Friday, April 20, 2012

Satan Did Not Make Me Do It!

I truly believe in my heart that what I'm doing (blogging) is a morally good thing to do.  I'm not so arrogant as to believe that I'm somehow preaching the word of truth to otherwise ignorant persons, but engaging in these discussions and expressing my views and opinions is a good thing.  So if I so believe in it, why did I stop?

Well, the answer is that I'm a lazy son of a bitch.  I really have had no damn good reason for not writing.  I mean hell, Lent is over so I can pretty much say whatever the fuck I want.  I didn't write because I just didn't feel like expending a lot of brain power.

That's right.  I, Jack Camwell, am a flawed human being who is just naturally lazy.  I succumb to my slothful proclivities more often than not, and who's to blame?  Me.

I made the mistake of mocking Silverfiddle's belief in Satan.  I don't know why I chose that route, but I did.  Perhaps it's just because even the notion of Satan really annoys me, but still, I should have went about it in a much more constructive way.  I think that what I wrote immediately after the mockery was constructive, but anything efficacious gets lost when you act like a jack-ass.

Satan can't make me do anything, but
this chick probably could.

So let's have a serious discussion about Satan.  I straight up do not believe that Satan exists.  Sure, one can say that if I believe in a force of ultimate goodness (God), then it would stand to reason that God's opposite could possibly exist: a force of ultimate evil.  But the conception of Satan is that he actively enacts his will on human beings.  Satan supposedly tempts us to sin.  I think the explanation for awful human behavior does not have anything to do with the supernatural.

First of all, how does Satan tempt us?  Does Satan put thoughts into our head?  Am I to believe that it's the temptation of Satan every time I lust after a fine-ass woman I see?  Well, no.  My lust is a direct result of my hormones, just as is everyone's sexual attraction.  When I was younger, I solved a lot of problems with my younger brothers through violence.  Was it Satan that pushed me to beat my younger brothers when they pissed me off?  Nope.  I beat them because I can be a hot head.

The thing is that our desires are based on physiological processes.  Our brain chemistry is what causes us to lust.  It's what causes us to crave excessive amounts of food.  It's what contributes to anger, lying, and a propensity to violence.  This is science.  Human behavior and personality is largely determined by brain chemistry.  This is not in dispute by anyone that has any inkling about how the human brain works.

So that eliminates the notion that Satan somehow puts those bad desires in us, if that's what you think "temptation," is.  Well, if temptation isn't internal, then is it external?

If I am a glutton and I see a piece of cake at the store, that cake is a temptation.  I have a strong desire to eat that cake.  If Satan is at the bottom of all temptation, then does that mean that Satan somehow baked that cake and magically manifested that slice in front of my eyes?  No, the baker made it.  Did Satan somehow guide me to the store and make me see it?  No, I was probably at the store to buy groceries anyway and the cake happened to be there.

What was that movie where Silvester Stalone beats some
guy in an arm wrestling match?
Hopefully you see where this is going.  We know that desire comes from our brains, and we know that Satan didn't create everything in existence on this planet (since just about anything can be some type of temptation to someone, somewhere).  So why do we think Satan exists?

Well, Satan doesn't exist.  We humans are frail, and we all have a little darkness in us.  We all carry with us weaknesses and character flaws, and some of us are not very good at resisting the urge to do bad things.  So I don't blame Satan and his temptation for my lack of writing, I blame myself.  I think we can safely call this particular attitude "personal responsibility."

That's right, I take full responsibility for how badly a shit human being I can be.  Everyone should take responsibility for their actions.  Placing the blame on Satan is an attempt to remove some (not all) culpability.  Satan is a tool for people who still believe that human beings are basically "good."  We're not.  We're pretty awful, and it's only through discipline and determination that we conquer our individual darkness.

"Personal responsibility," is not just a catchy political catch-phrase.  It's a way of thinking.


Anonymous said...

Jackie, the Sly movie is called "Over the top".

As I am Agnostic, I pretty much agree with all you wrote. I would like to add however that homo sapiens were tribal based hunter-gatherers for tens of thousands of years. Just like canines of all varieties will circle around an area before they lay down, some of our tendencies are genetic.

We started out as packs of humans killing for survival. There was no agriculture, there were no domesticated animals. Imagine being thrust into a world where all you can ever hope to do is make friction fires and use the most primitive of tools, not to mention only communicate effectively with few dozen people. Do you think living in a world like that would really be non-violent?

So I feel that the concept of the serpent tainting humanity is nothing more than the observation of tribal tendencies.

That being said, I do believe that people cannot blame genetics for everything. We are far far beyond the point where we are not in control. I choose the high-road alot, and oft-times it is to my disservice to do so. Helping people out, trying to solve problems, not looking for much in return... that is basically the way I try to live. For most people it is a conscious choice to be a destructive, manipulative, or greedy person, oft-times to their benefit.

Think about it =p

manapp99 said...

Having vacillated between wholeheartedly believing in God and Satan to believing neither exists I have reached the conclusion (for now at least) that we just do not have enough information to know the truth. In some quantum physic theories the idea that all is a product of perception would allow for them to exists and at the same time not exist depending on your POV. The idea being reality is a product of perception and varies with individual perception. Individual what? You ask. I don't know. Again not enough information. But the theory allows for each perception to be correct and at the same time incorrect. I feel that if there is indeed a God, his counterpart Satan and a judgement day then I will have to stand before the ultimate court and plead no contest. If there is a God that is all omnipotent then he/she could surely clear all of this up with a message that all could see and hear and erase all doubt. The fact that he/she chooses not or allegedly buries the "truth" in something as flawed and cryptic as the bible or just can't means that I should not be held in account for my inability to discern the truth. Look at how many people that accept the same God differ on which vehicle (or religion) is the real one that delivers you to heaven. There is clearly too much evidence that religion is a man made vehicle more intended to control the masses and is much more aligned with political parties than a search party for the truth. So it is impossible to truly believe the gaggle of people who knock on your door on Saturday morning selling their version of the "truth". There very well may be existence after corporal death but it is looking more and more like I will just have to wait and see...or not as the case may be. I will do my best to report back to this blog site with an exclusive when the time comes though.

Jersey McJones said...

The mythology of Satan, in the Abrahamic religions, is actually quite an interesting metaphor. Satan is an angel who can not accept the position man in the eyes of God, basically Satan loves God too much! There are many ways of looking at this, but I always understood it to mean that one should be humanistic - that Satan was the epitome of anti-humanism.


Silverfiddle said...

Like "proving" God, proving Satan exists is not possible beyond anecdotal and historical data, so logic doesn't really enter in.

If one is a Christian and believes what's in the Bible, the that's enough. If one doesn't, then why worry about it?

Also, the Bible makes clear that Satan doesn't "Make" anyone do anything, just as temptation doesn't make you do it. We are human beings with the grace of God at our disposal and we have free will to choose.

And the physiology you describe is just that. It is how things work, not why.

Good topic though. I hope you understand I don't take any offense at your comments.

KP said...

We cannot blame genetics for everything. We can influence genetic expression sometimes. Others, not at all.

Science has proven that sexual chracteristics are given and that there are gray areas. I am a man. Period. However, I am a responder in the gym. Others respond very little no matter how hard they work.

Some of us are in more control than others in some areas and in less control in others. Consider physical strength or IQ. You may be able to develop additional strength via a well thought out, focused exercise regimen; but your gains will be more or less than another who is less gifted in that regard on the same program. Similarly, a brilliant man or woman may earn a PhD but the level of effort it takes him to accomplish that task compared to another who is less gifted is significant. Why would we consider that emotional control is any less tied to a similar spectrum?

Helping others, having empathy, trying to solve problems without any return is man's best known tool (outside drug medical intervention) to positively affect and control the dark side within us. So, it is not without return. We gain inner peace and strength.

Similarly, prayer is right up there. All 12 step programs focus on personal humility and giving to others as a way to move us along the spectrum from lesser control toward additional control.

If a person has never felt a real lack of control it would follow that it would be very hard to understand the difficulty it can pose. Talking about it is like trying to rationalize with a person who has an eating disorder.

The disorder is not rational and does not respond to rational conversation. Saying "shake yourself" doesn't work. In my view, it is critical we attempt to understand how much emotional pain a person with lack of control due to the way her brain is wired, experiences.

Why does one young boy like other boys? Perhaps he is gay. Why does one child suffer severe fatigue? It is possible he has leukemia. Why is a child afraid to walk through a door or scared shitless in a crowd? Maybe he has Asperger syndrome.

We do what we can to move along the spectrum. In some areas we can significantly move the needle; in others, less so, and some not at all.

Doing the work, may be a choice if you are an alcoholic, even then failure rate is near 95%. That ethic won’t work so well if you are gay. If you are mildly clinically depressed you might benefit from exercise and diet changes. But if you are on the bad end of that spectrum you are probably going to benefit from medical intervention.

Anonymous said...

KP, I was mainly talking about the whole satan business, but you raise a couple of interesting points.

I feel there is a very real disconnect between our physical and emotional "genetics" or "instinct". For the most part, I believe the emotional aspect is formed early on in your life by your environment. Unlike the Silver Foxes they raise in Siberia we have the ability to overwhelm our emotional instincts through sheer force of will. Perhaps Willpower itself is genetic though, so we could argue that point forever.

As far as trying to control our dark side by helping people... I will buy that to a certain extent. In my case it is very difficult for me to connect with people and to build even simple friendships. In my teens it was this mechanism I used to "try to get people to like me" and it worked! Most of my best friends I met this way. Over time though, I realized that most people would take advantage of me for as long as I allowed it, so these days I help people just because it is the right thing to do. I find that not expecting anything in return makes it easier to not be disappointed in people as much, sort of the reverse of the "aim high" mantra a lot of people use. I simply say to myself "what is the worst that can happen, what is the best that can happen, and based upon what I know... what do I think will happen."

Good stuff sir.

Jack Camwell said...

Why worry about it Silver?

Because people use Satan as a way of denying their true nature as shit human beings. This goes beyond people who may blame Satan for their actions. The pschology of it is much deeper than that.

Some people don't want to believe that good human beings are actually not so good deep down.

The Bible also says that at one point there were only two people on the planet and that they somehow gave birth to all of humanity. It also says that Noah lived to be like 800 years old.

And according to Bible chronology, the earth is only like 5,000ish years old.

Jersey McJones said...

Oh, and Jack, I know it's late, but I hope you read this (I just got off work): I really wish you'd stop with the pics of scantily clad broads.

As a married man, but also as someone who just detests crass marketing, I find it uncomfortable to have your blog up on my PC with those sorts of pics.

I'm sorry if that was harsh, politically correct (or incorrect?), or puritanical. It's just the way I feel and I need to convey it.

I love blogging with you and I hate to have to sometimes ignore your blog because as I sit in my living room I'd rather people didn't see me with pics of scantily clad broads on my PC.

Maybe I'm just being self-conscious, prude, defensive?

I don't know.

But hey, look at it this way - imagine I had a curious 5 year old child asking me about my blog debates, standing at my side? How would I explain these pictures?


Silverfiddle said...

Jack: If you're going after the "It's not my fault. The devil made me do it!" people, then I'm on your side.

God gave us free will and a brain. Some can't handle it, and all of us have monsters in our nature lurking just below the surface.

Silverfiddle said...

@ Anon: Over time though, I realized that most people would take advantage of me for as long as I allowed it, so these days I help people just because it is the right thing to do.

People are bastards, and I include myself in that gross over-generalization. That is why true friendship and true love are so rare.

What KP said and you followed up with is the true balm for the soul. Unselfishly helping others with no expectation of reward takes the "me" out of it. I've seen various studies that correlate self-absorption with unhappiness, and focus on others with happiness.

Just a thought...

Jack Camwell said...

No Jersey, you're not being a prude. I understand.

As a compromise, I'll only post pictures of scantily clad women on holidays, as is my usual custom. That way, you'll only have to avoid my blog a couple days out of the year, and that would be fine considering I rarely post any substantial content on holidays anyway.

However, if I write an article about human sexuality, as I am occasionaly wont to do, I might not be able to help myself.

Is this a reasonable accommodation?

Jersey McJones said...

More than reasonable! Thanks a million, Jack!


Anonymous said...

Which do you choose? One Is an evil, genocidal, self-righteous, soul-enslaving monster, the other is Satan

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