atheist web blogger and his “hidden premise” argument,  so many people like this aren’t happy with the missing answers they wish were not the case, so they assert boldly that ID cannot be science.  This is an ABSURD perspective (and quite corrupting to the very nature of science) I would argue.  Charles Darwin himself employed the same foundational form of reasoning that ID does when speculating evolution; he didn’t have all the answers (he had no clue as to the level of sophistication in biochemical system either), yet now as time progresses we see clear signs of evolution occurring at the micro-cellular level of organisms all the time. Claiming victory against a theory because you don’t have ALL the answers you would WISH you had that naturally follow from questions that reasonably arise from a theory is tantamount to invalidating most of the historical sciences we consider worthwhile (Archeology, Historians), not to mention scientific fields that deal with intelligence as the foundation of their study. (Cryptography, Detectives).

The same objection swings both ways, and is equally true for ID as well, by understanding that just because a materialistic explanation doesn’t exist, it doesn’t follow IT CANNOT…but ID isn’t the one claiming a monopoly on the truth of the subject and dismissing the opponent due to semantics & adding burdens of proof that it doesn’t (shouldn’t) need to bear, it’s merely asserting itself as the best casual explanation. (currently)

While it would be nice to know all these details of WHAT this intelligence is from the science itself, and where it is, and even what it’s favorite salad dressing is, it’s purely optional and is not incumbent upon ID to provide any more than the most generic indicator that an origin (in its case, specifically that the origin of complex specific information) can only arise as the product of a creative intelligence.  Lacking any materialistic explanation (as we do currently), this is the most rational position to hold, even in the absence of a robust step by step process (filter) available to determine a positive process of which to find such an intelligence in a system vs. it’s absence when discussing anything beyond absolute origins.  Why? Because given what we DO observe as the products of intelligence, that these all have complex specified information, Ex: your software, your computer, writing on a notepad, Mount Rushmore, etc.. and in all of the world the only natural phenomenon that literally contains the same type of information, is the “digital code” at the very foundation of biological life itself. (DNA) which has yet to be explained through any naturalistic pathway for its origination.  They are not even close to explaining it.

Present day attempts are being made to use RNA as an materialistic evolutionary explanation in the ‘RNA world hypothesis’ but they aren’t even close…the problem is more severe than many realize because chance isn’t going to do it alone (not once, least of all trillions of times, and they admit as much), so it’s commonly accepted that it must be chance acted upon by natural selection, but that isn’t even feasible in this case, we aren’t talking about macro or even micro evolution (modification of a preexisting system at this point… This is WAY earlier…Natural Selection cannot even be in operation at this point (DNA’s creation) because Natural selection REQUIRES a self-replicating molecule to even function as a starting point, which comes along long after DNA!!  This is the most foundational chicken or the egg argument that has ever existed.  Complex specified information is not MATTER, it’s not Energy, it’s wholly different and yet it exists, contradicting the entire Materialism/Physicalism worldview.  The best (most rational) explanation (given what we DO KNOW) even though being admittedly incomplete at this time, is that this complex specified information IS the product of  “an” intelligence. (Only, at least until something NEW comes along in reality to explain it in naturalistic terms.)

Just to address this, concerning a common objection to ID: this is NOT a “God of the Gaps argument”, and don’t believe that for one second if you hear such nonsense.  The easiest way to dismiss a position you vehemently disagree with it, is to be intellectually lazy by dismissing it out of hand, claiming some fallacy of reasoning you can’t even explain by itself…all this so you you don’t have to address the specific arguments that position makes, and so obfuscating details is preferred.  Why is it NOT a Gaps argument?  because the gap IS clearly already there and IT MUST BE FILLED WITH SOMETHING, the question is…filled with what? (in much the same way an archeologist may find an artifact and WISH he knew WHO the man was that shaped it, but all he can conclude is that was shaped by the activities of a conscious mind and nothing more.)

Imagine for a moment that this archeologist doesn’t know who exactly created the artifact, perhaps it’s too unique or even damaged, and so he changes his mind and concludes that an intelligence was not involved and did NOT create it. He instead resolutely states that it must have been formed by wind erosion, all by an unguided, unintelligent natural process…because he didn’t learn about the inventor, and doesn’t want to commit an “archeologist of the gap fallacy.”… So silly, and yet according to the logic of many who are so antagonistic toward ID, this is their logic when taken to its natural (pun intended) conclusion.

Moving to OH, a farewell dedication to my very close friends Don (and Yushan). How I value our friendship and always will.

Genuine friends, genuine soul.

While Facebook is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch, it’s a very poor system for evaluating the quality of a friendship; for that task you need something far more tangible; EX: when you have a friend that is there to apply the bandages you so desperately need when certain events in life cause you grievous harm, not flinching over the blood getting on their hands (beyond it’s ability to cause you, the victim, any further harm) or when they provide you the tissue with one hand, the other firmly grasping your shoulders, supporting your weight when you can’t stand up to entertain gravity no longer, well then you’ve found a true friend.  The truest kind in fact.

We so often collect “friends” like baseball cards, not only online, but also in real life, trading them as they come and go, through the natural sojourns of our life…their value increasing or decreasing as the seasons of life pass, as our evaluations of other people and ourselves naturally ebb with the flow and tide of circumstance and chance, and I’m struck with how pointless so many of these unions really become in the end, so many not being bonded by blood, nor the mutual shedding of sweat and tears; these “friendships” are free to fade away without the emotional ties that make a struggle for persistence worthwhile, regardless of outside situations.

I’ve been in some very dark places in my life, at some points blinded against any light at all, devoid of any hope, and it was in the harsh stillness of the worse of these moments, trying to catch my breath, the world spinning around me, wondering if I should even bother to keep trying to breath, that a true friend became evident in my life, on a level that I had never personally known, his voice cutting through the muted muddle of my shattered heart, dealing with a breakup I couldn’t possibly end up surviving by myself, reduced to a babbling fool uncertain of my station and even my right to a happy existence; that a co-worker at the time, one I started my career with at Geek Squad; my friend Don, helped me. He took the time to be a light for me, and shoulder this great burden with me, unwavering in his honestly, his bluntness and the remarkable aptitude for not “sugar coating” his words like virtually every else I’ve ever known would have done, was a real blessing. He was truly a “city on a hill” for me (Mat 5:14) in those most harrowing of black nights, guiding me to steady paths, hard to traverse but necessary, back into the world where I needed to live once again and to focus on actually LIVING again.

I’m moving to OH in a few days, to start the next step of my career, a new position with Geek Squad, working at home, and I’m acutely aware of a most painful element to leaving, and that is the physical separation from Don and his wonderful fiance Yushan.  I will miss our late night video gaming sessions, our drinking/card games, our late night discussions on the creative and the philosophical or the deep and utterly agonizing parts of life that most strive to be silent and ignorant about, but that we refused to avoid and be weakened by, and the long walks around city blocks over and over again that usually accompanied these talks.  Even as I know that true friends like this don’t just disappear, that it’s purely axiomatic that they CANNOT, the sheer distance between us of course won’t allow “hanging out” and something will need to take up that time in my life now, not as a replacement, never could anything replace this spiritual bond of true friendship, but as a place holder for that hole that will surely need to be patched.  I dread even trying to fill that void though, not because I fear the loss of a friend, but because I simply value so much the time already spent.

Thank you Don for being the truest kind of friend, not only a “friend”, but a brother to me as I’ve lived, grown and sometimes completely floundered in California.  You’ve personally seen darkness and felt it’s grasp on a level I can scarcely imagine, but even more impressive to me than your survival, is that despite it all, you’ve come to a place where you obviously have developed such a strong character, one that doesn’t boast of it’s quality to me or anyone, but simply IS, unapologetic and without excuse or explanation. You’ve firmly established a real moral purpose in your life and the people you choose to share it with, one that you always carry with you despite the renunciation of decency from so many other people in our day and age that proudly flaunt the sacrifice of principles for the sake of a hedonistic and selfish gain; your high standard of loyalty and fidelity that you adhere to in your closest relationships and your sheer unwillingness to speak half-ass about anything of importance (or perhaps anything at all); I respect more than my words could ever hope to convey.

…and thank you Yushan for welcoming so warmly me as your good friend too, and for falling asleep often while we all played video games and you still somehow managed to keep your character on the screen running ahead….rendered impotent in a fight, but always steadfast in its momentum! 🙂

Let this be a witness here and now, not written in a letter sitting in a drawer somewhere, obscured to the world, but on my blog for anyone close to me who fancies to read my posts, that although I know you both don’t have a (sibling) brother, I want you to know that; for all intents and purposes, as long as I still draw breath; YOU BOTH ALWAYS WILL.

With much love, and thanks.
– Brett

Funeral memorial on my blog, for L. Ray Smith, an amazing teacher/pastor who has passed on from this world.

This is a Funeral Memorial Dedication, first on my blog
Dedicated to:  L. Ray Smith, founder of Bible-truths.com

I write this latest article with a heavy heart, a heart that mourns the loss of a powerfully influential teacher in my life that I found out recently passed away at the end of June. This is someone I discovered (was led to in all sincerity) about 8-9 years ago. A man I’ve never met in person. A man by the name of L. Ray Smith, whose writings (supported by a lot of studying/substantiating on my own) have completely changed the way I feel about the world and all of the people in it; to a degree that no other human being has ever done.  One of my biggest regrets is that I’ve never gotten to shake this man’s hand, give him a heartfelt hug, or at least speak with him, the closest I did was by way of one email years ago.  (Of which his reply also happens to be posted on his website, at the end of one of his papers that touches the subject I had wrote him about)

Since I was a child growing up, I was raised under the Christian religion, in particular a denomination known as United Pentecostal (and then we migrated into Apostolic traditions), all of the sects of Christianity which embrace an exclusivity theology that is next to none in it’s power and scope to utterly weaken salvation’s scope and power;of course I didn’t realize it then, but I realize now thanks to L. Ray Smith’s study and writings, that the one thing they have in common (all denominations in fact), is that virtually none of them teach the “Good News” (aka:  the word ‘Gospel’  means “Good news”) – a shocking and revelatory discovery for me about 8-9 years ago when I stumbled on L. Ray Smith’s articles “The Lake of Fire” on his straight-forward and very ironically named (for its sheer accuracy) website:  http://www.bible-truths.com

I was struggling with the concept I had grown up with that eternal hell is somehow a justified response against so many people, so many fathers, so many sons, daughters, mothers, grandparents, etc…so many people who have never heard about God, or for the many who had grown up with all the cards stacked against them in life, already living a hell on earth, etc…

Even though GOSPEL means good news and all churches claim to teach this; all of them actually teach really, really, really CRAPPY news, but they call it “GOOD”… Now, let’s face it, if being rescued from some hell fire-pit is only going to happen for your club…for your exclusive gathering, for a mere handful, but the overwhelming masses get the worse news POSSIBLE, even defying the imagination in how dreadful it is, then something is severely wrong.  This is a fate we are told more awful for a person to  experience than any death you can imagine, even the most twisted, slow and torturous death…even if that same awful death were repeated somehow millions of times…it wouldn’t diminish the duration of eternity by one second…and to have this happen 1 million times ONLY would be like a vacation to Hawaii in comparison to the depraved Godless punishment they teach, AND TO THEM THIS IS “GOOD NEWS”!! – they figured it out after-all and THEY get to avoid such a fate, so TO HELL WITH EVERYONE ELSE!

What do I say about this? I say it’s a blatantly blasphemous, spit-in-God’s face twisting of the very concept of what “Good News” means – It reveals the real “spirit” (“another spirit”) behind such a doctrine if you meditate on it for more than a few minutes (as painful as thinking about this subject truly is, most people DON’T seriously think about it), but how many really care to study that hard? they’d rather proclaim God’s love with a smile and phony pat on the back nonetheless, right before they push you into the fire them-self with a self-righteous chuckle if you don’t succumb to their specific “rituals”.

   They teach an all-powerful and loving God who commands you to LOVE your own enemies (YES!), so that this same God can torture his own later for all eternity. (No!)

What would compel Him to do such a painful thing to a person?  Because your hair is too long, man.  Because your dress is too short, lady.  Because you wear too much makeup, lady. Because you wear pants and not dresses, lady.  Because you smoke and drink, and you dance.  Because you didn’t do Step A & B & C, only A & B! – OOPS!:  Because:  insert any arbitrary thing a loving mother or father wouldn’t blink an eyelash against, but rest assured God will eternally condemn you for it beyond your worse imagination nonetheless.

As Ray was fond of expressing ‘WHAT A CROCK!”

How could this lone retired roofer, suffering from severe bone cancer, no doubt well studied in his research, and taking his articles seriously, but not formally educated by the religious “elite” KNOW more about what is actually being expressed in the Bible than all of these churches do?  More than all of these “holier than thou” loud mouths claiming to know the very mind and heart of God and the depth of his Love, while condemning the souls of the vast majority of mankind in the next breath to perpetual torture?  How could this paper “the Lake of Fire” change my life so profoundly, utterly removing within me the soul-crushing, hate-generating (toward others) belief in hell/eternal punishment, instilled in me since I was a small child, terrified of the thought (as a person should be righteously repulsed against such an evil depraved concept) that God would even bother to create so many to suffer FOREVER if He knew for a fact that they would fail so badly, how much more merciful to not create at all!  – Certainly this grand debunk of Hell and eternal judgment wouldn’t come from retired roofer L. Ray Smith in Alabama, but rather by way of some religious expert, earning his many degrees, aloft somewhere in an ivory tower, adored by a huge following, rich in the world by virtue of his mighty spiritual mind…BLAH!  Have these great educated religious fools forgotten the sort of people Christ chose to follow him in their own teachings?  A tax collector, a tent-maker, a fisher-man, etc…lead by a Carpenter, spurning and defying all of the religious leaders of His day! HELLO!? Are the “high and lofty” soooo blind?  YES, they are.  OH yes, they reeeeeeeally are.

Consider this:  there are too many “Christians” teaching too many different things from a single book (translated into hundreds of different Bibles), and there are literally thousands of denominations of Christianity and every single one of them believes they are the “correct” one, that they have it right!  Naturally.  How rewarding and sensible it was to come to the conclusion that THEY ARE ALL WRONG, and in some very, very fundamental ways.  “We agree on the essentials, and disagree on the non-essentials” has 0 scriptural bases in every Bible, even though this is a  common excuse given for so many denominations:  being of ONE MIND, ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT  is taught in the Bible and not a single official “denomination” has managed to do this.  NOT ONE.  It’s the same broad mix of inaccuracies in doctrine and conflict with every other doctrine, all resting on creeds that are 90-95% unscriptural in the first place or by clinging to a single English translation as an IDOL.  (EX: too bad for the many countries without a KJV English Bible, or for everyone in the world before 1611! I guess you are all screwed.)  – Nonsense!

L. Ray Smith, I celebrate your life, even as I mourn your death.  I celebrate your direct and non-apologetically non-conformist expression of your scriptural knowledge, even if so many of it offends the multitude of “Christians” out there.  I celebrate your bluntness and your candor and your dry hilarious sense of humor with it all.  I celebrate your humility in the way you lived your life and expected others to live, despite the biting use of some (well placed and justified) sarcasm, when you took to heart “answering a fool according to his folly” to a degree of perfection I’ve never seen.

Thank you L. Ray Smith for actually studying scripture and writing that paper years ago, and helping me attain the level of deep peace that only comes from knowing there is a greater GOD out there than the popular fast-food Christendom’s tyrannical one, their god who is too impotent to actually make a PLAN A and follow through with it to perfection (but rather has to make a plan B to patch it all up as best He can manage…nonsense!)…I know that GOD is NOT motivated by the petty desires of human pride, hatred and selfishness, and so the desire to say “I TOLD YOU SO” in the end (when it matters most) simply doesn’t exist in Him…nor is GOD motivated by the amount of money in our pocketbooks (Note: L. Ray Smith never demanded a cent, he believed in freely giving, as he freely received, and even taught against tithing as an unscriptural doctrine)

You will be sorely missed L. Ray Smith.  You truly were a city on a hill, and a light shining in the darkness.  God speed you home Brother.

– Brett Strobridge