Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

28 October 2013

Stirring Up Trouble On The Internet

I post on a couple of helicopter websites that have discussion forums. I generally post under my own name, or I make it clear in my profile who I am. Either way, I do not hide my identity. …Sometimes I probably should.

A month or so ago I made a post in one forum in which I’ve been known to expound on the always-controversial topic of helicopter pilots and faith. In the most recent post, I opined that the FAA should deny pilot medical certificates to those applicants who claim to be staunch atheists and who do not even allow for the possibility that a Creator exists. I said it demonstrated a defect in that person’s thinking. I left the post alone and did not check in on that board for a couple of days.

You can imagine the, um, storm that generated. When I did look back at it I saw that the thread had grown to nine pages! Most of it was the usual atheist rant against Christianity. It seems that many atheists are in a blind rage over Christianity. They reject all religion and with it the possibility that a Creator/God exists, which seems very illogical and narrow-minded to me. After all, Christianity is not the only alternative to atheism; there’s something like 11,000 religions in the world.

The atheist will tell you that only he uses his brain. He will tell you that he only believes in what Science! has proven…things that he can touch, feel, measure and quantify. On the other hand, the atheist will claim that the person of faith believes in “flying spaghetti monsters” or in some “invisible giant friend.” Both of these things misrepresent faith to a degree that is very disappointing to me. It’s as if atheists don’t understand faith at all.

As pilots, we go by certain books, and the rules published in them. First and foremost is the aircraft flight manual, given to us by the manufacturer and which tells us how to operate the helicopter in a safe manner. Second are the Federal Aviation Regulations, which come from the FAA and tell how we must operate the aircraft with respect to other aircraft and people. Third, we often are bound by a General Operations Manual, which is given to us by our employer and defines the way in which we will use the aircraft to conduct the business of the employer.

The trouble is, no book can encompass every single situation in which we pilots sometimes find ourselves. Sometimes we have to “make it up as we go along,” to get creative and come up with something that hasn’t been written in any book. Sometimes we have to rely on experience, intuition, or merely a gut feeling. In other words, we have to think “outside the box.”

Ironically the atheist, by claiming that he does not believe anything that cannot be scientifically proven, is telling the world that he cannot think outside the box…that his thinking is limited. Not the kind of pilot I want working for me!

I always challenge atheist to prove to me that love exists. Love is something we take on faith; we have no other choice. If we can have faith in love, then why not other thins? Well of course we do have faith in many things; for instance I have faith that my mechanic will do his job diligently to keep me safe.

I also ask the atheist where he/she gets hope from? My faith tells me that things can get better tomorrow, and so I can hope that they will be. But as I’ve said many times, hope without faith is merely wishful thinking. And I prefer to base my life on more than just wishful thinking.

The atheists choose to not address these topics.

My controversial posts in helicopter forums usually generate an amount of private conversation. Sometimes it’s verbal, with people I work with, but most often is in the form of emails and “instant messages.” This time, the back-and-forth I had with atheists was typically interesting. People do not like to be challenged on their beliefs!

But what I’ve found is that – if you press them - even those who claim to be the most-staunch Gnostic-atheists will allow that they might be wrong…that a Creator might exist. My follow-up question is always, “So why not describe yourself as agnostic then?” An agnostic disbelieves in God but does not deny His existence.

Calling yourself an atheist sends a very clear and definite message to the world. You’re raising one hand in the air, extending your index finger and saying, “I know best! I know that there is no possibility that God exists!” Which is just silly. Nobody knows for certain.

Atheists ask me if I know for certain that a Creator/God does exist? I say that nobody knows for certain, but that my observations and my brain and my faith tell me that universe was deliberately created…and for that to happen there had to be a Creator. I see nothing wrong with that logic, and I stop right there. I do not let myself get drawn into ridiculous and pointless arguments about religion, especially Christianity.

Look, I really don’t care what you believe. If you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. But please don’t try to tell me that God definitely does not exist. Because I think you’re wrong to assume so. (Remember, science once thought the world was flat.) I think that ruling out even the possibility of a Creator is horribly narrow-minded. And although my assertion that the FAA should deny pilot medical certificates to atheist pilots was only made half-jokingly, it’s not far from what I really think.

The thread in my most recent post on that helicopter forum got up to fifteen pages, with 284 replies and 5,500 views. Not bad, and way above what the average post on that forum generates. I have to admit that it’s fun to stir up a little controversy now and then.

02 October 2013

You Want Flies With That?

The city of Brewster, Washington is in the middle of cherry and apple orchards. During picking season, when the fruit is ripe and the pickers are up on their ladders doing their thing, a lot of fruit (e.g. rejects, ones that get dropped) ends up on the ground. Where it rots. Rotting fruit attracts flies. And so, at certain times of the year, the city of Brewster, Washington is overrun by all types of flying pests. Fruit flies, “regular” flies…you name it - although this year the mosquitoes didn't seem so bad. It’s not like some of the third-world countries you see on TV commercials, but they do get pesky. The guy with the fly-swatter concession stand does a booming business.

For those of us who’ve grown up in cities, flies are a nasty nuisance. We most frequently associate them with steaming piles of dogpoop or dead stuff – not a pleasant visual, to be sure. But out here in farm country, there aren’t a whole lot of dogs per acre. Or cows or other livestock for that matter. So the flies are just…there…there for the fruit. You cannot avoid them. You get used to them.

The first year that I was here, I went into the local supermarket, in which resides a Subway sandwich shop. With two big sliding doors in the building, there was no way to keep the flies out. As I was standing there waiting to give them my order, flies were buzzing around the back of the counter where other customers’ subs were waiting to be dressed. There was a family ahead of me in line…tourists probably but in any case out-of-towners. The father was aghast that flies were landing and crawling around on the food his family would soon be eating. He didn’t say anything to the clerks, but I could tell he was disgusted and not pleased.

It sounds gross, I know: Flies crawling over your food? Yuck! And sure enough, it is disgusting at first. But like I say, for better or for worse, you get used to it. I look at it this way – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I should be pretty damn strong by now.