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.


Hal Johnson said...

"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."

Honestly Bob, must you be such a mealy-mouther? Heh.

I think similarly about atheism. I can understand being an agnostic, but I've always found atheism to be kind of silly. I don't know how else to take a person's stance that he or she is certain there is no God or higher power or consciousness in the universe. It's as though they have FAITH that there is no God. With that sort of mindset, it can only follow that there were no such things as microorganisms until the invention of the microscope.

David Hale said...

I'm agnostic. And not because it's a choice or what I "want" to be. It's just that I can't honestly claim to know about the origins our existence. But I agree Hal that it really does seem silly (maybe even more silly) to proclaim that without any doubt, there is no existence of God. However, I will also say, I'm pretty certain that the bible is a mish-mash of folklore, history & fabrication. Why do I think this? Just take a look around at our world today. People believe that crop drawings are made by extraterrestrial visitors. People will fly planes into buildings to get 72 virgins. People actually believe that FoxNews is actually news. Why? Because this is what they want to be true. Mankind has an ego as big as the cosmos. And he just can't bear to even fathom that he doesn't have a clue about his existence. Just because we desire something to be true... doesn't make it true.

Debby said...

It amazed me to talk to a man who firmly disbelieved in the existance of God but wanted to argue the existance of Sasquatch, which he firmly believes will be found. *rolls eyes*

We live in a strange world.

I'm with Hal, Bob. You really have to learn to speak your piece.

mkhcfii said...

I disagree with allot of this post. I think this post has the depth of a kiddie pool. I consider myself Agnostic and personally think that people with "faith, that just know" demonstrate a defect in the persons thinking. Faith is not a good thing, its believing in something blindly and not thinking for yourself. I will promise you that no living human being on this planet knows for sure how and why we are here.

Your examples of Faith are ridiculous, for example if you just have faith that your mechanic is doing his job correctly you are setting yourself up for disaster. Although I have confidence that my mechanic is competent I would never just have faith in him, that is why I preflight and inspect his work, I hope you do the same. Faith is not going to make things better tomorrow, only YOUR actions can do that. Faith is for the scared and weak.

Faith has no place in aviation. If I just had faith that I was going to safely complete a flight I probably would have already killed myself and others. I use meteorology, physics, aerodynamics and other sciences to reduce risk, not faith.

I would agree its horribly narrow minded to claim to KNOW that there is no creator or "god", but not any more horribly narrow minded than having faith in 1 out of the 1100 religions and thinking that no one else with different beliefs could be right. Muslims have faith in their religion, their dying to show you how much faith they have. It seems you live by the same thought process.

To suggest that the federal government should take your religious beliefs into account when issuing your medical or determining your mental health is extremely unamerican. I think its in the same realm as the Nazis thought process.

Thank god, allah, buddah or whomever / whatever that you are not in a position of power in our federal government and we have the freedom to say and believe whatever we want.

P.S. Science did not determine that the world was flat, it was the lack of science in a primitive time period that made that determination. Before you go burn people at the stake because of their beliefs or lack of beliefs maybe you should start thinking outside the box.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Hal and Debby, thanks! Spot on.

Now, David and Matteo. Apparently you two have some reading comprehension problem. Let me explain: NOWHERE have I said anything about religion, or Christianity, or the Bible.

David, your image of what the Creator/God must be is very immature. FORGET THE BIBLE! Forget religion! Forget all the bullshit! Just know that you *were* created...by a CREATOR...who loves you...who lives within you...and within whom you live.

And if you cannot even conceive of that David, then at least allow that it's a possibility. Once you open your mind to that possibility, perhaps then you'll start to see some of that "evidence" that staunch atheists are always demanding but never seeing.

Now Matteo, what's wrong with you? I have never suggested that anyone must believe as I do. I never said that I favored any one religion over another. I merely have said all along that if someone rejects the mere possibility of a Creator, then his or her thinking is defective. Limited. Narrow-minded. Etc.

And another thing. You say that you do not have any faith in yourself as a pilot. I find this VERY disturbing. I think your passengers would not be pleased to hear that! You say that you have no faith in your mechanic either...that you "check his work." Oh really? Are you a mechanic? Do you follow around behind him with the Maintenance Manual, making sure he does his job accurately? And can you tell? Do you watch when he adjusts and repairs things that you cannot possibly check during your preflight inspection?

Of course you don't. Because you can't. You have to have a certain amount of FAITH that your mechanic did his job properly. If I were your mechanic I'd tell you to fuck off and go do YOUR job.

And I'll ask you, Matteo: Does anybody love you? Can you prove it? Do you love anyone? How would they know and why on earth would they believe you?

I would suggest to you, Matteo, that with your demonstrated lack of faith in just about anything, you should turn your pilot certificate back in to the FAA and find some other line of work. Because you are certainly *not* qualified to engage in an activity which RELIES on faith and trust to exist.

*The assemblers of the aircraft take it on faith that the designers did their job properly.

*The line mechanics on the aircraft take it on faith that the designers and assemblers did their jobs properly.

*We pilots take it on faith that the designers, assemblers and maintainers have all done their jobs properly.

*Our passengers take it on faith that we pilots will get them to their destination safely, and that the mechanics have done their jobs properly, and that the assemblers have done their jobs properly, and that the desingers have done THEIR jobs properly.

It's all about faith, man. You can deny it all you want, but it doesn't change a thing.

Carlos Brens said...

Bob: I have a hard time understanding the point of your initial suggestion that the FAA should deny pilot medical certificates to atheists. If it’s because they can’t exercise faith (in anything, as you presume), then you need to understand the different definitions of “faith”. For some people, it means credulity: believing that something IS just because. But even the Bible indicates that “faith” is based on evidence and on substantiation that something is so. It is not blind belief. According to Hebrews 11:1, it is founded on evidence. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%2011:1%20&version=KJV

I have faith that I will wake up tomorrow and that the Sun will rise again because I have years of precedence for it. It’s happened to me every day for over 60 decades now, even on many cloudy days. I don’t have the same confidence for a conversation with or apparition by God. Also, if I had had one such experience, it would not be reproducible and confirmable by others. Otherwise, it could easily be a delusion.

You must also keep in mind that atheism is one thing and agnosticism is another. The stricter interpretation of agnosticism (in my own words) is that lacking evidence of proof for a deity, there is no reason to assume that there is one. It does not discount that there may be some proof at some later time. But while there is none, it is not logical to assume that there must be one. Also, it doesn’t make sense to disprove the negative or that which does not exist. Therefore, Agnosticism does not entertain finding proof that god does not exist. That burden lies with the theist.

But for those who are theists, believing in god “just because” belies the idea of a god who is powerful enough to invent logic but instead teases us with guessing so much about s/he. In a sense, scientists have faith that, although not all is understood in the universe, that some laws regarding how matter works remain hidden, the universe is and will continue to exist.

Lastly, please consider that it is a very real human trait to feel “spiritual”, as is demonstrated by the corresponding brain modules that are stimulated during that effect. Spirituality is what gives us a sense of awe and wonder. Why do we need it? We really don’t know. But that doesn’t give us license to invent a reason. Feeling “spiritual” connects us to the universe and what is contained in it. However, it has nothing to do with “intelligent” entities which we cannot prove exist. It is possible to be “spiritual” and not be religious or even believe in god.

Bob Barbanes: said...

Maybe i dont rite gud.

I don't understand why people can't grasp the concept of my article.

Look, I don't care whether an atheist has any faith in anything - I just find it humorous when they say they don't when clearly they do. It's stupid. Like that nitwit above who says he has no faith in himself as a pilot and also no faith in his mechanic. Stupid! But that's beside the point.

What I *do* care about is the atheist who claims that there is no God...CANNOT be a God...that they know this beyond the shadow of a doubt.

THAT troubles me. Because nobody knows. You see? I don't care that an atheist doesn't believe in a Creator/God. Really. But to not allow for the possibility of one is just stupid. (HOW many times do I have to explain this?)

And again Carlos, don't bore me with dictionary or Wiki definitions of atheism and agnosticism. What I care about is what people call THEMSELVES - how they define themselves. A person who doesn't believe in God but allows for the fact that he might be wrong would call himself an agnostic. But no! Some people CALL THEMSELVES "atheist." They're telling the world that they not only don't believe in a Creator, but that one definitely does not exist...cannot exist. It's a narrow-minded, limited way of thinking.

I *thought* I made that clear.

Man lives in the natural world. At the same time I know that there are supernatural forces in the universe. I know this; you know it too. So...from where do these supernatural force originate? Nobody can say. Science cannot explain them. There are simply too many "ghost stories" and UFO sightings and examples of supernatural experiences to dismiss out of hand that they are coincidental or explainable. To not acknowledge these things is just childish.

And so I say: If I cannot explain how supernatural forces work, perhaps "Science!" doesn't yet have all the answers. This opens the door to limitless possibilities...possibilities that are rejected by the atheist. Because *one* of those possibilities is that the supernatural originates in the Creator. And that is just too weird a concept for the atheist to wrap his tiny head around.

Bob said...

Hey Bob, not going to join this discussion but just wondering if you're still in Washington? (Great post by the way!)