Roosters, Jesus & Imagination

Sabio, Petey and the gals

Sabio, Petey and the gals

The winter of 2012 was so cold that our rooster’s waddles got frostbitten. His bright, beautiful red wattles became dusky with large, shrinking patches of grey and black.  “Petey” no longer pranced and crowed so we kept him in our basement to nurture him back to health — measured by the return of a healthy “cock-a-doodle-doo!” But even then we’d only took Petey out during the day to be with his girls and we brought him in during the night when temperatures dropped. With all this tender love — carrying in and out of the cold, private feedings and keeping warm — Petey got used to us — he grew to love us more and was thankful. Petey longer threatened us when we were in his chicken pen (Roosters can be very territorial).

We protected Petey this winter too. He is a much tamer, loyal, friendly rooster. Well, until my wife wore her red tennis shoes out into the pen the other day and our sweet Petey attacked my wife’s feet.

Sabio_Daughter_dogsWe had imagined a relationship with Petey that did not exist. Well, it seemed a harmless imagined relationship and it was a cute story. And it is not just Petey with whom we assume human quality relationships. Here you see my daughter and I with our two dogs who love us unconditionally — yeah, right!

We imagine all sorts of human qualities in our animals until something shows us that it is not true. Likewise, many Theists have a “relationship” with their god until something in their life reveals that the relationship they imagined is inaccurate. They then either change their theology (re-imagine a new relationship) or stop playing the imaginary game. The choice depends on how important it is for them to continue imagining the relationship.

Question to Readers:  Tell us of an imagined relationship that you presently have — one that serves you well.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

30 responses to “Roosters, Jesus & Imagination

  1. Healthy looking chickens. I had hens 3 years ago, at my prior place. All my friends wondered why I never gave my hens names. I never saw chickens as pets. I saw them as farm animals that I cared for and that entertained me.

  2. Question, Scott: Have you now any imaginary relationships?

  3. No “imaginary” relationships. I gave those up when I stopped praying to gods and holy men. But, sometimes these days I talk to my bike, car, or computer as if it were a “being”. Usually when I’m frustrated at these things.

  4. Ah, no pets, no kids, no wife/partner? Just you and your machines? 🙂

  5. Earnest

    I have an imaginary relationship with my ancestor paintings in my house. I feel they watch me and offer approval when things are good, and encourage me to persevere when things are bad.

  6. @Earnest,
    Having seen your painting — the respect you have for your ancestors, I can see why. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Interesting post Sabio. When I was younger I had a very imaginary relationship with God. It seemed that I understood “him” and he would answer my prayers especially if I was good (quid pro quo). The Bible certainly promotes this idea at times. Today I still have an imaginary relationship with “God” but at least now I know its imaginary, at least in the sense that any conception I have of God can only come from what I can imagine. I do believe in a higher reality of some level but I constanlty endeavor to strip my limitations and expectations of what that might mean, while at the same time holding on to a humility that it might mean everything.

  8. hypercryptical

    Visited here for other reasons Sabio – so sure you would offer an opinion of same. How deluded I am. :o]
    Do I have an imagined relationship – one that serves me well? Oh yes I do – and how it serves me well!
    Not with God or ‘a’ God – well perhaps he might be…
    Anna :o]

  9. @ Christian Evolution,
    Thanx for sharing. After leaving Christianity, I never jumped into the “Higher Reality” option, because I was OK with reality in all its splendor and horror. 🙂
    Question: Do you believe your Higher Reality cares for your well being?

    @hypecryptical: Sorry, didn’t follow any of that.

  10. @ Sabio

    Re: Your question: I dont know… do you?

    Re: Being ok with reality: So am I, but I am also open to exploring it in its entirety without cutting out possibilities until they’re proven otherwise.

  11. Christian Evolution,

    First, I already told you I don’t think about “Higher Reality”, so why would you reflect the question back to me. But point being, you aren’t sure if the universe cares about you. — Well, I see evidence over and over that it doesn’t — no higher power does, so there is no reason to keep exploring that issue.

    I’m open, but also discerning. There is the openness of an explorer who checks and rechecks and tests. Then there is the openness to the hippie on acid for whom everything is cool – starry eyed and wandering without direction.

    This is a classic discussion, however, hope you realize that. It has not, and can not, be proven that all things always fall with gravity, but I wager in your life, you act like you have “cut out the possibility” that they can.

  12. Hey Sabio.

    Re: Do I believe in Gravity? Yes. Do I believe in unicorns or FSM’s? No. I agree there’s such a thing as enough degree of evidence to conclude plenty of things.

    Re: God caring about us. Does it seem like it when we see starving kids in Africa, or weird bacteria and virus types, or brutal evolutionary processes? I’m with you, it doesn’t seem like it based on that. Does that = no higher realtiy? No. It just means reality may not meet our expectations.

    Maybe “God” went on vacation 4B years ago and hasn’t gotten back yet. Maybe “he” forgot about us. Maybe everything we can conceive about a God / Higher Reality – or expect of it – is a million percent wrong. Who knows….. Neither of us, that’s for sure. Universes, multiverses, and metaphysaverses still leave a lot to explore.

    The only difference between us is our hermeneutic of reality. I see evidence to suggest that it’s more possible than not, so I remain open to exploring it. You don’t. That’s cool dude.

    So with that, should I still read your blog and answer your “questions to readers” or does my view stress you out too much to deal with?

  13. @ Christian Evolution,
    Let’s see if we can get somewhere here.
    First, your views don’t stress me out in the least, but I will always challenge when I wonder. So if that stresses you out, best not to comment here.

    I am glad that we agree when you said, “ I agree there’s such a thing as enough degree of evidence to conclude plenty of things.”

    And you seem to agree that looking at everyday life and history we have no evidence of any gods or spirits caring for us.

    Then you say, “ I agree there’s such a thing as enough degree of evidence to conclude plenty of things.”

    Ya know, I don’t care if you use the phrase “higher reality” or believe in it. Especially because it can wiggle out of any expectation and thus is meaningless to me.

    Tell me if you have ANY evidence for a “higher reality” such that it changes anything you do differently than me that matters?

    We may not have a different “hermeneutic of reality” — instead, we may very differently invested in words and expressions. But we don’t know yet without careful operational definitions and such.

  14. @ Sabio A couple answers and clarifications. First one that you will like is my agreement that my “higher reality” is vague enough to hardly be pinned down. But I do have views and “beliefs.” At the end of the day we’re both playing an odds game. True, you have the advantage because the burden of proof is on me to create reasonable doubt in your position, and you can sit back and say “where’s your proof” … so I accept that. I cannot prove there IS a god but I can come to a reasonable enough (woo woo free) conclusion to explore it and employ a little faith to see where it leads.

    And to be clear, I have no interest whatsoever to convert you to my way of thinking. My only interest in changing (some) atheists is to stop calling anyone who employ’s any bit of “faith” or open mindedness to exploration a higher reality, an idiot, or weak, or scared, or lesser than you, or delusional (and I’m not accusing you of that).

    Also, I would argue that human beings are not all carbon copies (or all super intelligent) and for some their time in “lower” worldviews has legitimacy as part of their path. I think we both share the passion that some lower realities can be very dangerous (such as fundamental forms) and we have to reach out to break those paradigms if our world is to survive.

    Also, to one of your points, I wouldn’t say we have “no” evidence of any “god” caring for us. For all we know the simple fact that we’re here and our heart beats is evidence that we’re cared for, but we don’t have much criteria to come to conclusions on that evidence….that’s where we’re stuck.

    You asked if I have “evidence” – and I have enough evidence to convince me that a “higher reality” very well could exist. And it’s enough to create reasonable doubt (for me anyway) to throw the “strong atheist” case out of court for now and continue seeking. I have it typed up in a blog post that I haven’t yet published. I’ll look at it later or tomorrow and see if I can clean it up and publish it, and then share the link with you. If you think it has any validity whatsoever would you be open to sharing it with your following to get some opinions?

    Sorry that was so long mate.

  15. @ CE,
    Well, give me one personal example about how your Higher Power (HP) cares for you personally, and it will help the conversation. If you only say the HP gives you a heart beat, then I will simply yawn and say, “His HP is meaningless.” and move on. You’ve got to be giving your HP more punch. Heart beats stop on truck drivers who then crush innocent children. Some HP that is.
    One iota of evidence that there is some HP that gives a shit about humans any more than he/she/it does about any other life, would be nice.
    Ya gotta tell us how you contrast a world with an HP vs. a world without one. If they are the same, then “Yawn”. I am sure you have some thoughts though.

    Meanwhile, two posts of mine you might interact with that will aid our dialogue on this issue:
    (1) Roadkill Theology
    (2) Monkey vs Cat gods

  16. @ SL

    I’d prefer to pivot you back to my term Higher Reality or Realm (HR) but I’ll play ball with Higher Power as best I can given the only tool at my disposal is limited human language. And like last response I’m going to blurb this out stream of consciousness (as I hang out by my pool) so it will be a little longer and less eloquent than i’d like.

    This is a crude example which only alludes to but a shadow of how a HP *might* send love through humanity.. One time when I was younger and needed a helping hand, someone who was very loving and caring, who talked about the shift they made in their life after experiencing love and purpose through their meditations with God, helped me out very sacrificially.

    Now I understand that is woo at face value, and atheists help people all the time too. But my point is that this person shifted, quite possibly only via their imagination and guilt, to a major life improvement because of the love of God they experienced through meditation, and they helped me out because of it – when by their admission previously they could have gave a shit prior. When this person came to the conclusion that they were loved and had a purpose, they became alive and began to serve humanity.

    Do I think “God” intercedes in humanity directly? I see little evidence of that so I wouldn’t argue for that (or argue that because of it “he” doesn’t exist or care). But can the love present in a higher reality shine through other people, especially when they seek to be deepened by it? Quite possibly. Can you argue that under the covers that kind of sacrificial love is fueled by genetics (herd survival instinct) and fear or guilt (like of going to hell)? Sure… But can you prove that its only that? No.

    I am trying to say that I believe there are odds of a higher reality, and therefore I have to take the possibility of “inspiration” seriously enough to explore. I am also trying to say that I simply find people who believe in “something more” to be more joyful, less cynical, and more at peace… and that may be more than just blissful ignorance…(and be counted as some level of circumstantial evidence)..

    Like I said, my goal isn’t to convince you of anything except maybe humility.

  17. HP, HR, or God, it is all the same to me. Sorry if I mix them up.

    I realize you are working with your pool. When you get a chance, read the Monkey vs. Cat God story.

    Yes, I could argue that all love and sacrifice comes from culture & biology. That is not difficult. Same with fear and guilt.

    So you haven’t shown me any evidence of a HR that cares for human or sends us love.

    Sure, people are motivated and inspired by stories — that happens in all religious and secular traditions. Maybe you will offer more “evidence” later. Instead, I see a world that blares out again and again — no magic power (MP) cares about us. So I will go with that, and just keep on loving and sacrificing in normal human/animal ways. I’m OK with that.

  18. @ Sabio

    I read your monkey vs. cat post, and it’s good remedial theology. I think we’re in the weeds here because you want me to try to prove a loving and personal god and I have no intention (or need) to prove that. I am OK with not knowing.

    All I can suggest is that you open your paradigm that there is a likelihood of a higher reality and then maybe we can continue the conversation.

    It’s fine if you want to be “ok” with no HR. Plenty of people were ok with a flat world too for a very long time too. Others want to explore the possibilities and do a little seeking, and all I’m saying is that it doesn’t make them weak or inferior to atheists. Atheists have no right to call dilusion (or infer weakness) everytime someone talks a little woo unless YOU can prove that they’re wrong..

    I sense a dangerous edge to a fringe of atheists and the last thing we need is another fundamental sect who knows they’re right.

  19. @ CE,
    I don’t think you are hearing me and I think you are classifying me in your head in such a way that stops the hearing.

    I am very open-minded — as we discussed above. But when there is abundant counter evidence against an all-loving, all-powerful intervening deity, to stay open minded is naive.

    That said, if you read about the monkey god, you will see that such a version of a HP does not require such silly open-mindedness.

    I will stop there. If you can’t understand that, I think we have hit a dead end.

  20. @ CE,
    I hope you are still following, this post I wrote a year ago may further address our issue here and help you understand part of my position (again, I think you will see that I don’t fall into some of the “atheist” labels in your mind):
    A “God” I can believe in.

  21. Earnest

    @ CE; as a weak willed christian who almost never goes to church, the problem of a Higher Realm or what have you is relevence. The more one believes in miraculous influence, the more the HP or HR matters. If a power is so vague and distant that it is unproveable based on empiric experience, is this HP or HR of any real importance to anyone?

    I persist in my animistic delusions that I have a personal relationship with Jesus. Sometimes I have visions of a nice but powerful lanky guy with piercing eyes in a tan robe with long hair and cropped beard and mustache. This person in my imagination seems to approve or reject a particular path I am considering at the time. I have a similar mental conversation on occasion with my ancestor images in my home.

    Is this real? Opinions vary. Is it a command hallucination? Again, opinions vary. Does it help me cultivate advantageous behavior as I relate to my birth culture? Absolutely yes. Should I seek professional help in eradicating my delusional relationship with whatever this is? So far I haven’t bothered, we are currently peacefully cohabiting my mind, and get along just fine with each other.

  22. It seems to me that over time ‘God’ has become less remote. The sky god of the Jahwehist became the God of Israel, and Judah, and then the prophets and those who wrote some of the Psalms began to see God as God of other nations, too. Further on, God began to be located within us as well as around us.

    So, our realtionship with God is a mirror of our relationship with ourselves and also with the world around us. If we can settle happily with God in meditation/contemplative prayer, we are likely to develp greater maturity and wisdom than if we use God as a wall to hide behind or a weapon of attack due to our fear of other people.

    Is God imaginery? We can imagine God to be many things that she might not be, but there does seem to be something divine or ‘other’ that people throughout the ages, around the world and across cultures have been able to relate to, something or someone that has inspired some individuals to act in remarkably compassionate, altruistic and self-sacrificing ways.

  23. @ Earnest

    You asked me “If a power is so vague and distant that it is unproveable based on empiric experience, is this HP or HR of any real importance to anyone?” (Sabio asked the same question)

    I say absolutely! I’m much more interested in a great big HP/R that is beyond my ability to conceive, than a small magic god who does cheap tricks like part a sea and flood the world. The first step is to get beyond provability – and agree on possibility – then a deeper conversation can be had.

    As for your animistic delusions, it makes perfect sense to me. I like your honesty and humility.

  24. Earnest

    @ CE: thank you. But I have to say you lost me a bit when you insist that something vague and distant is important to me. A lot of things are proveably vague and distant, which does not of itself make them socially valuable for me.

  25. @ Earnest Fair enough. I didn’t mean for it to come across as important to you, just important in general. There are likely forces and discoveries which we haven’t even figured out yet which are currently vague and distant, yet very important, we just don’t totally understand how yet.

    For example, Gravity was important to the Neanderthals, but they didn’t know or care how. I am only trying to suggest that it’s possible that something metaphysical holds the same (or much more important) relationship to us that gravity did to the cavemen. We are only now in the process of exploring it. Thx.

  26. @ CE,


    Your Neanderthals noticed the obvious effects of gravity even though they couldn’t grunt out the formulas. They felt it and maybe even blamed it on some spirit, ancestor or stuff. But they felt it and could have concretely described the actual events.

    But you continue to avoid telling us exactly what particular effects your fuzzy ‘metaphysical’ HP has in human affairs that we can’t possibly reasonably explain with the knowledge we even have with our present simple scientific knowledge.

  27. @ Sabio

    Regarding forces and theories, consider Einsteins Space-Time Relativity. You can’t feel it or have any way to know about it, especially the Neanderthals couldn’t. But it took us evolving to a certain point in scientific abilities, and human intellect, to notice a gap where such a theory may reside. This gap caused Einstein to explore it and eventually articulate it. In my opinion, my HR fits the early days of that example, because we see the gap and are exploring it.

    Feel free to think there’s no HR, or no point to life, or no HP… but to me the jury is out so I keep the door open and live as if it’s very possible, even though I have no way, or intention, to try to quantifiable prove anything to you.

  28. @CE,
    Hey, feel free to think there is some fuzzy, HP that loves you floating in other dimensions.

    You again and again give us any way of testing your theory. Einstein’s theory, Newton’s theory and many more were testable. You keep avoiding my straightforward repeated question. But we can understand why you avoid it.

  29. Oh, and another point CE,

    I can understand the “I’m humble” mentality. If you feel you commune with a Higher Power, it must be hard not to let out your superiority to those who you feel don’t.

    Most of us call ourselves by some name (Sabio, Earnest, Scott — above to name many of the contributors on this blog), but you give yourself a title “Christian Evolution” — you pretentiously try to put science and religion on your side in even your name instead of just using a regular name. Your attitude even shows there — that is why I call you “CE” instead, so as to not buy into your self-righteous game.

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