Questions from Atheism 1:1 (Genesis 1:1-4)

Ken Ham’s “Answers in Genesis” inspires a counter idea in me. If Ham’s fundamentalist Christianity claims to offer definite answers to all the “big questions” such as “how did we come into existence, or “what happens when we die,” then I will offer clear and specific questions and skepticism to fundamentalist Christianity.
For this particular article, I will consider the following passages from Genesis 1:1-4: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (biblegateway.com) In this passage that claims God created matter I ask where God fits into a much simpler scientific phenomenon like a combustion reaction. Could scientists measure and verify God as an agent or participant in a combustion reaction?

My first question: What answers does Genesis actually provide? While Genesis does mention that the earth came into existence,does saying “God did it” actually give us an answer; or does that answer shut down all further inquiry? Sure, we could say “God did it” and then use the scientific method in physics and chemistry to explore how God did it, but there are possible complications if we assume God exists without first measuring or verifying his existence.

If we say God did it, and then say science figures out how God, for example, willed us into being, how do we measure God? Both physicists and chemists base their data on calculations and measurements and conclude their results from that calculated and measured data. How does a finite being like a scientist measure an infinite being like God? With the example of fire, or a combustion reaction, one answer could be that God can be equated to a given or an assumption, like all combustion reactions in nature happen in air unless otherwise noted. For this discussion, air is the chemical mixture composed of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, argon, and carbon dioxide. (About.com, http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryfaqs/f/aircomposition.htm)
A problem with comparing God to air as an assumption is that air can be measured and verified by scientists all over the world. The different scientists that do fire experiments will not spend any time debating what air is. Unlike air, God cannot be tested through experimentation which makes God problematic as a part of the given conditions. What one scientist assumes about what God is or is not may contradict what another scientist claims God is. Without verifiable measurement, the scientists would be debating the God-given at length, nullifying the universal applicability of the assumption, and thus nullifying the assumption.

A more general problem with God’s immeasurable and unverifiable presence in scientific phenomenon is questioning God’s interaction in these natural events. If we assume the God-given in combustion but cannot measure or verify God’s action in this reaction, then how can we know if God is actually a part of the phenomenon? The “God did it” answer turns to a “how do we measure and verify God’s interaction in combustion” question in chemistry and physics. Scientists can agree upon and verify air’s existence and measure how much a specific reaction consumes; and as a result, they can discern how air interacts with combustion before, during and after it happens.

“God did it” or “God willed it to be” is not an answer; it only raises more questions. How can a scientist measure God in simple, combustion reactions if God is an immeasurable assumption? Scientists would consume their time with debating God’s exact role in combustion as well what they can and cannot assume what God is. Air, though invisible like God, can be measured and thus verified. Contemporary scientists spend little or no time measuring and verifying air in combustion reactions. Unlike God, air is quantifiable, and verifiably functional. Though the specific theoretical mechanisms of air’s participation in combustion reactions may raise debate, each scientist would have experimental data, documentation, and test data that they could physically and visually share with their colleagues. The God-given assumption works on a non-physical and visual called faith. Air’s existence and participation in scientific phenomenon doesn’t require faith, just verification. Air, not God, works as a given condition in a simple combustion reaction. If scientists can’t measure or verify God in something as simple as fire, how God could exist, participate, or cause the heaven’s and the earth to come into existence? How could a non-existent and immeasurable being interact with existent and measurable phenomenon? That is the question for the next article.

Her Savage Orange Shape

It isn’t your face that always inspires me;
it’s the oceans I imagine your soul sailing
when your heart storms in passion.

It isn’t your shape
walking in a short skirt;
it’s your back
fitting with my front.
I wake up unrested
yet happy next to you.

You’re more than a muse
that makes me scratch the itch
a poet gets when I bubble think love.

Your blue eyes open
the nimbus canopy
in the imagined love land.
Bird songs and jazz guitar chords
pulse the wind
and trees play their brush tops
and snare the autumn gusts.

I curl my pen to carve out
our home in that land.
Strong shouldered walls
standing firm in the jazz wind.
Our night sky runs
savage orange
before the close of day.

You turned into fire when I kissed you.
My denial kisses me back now,
puckers its lips,
and blows on the candle
I write this poem by.
The flames still consume me
when I open my mouth
with your name.

4.11.10

Copyright 2010

One Time

When we have no second life,
only one that wakes us in the morning,
is the same one in the afternoon
and the evening; when we finally
rest.

All the second chances
happen with skin and bone,
covering muscle and the soft heart
Life’s harsh light won’t blind us,
we’ll only feel warmth of blood that breaths,
not a ghostly wind from nowhere.

Here now, the bridge wobbles,
the teeth grow crooked
and the roots twist wildly:
While the flower lives;
until the flowers dies.

When beauty fades,
we remember beauty,
awhile. But as water
evaporates in the sun;
all that’s natural parishes.

It’s our pathology of perfection:
pressing petals into scrap books
past the age of 10,
that chokes life
away from growth–not the sun,
that wilts the beautiful petals
in due time.

end part 1

Hi, I’m an atheist. “I’m beginning to see the light”

Religion is my favorite drug.

If I punctuate my spiritual experiences, nine of the plethora stands out.

1. At 10, I was born-again. Jimmy Swaggart, on the television, asked the viewing audience if we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Out loud, I said yes.

2. At 15, I felt an indwelling of the holy spirit on a youth group retreat. I lead a prayer circle on the annual Faith Ranch retreat.

3. At 21, on March 29, 1995, I hit my knees that morning and asked God to keep me sober that day. (I still haven’t drank or used drugs again.)

4. At 23, while walking in the sunshine in Levittown, NY, I recognized that all things were Buddha. (I still don’t know what this means.)

5. At 31, while working at John Morrell in the meat lab, I envisioned that I could unite all Christians and began preaching out loud to no one. This event lasted 15
minutes. (I talk out when alone. If I can hear something, I can usually figure it out.)

6. At 33, under heavy medication’s supervision, I had my last Christ experience. I even looked into going to Seminary.

7. At 34, in September of 2007, I went to Pittsburgh to visit Randy Miyan. He helped me detoxify my body of all the medicine I was on. Randy and I hiked for what felt like 8 hours. I saw God in the light and patterns in nature. (I have been off of meds for 2 years and 3 months.)

8. On December 24, 2007, I fully realized that the Bible authors fabricated a bulk of the stories. That was the day that I realized I was not a Christian. Just a year earlier, I started to analyze and critique the four creation myths of Genesis 1:1.

9. This is where the story starts.

In November of 2009, while raising out of bed to go meet Professor Kamholtz about graduate school, I asked myself a question inside my head. The question was so simple; it’s laughable now. “Do you REALLY believe in God, other than when you asking him to save your ass?” In my head I replied, “No”. Prior to this last nail in the coffin of personal theism, I had realized that to believe in God required faith and sincere belief.

Some gain faith from sudden, spiritual experiences that permanently transform their inner beings. The other variety of spiritual experience originates in reading inspirational literature and letting the “logic” of God slowly unfold over a period of time. According to Henry James, this is the educational variety of spiritual experience. In my experience, it’s the same way I realized I wasn’t spiritual. It’s James’ latter variety that unfolded to demonstrate that I was an atheist. But I am not the only one who figured it out. Randy, the guy from number 7, confronted me in September of 2009.

He apprised me of the fact that I never really hit bottom–and not spiritual. In the last part of November of 2009, I finally admitted what another person knew. And truly I tell you: I don’t believe in God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, Mohammed, Buddha, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Karma, Krishna, Horus, Elijah, Moses, Angels, Demons, Satan, Crystals, Ghosts, Superstitions, a soul, a spirit or chakras.

Well…chakras represent “energy centers”. These energy centers metaphorically relate to colors and particular dimensions of one’s own personality. Chakras provide an excellent guided visualization tool in my experience. But I don’t ‘believe’ in them. It took me a while to believe and know I was an atheist–I’m bad at believing. So, I confess: I was a chakra con. I professed spiritual beliefs I hoped were true for me.

Or as my buddy Dolf likes to say: “…blasphemy is a victimless ‘crime’.” Victimless indeed.

(End of Part 1)

There’s No Rider Here

The hay shreds fall slant
like snow on the dirt
of the barn.
The wind rustles broken saddles
kicking its feet in the
stirrups.

He darkly fits his words around the reins.
Big fists sweat verbs:
spur. ride. whip.
Who is dark horse
without this?

His boots bounce
on her flanks.
The planks underneath
bend under damp and midnight.
Her back hits his thighs;
his legs blush black.
Who is dark horse
without this?

The fire between moments;
the smoke and ash erupts
as they both jump together.
Who is dark horse
without this?

Copyright 2010

Village Life (part 1)

We are the sun bell.
The striker shines
no mirroring eyes;
the eager shadows
push us up.

Wait for the high bell
to fall close shadows.
It tolls lunch-bug chatter,
or sings tiny
in cubicles.

Dodge the knife bell*.
The pause rings its hands,
bunches and cuts
the curtain into black.

Her long legs stream
across the stage,
and flex soft light.

Her bare feet spread
a weight less cadence,
we zombie dance
and close the shutters.

Softly knock the sides
and see:
what we latched,
and what we breathed.

*”The Knife Bell” is a lyric phrase from Brian Eno’s composition “This”: copyright 2006

Garrett J. Cummins Copyright 2009

Year End Thanks 2009

When he writes, he feels quite a bit better about the whole thing.

About 30 seconds before “Auld Ang Syne” played, I exited the church where the dance was. I didn’t want the reminder that, again for the 3rd year in row, I was not going to kiss some beautiful woman who I loved. Truth is, it’s one of the few traditions I abide with.

Not having someone to kiss at that moment, when it’s expected, reminds me of something. It reminds me that I can expect to NOT kiss some beautiful woman in the near future. This fact does not transmit happiness to my heart. So, I leave the building. Fortunately, 2009, with or without a woman by my side, was amazing–particularly Thanksgiving in Chicago.

My middle brother, Josh Selsby and his beautiful wife, Erin Selsby, had a sweet but active baby girl, Carley Taylor, on July 7th, 2009. The summer was even brighter for that news. My step dad, Errol, was beaming for at least 3 months after her birth. Every time I talked to him, he would bring that beautiful little girl up. I finally got to meet Josh and Erin’s daughter at Thanksgiving in Chicago. She was very well-behaved at our public dinners. According to my brother and sister-in-law, she DID NOT act to that accord in the hotel room at nap and bed time. All the same, they kept a cheerful countenance and presence. I don’t know if I could ever capture, with words or pictures, the kind and amount of love I saw in their eyes for that child; it is a marvel that better understood when personally beheld.

Of course, Molly Selsby, baby brother Adam’s wife, made a meal that further lined Thanksgiving with the silver of culinary mastery and artistry. I have never eaten Thanksgiving food that tasted like the gourmet food pictures look in magazines. My assessment: Molly’s genius made rutabagas and parsnips delicious. Additionally, I think there was about 3 desserts after the 110 course-a-copia she put on. Her father, Bill Pomietlasz, helped out quite a bit: running and being the second pair of nostrils and eyes to assist her.

Her little brother, John Pomietlasz, wrote more extensively about her food and the other delicacies he consumed at saintcleveland.com. Conversing with him and reading his reading was both stimulating and humbling. His verbal voice demonstrates eloquence, simplicity, and calm readability. The rest of the family’s company, conversation and general friendliness was a well-needed bring from my usual life of academic rigors.

Considering my academic life, I did incredibly well in school in 2009. I could go on to describe all the different accomplishments my efforts, work and achievements afforded me. Instead I will thank a few people for being there along way to encourage and support me at regular intervals. Thanks to: Randy, Hunter, and Elsie Miyan, Errol and Linda Selsby, Joshua and Adam Selsby, David Selsby, Lee Williams, Anne Tull, Kari Solomon, Chad Lapp, James Van Mil, Jeff Crawford, William Lindesmith, Robin Goad, Tyler Games, Tate Seimer, Rob Horton, Randolf Lewis, Gary and Barbara Cummins, Kristin Johnson; Professors Stanley Corkin, William Godshalk, Jennifer Glaser, Russel Durst, Evan Griffin, Jonathan Kamholtz, Sheri Allen, and Tamar Heller; and Jaye (Jessica) Kosman. Without these people being there to share in the joys and travails that academic writing has brought me; it would have been meaningless.

When I started out this entry, I had no one to kiss at midnight; January 1st, 2010. Instead, I have many people in my life who impact me daily by their presence or what they do for others. I wonder if the guy or girl who had lips to meet at midnight can say the same?

How Trees Became Spiders: A Summary

A green-thumbed thinker,
my father sprouted joy
by talking about the petal numbers, the seed shapes and the leaf patterns.

A green-thumbed thinker,
his books grew by the Laz-E-Boy
and on the shelves. They ripened when I reached for them
and fell into the holes I inherited.

For years, our conversations
only budded in my head. The leaves soon turned.

The words evolved
then crawled under and over, every sharp letter,
on the boy webbed in the corners, often cut down to shatter.

My mother had wrapped herself
in a study schedule and arms of gossamer men:
a divorced student, counseling the dying,
but denying her little fly was rotting.

Her nights caught her on the couch
she was breathing and tangled with closed eyes.
In my bed, the quite pills kept me awake with loud, gnashing fangs.

After rolling in sticky sleep,
the mornings with a stove-fan dawn
made the tangles shine into the shape of a family.

His neatly folded, tent napkins,
and country clubs were not made for tumble-over boys.
Under the table, my hands would creep into guitar chords on my trouser legs.

His four star, diamond parade–
her origins. Barb’s purse had thick strings.
She only cut him from the twine when he reached for me.

My second wife:
her first strings felt like warm palms
blanketing my cold-flushed cheeks in my first, single winter.

My soft Melissa,
as strong as a fly could walk on,
covered our homes with alphabetical, book shelves,
spread-sheet shopping lists,
and scheduled sex.

In our mornings,
I fell loosely out of bed,
into the cramped study,
spinning songs,
while her eight eyes saw past that room,
weaving a plan without me.

When she asked me to leave her nest
my original corners, still frosted in brittle silk
found me stuck in my mother’s house with a dying mind.

My heart-cage shaking
and hinging its door over the spanning shadows,
my footsteps echo its swinging rhythm,
walking on bitten and bleeding soles.

Copyright 2009

The Bender

There was a young strummer in the summer suburbs

My strings spoke under the night
the moon talked with my mouth at school.

two kids talk close in class
in day time’s adolescent lisp.

caesura*

caesura for
the song I heard between the stars.

The red-shift brimmed as the sun
fell orange on the sky.

The slow, fire-notes hummed until they
wailed.

My act
a red, diamond-throated string bends
where your words pulled me
on the phone audition.

“I love the way you play”.
Your act: a jest
I hadn’t heard you laughing over the notes.

The night-rain, the silent moon, your light less windows
pull back the curtain.

Even with the wet applause,
I didn’t get the punch-line.
Just a hook cruelly bent.

An encore before the blues.

*Musical term for “pause”.

Copyright 2009

Thermoduck

The sky spreads warm marmalade
and fractures red.
We scoop the orange with glow-wood
while we watch you lift from the dark pond.

Maybe Pop and I could throw
our fragile boxes,
packed with old daggers,
in the water this time.

Your wings slap the sky too soon.
We sit fading by the embers,
and can’t thaw the frost
biting between us.

Copyright 2009